Connor, Squadron showdown - Incumbent, challenger strengthen their bases for upcoming fight

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With petitions beginning to be circulated in the upcoming grudge match for the 25th State Senate District, incumbent Martin Connor seems to have sewn up the support of most of the Democratic clubs in downtown Brooklyn.

While incumbent challenger Daniel Squadron received the endorsement of the Downtown Independent Democrats (DID) in lower Manhattan last month, officials from Connor’s camp said that they’re being welcomed with open arms on this side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Late last week, Connor overwhelmingly received the endorsement of the Independent Neighborhood Democrats (IND), who are petitioning for him this week.

Connor is celebrating his thirtieth year in Albany this year.

“Both of the candidates came before us to speak, but Senator Connor has a long standing relationship with the club members,” IND President Bob Zuckerman said. “While we took that into account, when we talked about whom to endorse, most of the comments made were about the seniority issue.”

IND members believed that, with the Democrats poised to take the State Senate this year, Connor, a former Minority Leader who already chairs a committee, would have more of an impact in Albany than Squadron, who would only be a freshman senator if elected.

“His experience would be a big factor, especially now,” Zuckerman said.

Connor aide Marty Algaze said that the senator has also received the endorsement of other democratic clubs in the 25th Senate District on both sides of the Brooklyn Bridge. While Connor was disappointed that he didn’t receive the DID endorsement, Algaze said that the senator only lost by five votes and alleged that “[Squadron] packed the club” with his supporters.

Connor didn’t receive the support of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), who voted “no endorsement” Thursday.

While both candidates filled out a questionnaire, only Connor addressed the club and the buzz following the meeting favored the senator.

“Connor surprised many by making a personal appearance,” CBID President Chris Owens wrote on the club’s website. “His presentation was very impressive, containing a mix of detailed legislative knowledge institutional memory and optimism about the potential of the Democratic State Senate.”

Owens said that “Connor left CBID members in conflict.” While the club had endorsed Connor challenger Ken Diamondstone in the 2006 election, they were “wary” of Squadron and had questions about his “big money, his work for [U.S. Senator Charles] Schumer, the NYC Department of Education and a big PR firm.”

“Squadron’s minimal grassroots community experience was also a problem,” Owens wrote.

But when petitions went out earlier this week, more clubs were collecting signatures for Connor than for Squadron, he said.

“We’re feeling very optimistic,” Algaze explained. “He [Squadron] doesn’t have people in the clubs getting signatures for him, so he has to either go out and find people or pay people to do it for him.”

Squadron said that he has “a grassroots petition campaign in both the Manhattan portion and the Brooklyn portion of the district.”

“We are feeling great,” he explained. “The people’s response has been even more positive than we first thought. They really want to see a change in Albany.

Squadron said he wasn’t disappointed in IND’s support for Connor because the club had voted for the senator in the past.

He did, however, dispute their “seniority matters” reasoning.

“The moment that the senate goes Democratic, which I believe it will, will be the most important moment for people of this district to look at who’s representing them and how they are representing them,” he said.

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