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Comrie relaunches run for borough president

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Joe Anuta

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) kicked off his campaign for borough president a second time Monday a day before starting to collect signatures to get on the ballot and five months after a similar event in southeast Queens.

Comrie is competing against state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), businessman Everly Brown, former state Assemblywoman Melinda Katz and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) in a September Democratic primary to replace current Borough President Helen Marshall.

The lawmaker was flanked Monday by a crowd of supporters who gathered on the steps of Borough Hall to hear the Rev. Calvin Rice, of New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica, and Comrie’s wife, Marcia, introduce the lawmaker.

“I am running because I have a burning desire to be the next borough president of Queens,” he said. “And I know the communities that are with me, that are asking me to stay in this race and that are asking to participate will support my campaign.”

But Comrie is trailing all of his opponents except Brown in fund-raising, according to the latest filings from the city Campaign Finance Board, which showed he had about $40,000 on hand as of May 11 after spending about $100,000.

The term-limited lawmaker was not deterred by the numbers, however, and asked for volunteers to join the campaign, which he referred to as grassroots.

He also asked for more donations to fund his run. Specifically, he hoped that 1,000 people would donate $20 each.

“People have been promising me money. Now is the time to give,” he said, adding that he believed many people do not donate to campaigns until the election is closer.

Comrie is a district leader and the Queens delegation chairman in the Council. He holds one of the most coveted chairmanships as head of the Committee on Land Use.

But last week the Queens Democratic Party endorsed Katz, who also received the endorsement of influential southeast Queens clergyman the Rev. Floyd Flake, head of the Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York in Jamaica.

Comrie characterized his relationship with the party, led by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) as amicable, and said he would run a positive campaign the Democrats “could be proud of.”

The party has forgiven those who have run against them in the past. Katz ran against the party’s candidate for city comptroller in 2009 but lost to John Liu in the primary. The party also endorsed former Assemblyman Rory Lancman in his bid for City Council, although he ran against the Dems’ candidate, Grace Meng, in last year’s congressional race.

Comrie’s kickoff announcement was unusual in that it was the second time the councilman officially announced his run.

In January, Comrie had a kickoff fund-raiser at Antun’s. At the time, a spokesman told TimesLedger Newspapers it was the official announcement.

At borough hall, he touted his governmental experience and said his campaign would focus on ideas he could bring to the table, one of which was adding a subway line in Queens.

Comrie said his campaign might pick up a few extra votes after Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) dropped out of the race last week.

“I think it only helps me,” he said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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