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Former Jamaica Councilman to Challenge Malcolm Smith in Primary

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | April 28, 2014 2:58pm
 Leroy Comrie (left) is planning to challenge State Senator Malcolm Smith in the Democratic primary in September.
Leroy Comrie (left) is planning to challenge State Senator Malcolm Smith in the Democratic primary in September.
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QUEENS — Leroy Comrie will challenge embattled state Sen. Malcolm Smith in September's Democratic primary, officials said Monday.

Comrie, a former three-term City Councilman from Jamaica, resigned from his position as deputy borough president last week to challenge Smith, who's been in the Senate since 2000 and is scheduled to go in trial in June on charges he tried to bribe his way onto the ballot to run for mayor last year.

In announcing his decision Monday, Comrie did not mention Smith's legal troubles directly, but appeared to hint at them.

"The 14th district will not be sidelined waiting for a leader to do the right thing," Comrie said in a statement, adding that he has "received a lot of positive feedback" about his decision. "I'm running because the people in the 14th district need representation from someone who has the ability to gain people's trust, to create alliances, that can get calls from government agencies and industry to obtain services for the community," Comrie added.

"It simply means people are ready for a change,” he said.

The former councilman, who had represented the 27th City Council District in Southeast Queens for 12 years, was forced from office by term limits.

Comrie also ran for Queens Borough President, but dropped out of the race after two months. He endorsed Melinda Katz and after she won election, she appointed him Queens Deputy Borough President.

He announced his candidacy on Monday in a press release. His decision was first reported by NY1.

"Leroy has been on the forefront of building better schools for our children, protecting our seniors, and helping to create thousands of jobs across New York," said Rep. Joseph Crowley, who backed Comrie, in a statement.

Michael Scholl, a spokesman for Melinda Katz, said that Comrie had stepped down as Deputy Borough President effective April 24, and currently serves as a special assistant to the borough president.

Smith’s spokeswoman, AnnMarie Costella, declined to comment.

Smith may face other challengers as well, including attorneys Munir Avery and Clyde Vanel, both of whom announced that they intend to run for the seat in District 14, which includes Jamaica, St. Albans, Briarwood and Queens Village.