State Sen. Malcolm Smith, arrested and charged last week as part of a wide-ranging bribery scandal, looks like he could have electoral troubles in addition to his legal woes. Jason Hilliard, a long-time staffer to Congressman Gregory Meeks, is actively mulling a challenge to Mr. Smith, a source close to Hilliard told Politicker.
While Mr. Hilliard declined to discuss his bid, the source said he had been considering the challenge even before last week’s indictment, as he wanted to “enact a more progressive agenda” than Mr. Smith had been advocating. The source addded that Mr. Hilliard “based [the] decision … to serve as a champion” on issues like the standard of living in southeastern Queens.
The Queens County Democratic Party has been looking for ways to unseat Mr. Smith, who angered members of his own party by joining with the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference last year. Adding salt to the partisan wounds, Mr. Smith was also exploring a run for mayor as a Republican, a quest that federal prosecutors allege he used cash bribes in pursuing. Mr. Smith has maintained his innocence.
Councilman Leroy Comrie, currently running for borough president, has been another rumored candidate to challenge Mr. Smith, though he has denied he is interested in doing so.