U.S. Rep. Israel backs Avella in state Senate race

By Alex Robinson

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) announced Friday he will be backing state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in his primary fight against former city Comptroller John Liu.

“When congressional redistricting brought me to Queens, Sen. Avella was one of the first elected officials to reach out,” Israel said. “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, which was formerly entirely in Long Island, was redistricted in 2012 to include parts of Avella’s district, including Little Neck, Douglaston, Bay Terrace and parts of Whitestone.

“During my time in office, Congressman Israel and I have worked together to fight for increased services for veterans, the protection of our seniors and middle class families, and to keep our communities free of airplane noise,” Avella said. “I am honored to have his support and look forward to continue working together to make sure that our constituents’ voices are heard in Washington and Albany.”

The endorsement came a week after three other Queens congressional members threw their weight behind Liu. U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) all endorsed the former city comptroller, but this came as no surprise as Liu was courted by the Queens Democratic Party, which Crowley heads, to run.

The Democratic leadership urged Liu to challenge the incumbent after he bolted the mainline party to join the Independent Democratic Conference, which controls the state Senate in a power-sharing pact with Republicans. The IDC recently agreed to form a new coalition with the Democrats after the fall elections.

Liu had already backed Meng in her congressional re-election bid after rumors surfaced he was considering a run against her.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.