NEW YORK - (AP) - A defiant Pedro Espada is rejecting efforts byNew York Democratic leaders to oust him from the party.

The state Senate majority leader vowed at a news conferenceyesterday to run again this fall as a Democrat and suggested theparty's efforts were racially motivated.

Espada brandished petitions he said bore the signatures of atleast 10,000 Democrats in his Bronx district, far more than the1,000 he needs to get on the Sept. 14 primary ballot.

Espada claims to have been a Democrat all his life, even thoughhe briefly sided with Republicans last summer in a power play thatground Senate business to a halt.

Espada suggested state attorney general Andrew Cuomo, theDemocratic nominee for governor, was behind the party's effort tooust him.