Queens Democrats help nominate McCall for gov

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Queens Democrats threw their support behind H. Carl McCall last week in his bid for the governorship of New York state and turned their back on the borough’s native son, Andrew Cuomo, in the race to unseat Republican Gov. George Pataki in the Nov. 5 election.

At last Thursday’s state Democratic Convention in Manhattan, the party’s delegates unanimously chose McCall, the state comptroller, over his opponent Cuomo, former head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who grew up in Queens.

The younger Cuomo, in a surprise move, pulled out of the convention.

“His name (Cuomo) was brought before the Queens delegation and only one leader nominated him,” said City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans). “Nobody knows Cuomo. He has not spent time in Queens recently. He claims he is a child of Queens, but he worked for the federal government.”

Comrie said Cuomo does not have a relationship with the borough, where support for McCall runs deep. McCall, he said, has spent a lot of time in Queens in addition to working with many of the borough’s legislators in Albany.

The Queens delegation is made up of district leaders. Democrats elect four district leaders to two zones in each of the 16 assembly districts in the borough. One man and one woman are elected to the position.

Cuomo, who plans to run a grassroots campaign, said he will get on the Sept. 10 primary ballot by collecting the necessary 15,000 signatures. The party contended the former Douglaston resident, who had at one point courted the Democratic nomination, did not participate in the convention because he would not have received the necessary 25 percent of the vote to get on the ballot.

“No matter what your background, no matter where you live — upstate, downstate, cities or in our suburbs, in our towns and villages, we are Democrats and let me tell you today, we are in a fighting mood today!” McCall told the crowd at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan last Thursday.

“Despite all of those who have tried to diminish this gathering, this convention is a people’s convention, made up of the strongest, most committed grassroots Democrats there are that exist in any place,” he said. “Democrats who have worked for eight years to bring back our party from the days of debt and disarray.”

Pataki, seeking a third term as governor and running unopposed, received a unanimous nomination to lead the Republican Party’s ticket at Monday and Tuesday’s state Republican Convention in Manhattan.

The Democrats’ convention the week before became a love fest and rally for McCall with fliers, balloons, and the party faithful letting out boisterous cheers for their candidate every few seconds during his speech. McCall harkened back to his struggle growing up in a poor neighborhood, and enumerated his accomplishments and goals if elected as New York’s first black governor.

He said people all over the globe witnessed New Yorkers’ spirit in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack, but many more New Yorkers are still in a dire situation, which needs to be rectified. New York’s children, McCall said, are not getting a proper education. He pointed out that the schools are overcrowded, falling apart, without adequate resources and when a child completes public school, college is beyond his or her financial means.

“I stand before you today as someone who once received a welfare check, but because of a good education, I sign every welfare check issued by the state of New York,” McCall said. “That is what education did for me. That’s why education will be my first priority as governor.”

He also called for stimulating the upstate economy and helping seniors fill their medical prescriptions and buy groceries, not one or the other. McCall vowed to lower school class size, create jobs, make polluters accountable and cut property taxes instead of letting them spiral out of control.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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