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Queens Dems to dump Monserrate, endorse challenger

The Queens Democratic Party is backing a challenger to disgraced state Sen. Hiram Monserrate in next year’s primary.

Party leaders meeting at a pre-election dinner Thursday announced their endorsement of Assemblyman Jose Peralta over Monserrate in the 2010 primary.

“The community is ready to move on,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley,
leader of the Queens Democratic Party.

He said Peralta “would bring dignity and honor to this office.”

Monserrate was convicted Oct. 15 of dragging his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, through the lobby of his Queens apartment building during an argument in December. He was acquitted of charges he smashed her face with glass. He could face up to a year in jail at
sentencing Dec. 4.

A Senate committee will conduct its own investigation into the
incident, which could result in a vote to expel Monserrate from the
Senate. In that case, there would be a special election to fill his

Crowley said party leaders would back Peralta either in a
special election or in the regularly scheduled Democratic primary
in September 2010.

Monserrate, 42, has resisted calls for his resignation from
Crowley, New York’s two U.S. senators, and others. He did not
return a call placed to his office for comment Thursday.

Peralta, a 37-year-old who was first elected to the state
Assembly in 2002, said Monserrate’s constituents are frustrated and embarrassed.

“After speaking to constituents and family, I came to the
conclusion that the best way to make a statement is to act,” he
said of his decision to run against Monserrate.

Monserrate was sworn in to the state Senate just weeks after the
December incident with Giraldo. During the summer, he and fellow
Democrat Pedro Espada Jr. staged a coup in the Senate by joining a Republican-dominated coalition that overthrew the majority. The
deadlock lasted a month before it was resolved, returning majority
control to the Democrats.

Peralta said Monserrate’s constituents are angry about the coup
as well as the misdemeanor conviction.

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