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Giuliani backs Maltese in state Senate election

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State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) got a boost to his campaign Tuesday when former mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani endorsed him during a visit to the Peter Cardella Senior Citizen Center in Ridgewood.

"Serf is a very good friend," Giuliani said. "He's someone who I've admired for a very long time."

Giuliani, who took time off from stumping for Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to back Maltese, received a standing ovation as he joined Maltese, state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) and City Councilman Anthony Como (R-Middle Village) at the center as "New York, New York" played during their entrance.

The former mayor cited Maltese's help with veterans and senior centers as reasons why he is backing the senator in his re-election battle against City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach).

He said Maltese was "one of those people that cares about his community. There's nobody that understands it better."

Giuliani also said the senator "has a reputation for being honest and someone you can work with."

"Ridgewood is blessed to have such a leader as Serf Maltese," he said. "He works on behalf of the people — that's what he's all about. We want to make sure, whatever else happens, that we get Serf elected."

The Republicans have a razor-thin margin of one seat in the state Senate, where the Democrats have targeted several members seeking re-election in a bid to gain control of the body.

Giuliani said Maltese first introduced him to the Ridgewood senior center, where he said he visited while campaigning for mayor in 1993 and 1997.

Maltese "will deliver for you, he will deliver for us, we need him," Giuliani said. "Anything I can do to help, please, you can count on me."

Maltese returned the favor, calling Giuliani "the one who turned New York City around" and "a man that was there in our moment of crisis," referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"He stepped forward as we knew he would," the senator said.

Maltese also has the endorsement of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

At the end of his visit, Giuliani was surrounded by adoring women from the senior center and even danced with several of them before being ushered out to his car.

Addabbo campaign spokeswoman Alexis Grenell said the endorsement showed that Maltese was vulnerable.

"It is embarrassing that a 20-year incumbent can't carry his own district," she said. "He needed to call in the big guns. It shows he's desperate."

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

Posted 6:37 pm, October 10, 2011
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