This was supposed to be the week John Liu was to be surging with major political and union endorsements; the week state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was supposed to be glancing nervously into his rearview mirror.
And it was — until about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, when Mayor de Blasio endorsed Avella and the Working Families Party withdrew its pledged endorsement of Liu, choosing to remain neutral in the Democratic primary in the 11th Senate District.
But on Wednesday, Liu’s campaign was content to point to the considerable backing that he already is receiving — and that Avella has cast his lot with the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference.
“Every day, John Liu is earning more and more support from elected officials, community and faith leaders, parents and everyday people representing every corner of the 11th Senate District because voters are hungry for a real effective Democrat,” the spokesperson said.
Borough President Melinda Katz has jumped on the Liu bandwagon. A victory for Liu would almost guarantee him the seat without a strong Republican opponent, which does not seem likely. Democratic voters lead Republicans 3 to 1 in the district.
“When it comes to fighting for the people of this city, John Liu has always delivered,” Katz said in a prepared statement Monday. “I’m so proud to support him in this race because our communities deserve leadership in Albany that’s both progressive and effective. In the state Senate, John will be a champion for the working families of Queens — and that’s exactly the change we need.”
Liu wants to bring change to the Senate.
“The broad-based coalition of local leaders, unions and members of the community who have stepped up to support my campaign have sent a clear message to Albany: The 11th Senate District needs an effective, experienced leader who will stand up to the status quo,” he said. “I look forward to working with this coalition so I can go to Albany and fight to bring real results for our communities.”
Avella angered the county Democratic Party this year after he joined the maverick IDC, which joined with Senate Republicans to form a majority caucus in Albany. In retaliation, the party decided to run Liu — the former city comptroller and Flushing councilman — against him.
Avella’s move further hampered the ability of numerically superior Democrats in their attempt to regain control of the Senate.
Published reports say Liu will not drop out, and he still has some very powerful backers along with Katz.
Liu has already been endorsed by other area Democratic leaders including state Sens. Jose Peralta of East Elmhurst, James Sanders Jr. of Jamaica and Toby Stavisky of Flushing and Assemblymembers Michael Simanowitz of Flushing, Ed Braunstein of Bayside, Barbara Clark of Queens Village, Ron Kim of Flushing, Nily Rozic of Fresh Meadows and David Weprin of Fresh Meadows.
Democratic councilmembers supporting Liu include Peter Koo of Flushing, Rory Lancman of Hillcrest, Daneek Miller of St. Albans, Mark Weprin of Oakland Gardens and Paul Vallone of Bayside.
But maybe more importantly, the candidate has been okayed by several major city labor unions including UAW Region 9A, IBEW Local 3, UFCW Local 1500, the NY Hotel and Motel Trades Council and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.
Liu had expected to be endorsed by the Working Families Party, with his name on its line on the November ballot.
Avella has the support of the Communications Workers of America, District 1.
Despite his lack of endorsements, Avella is popular with his constituents and has a strong base in the Bayside area. He beat longtime Republican incumbent Frank Padavan four years ago in large part because of the support of the United Federation of Teachers, which has not yet endorsed anyone in the race. It has 7,000 members in his district.
In addition, Liu may be hurt by the illegal campaign finance tricks some of his workers used in his run for the comptroller’s seat. Although he was never implicated, a key staff member and a fundraiser received jail sentences.
Avella’s campaign office said Monday that he has also been endorsed by the League of Humane Voters, the International Union of Elevator Constructors and is the recommended candidate by political director Kevin Finnegan and President George Gresham, for 1199-SEIU, which will hold its council vote on formal endorsements soon.
As far as the UFT is concerned, Avella “had a very productive meeting with them, and we expect that they will be announcing their decision shortly,” spokeswoman Heather Sager said.