August 22, 2008, 4:55 pm

Only One Democrat in Queens Senate Race

There will be a show of Democratic unity this afternoon in an effort to topple a longtime Republican state senator from Queens. One of the Democratic candidates, Albert J. Baldeo, will be withdrawing from the race and endorsing City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.

Two years ago, Mr. Baldeo was a little-known lawyer in Queens who came within 2 percentage points, about 900 votes, of defeating the longtime Republican incumbent, State Senator Serphin R. Maltese. And Mr. Baldeo achieved that with no support from the party organization in Queens and largely with his own money.

But this year, Mr. Baldeo’s desire for a rematch never quite achieved much support among Queens Democratic officials. They preferred Mr. Addabbo, the son of a well-known congressman.

In an interview this morning, Mr. Baldeo said that he thought it would be better to endorse Mr. Addabbo and avoid a divisive Democratic primary.

“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.”

In fact, the two men are scheduled to appear together this afternoon at a press conference at Mr. Baldeo’s office in the Richmond Hill section of Queens.

Mr. Baldeo has had an arms-length relationship with the Democratic organization in Queens for some time. And has been described by leaders of the organization as something of an unpredictable candidate. Despite Mr. Baldeo’s narrow loss to Senator Maltese, party leaders made clear their preference for Mr. Addabbo long before the councilman officially entered the race.

When asked whether he had been pressured to leave the race — either by United States 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,” declining 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. “But I am going to travel throughout the district telling people to vote for Joe Addabbo,” he said.

In a statement, Mr. Addabbo called Mr. Baldeo “a worthy opponent.” He added that “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.”


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