Old Dem rivalry plays out in special election
Feb 13, 2018 | 3697 views | 0 0 comments | 242 242 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The longstanding political rivalry between Francisco Moya and Julissa Ferreras-Copeland is still taking place through proxy battles, even though the latter has left Queens.

The two duked it out in a 2009 City Council race that Ferreras-Copeland ultimately won. She spent her last four years as chair of the powerful Finance Committee, but decided not to run for re-election last year. Instead, the Corona native moved to Maryland to be closer to her family.

Moya, meanwhile, won an Assembly seat in 2010 and has since taken his former foe’s spot in the City Council. But his victory means he leaves a vacant slot in the Assembly, one that is ripe for a new political battle.

Ari Espinal, a longtime aide to Moya, has jumped into the race. Moya immediately endorsed her, and she endearingly called him her mentor.

Opposing her in the race will be Catalina Cruz, a former City Council and Cuomo administration official who last worked as chief of staff for Ferreras-Copeland.

Here’s where it gets complicated. Cuomo called for a special election to fill vacant state

legislature seats on April 24, but according to election rules, the political party gets to choose their candidates.

That means only one of the two candidates will be elected (in a heavily Democratic district) until September, when anyone can run in the primary.

We fully expect Ari Espinal to get the nod. Not only is she a confidante of Moya, a county loyalist, but she’s also a district leader, an unpaid volunteer position within the local Democratic Party.

If you look at her campaign filings so far, notable names have made contributions, including Queens pols like Brian Barnwell, Grace Meng, Aravella Simotas and Ed Braunstein. The committee for her former boss Moya also handed her a nice $4,400 contribution.

Cruz has pretty much admitted that she won’t contend for the special election. In her latest fundraising email, the candidate says she hopes to gain voters’ support in September.

On the other side of the aisle, the Queens Republican Party is also looking at possibly getting in the race. Pol Position reached out to both Councilman Eric Ulrich and the Queens County GOP, but neither responded to our inquiries.

Yet, a source close to the GOP says they’re looking for a candidate, but have not found anyone yet to run in the special election.

Even if Espinal secures the Assembly seat in the interim, she will face off with Cruz just a few short months later. That means both will have to keep fundraising, courting votes and finding new supporters.

Who knows? Maybe Moya and Ferreras-Copeland will jump back in to have their say before it’s all over.
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