Malcolm Smith is seeking another term in the state senate even though he faces a new federal corruption trial early next year, but some of the senators' closest allies backed his chief rival on Tuesday. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
The mistrial in state Senator Malcolm Smith's corruption trial has worked out to his advantage.
"It was a mistrial. I always continue to tell people of my innocence, and I think the more information comes out, the more they realize," Smith said on Friday.
It's allowed him to stay out of court until the trial resumes in January, meaning Smith can run for re-election.
That effort may be feeble. Only one person contributed to his campaign during the last 24-day filing period, $72 from Smith himself.
On Tuesday, some of the senator's longtime allies switched allegiances to his primary challenger.
"This is not personal or anything of that nature. It's about what's in the best interest of the community," said Rep. Gregory Meeks of Queens.
Meeks and Smith have been confidantes for decades, entrenched power players in southeast Queens, but Meeks, along with a cadre of other elected officials, are now backing former City Councilman Leroy Comrie.
"I'm here to stand today just to say I'm supporting Leroy, because Leroy would be the best person for the state senate," Meeks said. "Because he knows how to bring people together to get things done. He knows how to bring Democrats together, and that's extremely important."
Comrie was not interested in badmouthing this Democrat. He refused to weigh in on the bribery allegations against Smith.
"For me to get into trying to go into someone else's personal integrity, that's not my issue. That's an issue the press has consistently raised with me," he said.
Many in southeastern Queens say the re-election of Smith is a longshot at best. Nonetheless, when NY1 recently spoke with the senator, he said the community is supporting his campaign.
"I haven't had to campaign for 12 years or so, so it's nice to see the response on the street," he said. "There are people are questioning what's been happening with my legal challenge, and they really believe that I'm a good person."
Both Smith and Comrie will debate here on NY1 on August 20.