Former Comptroller John Liu will officially launch his campaign against State Senator Tony Avella tomorrow, kicking off one of the marquee races of this year’s election cycle.
Mr. Liu, whose mayoral bid last year was badly marred by campaign finance allegations, will hold his first campaign event tomorrow morning at a Bayside, Queens Long Island Rail Road station not far from Mr. Avella’s district office, according to an e-mail obtained by the Observer.
The e-mail, sent from the Queens Democratic Party to supporters, invites Democrats to attend a “Campaign Kickoff for John Liu” at 11 a.m.
Mr. Liu is set to appear today at the New York State Democratic convention. He also received his first endorsement, from the Hotel Trades Council, and has scheduled a flurry of media appearances throughout the day.
Queens Democrats urged the scandal-scarred pol to take on Mr. Avella after the senator announced he was joining a breakaway faction of Democrats who govern the State Senate in a power-sharing agreement with Republicans–infuriating party leaders.
On Monday, the Queens Democratic Party voted to endorse Mr. Liu and place him on its petitions, making his run all but official. Mr. Liu did not make an appearance at the Queens Democratic headquarters in Forest Hills that day, but the party’s chairman, Congressman Joe Crowley gave Mr. Liu a ringing endorsement while denouncing Mr. Avella.
“Mr. Avella was elected as a Democrat and has decided to empower the Republican minority in the State Senate and in essence putting them back into power when clearly the voters of the state more than indicated they wanted to have a Democratic majority in the State Senate,” Mr. Crowley told reporters Monday.
The race is expected to be competitive. Mr. Liu is a prodigious fund-raiser with high name recognition in eastern Queens. Much of his loyal Asian base, however, lies beyond the borders of the district and Mr. Avella remains popular there, despite his poor relationship with the Democratic establishment.
Mr. Liu’s campaign for mayor flopped after the city’s campaign finance board voted to withhold millions of dollars in public matching funds following allegations of campaign finance fraud. While Mr. Liu was never accused of any personal wrongdoing, his campaign treasurer and a top fund-raiser were convicted in connection to the alleged scheme.
In a statement sent out after this story was published, Mr. Liu stressed his credentials and vision, declining to attack Mr. Avella.
“I offer my legislative experience and fiscal expertise to solve issues, from quality of life concerns to deep economic inequities,” Mr. Liu said. “In the State Senate, I will tirelessly fight for a real minimum wage, rights for working people, women’s equality and resources for public schools, transportation and healthcare.”
Mr. Avella stressed his own record, slamming “Queens party bosses” for running a campaign against him.
“I’m proud of my record–fighting for the working class residents of Queens and delivering on core Democratic legislation that makes a meaningful difference in their lives. I work for the people I represent–not for the Queens party bosses or political insiders,” Mr. Avella said in a statement. “Whether it’s helping our seniors, passing marriage equality, or protecting our environment, I have always fought for the issues that matter most to the people of my district and I look forward to discussing my progressive record of accomplishment and debating the issues before the voters.”
Updated with comments from Mr. Liu and Mr. Avella.
View the invitation below: