Political observers are calling attorney Michelle Titus the frontrunner in the behind-closed-doors contest to fill the southeast Queens State Assembly seat that opened up on January 27, when Pauline Rhodd-Cummings passed away. That is, assuming Governor George Pataki schedules a special election for the seat.
A Board of Education lawyer who was formerly the staff director of the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus in Albany, the 32-year-old Titus has become the favored choice of Queens political leaders, sources told City Limits last week. Other leading candidates include Fred Lewis, an aide to former Public Advocate Mark Green, and Brian Block, who works for State Senator Malcolm Smith.
State law leaves it up to the governor to decide whether or not to call a special election. Pataki is expected to make a decision on this race this week, said a spokesperson. If he does, the Democratic nominee for the 31st Assembly district, which includes Far Rockaway, Springfield Hills, South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill, will be chosen by the party’s four local district leaders, one of whom is Titus herself. “She’s the only name being taken seriously,” a political insider said last week. No Republican is known to be eyeing the seat.