Smith’s allies throw support behind Comrie

By Juan Soto

Leroy Comrie won the battle of the endorsements.

On Tuesday, he received a major boost, winning the support of most elected officials who represent parts of southeast Queens, from U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) to City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), in his race to unseat indicted state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis).

Flanked by political and community leaders at a podium in front of his campaign headquarters, at 113-43 Farmers Blvd., Comrie said, “I am ready to go.”

Smith’s longtime friends and allies turned their back on him and went to the Comrie camp.

Smith, Comrie and attorney Munir Avery will face off in the Democratic primary election set for Sept. 9.

“I am glad I have all this support,” said the former councilman, who served 12 years in the municipal chamber representing parts of southeast Queens.

Also backing Comrie are Councilmen I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) and Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) and state Assembly members William Scarborough (D-Jamaica), Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), Nily Rozic (D-Flushing), Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing) and David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows).

“This is a man we know as a community leader,” said Meeks. “He exemplifies leadership.”

Meeks, one of Smith’s longtime supporters, said his endorsement of the senator’s rival is “about what is best for the community. This is not personal.”

A judge declared a mistrial in Smith’s federal trial on charges he tried to bribe his way onto the Republican line as the GOP contender in the 2013 mayoral race. He now faces a retrial scheduled to begin in January.

The veteran congressman said Comrie is a person “that can bring people together, as he did in the City Council, and can make sure Democrats take back control in Albany.”

Comrie lost out on his bid to become borough president to Melinda Katz in the 2014 city elections.

Richards tapped Comrie as a “leader that will return integrity to our southeast Queens communities.”

The former councilman received the massive endorsement four weeks from the Democratic primary day.

“I am running because people have asked me to return to public office,” he said. “We can’t afford to have a void in the state Senate.”

Comrie, who is a special assistant to the borough president, pointed out that he is a person who can “work with people with differences of opinion and bringing them together to reach a compromise,” as he did, he added, while serving in the Council.

“I know how to create opportunity out of chaos,” he said.

Scarborough said “we need to have a representative that can work with everyone and get things done.”

When asked if Smith should resign because of his legal battles, the candidate said “I want to focus on me. I am not looking to malign anyone. That’s not my issue.”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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