By Steve Mosco
Queens is headed for a Republican primary this fall.
The race for state Senate appeared set when City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) announced he would challenge incumbent Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) in the 15th District, but a new contender has emerged and he is bringing a crucial endorsement with him.
The Queens County Republican Party announced it would endorse Forest Hills lawyer Juan Reyes as its candidate over Ulrich in a decision based on Reyes’ experience working for high-profile Republicans, according to a representative of the GOP machine.
“Juan has the experience, consistency of principle and judgment necessary to represent this Queens district,” Party Chairman Phil Ragusa said. “Reyes is a highly accomplished lawyer who knows how to take on the bureaucracy and make it work for both management and labor. As a high-level Giuliani official, he helped cut red tape, streamline government and revitalize our economy and neighborhoods while creating much-needed construction and permanent jobs. New York needs that kind of experience and leadership today.”
With the former mayor, Reyes worked as a deputy general counsel in the city Department of Youth Services before landing a position as a general counsel in the city Board of Standards and Appeals.
Prior to working with Giuliani, Reyes worked for former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and with Donald Rumsfeld in Washington, D.C. Currently, he is a partner at the law firm of Reed Smith LLP working in the business and finance and real estate departments. He is also the chairman of Land Use and Zoning Department in the New York City Lawyer’s Association.
Reyes said he believes he has a greater connection to the community than either Ulrich or Addabbo.
“I grew up in this community. I am raising my family in this community,” said Reyes. “This community is important to me and to many others who have seen someone vote the wrong way in Albany on our behalf. As state senator, I will fight to get our economy moving again in order to create good jobs.”
Ulrich, the city chairman for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has been on the Council since winning Addabbo’s old seat in a special election in 2009. Ulrich said while he welcomes the challenge a Republican primary brings, the endorsements he has received leave him confident in his chances to secure the Republican nomination.
“While I welcome Juan into the race, my main focus is still on November,” he said. “I am proud to have the backing and full confidence of the Senate majority leader, the local district leaders and the entire Republican conference.”
Primaries for state legislative offices are scheduled for Sept. 13.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.