By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblyman Peter Abbate became one of the first Democratic elected officials in southern Brooklyn to endorse a candidate in the mayoral race, announcing on May 16 that he was throwing his support behind City Comptroller John Liu.
Abbate (D-Bensonhurst-Sunset Park) a 36-year veteran of the State Legislature, said he is supporting Liu because the comptroller has demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of middle class New Yorkers. “I think John knows the problems of middle class people, particularly in the outer boroughs. I think that’s important,” Abbate told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on May 20, a few days after his big announcement.
Liu is in a crowded field of candidates that includes Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill deBlasio, former comptroller William Thompson, and former Bay Ridge councilman Sal Albanese.
“John doesn’t come comes from a rich family in an upper class neighborhood. He comes from a solid middle class family. He understands the people of my district,” Abbate said.
Abbate said he appreciates the fact that Liu is no stranger to his assembly district. “He has been to the district many times. Of all the candidates, he has spent the most time here,” Abbate said. “He has visited schools, senior centers; he has been all over,” he said.
Abbate represents the 49th Assembly District, a multi-cultural area that stretches from Bensonhurst to Sunset Park and includes large numbers of Asian-Americans as well as a sizable population of Italian-Americans who remained in Bensonhurst after many of their brethren moved to Staten Island and New Jersey.
Abbate serves as chairman of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Employees and as treasurer of the New York Conference of Italian American State Legislators. Abbate is also the chairman of the Subcommittee on Safety in the Workplace, a member of the Assembly Workers’ Compensation Task Force and a member of the Distressed Cities Task Force.
"I know as mayor, John will continue his commitment to work on behalf of middle class taxpayers who are the strength and foundation of New York City," Abbate said.
Liu said he was pleased with the endorsement. "I am honored to receive the endorsement of Assembly member Abbate, an influential member of the New York Assembly and veteran Brooklyn official for over 25 years," Liu said.
"We will continue to work together to bring changes to local government to improve service and opportunities for the people and neighborhoods of New York, including Dyker Heights, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Borough Park," Liu said.
Abbate told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that although he was one of the first out of the box with an endorsement in the Democratic Primary, he expected other southern Brooklyn lawmakers to start making their picks withinthe next few days. “Petitioning starts soon,” he said, referring to the process of gathering signatures from voters on nominating petitions that will enable mayoral candidates to get their names on the ballot in the September primary.