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Dems to make Assembly pick

The selection of candidates in the race to replace state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) could narrow by month’s end after the Queens County Democratic Party decides which contender to support, a source within the party said.

There are currently seven hopefuls vying for the Democratic slot for the seat, including New York State Young Democrats President Matthew Silverstein; Carol Gresser, the former city Board of Education president who challenged then-City Councilwoman Helen Marshall in the 2001 Queens borough president race; John Duane, a former assemblyman in the district during the 1980s and brother of state Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan); and Whitestone attorney Elio Forcina.

Three candidates have already announced their bids: Edward Braunstein, a Community Board 11 member who works in constituent services for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan); Michael Sais, chief of staff for Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria); and Steve Behar, a Bayside attorney who ran last fall for former Councilman Tony Avella’s seat.

But Debra Markell, district manager of Long Island City’s Community Board 2, and Kevin Kim, who won the Democratic primary for Avella’s seat in September but lost to Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), are not expected to run, a source within the Queens Democratic Party said.

The county organization is expected to throw its weight behind one of the candidates by the end of the month and could therefore lead to several candidates dropping out of the race, the source said.

“Everyone’s been talking about this big race, but in the end it will be two or three people,” the source said. “The Democratic machine is already pushing people to try to get out of the race.”

Republicans running for the seat include Vince Tabone, who works as an attorney for John Catsimatidis’ Manhattan-based Red Apple Group and has been endorsed by the Queens County Republican Party, and Rob Speranza, a former city police officer who challenged Carrozza in 2008.

Carrozza, first elected in 1996, announced March 26 that she would not run for another term. The assemblywoman had taken heat from some residents in her district when it was discovered in July that she had been living out of the district at a property she and her husband owned in Glen Head, L.I.

Assembly records had shown she had excused absences for 44 days, or 64 percent of the time, during 2009’s legislative session.

But the assemblywoman said she was leaving her post to return to work as an attorney after finishing out the year in Albany. She has not yet endorsed a candidate in the race.

Her seat covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and Whitestone and includes District 25 and 26 schools.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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