Ali Najmi versus David Weprin for 24th Assembly seat


| lpenner@queenscourier.com |

Glens Oaks lawyer Ali Najmi is contemplating running against career politician New York State Assemblyman David Weprin in the 24th State Assembly District.  Najmi makes an interesting candidate.  Starting in the 1990s, the Weprin family political base has declined. Sons and daughters of Jewish, Italian, Irish and Catholic voters have moved to Long Island, Hudson Valley, Connecticut, New Jersey or other states. Older voters continue to move out of the district. An emerging new generation of immigrants from Latin America, South Asia and East Asia are becoming the new majority, replacing the old Jewish/Italian/Irish coalition of decades ago.

Ali Najmi has a strong appeal to new immigrant voters, making him a credible candidate to replace David Weprin. A majority of residents are now foreign born. Remember the old adage, if you don’t succeed the first time, try again and you’ll end up winning the second or third time. This could apply to Ali Najmi.  Even if Ali Najimi loses, I predict State Assembly member David Weprin will continue to face serious challenges in future Democratic Party primaries.  It is only a matter of time that the growing South Asian community within the 24th State Assembly District decides to elect someone from within their own ethnic community rather than Weprin.

David Weprin says that “he believes in the democratic system and that anyone is free to run.”  It will be interesting to see if he practices what he preaches.  Ali Najmi will have to collect signatures of enrolled Democratic Party voters on his nominating petitions to place his name on the Democratic Party primary ballot for the 24th State Assembly District.  Weprin is a long time loyal member of the Queens County Democratic Party organization.  Will Weprin publicly agree in advance to forgo using one of the clubhouse election lawyers to review Ali Najmi’s petitions?  Queens County Democratic machine clubhouse election lawyers are hired guns.  They specialize in using their election law expertise to remove independent challengers, such as Ali Najmi from the ballot at the behest of their benefactors.  It is an age old tool used against anyone who challenges the status quo and clubhouse candidates such as Weprin. Will  Weprin be a man of his word and offer voters a real choice by supporting a Democratic Party primary for his own State Assembly seat and not challenge Ali Najmi’s nominating petitions? Time will tell.

Ali Najmi is the real David.  The incumbent State Assemblymember David Weprin is a proud product of the Queens Democratic Party clubhouse. His late father was State Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin. Weprin is well trained in the craft of politics. His local political clubhouse in the 24th State Assembly District has been gerrymandered to elect a Weprin family member for decades. As a former NYC Councilmember and current State Assembly member, he has sent out dozens of mailings to voters over the same time period, many at taxpayers expense. He has the “so called” famous Weprin family name. He usually can count on the endorsements from most major labor unions. He can easily raise several hundred thousand dollars in funding, much of it coming from “pay for play” contributors. This usually gives him the luxury to outspend his opponents many times over. Weprin also benefits in independent expenditures by liberal political action committees and labor unions for their own newspaper ads, phone banks and mailings to members.  Don’t forget local and county political club house support, access to thousands of dollars in Pay for Play campaign contributions from special interest groups, delivery of pork barrel member item projects and other perks of public office unavailable to challengers such as Ali Najmi.  David Weprin is clearly playing the role of Goliath.