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Baldeo offered to withdraw for judgeship: Qns. Dems

The Queens County Democratic Party's executive secretary said the county organization recently turned down Ozone Park attorney Albert Baldeo's request to support him for a judgeship in return for his not running against Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) in the September primary.

Queens County Democratic Party Executive Secretary Michael Reich said Baldeo had floated the idea and was turned down because he had not taken part in a judicial screening.

But Baldeo, who was defeated by state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) by a mere 900 votes during his 2006 run for the 15th Senate District seat, said he never asked for the judge's position.

"I'm willing to have talks, but I didn't have any communications with them," he said. "It's not a great sign that a party functionary would speak to the press about that. I find it appalling that he would stoop to that level."

But Reich said Baldeo had asked for a judgeship in return for not challenging Addabbo in the primary, but was rejected because he had not gone before a judicial screening panel.

"He only said it to about 10 people and he sent me a copy of his application to be screened," Reich said. "He wanted the nomination for a judgeship and we weren't prepared to give it to him. I told him to his face that we would not consider him if he had not been screened."

Baldeo said he would run as an independent candidate against Maltese if he loses the Democratic primary to Addabbo, who is expected to officially announce his bid for the seat this summer. He said he would form a new independent party called Hope and Change and run as its candidate if he does not become the Democratic candidate following the September primary.

"I've gotten great support in my district," he said. "I'm a Democrat, but my purpose is not to run as a Democrat. I won 49 percent of the vote [in 2006]. The party cannot win without the support of grassroots organizations. We won't win the seat with a divided Democratic vote."

Addabbo said he had conversations with Baldeo about the race.

"I told him if he was getting out of the race, I'd be looking forward to working with him as an ally," he said. "That being said, if he runs for the office, it's a primary I've prepared for for more than a year."

Maltese defeated Baldeo in 2006 after he drew support from the borough's Conservative and Independence parties. At that time, Baldeo ran without the support of the borough's Democratic Party.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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