Dems lean on Liu to run for Avella’s seat

Former comptroller John Liu (r.) is being pushed to run against state Sen. Tony Avella.
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The Queens Democratic Party is actively courting John Liu to run against state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who recently bolted from the Democratic Party to join the Independent Democratic Conference.

U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who heads the Queens Democratic Party, said he has been in discussions with Liu over the last few weeks about Avella’s district.

“If he decided to run against Sen. Avella, I would support that and the Queens Democratic Party would support that wholeheart­edly,” he said.

Crowley said there are also other possible candidates being considered to run against Avella, but did not identify them.

It would be the first time two-term Avella would face a primary challenge while running for his Senate district. The Democratic Party pumped more than $200,000 into his 2010 campaign against Republican Frank Padavan, a move party officials say they now regret.

“The Democratic Party put a tremendous amount of resources into his race to defeat Frank Padavan, only to find out Tony Avella was Frank Padavan in sheep’s clothing,” said Michael Reich, the executive secretary for the Queens Democratic Party.

Avella joined the IDC saying he was fed up with being in the minority in the GOP-controlled state Senate and wanted to be able to get legislation passed. He has also recently cited an increase in discretionary funding for his district as a reason why he joined the IDC.

“What Mr. Avella has done is empower the Republican Party,” Crowley said. “There’s no argument he can make to me to justify what he’s done.”

Speculation has recently swirled as to whether Liu would run for office again after he continued to hold a busy public schedule after he lost his bid to become mayor last fall.

“If you look at John’s public schedule after he lost, you wouldn’t think he lost,” said Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College.

Despite an investigation into his office’s campaign finance practices that ended in the criminal convictions of two campaign workers and derailed his mayoral bid, Muzzio said Liu has the fund-raising chops as well as the experience of running in a citywide race in his favor.

“If Liu runs, he’s going to be tough to beat,” Muzzio said. “He’s just totally tireless and has proven he can raise a huge amount of money.”

Avella, who is popular in his district, will have Sen. Jeffrey Klein’s IDC fund-raising machine behind him, which has also proven successful at raising large amounts of campaign funds in previous election cycles.

The 11th District includes College Point, Whitestone, Bayside and parts of Flushing, Douglaston and Hollis Hills. Part of Liu’s old City Council district is in Avella’s district, which contains a sizable Asian community, where the former city comptroller’s fund-raising base is.

Of eligible voters in the district, 26.1 percent are Asian, according to state redistricting maps.

“On the demographic level, his money and base support are going to come out of the Asian community, but in previous elections he’s proven he can extend well beyond that,” Muzzio said of Liu.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 4:17 pm, November 14, 2014
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Reader feedback

anon says:
Yes. Do it Liu. We need true role models that can represent the population of the community.
May 8, 2014, 7:06 am
nonsense from Queens says:
He was a corrupt controller, why would you have him run for state Sen. Makes no sense. Guy is a crook. Everyone around him gets indicted. Also does not follow rules of road.
May 8, 2014, 10:19 am
Red the garbage man from Whitestone says:
LMFAO! Liu is so corrupt ! It's surprising he's not locked up. Democrats are scraping the bottom of the barrel! Vote republican!
May 8, 2014, 10:39 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Well, this is a real hard one, let's see:

Tony Avella: Hardest working politician in New York City, honest and cares about communities and their constituents. For the little people.


May 8, 2014, 12:55 pm
Helton from Flushing says:
Joe - you're absolutely right!

Let's not forget that John Liu is such a "man of the people" that he required his staff to stand whenever he entered the room, as well as having to call him "Mr. Comptroller".
May 8, 2014, 3:31 pm
jr from queens says:
Liu is just counting on those Asian votes huh? I wouldn't vote for him if he was the only one running in the whole election. He's just as corrupt as the rest of the other politicians.
May 9, 2014, 4:38 am
Joe Moretti Chan from Jamaica says:
Vote for LIU, Vote for LIU, Vote for LIU

A true NYer that understands what we need.
May 9, 2014, 1:08 pm
green the trash boy from Whitestone says:
Liu for Senator? YES. Screw the fact that all politicians are corrupt, at least with Liu, we get one that can do math
May 9, 2014, 1:10 pm
luser from queens says:
Why is he not in jail. No laws apparently apply to him.
May 9, 2014, 2:45 pm
JP from Bayside says:
May 12, 2014, 4:07 pm
Won Huang Lo from Flushing says:
Sure - good idea- put Johnny Liu in a race again so he loses like the crook loser he is. Avella will be Mayor , after DiBlasio's term limits make an opening again.
Avella is squeaky clean honest and absolutely
working every day for us in his district.
May 19, 2014, 3:20 am

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