Queens Republican Councilman Dan Halloran, one of New York City’s more colorful political figures, is leaning toward running against similarly colorful Democratic state Sen. Tony Avella, according to multiple sources who have spoken with Halloran.
In May, Halloran told a number of business leaders in a meeting of the Queens Chamber of Commerce that he was planning on running, according to people who attended the meeting. (The president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Jack Friedman, said he could not recall Halloran making the statement.)
And at a late November fundraiser in Whitestone, Halloran privately told attendees he was planning on opening up a campaign committee for a Senate run, a source said – though he has yet to register a committee with the state Board of Elections.
Yet others say he has yet to make a decision. At a Queens Village Republican Club meeting in December entitled “Energizing the GOP for 2012” Halloran did not talk about the possible race with Avella.
“At our last meeting, he never mentioned it,” said Jim Trent, the club’s chairman.
Speculation about a possible Halloran run has been building in Queens political circles since the end of 2010, when Halloran released a statement bashing the Parkside Group, the political consulting firm that advised Avella’s winning 2010 campaign against Halloran’s mentor, State Sen. Frank Padavan.
The race would pit two outspoken lawmakers with maverick reputations against each other. Avella, who was a lone wolf on the Council but has reined in those instincts as a member of the state Senate, represented the district from 2001 to 2009 before running a long-shot campaign for mayor. Halloran won the City Council district in a hard-fought and oftentimes ugly 2009 race.
A Halloran spokesman, Steven Stites, said the councilman was “flattered by the interest” but is currently focused on his work in the City Council.
Asked about a possible Halloran run, Avella said flatly: “He can do whatever he wants to do.”
Halloran has been the subject of a slew of headlines – both positive and negative – during his tenure on the City Council. Democrats vow to hammer home issues raised by a Department of Investigation report about Halloran’s claims that Department of Sanitation workers engaged in an intentional slowdown during last December’s blizzard. Halloran was also the recent subject of an unflattering Village Voice profile about his pagan religious beliefs.
The pitfalls for Halloran are many. Democrats say an unsuccessful run could sink the councilman’s poll numbers in advance of the 2013 elections, bettering their chances of knocking him out of office. And Halloran could also jeopardize a fairly good relationship he has built with the United Federation of Teachers – the powerful union that also backed Avella in 2010.
On the other hand, Halloran is seen as a strong campaigner, remains personally popular among many in the district and could benefit if Senate Republicans end up redrawing the district lines. The Senate Republicans also have relatively few obvious pick-up opportunities because of their non-aggression pact with the four-member, breakaway Independent Democratic Conference.
“No matter what office Dan Halloran runs for, voters would be hard-pressed to find a more aggressive and effective constituent advocate,” said Jay Golub, a Queens Republican consultant.
Trackback from your site.