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Pheffer staffer declines to fill Assembly seat

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The frontrunner for former state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer’s seat has decided not to run in an upcoming special election, Pheffer said Tuesday, and the field is now wide open.

Pheffer’s old seat, which covers part of the Rockaways, Howard Beach and Ozone Park, has been vacant since she was chosen as Queens county clerk in April.

Pheffer had said she would endorse a run by her former chief of staff, Jo Ann Simon, but Simon decided against being a candidate.

Democratic district leaders Simon, Frank Gulluscio, Geraldine Chapey and Lew Simon choose who gets to run under the Democratic line in the election.

Lew Simon is the only confirmed Democratic candidate for the seat, with Republican Jane Deacy declared on the GOP side.

“I, God willing, expect to be the Democratic nominee,” Simon said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to call a special election for the seat, but so far he has not announced a date.

There was speculation that Y. Philip Goldfeder, a Rockaway resident who previously worked for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), was the preferred choice of the Queens Democratic Party for the seat if he decided to run, but Pheffer said that would be “premature.”

Goldfeder could not be reached for comment.

“I think [the party] is going to wait for the governor to call a special election and then deal with it,” Pheffer said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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