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Spitzer targeting Maltese in ‘08

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If the Democrats take back the Senate from the Republicans, who have a two-seat majority, the governor would have a better chance at pushing through his reform agenda for Albany, party insiders said.State Sens. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), who has served 19 years in the Senate, and Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), who has served 35 years, are among several key targets in 2008, Queens GOP members said. City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said he would probably run against Maltese in the 15th Senate District, which covers Ridgewood, Howard Beach, Woodside and other neighborhoods.Party insiders have named Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) as a potential challenger to Padavan. Both Council members will be term limited out of office in 2008.Maltese said he recently met with Democratic Party representatives to discuss an undisclosed position affiliated with the Spitzer administration, but nixed the idea."I made it very clear that I wasn't interested in any position other than senator for the 15th Senate District and that I wouldn't switch parties," he said.Padavan said he had not been approached for a job in the Spitzer administration and would not speculate about potential opponents in 2008. A spokeswoman for Spitzer would not comment on his efforts to woo Queens' only two Republican senators but said the governor recently met with a number of legislators."The governor is very clear about his agenda for reform," she said. "I think he has indicated his willingness to work with people to break the status quo in Albany."The targeting of the Queens Senate seats arrives at a time when the county GOP is attempting to regain ground. Maltese's seat was widely viewed as a primary target in 2008 after he defeated Democrat Albert Baldeo by a mere 900 votes in November. In addition, Queens GOP members John and Bart Haggerty filed suit against the party's county committee on the grounds that it did not follow its own bylaws when Phil Ragusa was recently voted in as a successor to Maltese.Spitzer has already lured one Republican senator-Michael Balboni, of Long Island-to be his top homeland security aide and Maltese said several upstate senators have also been asked by Democratic leaders in Albany to switch parties. Addabbo said Democrats could control the chamber, which has been in GOP hands since 1965, by winning two seats in the 2008 election. Lt. Gov. David Patterson, a Harlem Democrat, would cast the deciding vote.Addabbo said he had considered running against Maltese in 1996 and again at the recommendation of Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006. He said he would decide later this year whether he would challenge Maltese."It's a stop short of definite, but there is a very strong consideration for me in 2008," he said. "I think with a Democratic Assembly, Senate and governor, a lot could be accomplished in terms of reform in Albany and the five boroughs getting their fair share."Gennaro declined to comment on whether he would run for Padavan's seat, but said the governor wanted to take control of the chamber away from the Republicans."I am too busy doing my job," Padavan said, "dealing with many, many issues both in my district and in Albany to be preoccupied with this speculation."Maltese said Democrats outweigh Republicans 2-1 in his district, but that they tend to be more conservative."There will be considerable focus on my race," he said. "Democrats are going to go after all of us in the city. I think their efforts are misguided. They have a better chance going after upstate seats. But if Rudy Giuliani is at the head of the ticket, all bets are off. We could probably take back a couple of seats."John Tozzi and Alex Christodoulides contributed to this story.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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