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NY1 Exclusive: Leroy Comrie to Challenge State Senator Malcolm Smith in Primary

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A well known Southeast Queens politician will challenge embattled State Senator Malcolm Smith in a Democratic primary for the 14th District this fall. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

After months of rumors and speculation Queens Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie made it official on Sunday - he is running against State Senator Malcolm Smith.

"I am definitely announcing that I am a candidate for the 14th Senatorial district in Southeast Queens," Comrie said.

Comrie broke the news to NY1 during a ribbon cutting for a new business on Linden Boulevard where he got a warm welcome as word started to spread.

Comrie was the local City Councilman from 2002 until last year when term limits forced him out of office. He says he wasn't planning to run, but many urged the popular politician to challenge Smith who's awaiting trial in a federal corruption case. Smith and three Republicans have pled not guilty to the charges stemming from an alleged bribery scheme to buy him a spot on last year's mayoral Republican ticket.

"It's not going to be easy. Malcolm is a long-term pol. He understands politics. He understands dynamics, but what people also understand is that his level of effectiveness has been diminished and unfortunately that's a reality that we all have to face," Comrie said.

Comrie says his decision to run against Smith was not an easy one to make. The men are long time friends and they have a lot of history together.

"It's with regret that I have to do it but it's something that has to be done and we have to eliminate, you know, the personal from the realization that there's a need in the community for a state senator that can call the governor and get a response, that can call a state agency and the state agency will feel comfortable with responding back to that person," Comrie said.

Smith did not respond to NY1's request for comment.

Comrie is expected to formally announce the run sometime this week.

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