One angle I haven’t considered yet regarding the Queens County Democratic Party endorsement meeting on Friday is what it means for State Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith.
If the Queens County is going to endorse City Councilman Hiram Monserrate over the incumbent State Senator John Sabini, as looks likely, Smith will presumably be in the unenviable position of protecting a current member of his conference against the efforts of that member’s local Democratic machine. However, by protecting Sabini, Smith may put himself at odds with the county organization that helped make him the Democratic Senate Leader. (Smith is from Southeastern Queens).
Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf says, “[Smith] has to prove he’s a leader by protecting his members from the Queens County Organization.””
According to State Senator Diane Savino that’s the choice Smith will make, if he has to. “[Malcolm] is 100 percent standing behind his member,” she said.
Savino went on to say that the Democratic senators all have an interest in defending Sabini from political opponents.
“Today it’s him. Tomorrow, it can be any one of the rest of us,” Savino said. “We support each other.”
She then added, “We were all willing to take a shot when nobody was interested in the State Senate. And now that these seats are becoming more attractive, you’ll see more intra-party primaries. But at the end of the day, we were here when nobody wanted to be here.”
Remember, Smith publicly praised the Queens County Democratic Organization for helping him secure votes to become the Democratic senate leader after that position was vacated by David Paterson.
Smith’s spokesman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about the race.
UPDATE: Smith’s office emailed the following statement from the senator: