Stringer endorses Liu in challenge to Avella

Democratic State Senate candidate John Liu greets commuters at the Bayside LIRR station with city Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Photo by Mark Hallum
By Mark Hallum

Former City Comptroller John Liu picked up an endorsement for his Senate run from his successor Wednesday when Scott Stringer came to the Bayside LIRR station on Aug. 8 to campaign alongside him.

Liu, who is opposing Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) for a second time, is among a slate of other progressive challengers to former members of the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group of eight senators who have been criticized for negotiating with the Republican majority in Albany to pass Democratic legislation.

“It’s very important that we elect Democrats who are going to go to Albany and actually caucus with Democrats,” Stringer said. “There’s a lot on the line for New York City, more education funding, issues we need passed in Albany because we are a creature of the state and dreams of New York City residents die hard in the Republican- controlled state Senate.”

Stringer said one initiative he supported from Liu during his tenure as city comptroller from 2010 to 2013 was Checkbook.com, which shows which contracts are being awarded to whom in city government, something Stringer said he has expanded on since he moved into the office after Liu.

Liu highlighted the fact that progressive legislation gets passed simply enough in the Democratic majority State Assembly, but often dies in the senate if brought to the floor at all.

“Every year, the state Assembly passes more legislation that protects the rights of women to choose, to protect immigrants in the state of New York, that even allow speed cameras to protect children in front of schools. For how many years have the Republicans been stopping this kind of legislation from even coming to a vote?” Liu said.

Avella and former IDC member state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) have argued that the Republicans, who have a narrow majority in the Senate, did not need the breakaway group so any coalition between the two would only benefit Democrats.

But Liu sees this as a “convenient” argument that in the past couple years the Republicans did not need the IDC, which was in existence for about eight years and dissolved in April.

“The reality is that for many years [Republicans] needed the IDC. If anybody is under the delusion that [Senate Majority Leader] Flanagan would be leader without these IDC leaders, they’re out of their mind,” Liu said.

Stringer believes the IDC challengers, which include Jackson Heights activist Jessica Ramos, who is running against Peralta, are some of the best candidates the Democrats have ever fielded.

If elected, Liu is hoping to pass single payer health care, help codify Roe vs. Wade in New York state and help revive the speed camera legislation, which expired in July after it failed to pass in the Republican-controlled State Senate.

“It would be important to have a partner in John who can bring the MTA in and hold them accountable from the state perspective,” Stringer said, referring to Liu’s years in the City Council when he chaired the Transportation Committee. “We need to have projects on time and on budget, and we don’t do either of those things. And we do need more accountability and the way you have accountability is through transparency.”

Liu lost to Avella by just 560 votes in 2014. Voters will choose between them again on Sept. 13 in the Democratic primary.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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