Shortly after he was kicked out of the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference in 2013, people in Albany and Southeast Queens began calling him the man without a party.
Now locked in a primary battle for his political survival and a federal corruption trial restarting in January, state Sen. Malcolm Smith apparently can only watch as every party leader, elected official and natural Democratic constituency group lines up behind former Councilman and Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie.
A statement issued by the Comrie camp on Monday contained a list of endorsements as varied as it was long.
“With more to come,” said a Comrie spokeswoman.
The Queens County Democratic Organization, which pursued Comrie hard, has endorsed him, as has its chairman, Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens).
The campaign also counts Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau), who coasted through his own primary in June, as backing Comrie, along with Councilmen Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), who replaced the term-limited Comrie in the Council.
Nonelected or formerly elected political leaders behind Comrie include Archie Spigner, Elmer Blackburne, Jacqueline Boyce and June Bunch. Influential clergy touted by the campaign include the Rev. Edward Davis of the Presbyterian Church of St. Albans and the Rev. Charles Norris Sr. of Jamaica.
Norris was involved in a volcanic exchange with Smith in December 2012 after Smith elected to join the IDC in a power-sharing agreement with state Senate Republicans, thus costing Democrats control of the body for the last two years.
And with the Sept. 9 primary just under two months away, Comrie already has the backing of a dozen unions and, presumably, the financial and human resources that come with them.
They include the Teamsters; the Council of School Supervisors; two city bus drivers’ unions; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers; Food and Commercial Workers; the local and district councils of the Communication Workers of America; the Mason Tenders; Metallic Latherers; and Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
As a pair of unions did two weeks ago, labor leaders on Monday cited Comrie’s character, a tangible reference to the federal corruption trial in which Smith and former Queens Republican leader Vincent Tabone were granted a mistrial.
Both Ernest Logan of the School Supervisors and Michael McGuire of the Mason Tenders said Comrie would “restore integrity” to the office, while John Lyons of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1179 referred to the popular former councilman’s “unblemished record.”
The importance of union financial contributions could manifest itself on Tuesday, when candidates for state office are required to file their most recent campaign finance reports.
The reports encompass both detailed and summary versions of how much money the candidate has collected; from whom it was received; and how it has been spent.
The important column will be cash on hand, or money in the bank, for advertising, literature and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Smith back in January reported just over $21,000 cash in the bank.
It will not be known until Tuesday how much Smith has raised, nor how much if any has been spent on the legal services of attorney Gerald Shargel, who is defending the senator in the corruption case.
The Legislature’s regulations allow senators and Assembly members to use campaign funds to pay legal expenses.
Smith, who has held the seat since a special election in 2000, is accused of attempting to bribe New York City Republican leaders in an attempt to get on the 2013 GOP mayoral ballot.
He and Tabone start their new trial on Jan. 5, right after the next senator for the 14th is sworn in. Former Republican Councilman Dan Halloran is being tried now.
Few expect a serious Republican challenge in November, particularly if Comrie wins the primary.
Smith’s campaign could not be reached for comment. But his campaign website, malcolmforny.com, appears to have had little recent activity in a check on Tuesday. It lists his standard personal biography and legislative accomplishments. It has links to Facebook and Twitter accounts, and has places to volunteer for and donate money to the campaign.
But it lists no endorsements.
Under its “Events” heading, it lists a Mother’s Day function from May 10 that had an $8 cost.
And while Smith’s official state Senate Twitter account has more than 2,000 followers, the account for his campaign claims two, both of whom are reporters, including one from upstate.