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Baldeo first to the gate in race to replace Seminerio

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State Assembly candidate Albert Baldeo, who has roughly $150,000 in his campaign account, said he amassed more than 1,800 petition signatures in his bid to replace former Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, who resigned in June after pleading guilty to honest services mail fraud charges.

While at least six candidates have announced their intentions to run for the seat, Baldeo is the only contender so far who has his contributions listed with the state Campaign Finance Board, according to the agency’s records.

Community District Education Council 24 President and Community Board 9 member Nick Comaianni, state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) staffer Lourdes Ventura and Farouk Samaroo, a former staffer to ex-Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin, have campaign committees on file with the CFB.

CB 5 member Michael Miller and Forest Park Senior Citizens Center Executive Director Donna Caltabiano, who is being endorsed by the Queens GOP, have expressed interest in the seat, but do not have campaign accounts on file with the CFB.

The six contenders believed the seat would be filled along the same schedule as this year’s citywide races, but Gov. David Paterson is reportedly thinking of calling a special election to fill the vacancy, according to City Hall News.

The paper said there was speculation that if Paterson called a special election, “Baldeo may not meet the state Constitution’s one-year residency requirement and be disqualified from running until the seat comes up again in next year’s election cycle.”

An unnamed Queens Democratic source told City Hall News that it was “hard to see a scenario where [Baldeo] would be the party’s choice.”

Baldeo’s filing showed he had $146,389 on hand. His opening balance was $160,600 — mostly transferred funds from his state Senate campaign account — with $7,790 in contributions. He spent $22,000, according to the filing, which was released last Thursday by the state Elections Board.

“I’m honored and humbled by the support my campaign [is] receiving from the community,” Baldeo said in a statement. “Voters are looking for new representation that will go to Albany and finally get the Legislature working for the people.”

Baldeo said he filed more than 1,800 petition signatures to get on the ballot in the Assembly race. Only 500 valid signatures are needed.

In a press release issued by his campaign, Baldeo noted he was the only candidate with prior election experience.

Baldeo unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2005, but shocked the borough’s political establishment in 2006, when he came within less than 900 votes of ousting then-Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale).

The Ozone Park attorney ran again for the Senate last year, but bowed out in favor of then-Councilman Joseph Addabbo, who went on to defeat Maltese.

The 38th Assembly District covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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