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The Queens Democratic Party is actively courting John Liu to run against state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who recently bolted from the Democratic Party to join the Independent Democratic Conference.
U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who heads the Queens Democratic Party, said he has been in discussions with Liu over the last few weeks about Avella’s district.
“If he decided to run against Sen. Avella, I would support that and the Queens Democratic Party would support that wholeheartedly,” he said.
Crowley said there are also other possible candidates being considered to run against Avella, but did not identify them.
It would be the first time two-term Avella would face a primary challenge while running for his Senate district. The Democratic Party pumped more than $200,000 into his 2010 campaign against Republican Frank Padavan, a move party officials say they now regret.
“The Democratic Party put a tremendous amount of resources into his race to defeat Frank Padavan, only to find out Tony Avella was Frank Padavan in sheep’s clothing,” said a spokesman for the Queens Democratic Committee.
Avella joined the IDC saying he was fed up with being in the minority in the GOP-controlled state Senate and wanted to be able to get legislation passed. He has also recently cited an increase in discretionary funding for his district as a reason why he joined the IDC.
“What Mr. Avella has done is empower the Republican Party,” Crowley said. “There’s no argument he can make to me to justify what he’s done.”
Speculation has recently swirled as to whether Liu would run for office again after he continued to hold a busy public schedule after he lost his bid to become mayor last fall.
“If you look at John’s public schedule after he lost, you wouldn’t think he lost,” said Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College.
Despite an investigation into his office’s campaign finance practices that ended in the criminal convictions of two campaign workers and derailed his mayoral bid, Muzzio said Liu has the fund-raising chops as well as the experience of running in a citywide race in his favor.
“If Liu runs, he’s going to be tough to beat,” Muzzio said. “He’s just totally tireless and has proven he can raise a huge amount of money.”
Avella, who is popular in his district, will have Sen. Jeffrey Klein’s IDC fund-raising machine behind him, which has also proven successful at raising large amounts of campaign funds in previous election cycles.
The 11th District includes College Point, Whitestone, Bayside and parts of Flushing, Douglaston and Hollis Hills. Part of Liu’s old City Council district is in Avella’s district, which contains a sizable Asian community, where the former city comptroller’s fund-raising base is.
Of eligible voters in the district, 26.1 percent are Asian, according to state redistricting maps.
“On the demographic level, his money and base support are going to come out of the Asian community, but in previous elections he’s proven he can extend well beyond that,” Muzzio said of Liu.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2014 Community Newspaper Group
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