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Queens Chronicle

Special election looms and interest grows

Weiner resignation shines spotlight on borough’s political landscape

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Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:06 pm, Thu Jun 30, 2011.

Anthony Weiner’s resignation became official Tuesday at midnight, and with that, the residents of the 9th Congressional District, creatively carved out of parts of central and southern Queens and Brooklyn, lost their voice in the House of Representatives.

Now what?

Weiner’s Kew Gardens office reportedly will remain open to constituent services until a successor is voted in. Gov. Cuomo is expected to call a special election this fall to fill the seat, leaving the choice of a Democratic candidate to replace Weiner, who served for more than a dozen years, to Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens and the Bronx) and Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn), the Queens and Brooklyn party chiefs, respectively — or voters in a primary.

“There’s a process that has to be followed,” said Frank Gulluscio, District 12 Democratic leader. “Once the dust settles, we’ll see the names that are left standing.”

That ledger of potential candidates seems to be expanding daily, and one of the latest to be tossed into the fray is City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), chairman of the Public Safety Committee.

“I’ve spent my entire career trying to keep New Yorkers safe, and getting a chance to do that in Washington is something I would have to seriously consider,” he told the Chronicle on Monday.

Vallone, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, has served on the council since 2002, and will be term-limited out of the District 22 seat in 2013. He said he had never before thought of running for the House.

“The congressional members we have are pretty entrenched,” Vallone reasoned. “No one expected a congressional seat to open any time soon, and no one has had the opportunity to really consider it.”

Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) continues to refrain from commenting on a possible run, and Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) and his brother, City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), both have said they would consider it, as has state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach).

“The situation here in Albany has really monopolized my time,” Addabbo said on Tuesday as the legislative session ostensibly was winding down. “I haven’t spoken with my family or district leaders or county leaders. I haven’t really been able to give the 9th Congressional District seat much thought.”

City Councilman James Gennaro this week said in a prepared statement that he too is exploring his options.

“It is a great privilege to serve as a member of the City Council and as chairman of its Committee on Environmental Protection, and I have been very fortunate to have had my environmental work recognized nationally,” he wrote. “And, as the only prospective candidate for the 9th Congressional District who has a national profile on any important issue, it makes sense that I consider this opportunity, which I am doing. But I cherish my current job, and have not yet made a decision.”

The names of former City Council members Melinda Katz and Eric Gioia remain in the conversation; however, neither has made public statements. City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), chairwoman of the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee and cousin to Joe, is said to be mulling a run. Her office did not return a call seeking comment.

On the GOP side, City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) is wrestling with a choice he characterized as “not an easy one.” Last week, the rising lawmaker met with the former mayor and one-time Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, who along with other party leaders has encouraged Ulrich to jump into the congressional pool.

“That’s a decision I’m going to have to make after talking to my family, friends and supporters,” Ulrich said.

Weiner’s 2010 GOP opponent, Bob Turner, has indicated through his spokesman that he would run as long as the party backs him financially. Tea Party upstart Andrew Sullivan also is reportedly considering a campaign.

Potential candidates must be mindful of the prospect of New York losing the 9th CD seat at the end of 2012 due to redistricting following the 2010 Census.

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