BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Former Councilman Leroy Comrie convincingly defeated incumbent State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) and attorney Munir Avery in the Primary election for the 14th District Tuesday night.
Smith has held the seat for 13 years, but his legal issues based on an alleged corruption scheme to bribe his way onto the Republican mayoral ticket in 2013 prompted Queens legislators and the Southeast Queens community to call on Comrie to bring a new face to Albany.
Comrie ended up with 69.4 percent of the votes. Smith finished with 18.9 percent and Avery had 11.8 percent. Comrie pulled in more than 9,000 votes out of the impressive 13,000-plus voters who came in droves to the polls for a mid-term primary election.
“I’m just humbled that the numbers are strong and the turnout is better than normal to show the community is making a strong statement of support for my candidacy,” Comrie said
With the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Borough President Melinda Katz, U.S. Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica), Councilmembers Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), Comrie was able to gather more than enough votes to bring that change to the State Senate.
“It feels good, it’s a gratifying win,” Comrie said. “It’s a real testament to the power of the community, actually. While I was honored with unprecedented support from every major quarter, I was overwhelmed by the reaction from the community.”
Earlier in the day, Comrie was joined by a number of elected officials, including de Blasio, Assemblyman Mark Weprin, Councilmen Donovan Richards and Daneek Miller and State Sen. Mike Gianaris to campaign outside of Jamaica Station.
The Mayor and other elected officials shook hands with voters outside the transportation hub, urging passers-by to vote for Comrie before polls closed.
During his victory celebration, Comrie noted the decline in support Smith received from the community, which has repeatedly been let down by its legislators in the past for a variety of corruption charges.
“They were disappointed in the incumbent and they really wanted someone that would have experience to go to Albany to deal with the major issues that are coming up in the 2015 legislative agenda,” he said.
Smith did not return calls for comment on the election results. Comrie has no Republican challenger for the November elections.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo led the way on Tuesday night as the highest-profile of three Queens incumbents elected.
The governor held off a Democratic Primary challenge from Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout, taking 62 percent of the vote statewide. While Cuomo lost a number of counties upstate, Democratic voters in Queens overwhelmingly came out to support the incumbent. More than 74 percent of Queens voters supported Cuomo.
The governor’s chosen running mate, former Buffalo U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul, also held off an upstart challenge from Tim Wu, taking almost 60 percent of the vote.
Cuomo, who was largely out of the public eye on Primary Day, released a statement congratulating Teachout and Wu while touting his victory along with Hochul.
“Today’s outcome is a testament to the progress we have made together over the last four years: restoring economic opportunity, replacing dysfunction with results, putting people before politics and re-establishing New York as a progressive leader for the nation,” the statement read.
State Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) also ran away with his primary election, easily staving off Everly Brown and Gian Jones. Sanders also has no Republican opponent in the November elections so he will maintain is seat in the 10th District for another two years.
Sanders received nearly 6,000 votes and finished with 74.5 percent of the vote. Brown ended up with 21.9 percent and Jones finished with 3.6 percent.
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.