Published by: New York
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 incumbent.
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 money.
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 be
“It was a gut-wrenching, difficult decision,” Mr. Baldeo said.
“But I decided to endorse him for the greater goal of Democratic
Party 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 Richmond Hill, Queens. The event even attracted a
few of Mr. Maltese’s aides, who attended with video cameras.
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 officially.
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 opponent.”
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