In the wake of losing eight (or possibly nine) seats – an unusually high number for a majority conference – the Assembly Democrats may have to defend yet another, this time in Queens.
Queens sources say Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer is in line to land a plumb patronage post: The Queens County clerk job that was left vacant by the recent death of Gloria D’Amico.
D’Amico, who died in late December after a long battle with cancer, had held her job since 1991. During her tenure, the county became the first in the city to implement a jury duty call-in system.
Pheffer is not necessarily a sure thing. The appointment here is done by the presiding judge of the Second Department, who was appointed by former Republican Gov. George Pataki.
But a GOP source told me he would be surprised if the Democrats aren’t lobbying very hard on Pheffer’s behalf. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall should be in Pheffer’s corner.
The assemblywoman had her eye on the BP job, but instead endorsed Marshall’s bid for a third term in 2009 after Mayor Bloomberg’s successful push to extend term limits.
As for who might run for Pheffer’s seat, several sources have mentioned her chief of staff, JoAnn Shapiro. Others suggested the candidates who challenged GOP NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich in 2009 – Geraldine M. Chapey; Frank Gulluscio (who ended up getting knocked off the ballot); Mike Ricatto; and Lew M. Simon.
Another name that surfaced: Y. Phillip Goldfeder, a former aide to Mayor Bloomberg and Queens native who works as Sen. Chuck Schumer’s director of Intergovernmental Affairs.
The GOP, which has had some success in Queens in recent elections, will likely make a push for the seat. The district overlaps with Ulrich’s and also has a sizable Orthodox Jewish population, which could help a more conservative candidate.
(I should also note that Goldfeder is an observant Jew who has experience running campaigns, including former NYC Councilman Simcha Felder’s never-realized comptroller race and failed state Senate bid against Sen. Kevin Parker).