So, who could potentially take on Hiram Monserrate in a Democratic primary, now that he’s been found guilty of a misdemeanor for assaulting his girlfriend?
According to several Democrats and political operatives, the short list is pretty clear: Assemblyman Jose Peralta, City Councilwoman Julissa Ferraras, District Leader Francisco Moya and former State Senator John Sabini.
(It’s a bit shorter than the list that emerged right after Monserrate’s brief defection to the Republican Party.)
Peralta is a on-again, off-again, currently on-again ally of Monserrate who is well-liked in the Queens Democratic Party and has strong ties to labor organizations, through whose ranks he rose. One major reason to believe he might not do it is that Peralta would have to give up his safe seat in the Assembly for a not-so-guaranteed race against Monserrate.
Ferreras is Monserrate’s longtime aide who succeeded him in the City Council, in part, by distancing herself from him. Despite her youthful age, she has years (and years!) of experience in the community, and was greatly helped by the Working Families Party, an ally that could prove pivotal if she decided to take on her old boss. Ferreras, it should be noted, would not have to give up her newly acquired seat in the Council to run for the Senate. Also, there might a benefit to being a female candidate running against a man who was just convicted of assaulting his girlfriend.
Sabini won a nail-biter of a race against Monserrate in 2006. Then, being arrested for a DWI, Sabini allies – including the local county organization – abandoned him in favor of Monserrate. Sabini now has a job in Governor Paterson’s cabinet, with a fixed, six-year-term and large salary. It’s not likely he’d give that up for another bruising fight with Monserrate, but with momentum moving against Monserrate, it can’t be ruled out.
Moya is a community activist (who, like Ferraras, started when he was a teenager). He served as a top aide to David Paterson at one point and is close with the Queens Democratic County Leader, Joe Crowley. Moya did just lose a City Council race to Ferreras. But, like Ferreras, he risks nothing in running again for the seat, and, after seeing him campaign, I get the sense he would relish talking about Monserrate’s shortcomings day and night.
Now, there’s plenty of reasons for Democrats and the usual Democratic establishment to move against Monserrate. First, obviously, is the misdemeanor charge. Second is the brief coup Monserrate participated in. It cost the Queens County Democratic Organization the majority leader’s position (since Monserrate insisted fellow Queens Democrat Malcolm Smith be replaced before Monserrate would caucus with Democrats again).
His best chance of surviving the upcoming election is probably if he faces a crowded field of opponents.