By Jeremy Walsh
A hotly contested battle between Democrats to challenge state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) in November ended Friday when Albert Baldeo threw his support behind City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), the Queens Democratic Party's favored candidate.
“As a party, we can see beyond personal gains,” Baldeo said at a news conference in front of his Liberty Avenue office in Richmond Hill. “We have to stand united to move forward.”
Baldeo dismissed speculation that he had been promised a position or appointment in exchange for pulling out of the race.
“This is not dependant on a quid pro quo situation,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “If we position ourselves as team players within the Democratic Party, the community benefits. And the primary election would have cost $1 million. We've actually saved the Democratic Party a million dollars. With that great boost, we will be able to beat Sen. Maltese.”
Addabbo shook the hand of his former opponent at the news conference Friday and thanked Baldeo for making some “personal, tough choices.” He said he would run a positive campaign focusing on the issues. “Today we put people in front of personal ambition.”
Baldeo, who lost to Maltese in the 2006 election by only 900 votes, warned against letting party rivalries obscure larger goals.
“If we divide our resources, we lose out,” he said. “The Republicans have been spending a lot of money in this district.”
Baldeo had raised $166,337 as of the beginning of August, according to state Elections Board records. Addabbo has raised $212,090. Since the 2006 general election, Maltese has raised $615,645, board records show.
The campaign leading up to the primary was acrimonious. In paid advertisements, Baldeo's campaign accused Addabbo of being a “puppet controlled by the devious and vicious methods of the county machine.”
A year later Queens Democrats alleged that Baldeo had asked to be appointed as a judge in return for dropping out of the race. Baldeo denied asking for the position.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the Queens Democratic Party chairman, suggested Baldeo's change of heart now might be due to “the reality after the [District 30] City Council elections: United we stand, divided we fall.”
When asked if the party had offered Baldeo any sort of bargain, Crowley said: “I have had no direct discussion on that end.”
Baldeo did not directly answer questions about whether he would seek the Queens Democrats' endorsement for any public office in the future.
“We are focused on this race,” he said.
The 2008 election will be crucial for state Democrats, who hope to reclaim a majority in the Senate for the first time in more than 40 years.
“All roads to a majority in the state Senate lead through Queens,” Crowley said.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.