By Steve Mosco
An incumbent state senator running for re-election in his seat representing Queens gained a vocal ally in a surprise endorsement earlier this month.
Former Mayor Ed Koch announced his endorsement of Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) in the race for the 15th Senate District — even after he endorsed Addabbo’s potential opponent for City Council in 2009.
“I served with Joe’s father, Joe Addabbo Sr., in Congress. He was not only a good friend but a great congressman,” Koch said. “His son, Joe Jr., is like his father and has served well the people of New York in the Albany Senate. He deserves to get re-elected.”
Addabbo will be running against the victor in a Republican primary between challengers Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and Forest Hills attorney Juan Reyes.
“Few people are as recognized and identified with credible public service as Mayor Koch,” Addabbo, said. “Mayor Koch has been a true advocate for improving the way Albany does business, and I’m proud to partner with him in that fight. I stand with Mayor Koch as we continue to fight to reform Albany and once and for all provide New Yorkers with a government they can trust.”
Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for Ulrich’s campaign, said the councilman was not surprised or upset by Koch’s endorsement of his potential opponent.
“There is no surprise there,” said Proud. “Mayor Koch is a Democrat and an old friend of the Addabbo family. Our affection for the mayor is undiminished.”
Besides putting his power behind Ulrich in his 2009 run for Council, Koch crossed party lines and endorsed U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Middle Village), helping the political newcomer upset state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) in the race for former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s congressional seat in September.
Meanwhile, Ulrich received two labor union endorsements last week from Plumbers Local No. 1 and Steamfitters Local 638.
“These endorsements mean a great deal to me,” said Ulrich whose grandfather, known as “Buddy,” is a 25-year member of Steamfitters Local 638. “Growing up, Buddy was the breadwinner of the family. If it were not for the prevailing wage and health care benefits he earned, we simply would not have been able to make ends meet. When I am elected to the state Senate, I will be a strong voice to protect the collective bargaining rights of hardworking people just like him.”
Though challenging an incumbent, Ulrich figures to be a worthy adversary for Addabbo. According to Ulrich’s July campaign filing with the state Board of Elections July 16, the councilman has amassed close to $400,000 in campaign cash on hand — $250,000 of which came from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. Addabbo’s campaign filings were considerably less, coming in at just more than $100,000.
Reyes, backed by the Queens Republican Party in the primary against Ulrich, took in about $50,000.
The GOP primary is scheduled for Sept. 13.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.