12:55 pm Aug. 27, 20122
A former supporter of Assemblyman Vito Lopez said the embattled Brooklyn boss has no shot at keeping his chairmanship of the Brooklyn Democratic organization in a party election next month.
Democratic district leader Betty-Ann Canizio, who said she considered Lopez a friend and good leader, said today, "If he does not step down, and goes to the meeting, he won't get one vote."
Also: "I can't condone a predator. As much as I like him, I can't."
Canizio, who works for a member of the Assembly, said other Lopez loyalists are abandoning him, and at least one rival will seek to replace him at the party's next meeting. Canizio declined to say who it was.
Two names floated by City and State were Assemblywoman Annette Robinson and district leader Jo Anne Simon.
On Friday it was announced that a bipartisan investigation by the New York State Assembly's Standing Committee on Ethics and Guidance found allegations of sexual harassment by Lopez against two female Assembly employees to be "credible."
Lopez has denied any wrong doing and his girlfriend told The News "I believe it's a setup."
Canizio said she was skeptical about the allegations at first.
"I felt there were holes in it. Where was the police report?" Canizio recalled thinking.
Then, over the weekend, the Times reported another sexual harassment allegation against Lopez had been quietly settled, with the victim being paid a settlement from the Assembly, and having been represented by Gloria Allred, a famous lawyer from Los Angeles.
"That woke me up," Canizio said. "I just got sick and disgusted. Although he always treated me with respect, I can't stand by him. I'm a mom, I have a daughter."
Canizio, added, "I think it's time for him to enjoy the rest of his life and stay out of politics. He's going to drag down anyone else that's running."
During a telephone interview today, Canizio repeatedly expressed mixed feelings towards Lopez, whom she has known and suported for years.
"I would like to slap him across the face," she said. "Emotionally, I feel sorry for him that he would do something like this. But I can't rule with my heart. I have to rule with my head and what's best for the party and he's not best for the party."
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