Thursday, August 28, 2008
Baldeo Walks Away from Senate Race, Clearing the Path for Addabbo
By Patricia Adams
Unity was the order of the day last Friday when State Senate candidate Joe Addabbo received the unexpected endorsement of Albert Baldeo, his would-be opponent in the September 9th Democratic Primary. According to Baldeo, he arrived at his unique decision in the name of party unity.
Standing in front of Baldeo’s law office on Liberty Avenue to receive the official endorsement, Addabbo was joined by Queens County Democratic Party Leader, Congressman Joe Crowley, NY State Senate Minority Leader Senator Malcolm Smith and Congressman Gregory Meeks.
Baldeo said, “I’m proud to be supporting Joe Addabbo for State Senate and plan to work with him here in the district, and hopefully in Albany, for the good of my community. Joe Addabbo has been an outstanding Councilman and I have full confidence that he will bring that same spirit of openness and leadership with him to Albany. Joe Addabbo is the best candidate to beat Maltese in November, I encourage all my supporters to vote for Joe.”
Addabbo graciously accepted Baldeo’s ringing endorsement saying, “I applaud his [Albert’s] wholehearted embrace of the democratic process. The Democratic Party is the party of inclusion, it’s a big tent with room for everyone, and we are stronger for his efforts. I look forward to working together as we head into November to bring real reform to Albany and accomplish our shared goals of increased funding for education, better jobs and benefits, increased access to government services, and improving the lives of middle class and hard working people. The voters of the 15th Senate District deserve nothing less.”
“The best way for us to achieve our goals is by working together," said Queens County Democratic Party Chairman Joseph Crowley. “I look forward to a united Queens County Democratic party working to elect Councilman Joe Addabbo to the New York State Senate.”
Addabbo’s graciousness may have come as a surprise to many, given that in recent months Baldeo and some of his supporters have been blatant in their attempts to blacken Addabbo’s political and personal reputation. According to Democratic Party activist Betty Braton, “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Joe is able to find a way to work together with an adversary. Addabbo’s a consensus builder who knows that people don’t always agree, so common ground must be found to move forward. That is one of his biggest strengths.”
Although the endorsement by Baldeo was seen by some to be a surprise twist in this hotly contested race, many say that recent track of campaign activity was a key indicator that Baldeo was getting ready to step aside. Voters throughout the sprawling district have received no phone calls or mailers from Baldeo while Addabbo has been placed at events in all parts of the district. While Baldeo did make some appearances, they were confined to one small section of the area.
In recent weeks the Addabbo for Senate campaign “has been in high gear with phone banks running, two campaign offices operational, and Joe knocking on doors discussing issues with voters all throughout the district,” said Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio. “We welcome Baldeo’s participation in our effort to insure better representation for the district by defeating the incumbent in November.”
Both Gulluscio and Braton have been strong supporters of Addabbo since his first run for public office in 1997. Like Addabbo, both have been on the receiving end of vicious attack and trash talk by Baldeo or his supporters since 2006. When asked why they could join
Addabbo in accepting Baldeo’s support, both indicated that although some people think insults are an acceptable part of politics, their view is that, as Addabbo said, “the Democratic Party is the party of inclusion” and there is common ground in the desire of Democrats of differing views in both camps to win the 15th State Senate seat in November.
“People all across this country are tired of division and polarization,” Gulluscio said, and “are calling for an end to the bitterness between the parties, less focus on ideology, and more focus on working together where there is common ground to get the people’s business done.”
“Our party has been listening to that call,” Braton said. “Within our own party, by unifying with Baldeo and helping Joe Addabbo take this seat, we’re taking a step toward putting acrimony and division behind us. It would be insulting to our country’s democratic process to not work collectively to accomplish what both sides agree on – winning in November.”
Clearly the message sent by local Democrats at the press conference incorporated not only their desire to send Addabbo to Albany, but addressed the grander scheme – to recapture the Democratic State Senate majority which has eluded them for more than 40 years.
Although Baldeo’s name will remain on the ballot for next month’s primary, he indicates he will be working with Addabbo in the effort to oust Senator Maltese and is urging all 70,000 registered Democrats to vote for Addabbo, not him, on September 9th.
Photo: A crowd of pleased onlookers, including Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio (left) and State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, applaud a handshake exchanged by Albert Baldeo and the man they hope to send to the New York State Senate, Councilman Joe Addabbo.