Is cut-throat party politics dead?
May 21, 2013 | 12245 views | 0 0 comments | 152 152 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It appears that going against the Queens Democratic Party doesn't carry with it the ramifications it once did.

The party met on Monday morning to decide who it would endorse in some of the bigger races affecting Queens this election cycle, including mayor, public advocate and comptroller.

District leaders flocked to the party's headquarters on Austin Street in Forest Hills, where Speaker Christine Quinn picked up the party's nod for mayor, Reshma Saujani was endorsed for public advocate, and Melinda Katz got the county's backing for borough president.

Perhaps the most interesting decision the county leadership had to make was on who to support for borough president. The race features a number of high-profile Democrats, including state senators Tony Avella and Jose Peralta, councilmen Leroy Comrie and Peter Vallone, Jr., and former assemblyman Barry Grodenchik, in addition to Katz, herself a former councilwoman and assemblywoman representing Forest Hills.

Before the announcement, there was a lot of speculation that Comrie, who is well liked and has been nothing but an upstanding member of the Queens Democratic Party, would get the nod. (Plus, his image has remained squeaky clean without even the slightest hint of scandal, an impressive feat given all the secret recordings and bribery that has been taking place in southeast Queens over the last year.)

However, the party went with Katz. But back in 2009, Katz bucked party leadership and decided to run in a Democratic Primary for city comptroller, despite county leadership supporting John Li, who incidentally was overlooked this year by the same leadership in his bid for mayor.

For the old Queens County Democratic Party we used to know and love (okay, at least knew), that simple transgression would have been enough to keep Katz on the outside looking in for years when it came to getting the party's support again for any seat. Instead, they chose her over, arguably, at least two bigger party loyalists in Comrie and Grodenchik.

To a lesser extent, the party also slighted Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who is admittedly more of a Manhattan representative but does represent portions of Queens, by going with Saujani for public advocate.

In the last congressional election cycle, Saujani ran a bulldog-like campaign against Maloney. An upstart political newcomer with the audacity to take on an entrenched New York City Democrat, Saujani eventually got trounced, but the sheer gall she showed would have been enough to keep her blacklisted for years. Or so we thought.

Instead, the next time she decides to run for office, she gets the county's support.

And then there's case of Rory Lancman, who left his Assembly seat to enter a Democratic Primary for the new congressional seat that the party desperately wanted a Democrat to hold, especially since it recently lost Anthony Weiner's old congressional seat to Republican Bob Turner, a seat that had been held by Democrats for decades.

After that embarrassing defeat, the party was probably looking for a no-fuss, no-frills primary and a show of political unity behind their preferred candidate, Grace Meng. Instead, they got a tough primary that Meng eventually won, but she really had to work at.

No bother, just a little over a year or so later, the party endorses Lancman for the City Council seat being vacated by James Gennaro. Water under the bridge, you say? We say what water?!

But Lancman wasn't even the Democrats biggest headache that primary. Many would argue it was Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, party Chairman Joseph Crowley's cousin and a long shot to win, but who could act as spoiler, especially in the new part of the congressional district that overlapped with her council district.

People asked, “if the chairman can't even get his own family to tow the party line, how is he going to get anybody else to fall in lockstep with the county's wishes?”

Rumor had it that Joseph Crowley was so incensed that the party had been considering challenging Crowley for her seat with another Democrat, which never happens to an incumbent. But heck, our sources tell us even she has managed to work her way back into the fold!

Welcome to a kinder, gentler (more boring?) Queens County Democratic Party.

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