Queens Democrats took a step on Friday toward
unifying their party in an effort to unseat State Senator Serphin R.
Maltese, a Republican, when a candidate withdrew from the Democratic
primary, leaving one challenger to the longtime
Albert J. Baldeo, a lawyer who ran against
Mr. Maltese two years ago, announced at a news conference that he
was taking himself out of the race and endorsing the remaining
Democratic candidate, City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.
Mr. Maltese, who has represented the 15th
District since 1988, has been deemed vulnerable by Senate Democratic
leaders in their quest to regain control of the Senate, which the
Republicans hold by a one-seat majority.
Two years ago, Mr. Baldeo was a little-known
lawyer in Queens who came within 2 percentage points, about
900 votes, of defeating Mr. Maltese. And he achieved that with no
support from the party organization in Queens and largely with his own
This year, too, Mr. Baldeo’s desire for a
rematch never acquired much support from Queens Democratic officials. They preferred Mr.
Addabbo, the son of a well-known congressman.
In an interview on Friday, Mr. Baldeo said he
had become increasingly aware that the party would have a better
chance to topple Mr. Maltese if a divisive Democratic primary could
“It was a gut-wrenching, difficult decision,” Mr.
Baldeo said. “But I decided to endorse him for the greater goal of
unity. We want to put all of our resources behind one candidate, and
that’s Councilman Addabbo. I’ll be actively campaigning for him.”
The two men appeared together at the news
conference, at Mr. Baldeo’s office in
Queens. The event even attracted a few of Mr.
Maltese’s aides, who attended with video
Mr. Baldeo has had an arms-length
relationship with Queens Democrats for some time. And he has been
described by party leaders as something of an unpredictable
candidate. Despite Mr. Baldeo’s strong showing in his previous
contest with Senator Maltese, party leaders made their preference
for Mr. Addabbo clear long before the councilman entered the race
When asked whether he had been pressured to
leave the race, either by Representative Joseph Crowley, the
Queens Democratic leader, or Michael H. Reich, the
organization’s executive secretary, Mr. Baldeo said only that he had
been “in consultations with various party leaders,” and declined to
be more specific.
“The important thing is that we are now
united behind a candidate in the Democratic primary,” he said.
Despite the withdrawal, Mr. Baldeo’s name
will remain on the ballot for the Sept. 9 primary. On Friday, Mr.
Addabbo called Mr. Baldeo “a worthy
He added: “I applaud his
wholehearted embrace of the democratic process. The Democratic Party
is the party of inclusion; it’s a big tent with room for everyone,
and we are stronger for his efforts.”