By Rich Bockmann
Former Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie will stay on as a special assistant at Borough Hall as he campaigns for a spot in Albany, according to a source who hinted the doors in Kew Gardens may be open should his bid fall short in the crowded southeast Queens race.
Comrie stepped down from his position at Borough Hall Friday and after the weekend he threw his hat into the Democratic Party primary challenging incumbent state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis), who is awaiting trial on federal corruption charges.
A source with knowledge of the situation said Comrie will serve as a special assistant to Borough President Melinda Katz as he vies for a seat in the Legislature’s upper chamber.
Katz has not yet lined up a replacement and in the meantime her staff will pick up the extra slack, according to the source, who intimated Comrie would be welcomed back at Borough Hall if things do not pan out for him.
“If you know Leroy, you know he is welcome just about anywhere,” the source said.
Comrie, who sat on the City Council for three terms representing an area that makes up a large part of Smith’s Senate district, is considered the odds-on favorite in the race and is likely to receive the support of the Queens Democratic Party.
In a competitive field, however, it is still anyone’s guess as to how things will play out. Democratic attorney Munir Avery, Navy veteran Bernadette Semple and attorney and small businessman Clyde Vanel have already started campaigning for the seat.
Vanel almost pulled off an upset in September when he fell short by fewer than three percentage points in the City Council primary against Comrie’s hand-picked successor, Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans).
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.