Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. is a self-proclaimed conservative Democrat, a sharp-tongued proponent of stop-and-frisk and a perpetual thorn in the side of the borough’s Democratic establishment. John Liu is perhaps the most left-wing candidate in the mayoral race, in favor of abolishing the controversial anti-crime tactic and was once a darling of the Queens Democratic Party.
Yet Mr. Liu, the city comptroller running for mayor, and Mr. Vallone, who is running for borough president, may form a seemingly unlikely alliance that could further both of their ambitions.
The two Democrats have been in discussion about a plan to endorse each other, help carry petitions for each other and aid in pulling votes from certain constituencies, according to several Queens Democratic insiders familiar with their plans.
“Nothing’s set yet and I am weighing my options when it comes to mayoral endorsements,” Mr. Vallone told Politicker this afternoon when reached for a response. “But certainly, I would absolutely be considering the only candidate from Queens County.”
Mr. Liu is extremely popular in the Asian community and, with no Asian candidates in the borough president’s race, the large Queens voting bloc is up for grabs. Mr. Vallone, whose dad was a storied institution in Astoria, has his own loyal following, potentially bolstering Mr. Liu’s standing in the neighborhood.
“I think John Liu is going to help Peter Vallone in a big way in Flushing and with the Asian community,” said one insider. “What is John Liu’s option at this point? He needs someone to get petitions, signatures and share the costs–it’s very expensive.”
Though far apart politically on many issues, Mr. Vallone said he and Mr. Liu have long been friends, riding motorcycles and wave runners together.
“When we were elected, I remember joking at my inauguration that while he was the first Asian-American elected in New York City, which was a huge milestone, I wasn’t even the first Peter Vallone elected to the City Council,” Mr. Vallone said, referring to his father, the long-time City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Jr.
The borough president candidate recently backed by the Queens Democratic Party, former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, did not endorse Mr. Liu when he faced David Yassky in a run-off during the comptroller’s race in 2009. That, coupled with the Democratic Party’s endorsement of Council Speaker Christine Quinn over Mr. Liu for mayor, frees both to go rogue and challenge the county organization.
The fact that they’re long-time friends also helps. Mr. Vallone, for instance, was the first pol sighted by Politicker at Mr. Liu’s fund-raising birthday bash.
“He’s a very cool guy,” Mr. Vallone said of Mr. Liu, whose campaign did not return a request for comment.