Queens Dems back Braunstein

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The Queens County Democratic Party threw its weight behind Edward Braunstein, a Community Board 11 member who works in constituent services for state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), in the race to replace Assemblywoman Ann Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside).

Braunstein was chosen by the party during a closed-door session at the party’s Forest Hills headquarters on Monday morning.

“It’s a tremendous honor and it means a lot to me that the Queens County Democratic organization believes in my candidacy,” Braunstein said.

The Queens Democratic Party chose Braunstein from a large field of Democrats vying for the seat, which includes New York State Young Democrats President Matthew Silverstein; Carol Gresser, the former city Board of Education president who challenged Helen Marshall in the 2001 Queens borough president race; John Duane, a former assemblyman in the district and brother of state Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan); Whitestone attorney Elio Forcina; Michael Sais, chief of staff for Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria); and Steve Behar, a Bayside attorney who ran last fall for former Councilman Tony Avella’s seat.

Silverstein said Monday that he had suspended his campaign, but Behar planned to stay in the race.

It was unclear whether the rest of the candidates planned to continue their bids following the county party’s decision to back Braunstein.

Republicans running for the seat include Vince Tabone, who works as an attorney for John Catsimitidis’ Manhattan-based Red Apple Group, and Rob Speranza, a former city police officer who challenged Carrozza in 2008.

The Queens County Republican Party has already pledged its support for Tabone’s campaign.

But one of Braunstein’s Democratic opponents has already criticized his party’s pick.

“I don’t understand how the county organization can have a reformer like Tony Avella run with Ed Braunstein, whose only job has been with the leadership in Albany,” Behar said. “He’s being backed by the lobbyists and the special interests that caused most of Albany’s dysfunction.”

Avella is challenging state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) for his seat this fall in a race that is shaping up to be one of the year’s most closely watched.

Braunstein and Behar both serve on Community Board 11.

Carrozza, who was first elected in 1996, announced March 26 that she would not run for another term. The assemblywoman had taken heat from some residents in her district when it was discovered in July that she had been living out of the district at a property she and her husband owned in Glen Head, L.I.

Assembly records had shown she had excused absences for 44 days, or 64 percent of the time, during 2009’s legislative session.

Her seat covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and Whitestone. It includes District 25 and 26 schools.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 5:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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