By Juan Soto
Former City Councilman Leroy Comrie won the three-way race to unseat state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis), according to preliminary results from AP. The incumbent’s federal indictment for allegedly trying to bribe his way onto the GOP line in the mayoral race in 2013 was a heavy burden to carry.
Comrie, who was backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, most of the elected politicians in southeast Queens and by a large number of labor unions, had 69.9 percent of the vote with 73.1 percent of the precincts reported, according to preliminary results from the AP.
Smith was second with 19.5 percent and Munir Avery came in third with 10.6 percentin one of the mostly contested races for statewide office in the city.
“I had a good run,” said Smith in his concession speech. “This is life.”
The incumbent thanked all his supporters and all the people who voted for him and said that he would work closely with Comrie. He said the race was not about him or the former councilman.
Right after the race was declared in his favor, Comrie said, “we still have a lot of work to do.”
In a statement, he said, “This win is a huge triumph and now I am looking forward to getting to work.”
He said he will sit down with his advisors to find out “the things that need to be done before the end of the year in Albany to get them ready for the budget.”
Smith’s legal problems was a hot topic during the campaign for the district, which covers Jamaica, St. Albans, Laurelton, Hollis, Queens Village and parts of Forest Hills.
Days before the primary in an interview with Times/Ledger Newspapers, Smith said, “I am not worried about my trial, I know I am innocent.”
Smith, who was endorsed by DC-37 and the Rev. Floyd Flake, was elected to the Senate in March 2000. He had asked Comrie and Avery to look at his work in Albany “even in my challenging year.”
But both Comrie and Avery said that Smith’s upcoming trial in January will force the senator to focus more on his federal retrial than on his constituents.
Smith had pointed out that he was “disappointed” with Comrie when the former councilman announced he was running for his Senate seat. Smith and Comrie were friends and came out of the same Democratic political club. Comrie stepped down from his job as deputy borough president to challenge Smith.
“[Comrie] being the deputy borough president and me being in the state Senate with all my years of experience, we would have been a great team to benefit southeast Queens,” Smith said.
But Comrie said he was saddened when he heard about Smith’s legal troubles.
Comrie said Smith lost his credibility in the state’s capital.
Comrie said it was important for the district “to have someone in the seat” in Albany. .
Avery, who was endorsed Monday by gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout, said his decision to run became evident when he saw Smith side with the Independent Democratic Conference.
“I wanted a Democrat in office,” said Munir.
The IDC formed a bipartisan coalition with Republicans to control the Senate.