Graziano crosses lines, endorses Republican candidate Saffran in District 19 race


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

That’s the proverbial message a northeast Queens Democrat is sending by crossing party lines to endorse the Republican candidate over the one who beat him at the polls last month.

Paul Graziano, who came in third in the Democratic primary for District 19 to Paul Vallone, publicly endorsed Vallone’s general election opponent, Dennis Saffran, on Tuesday.

“Voting for the best person in the race is more important than voting for your party,” Graziano said.

The Flushing urban planner said the decision was not made lightly, but the move is not entirely surprising to spectators of the closely watched contest.

Graziano had slammed Vallone multiple times in forums for being a registered lobbyist. He was also one of three primary foes targeted in accusatory hit pieces paid for by a political action committee called Jobs for New York, which endorsed Vallone.

The fuming trio, who included Chrissy Voskerichian and Austin Shafran, took turns grilling Vallone during a televised debate and at a press conference they held to call on him to denounce the mailers.

“During the campaign, Paul Vallone refused to take responsibility for any of these acts,” Graziano said.

“We’ve had four years of not having an adult in the room,” Graziano added, referring to the sitting but scandal-scarred incumbent, Councilmember Dan Halloran. “To me, this is just a continuation, if not worse.”

Runner-up Shafran, who narrowly lost by less than 200 votes, said he would not support either candidate. Voskerichian said she would not endorse Vallone and was not endorsing Saffran at this time.

Vallone did get the backing of John Duane, however, who finished second to last. Duane was not attacked in the mailers but had a hand in calling Vallone out for them.

The endorsement was not public and Duane did not give a reason for it.

“Whatever differences Paul [Graziano] and I have is pale next to our differences with Paul Vallone,” Saffran said.

Vallone’s campaign fired back, saying Saffran “has been missing in action in this community for over a decade.”

“That probably explains why the leaders we know and trust have endorsed Paul Vallone, including Senator Chuck Schumer, the United Federation of Teachers and countless others,” said Vallone spokesperson Austin Finan.

Vallone and Saffran will face off on November 5.

 

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