Liu backs Meng but stays mum on own future

By Alex Robinson

Former city Comptroller John Liu put to bed rumors he might run against U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) when he endorsed her for re-election Monday, but refused to rule out a possible campaign for another office this election cycle.

Rumors have swirled in recent months about Liu’s political future as he has continued to keep up a busy public schedule even after leaving office at the end of 2013.

Some thought he might take a crack at the freshman congresswoman’s seat, but he ended that speculation when he announced his support for her.

“Grace has been a fierce advocate in Washington and on the local front. She was a great representative in Albany and it’s actually only been a year she’s been our rep in Washington, and it feels like longer because she’s accomplished so much,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’ve been with her since the beginning in 2012 and I continue to be.”

Liu dodged questions about rumors he might run against U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood) and refused to say whether he would toss his hat into some ring this election cycle at all.

“I don’t engage in the business of denying or confirming rumors,” he said.

Although Liu does not live in Velazquez’s district, candidates for federal office are only required to live in the state of the district where they are running.

Another possible option for Liu would be to run against state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Whitestone), who defected to the Independent Democratic Conference last week and whose district he lives in.

“This guy defecting and sorts is disappointing, but I have to say not totally shocking to people. He hasn’t certainly, not been the best team player,” Liu said at the news conference where he endorsed Meng last week, Politicker reported.

Avella will likely face a primary challenge from a party-backed candidate because of his defection.

“It’s disappointing to say the very least,” Meng said, according to Politicker. “I think the Democrats, especially the Democratic senators, have worked very hard on issues that not only affect Democrats throughout the state, but affect everyone, all working families. And so I was disappointed at the very least.”

The control of the state Senate is unclear because of shifting party loyalties and vacant seats.

Meng officially kicked off her re-election campaign for Congress with Liu’s endorsement.

“I thank John Liu for his endorsement, and for highlighting the important work I’ve done in Congress during my first year in Washington,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to work with him to make our city, state and borough an even better place to live.”

Since Liu left office, he has kept busy attending many public events, including the St. Pat’s for All parade in Sunnyside and Flushing’s Lunar New Year Parade, in which he marched alongside elected officials.

“I’m still engaged in the affairs of the city,” he said.

Liu, who lost his bid to become mayor last fall, recently started a part-time job at Baruch College teaching public policy and municipal finance for the Manhattan college’s masters in public administration program.

His appointment is for just for one semester as adjunct professors are reappointed on a semester-by-semester basis at Baruch College.

During Liu’s 2013 run for mayor, an investigation into his office’s campaign finance practices resulted in the conviction of his campaign treasurer and a fund-raiser. He was not accused of any wrongdoing.

The city Campaign Finance Board subsequently denied Liu $3.53 million in matching funds in August, for which he is suing the city.

His campaign sputtered and he came in fourth place in the Democratic primary.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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