Sears Declines GOP Slot, Judge Put On The Ticket
By DOMENICK RAFTER
Will expelled State Sen. Hiram Monserrate’s seat be filled by…Hiram Monserrate?
The former state senator, who was expelled by a 53-8 vote of his colleagues on Feb. 9 after being convicted of misdemeanor assault in October for slashing his girlfriend, filed over 5,500 signatures to be put on the ballot for the March 16 special election for his Jackson Heights seat as an independent, while continuing to appeal his expulsion from the State Senate.
Republicans were looking to shake up the race a bit by nominating former Democratic City Councilwoman Helen Sears, who was defeated in a bitter primary fight last year by Dromm. The Queens Republican Party voted unanimously to nominate Sears last Friday, but Sears declined the nomination after failing to receive the nominations of the Conservative and Independence Parties, which both decided not to field candidates in the race.
On Feb 24, right before the deadline to nominate a candidate for the ballot, Republicans nominated Robert Beltrani, and Administrative Law judge and Jackson Heights attorney.
“I’ve known Bob Beltrani for many years. He is a family man, an accomplished attorney, public servant and judge. He has the integrity and the ability to serve the people of Queens well and none of the outrageous and offense baggage that surrounds Monserrate and Peralta,” said Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa. “Voting for Judge Beltrani will send a strong message that corruption and violence are unacceptable.”
Queens Democrats have endorsed Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights), who was previously planning on running against Monserrate in the Democratic primary this November. The Working Families Party will also list Peralta on their ballot line. Peralta also got the endorsement of city councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights).
“I am proud to support Jose Peralta for State Senate. Now more than ever, we need a strong voice in the State Senate and Jose Peralta will be a senator we can be proud of,” said Dromm in a statement. “In the Senate, Jose will continue the fight for quality education for our children, support for our small businesses and equality for all New Yorkers.”
In the meantime, Monserrate’s legal team, led by former New York Civil Liberties Union president and public advocate candidate Norman Siegel, is seeking to appeal his expulsion. Last Friday, U.S. District Judge William Pauley refused to overturn his expulsion and reinstate Monserrate to his seat.
Siegel and his team filed an expedited appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seeking to declare Monserrate’s expulsion and the March 16 special election unconstitutional on the grounds that the expulsion left the 13th Senatorial district without representation and thus violated the constitutional rights of the district’s residents.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals granted Monserrate an expedited appeal, with briefs due between March 2 and March 9, and oral arguments scheduled for March 12.
Should appeals fail, Monserrate will seek to regain his seat in the special election.
Monserrate would need 1,461 signatures, or 5 percent of the total number of votes cast in the district in the 2006 gubernatorial race, from district voters to get on the ballot. Should Monserrate get on the ballot, he would be listed under the “Yes We Can – Si Se Puede” ballot line, having not received the nomination of any political party.
Reach Reporter Domenick Rafter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125.