Addabbo Skirts a Challenge
August 5th, 2008
Joseph Addabbo Jr., the Democratic institution’s choice to defeat state Sen. Serphin Maltese and wrest the Senate majority from the Republicans, has sidestepped a blow from rival Democrat Albert Baldeo that threatened to nullify his candidacy with the Working Families Party.
Baldeo teamed up with an insurgent WFP employee to bring a lawsuit to the state Supreme Court yesterday accusing Addabbo of collecting invalid signatures. But Judge Lawrence Cullen threw out the charges late yesterday afternoon, and the Addabbo campaign can breathe a quick sigh of relief in what has been a heated campaign.
Baldeo came within two points of beating Maltese, a Republican, in 2006 without the Democratic establishment’s backing. If he does not win the party’s nomination in September, Baldeo will stay on the ballot in the general with the Green Party and the Hope and Change Party (his own creation). This raises the prospect of a split in the liberal vote, which means Addabbo’s WFP candidacy could be critical in pushing him over the top.
A term-limited City Council member, Addabbo has the endorsements of the Queens Democratic organization and the WFP in a race that many believe will decide whether the Democrats eke out their first majority in the Senate since 1965.
“When Joseph Addabbo submitted a petition with multiple forgeries, multiple duplicate signatures and signatures of people who are not enrolled . . . that constitutes a fraudulent petition,” said Grant Lally, a private attorney representing Baldeo and Radha Gangaprashad, the WFP worker. “He should not be rewarded for committing fraud.”
Addabbo’s simple response: “We played by the rules.”
The WFP worker, Radha Gangaprashad, originally filed a complaint against Addabbo’s candidacy with the city Board of Elections on July 16, but the board ruled for Addabbo, prompting Gangaprashad to take the case to court.
Allegations of fraudulent signatures are the stuff of a typical race in New York State, since laws governing petition collecting are, by most accounts, copious and convoluted. But as a campaigner, Addabbo is no stranger to troubles with the law. He violated city Campaign Finance Board regulations in each of his three City Council runs, taking over-the-limit donations and unauthorized corporate contributions.By Giovanni Russonello on August 5, 2008, 3:48 pm
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