By Carlotta Mohamed
Despite losing the Democratic primary in September, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is continuing his re-election bid on two minority parties against former City Comptroller John Liu.
Avella announced on Monday that he would run on the Independence Party or Women’s Equality Party line in the Nov. 6 general election after Families for Tony Avella, a grassroots group, was formed to promote his candidacy.
“They and others from all political perspectives have asked me not to give up the fight but to continue to campaign for them,” Avella said in a statement released Monday. “No matter where I go in the district since the election, residents have expressed their serious concerns with the candidates that won the Democratic and Republican primaries.”
Avella will be running against Liu and Republican opponent Vickie Paladino to represent the 11th Senate District in northeast Queens, which covers Bayside, College Point, Auburndale, Beechhurst, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, and parts of Flushing, Douglaston, Little Neck and Glen Oaks.
Liu and Avella — a member of the Independent Democratic Conference from 2014 to 2018 — previously went head-to-head in the 2014 primary, which Avella won by a narrow margin of 894 votes.
Facing off for the second time in the Sept. 13 primary, Liu captured 50.73 percent of the votes, while Avella trailed behind with 45.3 percent, according to the city Board of Elections.
“Many have expressed shock that disgraced and scandal-ridden John Liu won the Democratic primary,” said Avella. “They feel John Liu is an embarrassment to the community and are very afraid of the negative impact on the community if he is elected.”
“All during the campaign countless people asked me how can he run, why didn’t he go to jail for campaign finance fraud,” added.
In 2009, Liu’s campaign for comptroller was derailed after his ex-campaign treasurer Jia Hou and fund-raiser Xing Wu Pan were convicted of using straw donors. Both served jail time. While Liu was targeted in the investigation, he was never charged.
Born and raised in Queens, the senator claimed that he cannot walk away from his constituents’ concerns about the candidates and the quality of life issues that plague the district.
“The battles we face everyday including over development, property taxes, airplane and helicopter noise, quality education, affordable health care and corruption in government are too important to hand over to either of these two primary winners,” said Avella.
Liu’s spokeswoman Heather Stewart issued a statement on Avella’s run for re-election.
“It’s about time that Tony Avella finally fesses up to what were his intentions all along,” said Stewart. “Not to worry. Democrats fired him on Sept. 13, and voters will fire him again on Nov. 6. Soon after, Avella will also have to answer for accepting well over $100,000 of illegal contributions.”
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha