Queens Dems to Dump Monserrate

Assemblyman José Peralta may challenge convicted state senator

Just because his girlfriend wants him back doesn't means the Queens Democratic party does.

State Sen. Hiram Monserrate was convicted two weeks ago on a misdemeanor charge for dragging his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, through the lobby of his apartment building, but he skated on felony assault charges for slashing her face with a piece of glass. 

Giraldo has said that she still loves Hiram and wants to be with him, but the Democratic party has finally washed their hands of the politician, who was also at the center of last summer's coup in Albany.

With a year to go before statewide elections, the Queens Democratic Party said today it will endorse the primary challenger to the beleaguered Monserrate.

José Peralta, a 37-year-old assemblyman who represents District 39 and an ascending figure within the Democratic party, has said his decision to run for state senate would be made independent of whether Monserrate steps down or is removed from the post. But it appears the young politician already has some support from the top. 

Peralta said he appreciates the party's support.

Rep. Joseph Crowley, leader of the Queens Democratic Party, said he would announce his support for Peralta during the party's pre-election dinner, reports the Times. While parties don't usually seek to boot its incumbents, the move is indicative of local Democrats' irritation with Monserrate, who has ignored calls at all levels of government for his resignation in the aftermath of his assault trial.

"I've had an enough," Crowley told the Times of his decision to back Peralta. "And it’s not just me. I think the community has had enough. José Peralta has considerable support within this district and is an accomplished member of the Assembly."

Monserrate retains some support from loyalists, however. State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. of the Bronx and a Queens district leader, Martha Flores-Vazquez, most notably, have stood by him. Earlier this week, Flores-Vazquez pointed out that the party has backed other officials accused or convicted of unlawful activity, reports the Times.

But is that a move Queens Democrats want to make again? Unlikely.

A nine-member Senate committee will hold an inquest into Monserrate's behavior and determine how to proceed. The committee could vote to expel the politician from the state senate, which would then open the door for a special election to fill the seat.

Crowley and other local party leaders, however, want to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and rally around Peralta, who has areibf relationships with labor groups and represents parts of Monserrate's senate district, to better the chances a Democrat wins the seat come Election Day, according to the Times. The party's executive committee already voted this week in favor of a resolution asking Monserrate to relinquish his Senate seat as well as his leadership position in Queens, the paper reports.

Peralta told the Times that Monserrate's extraneous issues prevent him from being able to focus on doing the job he was elected to do.

"I get calls in my office from people who are angry that he is representing us," Peralta, who has lived in Queens for nearly three decades, told the paper. "You need someone who is focused on the district and not focused on legal issues or soap opera issues."

Peralta, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2002 at age 30, had only reported raising about $10,000 at the time of his last campaign filing, but now says he's amassed at least $200,000 from contributors for a Senate run, according to the Times. And if the party gives Monserrate the cold shoulder, it would make it exceedingly difficult for him to garner financial support for what could be a tough primary race.

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