GOV. PATERSON'S bizarre ac tion Friday announcing and then canceling a special Assembly election resulted from secret pressure from three powerful Queens Democrats who are on the outs with their county leader, The Post has learned.
The bungled handling of what was widely expected to be a Sept. 15 contest for the seat left vacant by the resignation of disgraced former Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio has "totally pissed off" the regular Queens Democratic organization, headed by US Rep. Joseph Crowley, sources said.
While the cancellation was publicly attributed to a "mistake" by Paterson's top staff, including chief counsel Peter Kiernan, it actually came in response to demands by state Sens. Malcolm Smith and John Sampson, and US Rep. Gregory Meeks, who have promised the Assembly seat to a party maverick not favored by Crowley, sources said.
Smith, Sampson and Meeks are backing Queens activist Albert Baldeo, who has been preparing to run for the seat left open by the resignation of Seminerio, who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.
But Baldeo -- a one-time state Senate candidate who is viewed skeptically by many Queens Democrats -- won't be eligible to run for the seat in September because he can't meet the one-year residency requirement until November, when he wants the special election to be held, it was learned.
Paterson was caught between the two feuding sides and, insiders said, made contradictory promises to both.
"This is another typical Paterson screw-up, where he designates his staff to take care of something and then he goes out to do other things and doesn't keep track of what's going on," said a prominent New York City Democrat.
"As a result, the governor has totally pissed off the Queens organization, starting with Joe Crowley."
Meanwhile, it was learned that Paterson's cancellation of the order for the Sept. 15 contest might be illegal.
Queens Republicans are expected to push to select a candidate for a Sept. 15 election, contending that Paterson's initial order is legally binding.
The Queens Democratic organization, fearing the GOP is correct, is then expected to follow suit and select a candidate of its own -- and it won't be Baldeo.