In a northeast Queens City Council race that is among this year’s most closely watched, city election records show that Democrat Paul Vallone has landed the ballot line of the Independence Party—a development that could aid him in the November general election, or help Republicans keep one of their few seats in New York City.
The council seat is held by Republican Councilman Dan Halloran, who is not running for re-election as he awaits trial on federal bribery charges. The suburban and relatively conservative district remains one of the few in the city where Republicans have a chance of winning, however, and the Republicans have a strong candidate, former Giuliani administration official Dennis Saffran.
If Mr. Vallone wins a hotly contested Democratic primary in September, the Independence Party ballot line would be a major leg up in a battle against Mr. Saffran, as Republicans often rely on votes from the Independence line in Democrat-heavy New York City. But if Mr. Vallone does not win the Democratic primary, his presence on the Independence line in November could split Democratic votes between his supporters and those of the Democratic nominee. Mr. Vallone’s main opponent in the race appears to be former Empire State Development spokesman Austin Shafran, who has lined up the bulk of the labor support in the race, as well as the Working Families Party endorsement.
As an attorney who has been a member of the New York bar association since 1992, if Mr. Vallone lost the Democratic primary, he could be nominated for a judgeship and cede the ballot line in the council race to the Democratic nominee. Asked if Mr. Vallone would definitely run on the Independence line in November, a campaign spokesman answered obliquely.
“When Paul Vallone wins the Democratic Primary in September, he will occupy both the Democratic and Independence Party lines in November,” the spokesman said.
In 2009, Mr. Halloran narrowly won election over Democrat Kevin Kim with the help of the Independence Party ballot line. This year, Mr. Vallone is running with the support of the Queens Democratic Party, which would likely be interested in unifying support for a single candidate after the results of the September Democratic primary are in.