With or Without Democratic
Line, Baldeo Plans Senate Remark
Says he will make racial debate central to Addabbo
March 10th, 2008
Albert Baldeo does not care that state and local Democratic
leaders want him to stay out of the race against State Sen.
Serphin Maltese (R-Queens). After surprising nearly everyone
with the margin of his loss to Maltese in 2006—with virtually
no support, he came within 1,000 votes over the ten-term
incumbent—Baldeo is determined to run again, and is revving up
for a largely self-financed insurgent campaign for the
He will be in the race no matter what, he said, and is willing
to devote his own money and much of his time to fighting all
the way to November.
“The voters in the district want change,” he said. “We are
here for reform. We are not beholden to special interests,
lobbyists and Democratic bosses.”
Baldeo currently has more money on hand than Maltese or his
expected Democratic rival, City Council Member Joseph Addabbo.
The campaign for the seat, which stretches from Maspeth and
Middle Village through South Ozone Park to Howard Beach, could
cost more than $3 million between the candidates, insiders
said, especially with the GOP’s now one-seat majority in the
Senate. Like most of Queens, the district has a large number
of immigrants. Half its population— made up largely of
Italians, Irish, South Asians, Guyanese and Hispanics—is
estimated to be first or second generation. Baldeo is himself
a native of Guyana.
Addabbo said he will run on his record from two terms on the
Council. He expects state and county party support, he said,
but also hopes for Republican backing. “Every community is
different in my district, and I have answered each community
according to their needs,” he said. Addabbo said he expects to
formally announce his candidacy in March or April.
At 75, Maltese is nearly 30 years older than either rival, but
he said he is a hard-working author of more than 200 bills who
delivers for his district and stays in touch by attending a
daunting schedule of civic and religious gatherings. “I love
this job; I love what I do,” he said, adding, “You have to ask
others if my mind is still sharp.”
He said he has been pledged support by Senate Majority Leader
Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer) in both help and money. “Senator
Bruno indicated if I need it he would commit over $1 million
to the race,” he said. Maltese has raised more than Baldeo and
Addabbo over the past year—$214,245—but after paying hefty
campaign bills, was left with only $89,694 on hand as of his
January campaign finance filing. As of that same filing,
Baldeo had raised $57,820 and Addabbo had raised $74,745.
Baldeo also loaned his campaign $243,000 over the last year,
giving him more than $309,000 on hand, according to the
records. He said the money was earned from his work as an
immigration attorney, and through real estate and financial
Addabbo has $77,709 on hand, including $25,000 in transfers
from two Council campaign funds that were not registered with
the state Board of Elections. Democrats insist Addabbo will
get sufficient funds from the party, noting Senate Minority
Leader Malcolm Smith, a fellow Queens Democrat, is headlining
a fundraiser in April for him to do just that.
Already through Smith, Addabbo also received $28,500 in three
contributions from liberal philanthropist George Soros and his
The close election in 2006, in which Baldeo lost to Maltese by
894 votes, should not give Baldeo any advantage with the
party, a Democratic consultant said. “The fact that Baldeo has
run before does not give him some kind of hold on the
nomination," said Scott Levenson, a political consultant close
to the state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.
Addabbo, Levenson added, “is widely respected by voters on
both sides of the aisle and that is what it is going to take
to win.” Michael Reich, executive secretary to the Queens
Democratic Party, said Addabbo would make the stronger
candidate against Maltese.
If Baldeo were to win the nomination, Reich said, “I feel our
odds of winning the seat will be severely diminished.” Baldeo
countered that Addabbo was out of touch with the changing
community, charging that the Council member should have
supported a Guyanese family in a dispute in largely white
Howard Beach last year.
Addabbo said the dispute was not racially motivated, as Baldeo
believes, and suggested that Baldeo was trying to misrepresent
his position ahead of their upcoming primary battle.
“This situation that Albert labeled me a racist for, I think
was a poor excuse for him to use this for political gain,”
Baldeo plans to make campaign issues of that incident and “the
fact that he has shunned minority staff,” he said, noting that
though Addabbo’s Council district is largely white, “the
Senate district is not reflective of the City Council
district. It is a totally different ball game here.”
Addabbo said he had no minorities among eight full-time and
several part-time staff members, but that he was color-blind
when he selected applicants. “It is not the fact that I look
not to hire. It is a question of who has applied for me and
who is willing to do the work that I do. I demand a lot from
my staff,” he said.
Baldeo pledged to fight on, even if he lost the party
nomination. Even if not running as a Democrat, he expects
thousands of the Democrats who voted for him in 2006 would
vote for him in a 2008 general election. And he intends to
give them that opportunity, no matter how the primary goes.
“My game plan,” he said, “is to seek as many third-party lines
and form my own third-party line."
Link: With or Without Democratic Line, Baldeo Plans Senate