Democratic Party officials in Queens voted on Friday not to endorse State Senator John D. Sabini, a Queens Democrat who has been in office six years, for re-election. Instead, they voted to back his challenger, City Councilman Hiram Monserrate.
Top Queens Democrats Shun Incumbent
The decision represents an unusual move by a party organization to deny an incumbent its endorsement. And it was a significant blow to Mr. Sabini, a former city councilman and onetime chairman of the Queens Democratic Party.
For much of the last two years, Mr. Monserrate has put intense pressure on the party officials to gain their support. Two years ago, he challenged Mr. Sabini and came within 250 votes of beating him.
Michael H. Reich, the executive secretary of the Queens Democratic Party, said that the party’s leadership committee in the district had switched its support in part because of the strength Mr. Monserrate demonstrated in the 2006 election and because the ethnic politics of the district were increasingly favoring the challenger.
Some Democratic leaders have charged that Mr. Monserrate has put pressure on the party organization by threatening to challenge incumbent district leaders in his section of Queens.