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Goldfeder has inside track to fill Pheffer’s vacant seat

Y. Philip Goldfeder, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) director of intergovernmental affairs, is expected to run for the seat vacated by former state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) and has the inside track to become the Democratic nominee in the yet-to-be announced race, a source close to Goldfeder told TimesLedger Newspapers.

Goldfeder, who declined to comment, has been Schumer’s director of intergovernmental affairs for 2 1/2 years and previously worked as the Queens director of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Community Assistance Unit.

Pheffer’s seat became vacant after she accepted the position of Queens county clerk last month.

Political insiders say Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants the special election to replace Pheffer to take place on Primary Day, Sept. 13, which means he is expected to announce the contest June 24 at the earliest.

Under previous law, special elections had to be held within 30 to 40 days of the governor’s announcement, but the law was tweaked to 70 to 80 days in order to accommodate ballots from overseas.

Before his position with Bloomberg, Goldfeder, a Rockaway resident, worked for City Councilmen James Sanders (D-Laurelton) and James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows).

Democratic district leaders in the Assembly district decide who makes it on the ballot as a Democrat, with two of the leaders — Lew Simon and Geraldine Chapey — expected to run in the race.

But the source close to Goldfeder said he is expected to be supported by the other two district leaders — Jo Ann Simon and Frank Gulluscio — which would be enough backing for Goldfeder to make the ballot on the Democratic line.

Jo Ann Simon, who was Pheffer’s chief of staff, declined to run and Gulluscio is also not expected to be a candidate.

The source said Goldfeder is close to Simon and noted he worked on Gulluscio’s failed Council campaigns and the two district leaders are said to be backing him.

On the Republican side, district leader Jane Deacy is a candidate for the seat and she has the backing of Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).

The source said Ulrich’s criticism of Goldfeder — he said Goldfeder is virtually unknown outside of Rockaway — was a “silly statement,” pointing to Goldfeder’s career working for two councilmen, Bloomberg and Schumer.

“Phil has spent his entire career working from within the diverse borough of Queens,” the source said.

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

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