Sunday, December 7, 2008

Suitors Line Up For Assembly Seat by Michael Lanza - Queens Tribune

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With rumors of an impending plea deal swirling around the indictment of New York State Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Glendale), potential replacements are already leaping into the spotlight.

Photo caption: Perennial candidate Albert Baldeo speaks with supporters earlier this year. Michael Lanza

Albert Baldeo, a South Ozone Park immigration lawyer and former Democratic state senate candidate, said he’s ready to step up if Seminerio vacates the 38th State Assembly District seat.

“I’ll be sleeping with boots on if we have to go to battle for this seat,” Baldeo said. “I’m prepared to go to war for the Democratic Party.”

But Baldeo’s relationship with Queens Democrats has been a tumultuous one, making the party’s support uncertain despite his decision to bow out of a primary race against State Senator-elect Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) earlier this year.

Baldeo nearly upset State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) in 2006 with an insurgent campaign that revealed glaring weaknesses in the two-decade-Republican incumbent’s defense. He attributed the slim loss, coming within 800 votes, to a lack of support from the Queens Democratic Party. The party withheld endorsement during the 2006 election. Seminerio himself even jumped sides, endorsing Maltese.

The Guyanese born lawyer was cast aside again earlier this year when the party endorsed Addabbo, denying him a rematch against the Republican incumbent.

But Baldeo hopes his decision to support Addabbo in August will finally earn him a place in the party’s good graces.

“I’m owed big time,” he said. “They should do the right thing.”

Baldeo, who was ready to put nearly $500,000 from his own pocket towards an Addabbo primary contest, said his war chest is still available for an Assembly run.

“I will answer the call if asked,” Baldeo said. “I know I’m the strongest candidate.”

Seminerio ran uncontested for his 16th term in November despite pending corruption charges. He was arrested following a federal investigation into his consulting practice in September, accused of taking more than $500,000 in bribes.

The veteran lawmaker was fingered during the undercover operation that included recorded meetings. In one session, he allegedly admitted that he had started the consulting firm as a means of getting paid for political favors.

“I was doing favors for these sons of bitches… They were making thousands,” he said. “Screw you, from now on, you know, I’m a consultant.”

Seminerio is expected to return to court on Wednesday.