He didn't even make his decision to enter the race until the beginning of July, meaning he had to mount a furious petition drive just to make sure that he would be on the ballot in next month's Democratic Primary.
His announcement came on the heels of Congressman Joseph Crowley's loss to political upstart Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a win that perhaps signaled to Liu there really was a strong current of voter dissatisfaction with the status quo, a base he could tap to defeat Avella this time around.
Liu only lost in 2014 by less than 600 votes.
Until recently, Avella was a member of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of eight Democratic state senators who caucused with the Republican majority.
Part of Avella's district overlaps with Crowley's congressional district, so Liu must be confident that there is an energized group of new voters who will come out to the polls to support him, turned off by Avella's association with the IDC and the agreement with Republicans.
In fact, Liu was courted by True Blue NY, a group determined to defeat former IDC members in this year's elections. The group helped mount the furious petition drive to get Liu on the ballot. Up to that point, Avella was the only former IDC member who wasn't facing a primary challenge from a “progressive” opponent.
During the 2014 election, Liu was still feeling the effects of a campaign finance scandal that saw his campaign treasurer and a fundraiser convicted of a straw donor scheme and didn't help in his bid to become mayor. Liu, however, was not charged with any wrongdoing.
But Avella is doing his best to make sure voters recall Liu's formerly troubled campaigns, bringing up on more than one occasion that he was fined $26,000 by the Campaign Finance Board in 2017 related to fraudulent documents file in his 2013 mayoral bid.
Avella also like to point out that the Liu campaign, but not John Liu himself, was fined over $500,000 by the Environmental Control Board for illegal posters that date back to his successful 2009 bid for comptroller.
Keeping with that theme, the state senator recently tweeted out a photo of what he deemed yet another Liu campaign violation with this needling commentary: “While I love sidewalk chalk, clearly John Liu has not told his supporters that placing it on City sidewalks is against the law. He should let them know before they accumulate thousands of dollars of fines like John Liu's previous campaigns.”
We hope someone from ECB got there before it rained!