Najmi ditches plan to challenge Weprin

By Sarina Trangle

Ali Najmi has popped the speculative bubble enveloping his campaign committee.

After a month of staying silent about his bid for state Assemblyman David Weprin’s (D-Fresh Meadows) seat, the Glen Oaks attorney said he had decided not to run this year.

“Many people have encouraged me to run and even to run this year. But after discussing it with the community and close supporters, I decided the best thing to do for the community and for Queens was to focus my energy to help elect real Democrats to the state Senate,” Najmi said.

Najmi said he had simply postponed his plans to seek public office and will continue fund-raising via a campaign committee he registered with the state Board of Elections.

His decision came before the Queens Democratic Party voted this week on endorsements for state legislative candidates, according to Najmi’s former boss and City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens).

The party, where both Weprin brothers serve as district leaders, backed the incumbent assemblyman.

“It’s very gratifying to have a broad base of support that stands together in the face of a challenge, but I respect Mr. Najmi’s commitment to the political empowerment of his community,” David Weprin said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him and with all of the community leaders throughout this diverse district.”

Najmi never formally announced his candidacy. But sources said he was eyeing the 24th Assembly District, which stretches from Glen Oaks through Hollis and Richmond Hill.

The move may have put him in the crosshairs of the Weprin brothers.

Former Harlem Councilman Robert Jackson’s name was included on the host committee list for a Najmi fund-raiser. But Jackson seemed to rescind his support after receiving a text from Mark Weprin asking if he knew Najmi might challenge his brother.

The Harlem Democrat said he was unaware of Najmi’s opponent and that his place on the host committee was not tantamount to an endorsement.

Najmi helped redraw the 24th Assembly District with the South Asian/West Indian advocacy group SEVA in 2012 to incorporate immigrant enclaves in Richmond Hill. Close to 39 percent of the district is now South Asian.

Some community leaders emphasized last week to reporters that they would like to send a South Asian Assembly member to Albany.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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