Dozens of Democrats welcomed Councilman Peter Koo of Flushing into the fold on Monday as he officially changed party affiliation.
It was a Democratic love fest as Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens and the Bronx), who is also Queens Democratic Party chairman, and a host of area elected officials joined Koo at the Board of Elections office in Kew Gardens.
In 2009, Koo became the first Republican in 100 years to win the 20th District seat, besting his Democratic opponent by 5 percent of the vote. He replaced John Liu, now city comptroller, who took part in Monday’s festivities.
For months, there has been talk that Koo, 58, was dissatisfied with the Queens Republican Party because of infighting and lack of support for him. But the councilman downplayed those issues Monday, saying they were just a small part of his decision.
“I am an independent thinker, who believes in the support of principles which best sustain and improve the overall quality of life in our communities,” Koo said. “This has led me to cross party lines to support candidates who are best qualified for the job.”
Last summer Koo backed Democrat David Weprin in the congressional race Weprin lost to Bob Turner.
In addition, he noted that as an Asian immigrant, he wants to do more to help immigrants of all ethnic origins “to participate in the political process and achieve the American dream.”
He favors such Democratic initiatives as the DREAM Act, to allow illegal immigrant students to pursue higher education, and in stopping the practice of Rikers Island jail officials reporting immigrants to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.