New Candidate to Challenge Malcolm Smith

Clyde Vanel. (Photo: Vanel Campaign)

Clyde Vanel. (Photo: Vanel Campaign)

State Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat charged last year in a sprawling bribery scheme to land himself on the GOP ballot for mayor, looks like he will now be fending off at least two challengers if he seeks re-election this year.

Mr. Smith, is already facing attorney Munir Avery and will now also contend with Clyde Vanel, a former candidate for City Council and the State Assembly. 

“We don’t have enough jobs. The economy is not great. Schools are closing down in our neighborhoods and we don’t have a representative on the senate side at all in our district,” Mr. Vanel, a business attorney running the southeast Queens-based district, told Politicker earlier today.

After Mr. Smith was indicted, he was booted from the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway Democratic caucus which governs the chamber along with Republicans, and found himself without a conference–denying him a vast majority of the perks he enjoyed in Albany. “Our state senator hasn’t been a part of any conference and hasn’t been able to bring resources or any real representation for our area,” Mr. Vanel argued.

Mr. Vanel, like Mr. Avery, appears to be viable. He recently ran for an open City Council seat last year, finishing a strong second to the eventual winner, Daneek Miller. Mr. Vanel promised a “strong showing” in fund-raising numbers set to be released next week and said he was building coalitions within the district to win.

“The numbers show I have strong support in the neighborhood,” he explained. “It differentiates me from any one else in race.”

If more candidates enter the fray, however, Mr. Smith could benefit from a divided field. Senate Democrats are looking to coalesce around one candidate, sources say, but it’s not clear who that will be. The seat is overwhelmingly Democratic and all of the action will likely occur in the primary.

Mr. Vanel was coy when asked whether he had been in talks with the Senate.  “I’m not at liberty to discuss that,” he said.

Mr. Smith declined to comment. New Candidate to Challenge Malcolm Smith