Queens Republicans looking for the ideal candidate to represent an already red district held by City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) set their sights on Dennis Saffran instead, a party official said.
Instead of endorsing the current Republican councilman, the party backed Douglaston attorney Saffran after a screening committee voted Thursday night, party Executive Director Robert Hornak said.
The GOP executive said the party was under the impression that Halloran would not seek re-election come November after he was arrested earlier this month.
A federal grand jury indicted Halloran on corruption charges, accusing him of negotiating bribes to help install state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) onto the GOP line in the upcoming mayoral election.
The scandal involved four other elected officials, including former Queens Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone.
“We assume Dan will focus on personal matters,” Hornak said. “By every appearance, he has stopped every activity in terms of campaigning.”
Saffran ran for the northeast Queens City Council seat in 2001 and lost to Tony Avella, who is now a state senator, by less than 400 votes. Hornak said those numbers were a strong indication of a bright future for Saffran in Queens.
“He was relatively new to the community back then,” Hornak said. “Now, he’s been around longer and has deeper ties. We have to run competitive races up and down the ticket, and hopefully that is what we have found.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community News Group
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