Six New Yorkers scrambled Saturday to fill a political void left by the fall of veteran Rep. Mario Biaggi, the Bronx Democrat twice convicted of corruption who resigned so he could press his appeal.
At an emotional news conference Friday, Biaggi gave up the office he has held for 20 years and said he would not seek an 11th term.Biaggi's withdrawal also raised the question of how he could remove his name from the Sept. 14 Democratic primary ballot and from the November election ballot. Deadlines for withdrawal have passed for both races.
"We don't know yet what mechanisms will be used," said Robert Blancato, a Biaggi aide.
It has been suggested that the congressman - convicted last September of obstruction of justice and accepting an illegal gratuity and found guilty with five others Thursday in the Wedtech Corp. racketeering scheme - move his legal residence out of the 19th Congressional District, perhaps to Washington.
Another suggestion was to seek court permission for withdrawal.
The number of candidates seeking to replace Biaggi has swollen to six.
Bronx Democratic leader George Friedman said he would decide Monday or Tuesday who the once-powerful but still-dominant party organization would support.
State Assemblyman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., already has announced his candidacy for the seat.
Other aspirants are Assemblyman John Dearie, D-Bronx, former Assemblyman Vincent Marchiselli, City Council members Jerry Crispino and June Eisland and Westchester County Clerk Nick Spano.
Engel and Marchiselli had asked the New York state election commission to remove Biaggi from the primary ballot, citing his September conviction, but the panel refused. The announcement came the day of Biaggi's second conviction.
Dearie withdrew from the Democratic primary in June out of deferrence to Biaggi but announced his plan to run again on a weekly WNWK-FM talk-and-music radio program hosted by Adrian Flannelly.
"I think you can say next week, I will be a candidate for Congress," he told Flannelly's mainly Irish and Irish-American listeners. He said he hoped to run either as an independent or on the Democratic ticket.
"In the next 72 hours we will know," Dearie said as he left the radio studio for a strategy session at his northeast Bronx home with about 30 supporters.
Dearie said he had petitions printed up Friday, explaining that 3,500 signatures were needed to put him on the Democratic primary ballot.