Comrie ousts Sen. Smith from seat

By Juan Soto

Former City Councilman Leroy Comrie, armed with widespread support from the Queens Democratic Party, overwhelming won the three-way race to unseat embattled state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis).

Southeast Queens voters chose Comrie over the incumbent, who has been in office since 2000 and now faces a federal retrial in January for allegedly trying to bribe his way onto the GOP line in the mayoral race in 2013.

Comrie, a special assistant to Borough President Melinda Katz, came out on top with 69 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results.

Smith received 19 percent, while Queens Village lawyer Munir Avery, in his first run for office, obtained 12 percent of the vote.

A total of 13,421 people cast valid ballots during Primary Day.

The 14th District represents Jamaica, St. Albans, Laurelton, Hollis, Queens Village and parts of Forest Hills.

Right after the race was declared in his favor at the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club, at 197th Street and Linden Boulevard Tuesday night, Comrie said, “W still have a lot of work to do.”

“The voters have put their faith in me to serve the people of this district with integrity and dedication,” he said. “I will continue to work diligently with my partners in government on the issues that matter the most to our residents.”

At a nearby catering hall, the incumbent promised to work closely with Comrie and help him settle into his new job.

“I had a good run,” said Smith in his concession speech. “This is life.”

With Comrie’s victory, the state’s mainline Democrats gained a seat in their efforts to reach a majority in the 63-seat upper chamber in Albany. While Democrats succeeded in reaching the magic number in 2012, their dream became a nightmare when the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats, sided with Republicans to share control of the Senate.

Smith joined the IDC but was expelled following his arrest on the bribery charges. He vowed to caucus again with the main Democratic Party members if re-elected.

Comrie was backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who campaigned with him in downtown Jamaica on Primary Day, most southeast Queens elected officials and several labor unions.

During the election, voters in southeast Queens seemed to know a lot about the three-way race.

“I like to vote for people who do good things,” said Jennifer Fairlough after she cast her ballot at PS 118 at St. Albans. She did not disclose whom she voted for, but said, “I know the candidates, read a lot about them before coming to vote.”

Branda Phelps, a Texas native, said it was “important to come out and vote,” but she added that it was “unfortunate so many votes are controlled by big money.”

“I will say this, I am disenchanted with [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo,” said Phelps.

Fay Carson voted at IS 192. A little while after casting her ballot, she said she thought voter turnout was low “because I really think a lot of people are tired of politicians.”

Smith’s legal problems was one of the hot topics during the campaign.

“I am not worried about my trial, I know I am innocent,” said the senator during an interview days before the election.

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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