Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Replacing Seminerio by Elizabeth Benjamin - The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

Tony Seminerio Resigns from New York State Assembly; Said to be Copping a Plea...
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Here's a copy of the resignation letter tendered late last night by indicted now-former Assemblyman Tony Seminerio, bringing to an abrupt end his more than three decade-long career in public office.

The letter doesn't shed much light on why the Queens Democrat suddenly decided to step down, although speculation is that his decision was connected to the influence-peddling charges.

Mike Reich, executive secretary of the Queens Democratic Party, said he had not received any heads up from Seminerio, but nevertheless insisted that the resignation didn't take him entirely by surprise.

"I certainly didn't know what Tony's timetable was; he indicated he was going to fight this and said he was innocent. It would appear from his resignation that he's either going full force into his legal battle or he's going to take a plea...It looks to me like he's going to take a plea."

UPDATE: An anonymous law enforcement source told DN Capitol Bureau Chief Ken Lovett that Seminerio is indeed expected to plead guilty to a fraud charge.

I asked Reich whether he had anyone in mind to run for Seminerio's seat. He said the district is "odd" with an "emerging new population" and "changing demographics," and thus without a clear frontrunner.

He also noted that Seminerio used to be a district leader, and thus was the person who would have been able to make a suggestion as to who might replace him.

A few names that have come up in conversation with people familiar with the district (there are both Democrats and Republicans in this list):

Former City Council and state Senate candidate Al Baldeo (I'm not sure if he meets the one-year residency requirement); Community Board 9's Nick Comaianni; Seminerio's son, who ran for City Council in 2001 and was briefly mentioned as a candidate for former Councilman Dennis Gallagher's seat (now held by Democratic Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley); Donna Marie Caltabiano, director of the Forest Park Senior Center; and - here's a wild card - Matt Gorton, an aide to Mayor Bloomberg.

On the Democratic side, here's what one Queens insider had to say:

"No natural pick. I'm sure Al Baldeo will want it but he's probably not County's first pick. Liz Crowley should take it but she's standing for re-election at the same time, presumably, that the Assembly seat will be filled so I doubt she switches at this point."

"It's a bit of a free-for-all."