Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hiram Monserrate Leading Movement Of Allies Running For A Variety Of Positions In Queens by Andrew Hawkins - City Hall News

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Hiram Monserrate is back. And this time, he's brought friends.

In addition to Monserrate’s alleged campaign for José Peralta’s old Assembly seat, a slate of aides, confidants and beneficiaries of the former lawmaker’s are running this year for a variety of positions—Assembly, district leader, state committee.

Local operatives see a vengeful effort orchestrated by Monserrate to claw his way back into power. But Monserrate allies say the number of people associated with him who are running this year is pure coincidence, dismissing claims of conspiracy as distracting from the issues.

“They want people to believe in the boogie man, but there’s no boogie man,” said Anthony Miranda, a former staffer of Monserrate’s who is running a primary campaign against Assembly Member Jeff Aubry in a district adjacent to Peralta’s.

Miranda co-founded the Latino Officers Association with Monserrate when both served on the police force in the ’90s. The two successfully sued the NYPD for discrimination, and later, when Monserrate ran for district leader, Miranda was at his side in support. They planned to take Northwest Queens by storm, running Monserrate for City Council and other candidates for district leader and State Senate, several people familiar with their efforts say. They did succeed in getting Monserrate elected to the City Council, making him the first Latino in elected office from Queens.

Calls to Monserrate, along with several e-mail requests seeking comment, went unanswered.

Miranda is not the only former member of Monserrate’s camp seeking office this year. Jim Galloway, president of the Lefrak City Merchants Association, is running for county committeeman. Monserrate has been a supporter of the small community group, and Galloway has in turn been one of Monserrate’s most vocal supporters.

“If he becomes the State Assembly person for that district, those people will have a jewel,” Galloway said. “It’s unfortunate what happened to him, his girlfriend. You know the rest.”

Terry Lewis—a self-ordained minister, former staffer during Monserrate’s Council and Senate days and all-around gadfly—is said to be running for district leader against James Lisa, whom Monserrate himself ran against over a decade ago. Hayden Horshen, who once worked for both Monserrate and his Council-successor Julissa Ferreras (and was fired by both), is said to be running against District Leader George Dickson.

Neither Horshen nor Lewis could be reached for comment.

On the other side of the coin is Peralta and his self-styled “unity team,” which includes Aubry, Assembly Member Michael DenDekker, Francisco Moya (who would be the candidate running against Monserrate for Peralta’s old Assembly seat), and Council Member Daniel Dromm and Ferreras, who are both seeking district leader positions.

A recent addition to Peralta’s unity team is Jessica Ramos, an organizer at District Council 37, who once worked for Monserrate but had a falling-out with the former senator. Ramos was running for district leader against former Council Member Helen Sears (who nearly became the Republican candidate in the special election to succeed Monserrate in the spring). But she has since been persuaded to abandon that effort and run for an open seat in another district.

Monserrate critics who claim to be familiar with his campaign style said that his efforts usually start out as a team effort, but usually end up with the singular mission geared just to elect Monserrate himself.

“Everyone who’s run with him, it always starts with ‘we,’” said one Queens official, “and it always ends up with ‘I’m the only one with a shot at this.’”

Aubry, who faces Miranda in this year’s primary, said he has never known Monserrate to bow down, even when the odds are clearly staked against him.

“He is a very driven individual,” Aubry said. “Even in the face of reality, he’s driven.”