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BY COLIN MIXSON
Welcome back, Connor.
Brooklyn’s Democratic Party boss is angling for a former Kings County state senator to return to the seat recently vacated by Daniel Squadron, claiming the pol would serve for a year and not seek re-election so that there can be a proper vote to fill the seat in next year’s primary.
Kings County Democratic Party chairman Frank Seddio said that by temporarily installing 30-year veteran lawmaker and former state Senate minority leader Martin Connor in the position the party would avoid filling Squadron’s seat with someone chosen by county committees and allow for a more democratic process to choose a permanent replacement down the line.
“Let him be a placeholder for the 13 months remaining and then have a real primary,” Seddio said.
Squadron, who ousted Connor from the 26th-District state Senate seat in 2008, resigned from Albany’s upper house in August. But the pol stepped down after the petition-filing deadline for candidates to get on the September ballot passed, preventing an all-important primary vote from determining a Democratic nominee that almost certainly would win the seat in November’s general election.
Instead, the nominee and Squadron’s likely successor — who will also represent parts of Manhattan — will be chosen by county committees in Brooklyn and Manhattan. And, as a result of party rules that weight the decision in favor of the distant island’s committee members, Manhattan party boss Keith Wright is ultimately empowered to choose the nominee, according to Connor, who currently works as an election attorney in Brooklyn Heights.
Seddio said he hopes to sell Wright on the plan in the coming days, arguing it would be fairer for voters to choose from a fresh slate of candidates next year that does not include an incumbent selected via county committees.
“Incumbency has an enormous amount of value, so not having that would allow a real election,” he said.
Connor — who told the Downtown Express in August he had no intention to campaign for Squadron’s seat — said he would agree to assume the position at the request of Seddio and other Democrats, claiming it is the best move for the party.
“I’m not running, I’m not making calls, but if that’s helpful to the party and the constituents and would give the other candidates an open shot in the primaries, I’d be willing to do it,” he said.
The former pol promised he would not seek re-election next year if appointed, and his word is good enough for Brooklyn’s Democratic Party boss, even though there is nothing that would legally prevent Connor from launching a campaign.
“I’ve known Marty Connor for 30 years,” Seddio said. “He’s one of the most honest people I know in terms of how he handles his political role. I can’t imagine him giving his word and not keeping it.”
The only Brooklynite vying for Squadron’s old seat said she also supports a placeholder candidate, arguing that while she’s not married to Connor for the job, the idea of an open election in next year’s primary is worth the political maneuver.
“I haven’t spoken to Marty Connor himself, but a placeholder that promises not to run is the most democratic thing,” said Eileen Naples. “To give the choice of the democratic nominee to the voters, ultimately, is the goal.”
But some past supporters of Connor are skeptical that he will willingly hand over the position if appointed.
“I would cast a cold eye on such a promise, because too often promises are broken,” said Sean Sweeny, who voted for Connor in 2008 and belongs to a political club in Manhattan.
And another hopeful courting the county committees in his bid to replace Squadron decried any effort by party bosses to handpick a candidate, arguing that would destroy any democracy that remains in this unusual election.
“The idea that two county leaders would sit together and decide without the committee members who have been selected for this purpose would be the least democratic outcome,” said Manhattan resident Paul Newell.