Mayor Michael Bloomberg is backing a one-time foe in a tight race for a state Senate seat that could end Republican control in Albany this November.
Bloomberg sent a letter to voters in the 15th Senatorial District on Monday announcing his backing of incumbent Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) over Democratic challenger and current City Councilman Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach).
Meanwhile, Addabbo handily won the Democratic Primary on Tuesday as expected, considering his opponent pulled out of the race weeks ago.
“Serf Maltese has a long record of delivering for the people of Queens and New York City,” the letter states. “He has fought for our fair share for law enforcement, homeland security, health care and education. Our schools, hospitals and our neighborhoods need Serf Maltese in Albany fighting for us.”
Maltese responded that “to receive the support of Mayor Bloomberg, who has done so much for this city, is quite an honor,” praising Bloomberg’s record on education and his ability to cross party lines to “get the job done.”
However, the relationship three years ago wasn’t quite so cozy when Maltese backed former Republican councilman Tom Ognibene in an effort to overthrow Bloomberg in a Republican Primary. The party managed to knock Ognibene off the primary ballot and though Ognibene ran on a third party ticket, Bloomberg defeated him handily on Election Day.
Bloomberg aides, in return, reportedly encouraged Addabbo to run against the senator in his re-election bid two years ago, which Addabbo passed up at the time.
Bloomberg and Maltese have apparently made nice and the endorsement didn’t come as a shock to the Addabbo campaign. “It’s no secret the mayor supports Senate Republicans,” said Addabbo spokesperson Alexis Grennel. Bloomberg donated $500,000 to the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee in February. In turn, the committee has to date contributed $113,440 to Maltese’ campaign.
What did surprise the Addabbo campaign was that the senator would play this card so early in the race. “The fact he’s rolling out this endorsement so early in the campaign season indicates the Senate Republicans are running scared,” Grennel said. “They’re weak.”
As of July, Maltese had raised significantly more in donations than Addabbo, with an account of $137,107 to Addabbo’s $35,550.
The unofficial tally of Tuesday’s Democratic Primary between Addabbo and Alberto Baldeo had Addabbo with 2,893 votes and Baldeo with 779. Baldeo pulled out of the race in August and threw his support behind Addabbo in his quest to defeat Maltese; however, it was too late to remove his name from the ballot.
Election Day is Nov. 4.