Ousted State Sen. Hiram Monserrate isn't getting much love from the courts of law or public opinion these days.
The former Democratic state senator from Queens was expelled from his seat five weeks ago after a misdemeanor conviction for dragging his girlfriend through an apartment lobby. Legislators said his behavior brought shame to the chamber.
Monserrate continues to challenge the expulsion in court, arguing that the law only permits the chamber to oust a senator if he or she has been convicted of a felony, not a misdemeanor. But his legal wrangling hasn't worked for him yet. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his argument Friday and declined to restore him to his seat.
But Monserrate refuses to go quietly.
If the courts won't give him his old job back, he wants the voters to do it in a special election Tuesday.
"This is nothing but an illegitimate power grab by party bosses and Albany insiders who want to get rid of someone who's shown the independence from all the politics as usual,'' Monserrate said in a phone interview this week.
He has been campaigning hard in what looks like a long-shot bid to get his job back, but only 15 percent of likely voters want to give it to him, according to the latest Siena College poll released Friday.
Voters much prefer Assemblyman Jose Peralta, a Democrat, who has the support of 60 percent of the voters in the heavily Democratic Senate District. Republican Robert Baltrani trailed both men with 9 percent, the poll found.
Peralta has vacuumed up dozens of major endorsements from local party and labor leaders. He has raised far more than Monserrate in recent weeks, and has received contributions from Democratic lawmakers who served with the ex-senator.
However, special elections are notoriously difficult to predict because of low turnout. Peralta said his campaign is focusing on getting people to vote Tuesday.
"We can't take anything for granted," Peralta said, "anything can happen here.''
Monserrate does have higher name recognition, which is usually an advantage in campaigns, but maybe not this time.
Monserrate faced Peralta in a debate Thursday -- as well as a vocal audience, who booed the ex-senator inside the auditorium of IS 145 in Flushing.
One boisterous audience member had to be quieted by a school safety officer, while others drew slash marks on their cheeks with red lipstick, referencing when his girlfriend's face was slashed following an argument – the event that led to his misdemeanor conviction and expulsion from the Senate.