State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) formally kicked off his re-election campaign last week.
But the senator, under federal indictment on corruption charges that also cover former Republican Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), now will face at least two experienced campaigners, including one who will be very well-financed.
Attorney Clyde Vanel, who last September finished second to Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) in a primary for that seat, announced his candidacy, as did Munir Avery, a staffer for Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing), and both are confident they can get on a Democratic primary ballot in September.
Vanel also has run for the state Assembly in the past. Avery said this is his first run for elective office.
“But I have worked on campaigns for more than a decade,” he said.
Vanel said he has loaned his campaign $100,000 to get the effort off the ground, a figure borne out by documents filed with the state Board of Elections.
Smith, Halloran and four others were arrested last April amidst allegations that Smith was trying to bribe New York City Republican leaders to get on the ballot for mayor.
The senator’s next court date is Jan. 31, but his spokeswoman said there was no reason to consider dropping out of the race.
Halloran did not seek re-election.
“The senator has done a lot for this community, and people admire him and respect him,” AnnMarie Costella said. “There is absolutely no reason not to seek re-election.”
Aside from saying they would focus on things like job creation and improving public education, both men alluded to Smith’s legal troubles.
“We need ethics reform,” Vanel said. “We are the Empire State, the Big Apple, which means we should be number one. Unfortunately, one bad apple can spoil a whole bunch, and in this state, that is a problem.”
“When I’m talking to people on the street and in churches, they say we need a person of integrity who will be honest in representing them,” Avery said.” I am that person.”
But both men stopped short of saying Smith should drop out of the race.
“Sen. Smith is focused on the [state] budget at this time, and making sure Southeast Queens is receiving its adequate share of funding for schools and jobs,” Costella said. “The time for campaigning is later.”
In his mandatory January filings, Smith’s campaign listed a balance of $23,041,90. Much of that total came from a $10,000 donation courtesy of Gerard Wolkoff, the owner and developer of the controversial 5Pointz project in Long Island City.
Avery’s paperwork shows contributions of $25,815, and a closing balance of $18,066.90 at the filing deadline.
Vanel’s campaign finance report lists only his own $100,000 loan, though he said in an interview with the Chronicle that he intends to raise $250,000.