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Political Action: Baldeo’s run for Seminerio seat complicates special election

In the 38th State Assembly District in western Queens, where former Assemblyman Tony Seminerio served for 30 years until his recent resignation, a special election has been in progress that was scheduled to follow this year’s primary and fall general election schedule. Designating petitions for Republican, Democratic and Conservative candidates have been circulated and filed with the state Elections Board. Petition challenges have also been filed.

It now seems, however, that these political developments are to be disregarded, since Gov. David Paterson’s office has indicated to the city Elections Board that the governor intends to issue a proclamation between Aug. 11 and Aug. 16, during which time he will call for a new special election in that Assembly district. The election will be held Sept. 15, the same day as the primaries.

Under the procedures of this proclamation, each political party’s county executive committee will designate a candidate for the position. Those candidates will be the official party choice and will not have to circulate petitions. Any other potential candidates who are not officially designated to represent their party can still circulate petitions and get on the ballot that way.

In the Democratic Party, Michael Miller, a member of Community Board 5, and Nick Comaianni, a Community Education Council president, are at present considered the two leading candidates to get the endorsement of the Democratic county organization. Albert Baldeo, who came within less than a thousand votes of unseating former Republican state Sen. Serf Maltese three years ago, continues to insist he is the leading candidate in the 38th District and, if he has to, will circulate petitions to gain a ballot position in this special election.

Baldeo, judging by his petition-gathering prowess, seems to have an impressive field operation. In addition, he also has the endorsement of the state Senate Democratic Conference leader, John Sampson.

Democratic candidate Miller had the Conservative Party endorsement for the first special election. This brings up an interesting situation, since Democratic City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who is being opposed by Republican-Conservative former Council Minority Leader Thomas Ognibene, has endorsed Miller. This means her cousin, Queens County Chairman U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), will probably be endorsing him also.

Ognibene is supporting Republican Donna Caltabiano for the 38th District seat. That being the case, if Miller gets the Conservative Party endorsement for this new special election, it will mean the Conservative candidate in the district will be endorsed by Ognibene’s opponent, Crowley. An interesting question is whether Miller will be supporting Democratic candidate Crowley against Ognibene in the 30th Council District race.

Republican candidate Donna Caltabiano is hoping for support from third parties, which will increase her chances of gaining significant support from the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee. The results of this special election could hinge on whether Baldeo is able to get on the ballot through the petition process.

State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) aide Lourdes Ventura and Farouk Samaroo, a former aide to ex-Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin, are also running for Seminerio’s seat.

In another development, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) will not be endorsing any candidate in the 38th District special election. Baldeo had been expecting Addabbo’s endorsement since he dropped out of the race for the 15th State Senate District seat against Maltese last year in favor of Addabbo and then went on to endorse him.

In the 30th Council District race between Ognibene and Crowley, Ognibene believes his 10 years’ experience on the Council during the 1990s, mostly as minority leader, gives him strong credentials in this race.

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