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Endorsements roll in as Dem primaries near

By Alex Robinson

John Liu doesn’t vote and tell.

The state Senate contender and former city comptroller refused to say which gubernatorial candidate he will vote for in the Democratic primary when asked by Brian Lehrer on WNYC Tuesday morning.

“I know who I’m voting for. I’ve made up my mind — at least on my part in terms of who I’m voting for for governor — and we’ll see what happens,” he told Lehrer, who had asked him if he was supporting Gov. Andrew Cuomo or his challenger, Zephyr Teachout.

Lehrer pressed Liu on the question, but the northeast Queens candidate refused to say who he will vote for until he finally said, “Let’s leave it at that.”

Cuomo has already endorsed state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), the head of the Independent Democratic Conference, which Liu’s opponent, Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), is part of. The governor has not yet made an endorsement in the race between Liu and Avella, which has drawn widespread interest as a battle between the Queens Democratic Organization and the breakaway IDC faction.

Later that same morning, Tim Wu, the running mate of Cuomo’s challenger, Zephyr Teachout, and primary challenger to Kathy Hochul, endorsed Liu.

“The lieutenant governor of New York is also the president of the Senate, and I think it is essential that we have a state Senate that accurately represents New York state,” Wu said in a statement.

Wu said Liu “was a great city comptroller and has a strong track record. He is challenging Tony Avella, an opportunist who has done nothing but serve his own interests at the expense of the state’s Democratic majority.”

Liu, however, later released a statement rejecting Wu’s endorsement.

“Just to be clear: I do not know this person, I have not met this person and I’m not interested in accepting endorsements from people I have never heard of before,” Liu said.

The New York Times endorsed Liu last week “to break up the gang of opportunists like Mr. Klein and Mr. Avella.”

Avella received an endorsement from the New York State Nurses Association last week.

“Tony is a strong advocate for the people of Queens and has supported our efforts to enact safe staffing ratio legislation, in keeping hospitals open for care, protecting patient care and stopping the for-profit takeover of our hospitals,” said Jill Furillo, the executive director of NYSNA.

Endorsements have also started to flood in for northeast Queens’ other Senate race between S.J. Jung and Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing).

In addition to his endorsement of Liu, Wu announced his support of Jung Tuesday morning.

“S.J. Jung is an activist and small businessman, and I am impressed by his positions on making New York safer for small business,” Wu said. “I’ve reviewed his five-point plan for small business in New York and I’m convinced he is what District 16 needs.”

Stavisky gained a nod from Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) last week.

“For New York to live up to its full potential, we need a state government that works for every one of our families,” de Blasio said. “I urge you to re-elect my friend, Toby Stavisky, to the state Senate because she is a powerful voice for better schools, safer streets and an expanded middle-class.”

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was also set to endorse Stavisky Wednesday.

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

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