In late November, Democratic Party leaders sent IDC members an ultimatum calling for reunification of the party through a coalition to claim two seats up for special elections outside of Queens or face primary challenges, which would affect state Sens. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and six other members of the committee.
Comrie claimed a Democratic coalition was unrealistic considering his dealings with Avella, who he said has never tried to work with other Democrats in the state Senate, despite his own efforts to maintain a working relationship.
“I’ve tried to work with him over the years, but he is not interested in working with us in any way, shape or form,” Comrie said. “He is the singular most selfish person that I have ever met... This is beyond his desire to work collectively because I don’t think he’s interested in working collectively with anybody. He sees himself as an independent warrior, as his own soldier to go and rally against the things he feels are unjust and he will do whatever he can to step on whoever he wants to make that happen.”
The Hillcrest Jewish Center where the forum was held is in Avella’s district. Most of the criticism was directed against him.
But Avella struck back in a later statement at the accusations from IDC detractors, saying Empire State Indivisible and similar groups perpetuate the same “distortion” of facts they claim to oppose from the Trump administration.
“Obviously I like to work with people. Otherwise how would I get 49 bills past the Senate?” Avella said. “What I have a problem with are politicians who are working against the public good... If [Comrie] follows the political adage ‘going along to get along’... If he believes in that adage, well then shame on him. I don’t.”
Avella said Comrie had ignited conflict by introducing a bill to allow a Sephardic temple in Fresh Meadows with safety violations, and owned by Avi Dishi who was once on the 100 worst landords list, to file for a tax exemption. Avella declined to back the bill because the people conducting worship did not own the property and there were safety concerns.