Updated 2:30 p.m.
John Liu is ready to challenge state Senator Tony Avella in the primary this September, according to the Queens County Democrats.
The organization unanimously endorsed Liu in the race Monday, Queens County Democrats Executive Secretary Michael Reich said.
The group is backing the former city comptroller over the incumbent after Avella joined the New York state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a breakaway faction of Senate Democrats who share majority control of the chamber with Republicans, according to Reich.
“I believe that John Liu will not only be a breath of fresh air, but a viable candidate for this position,” Reich said, who likened Avella joining the IDC to “leaving the party.”
After designating Liu during the organization’s meeting this morning, his name can now be included on the county petition, according to Reich. Liu was reportedly not present during the endorsement.
Liu, who was also a city councilman from 2002 to 2009, unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for mayor last year.
During his time as comptroller, he had been the subject of a campaign finance probe. Though he was never accused of any wrongdoing, the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) denied him public matching funds shortly before the primary.
In March, he announced he was suing the (CFB) for withholding the money, claiming that the move “crippled” his chances in the race.
Avella, who has represented the 11th state Senate District since 2011, said he is proud of his record “fighting for the working class residents of Queens.”
“I work for the people I represent — not for the Queens party bosses or political insiders,” he said. “Whether it’s helping our seniors, passing marriage equality, or protecting our environment, I have always fought for the issues that matter most to the people of my district and I look forward to discussing my progressive record in the months ahead.”
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