Bloomberg–Ognibene Race For GOP Nod Looks Extremely Close
Bloomberg-Ognibene Race For GOP Nod Looks Extremely Close
I on politics
A rare split in the Queens Republican Party over the selection of a candidate in this year's mayoral election could endanger Michael Bloomberg's chances of winning the party's nomination in the September primary.
The split could force Bloomberg to seek a minor party line in his bid for re-election.
The borough's official party organization, headed by state Senator Serphin Maltese, of Middle Village, voted last Thursday evening to endorse its former vice chairman, Thomas Ognibene, as the GOP candidate for mayor.
On the same evening, a splinter group in Northeast Queens which included state Senator Frank Padavan (R-C, Bellerose) and several members of the organization executive committee, decided to continue their support for Bloomberg in his re-election campaign.
According to Padavan, the mayor gave the keynote speech at the traditional Lincoln Day Dinner of the Queens Village Republican Club last Sunday night and was extremely well received.
"It was a well-attended event, and afterward many of those in attendance wanted his autograph or pictures with him, so it was clear that at that event they felt he is doing a great job and there's no justification to remove him," said Padavan, who is very popular in the northeast end of the county.
However, in the western end of the borough-Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Woodside-more traditional Republicanism abounds and the leadership as well as the rank and file perceive the mayor, a former Democrat, as too liberal. He has also denied them any patronage.
Ognibene has attacked Bloomberg for clearly trying to distance himself from President George W. Bush on most issues, and the former city councilmember has also criticized the mayor's real estate tax increase last year. Other Ognibene supporters have cited the mayor's pro-gay marriage and pro-gun control stances as reasons to oppose his re-election.
So how might the vote go in the September primary between Ognibene and the mayor?
In a telephone interview yesterday morning, Padavan noted that the part of Queens which endorsed the mayor for re-election last Thursday night, gave him 100,000 of the 192,000 votes he got in Queens in 2001.
That's virtually an even split. There are indications that the mayor's support will also be split in Staten Island, the other powerhouse Republican borough in the city. So we may be looking at an extremely close contest between Ognibene and the mayor. Certainly, the billionaire mayor's huge advantage in financial resources will help him, but to what extent in such a close election? It promises to be an interesting fight, one which will also have a great impact on the mayor's chances in the general election against a Democrat if he squeaks out a victory in the Republican mayoral primary.
AVELLA ATTACKS 'SHARK' : Because of alleged negative stereotypes against Italian-Americans in the movie "Shark Tale," City Councilmember Tony Avella (D-Bayside) last week called for a boycott of the Academy Award-nominated film.
Corona Democratic District Leader Joseph Lisa of the Italian-American Polit-ical Action Committee also attacked the film as anti-Italian.
In another matter, Avella wants the state legislature to legalize sports betting, but the proposal faces opposition from Governor George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and probably state Senator Frank Padavan (R-C, Bellerose), who, like Avella, hails from Northeast Queens.
WEPRIN-GENNARO PRESS FOR IMMIGRANT SERVICES. : Mayor Bloomberg has not included the councils Immigrant Opportunity Initiative in his proposed 2005-06 budget, so Councilmembers David Weprin (D-Hollis) and James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) said they would make funding for it in the spending plan a priority. The lawmakers said that removing funding streams from communities that desperately need them is simply unwise.
WEINER 'BUSH BUDGET HURTS NYC': A study of President Bush's budget made by Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D-Queens/Brooklyn) underfunds New York City by as much as $1.2 billion, the lawmaker charges.
Weiner, a Democratic mayoral hopeful, said the president's proposed budget shortchanges the city in the areas of homeland security, low-income housing, day care, afterschool programs, crime fighting and heating aid to seniors.
"For the fifth year in a row, the Bush budget cuts city core services to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy," Weiner complained, "and once again, the mayor's requests were not funded."
VALLONE LAUDS NYPD PROGRAM: Before the Police Department adopted the Computerized Statistics Program (CompStat) in 1994, says Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), crime was on the rise and the department lacked timely and accurate information. But CompStat provided quick sharing of information which made it possible for the Police Department to respond immediately and effectively to crime hotspots.
Recently, Vallone, chairman of the council Public Safety Committee, saw firsthand how CompStat works and why it is so effective in cutting crime.
Attending a weekly crime control strategy meeting, Vallone witnessed local precinct commanders being put on the hot seat and grilled by high-ranking officials regarding crime or crime patterns in their jurisdiction. Commanders were then asked to explain the actions of individual officers and detectives on specific cases.
Vallone, whose committee recently held hearings on the program, commented: "CompStat has really worked in allocating resources to the locations where they are most needed."