Monserrate gets his foot back in the political door
Sep 26, 2018 | 12382 views | 0 0 comments | 1366 1366 recommendations | email to a friend | print
And with one primary election, former councilman and state senator Hiram Monserrate has inched his way back into political relevancy.

On September 13, Monserrate defeated George Dixon for a district leadership post, besting him by about 300 votes after losing to Dixon for the same post in 2016 by just 57 votes.

This is the same Hiram Monserrate that was kicked out of the State Senate by members of his own party for assaulting his girlfriend, and then went to the pokey for a couple of years for misusing city funds.

But since then, Monserrate has been working furiously to get back into elected office. In 2017, he ran against Francisco Moya for an open City Council seat, and even though he lost, Monserrate continued to stay active on local issues.

And he grew the membership and influence of his political club, the East Elmhurst Corona Democratic Club. Even candidates who would later distance themselves from Monserrate and his shady past made appearances at the club as it upped its membership and relevancy.

In other words, Monserrate kept himself on the scene and it paid off with a victory over Dixon.

Now, a district leadership post is a low-level Democratic Party position; there are 72 of them across the borough, two male and two females for each Assembly district. Even if you consider yourself an avid follower of local politics, you probably don't even know who the district leaders are where you live.

Their primary role is voting for chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party, as well as having a say in choosing candidates for open seats, which becomes significant because in special elections the Democratic Party chooses the candidate that will run on its line, not voters as in a primary election.

Perhaps more importantly, four other district leaders that were supported by Monserrate and his political club also won their respective elections, and they also put three people on the Democratic State Committee.

All of this led Councilman Ruben Diaz of the Bronx to declare that Monserrate was now the “strongest Latino political leader in Queens County” in his weekly email blast, and that he has the ability to become a “power broker” in the party.

Whoa, slow your roll, Ruben!

While it is significant that Monserrate has won his first election since his fall, it's hardly makes him a “power broker.” If that were the case, he would have stopped the Queens County Democratic Party from re-electing Joe Crowley its chairman.

Despite losing his congressional race to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a stunning upset, the party saw fit to keep Crowley as its leader in a vote about two weeks ago at Georgia Diner in Elmhurst.

Although it's not like Monserrate didn't try.

He and four others cast their votes for Congressman Gregory Meeks to take over the role from Crowley, but it was hardly enough to overcome the 60 or so other electors.

That said, Monserrate is no fool when it comes to politics. A prominent reporter who is still covering city politics today once explained it to us like this: most candidates pool all of their resources and go for their one shot at getting elected. It's a make-or-break effort, and if they lose you'll likely never hear from them again.

On the other hand, for Monserrate running for office is like working out. Win or lose, every time he does it he gains a little more knowledge and a little more name recognition. If Monserrate loses an election, he just starts focusing on the next one on the calendar.

Monserrate knows this district leadership post is just one step toward the ultimate goal. If you think that Monserrate is going to do what every district leader does, namely stay out of the public view and enjoy the little sphere of influence and attention they get from elected officials, then you haven't been paying attention.

Monserrate is going to be as active as ever and he's going to continue to grow his base, and along the way he will undoubtedly upset the political apple cart.

Don't forget, this is the man that threw the State Senate into chaos in 2009 by briefly partnering with the Republicans at a time when the Independent Democratic Conference wasn't even a twinkle in Jeff Klein's eye.

On the same day that saw Klein and five of his former IDC members were defeated by challengers, the original Albany renegade quietly slipped back into the conversation.

Hiram's back baby!

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