Dems support Grodenchik for Flushing Assembly seat

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Queens Democrats selected a slate of primary candidates Monday at their annual organization meeting for the new seats proposed by the state Legislature’s redistricting plan in Flushing and Jackson Heights.

The party chose Barry Grodenchik, personnel director for Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, for Flushing’s new assembly seat, former Councilman John Sabini for a state Senate seat covering Jackson Heights and Corona, and union official Jose Peralta for the new assembly seat in Jackson Heights and Corona.

The Legislature created the Flushing seat to cater to the majority Asian population and the two Jackson Heights districts are in heavily Hispanic areas.

The party’s support of Grodenchik, 42, came just three days after civic activist and political newcomer Paul Belliveau was to hold a press conference to announce his candidacy for the 22nd Assembly District in Flushing. But scheduling conflicts caused a last-minute cancellation. State Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing) and Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) were to announce their support for Belliveau at the press conference.

With Grodenchik’s decision to run, it was unclear whether Belliveau, who could not be reached for comment, still intends to run.

But a political insider said Belliveau, a friend of Grodenchik’s, would probably not run.

“With Barry getting his designation, Belliveau is likely to step down,” the source said.

Grodenchik, who also could not be reached for comment, lost the Democratic primary for the Forest Hills council seat to James Gennaro in September and is set to run against Democratic district leader Ethel Chen and businessman Jimmy Meng, two Asian candidates.

The Queens Democratic Organization was considering supporting Chen, the candidate said. The party offered to support Chen if she convinced her own supporter, Julia Harrison, not to run against incumbent state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), Chen said.

Chen, who narrowly lost the party’s nomination to John Liu (D-Flushing), who was ultimately elected as the first Asian in the City Council, would not drop Harrison.

“I can’t abandon my ship for my own glory,” Chen said.

The party chose to support two white candidates in communities where whites are a minority.

Grodenchik will campaign in a district that is 53 percent Asian and 20 percent white, while Sabini will fight for the 13th Senate District, which is 54 percent Hispanic and 13.5 percent white.

Meng, who described himself as a “very close friend” of Grodenchik, said he was a “little surprised” to learn Grodenchik was running in a majority-Asian district.

The machine did pick Diccia Pineda-Kirwan, 47, to serve the city as a judge. Pineda-Kirwan is the first Hispanic woman the group has designated for a judicial post.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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