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Avella gets nod from firefighters

By Alex Robinson

Some of New York’s Bravest have decided to tip their firefighter hats toward state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in his re-election campaign this week.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association, which represents 8,000 city firefighters, endorsed the incumbent Tuesday.

“Sen. Avella has long proven himself to be a staunch advocate for enhanced public safety, protecting community fire companies and demanding the resources needed so New York’s Bravest can keep the public safe,” UFA President Steve Cassidy said. “He has fought on behalf of firefighters and the needs of his constituents in the local community, in City Hall and in Albany.”

Avella recently bolted to the Independent Democratic Conference, which controls the state Senate with Republicans, and provoked a primary from mainline Democrats. But the two-term senator has racked up significant union support after his IDC colleagues announced a new power-sharing agreement with Democrats in late June.

Liu was courted by the Queens Democratic Party to unseat Avella months ago and has since put together a broad coalition of county support, including many elected officials.

Former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, who represented northeast Queens, became the latest member of Queens’ Democratic political establishment to endorse Liu Tuesday.

“John Liu has dedicated himself to serving the people of our community,” Ackerman said in a statement. “His unwavering commitment to the people of New York and his relentless work ethic make him the ideal person to bring real Democratic leadership back to District 11 and Albany.”

Ackerman joined U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), who all endorsed the former city comptroller two weeks ago. U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) became the lone Queens Congress member to endorse Avella last week.

“When congressional redistricting brought me to Queens, Sen. Avella was one of the first elected officials to reach out,” Israel said in a statement. “He partnered with me on combating airplane noise, fighting for our veterans and standing up for New York’s middle-class families. I’ve seen firsthand his relentless work ethic and dedication to his district.”

Israel’s district, formerly entirely on Long Island, was redistricted in 2012 to include some of Avella’s terrain, including Little Neck, Douglaston, Bay Terrace and parts of Whitestone.

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

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