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Queens Chronicle

Parties tap candidates for special elections

Gear up for races for seats once held by Weiner, Pheffer and Mayersohn

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Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 1:26 pm, Thu Jul 14, 2011.

Let the races begin.

Following Gov. Cuomo’s announcement last week that the special elections for one Queens Congressional seat and two Assembly spots will be held on Sept. 13, or Primary Day, the Queens Democratic and Republican parties jumped to narrow the field of candidates.

While both parties had not announced who they will back for the 9th Congressional District once represented by former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner as of press time on Wednesday, they had selected candidates for the seats previously held by Assemblywomen Audrey Pheffer and Nettie Mayersohn.

Democrats and Republicans were expected to announce who they would back for Congress by the end of the week.

Weiner resigned from office last month following a scandal that erupted when lewd photos the congressman had sent to women via social networking websites surfaced.

Political insiders said they believed Assemblymen David Weprin (D-Little Neck) or Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) were top contenders for the Democrats, while Republicans still had a long list of possible contenders as of Wednesday, including Bob Turner, a Rockaway resident who garnered 40 percent of the vote when he ran against Weiner in the last election. Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) announced on Tuesday he would not seek the Congressional seat.

Queens County Democrats tapped Phillip Goldfeder, a top aide to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), to run for the 23rd Assembly District, while Republicans selected Republican District Leader Jane Deacy, a former policewoman. Pheffer, a Democrat, left the position in May to become Queens County clerk.

“Audrey Pheffer has set a really high standard for community service and government accessibility,” Goldfeder said after being selected by the party Wednesday morning. “I look forward to talking about my background to voters and continuing the great legacy that Audrey has left.”

Jo Ann Shapiro, Pheffer’s longtime aide, and Geraldine Chapey, another Democratic district leader, had once considered running for the 23rd District but are now backing Goldfeder. Shapiro is working on Goldfeder’s campaign, according to the candidate.

Democratic District Leader Lew Simon, also from Rockaway, also had once considered running for Pheffer’s seat but said on Wednesday he would not seek signatures to run on the ballot.

Deacy said she believes she would breathe new life into the political system.

“I hope to bring new eyes to Albany,” she said in a previous interview. “Reforming Albany won’t be an easy task. It has been a runaway train for a long time.”

Deacy will likely have no Republican challengers.

Republicans selected Marco DeSena, who worked on former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign, to run for the 27th Assembly District seat once held by Mayersohn. Mayersohn, 86, resigned in March after serving in Albany for 28 years.

The Queens County Democrats picked Michael Simanowitz, Mayersohn’s longtime chief of staff.

DeSena did not return a request for comment.

Simanowitz said he looks forward to speaking to voters about their concerns and his priorities, which include job growth and supporting small businesses.

“I’ve been fortunate working for Nettie for 15 years, so I already have a very good working relationship with the community,” Simanowitz said on Wednesday. “I have a good head start, but I’ll still be knocking on doors and seeing as many people as I can.”

Democrats outnumber Republican voters in each of the borough’s three districts that are up for grabs, though the Queens County Republican Party’s spokesman Robert Hornak said he has seen a conservative shift in some borough neighborhoods.

“The Democratic party starts to lose some credibility when you look at people like (former state Sen. Hiram) Monserrate or (former Assemblyman Anthony) Seminerio,” Hornak said. “It makes people consider voting Republican.”

The Queens County Democrat Party’s spokesman Michael Reich did not return a request for comment about the races.

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