Maltese Endorses Bloomberg After Queens GOP Re-elects Him As County Leader
State Senator Serphin Maltese fought off a challenge from a faction identified with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and was re-elected as chairman of the Queens Republican Party for another term at the organization’s county committee caucus last Wednesday evening.
After the 8 and a half hour-long meeting concluded with Maltese firmly in command, the veteran GOP official personally endorsed Bloomberg for re-election and then led the county committee in making an organizational endorsement.
The final tally came out to a 65 to 35 percent victory for Maltese over his opponent, Bart Haggerty. City Councilmember Dennis Gallagher said Haggerty had very little backing, despite having the mayor’s support.
Bart and John Haggerty, brothers from Forest Hills where they lead an insurgent GOP club, helped collect petitions to get the mayor nominated for re-election. They also did most of the research which led to getting Tom Ognibene thrown off the primary ballot, thus short-circuiting the former councilmember’s plans to challenge the mayor for the Republican nomination in the primary.
Throughout Ognibene’s effort, Maltese supported his longtime friend and close political ally. Their friendship and political careers date back about 40 years when both were founders of the Conservative Party. Both made the switch to the Republican Party at the same time.
Ironically, Ognibene’s name will appear on the ballot as the Conservative Party candidate.
As a runup to the county committee meeting, Maltese and his organization defeated a Haggerty challenge on Primary Day. Bart Haggerty and Virginia Donnelly were unsuccessful in their effort to defeat Richard Metzger and longtime Glendale GOP State Committeemember Marge Adams, both of whom were supported by Maltese and the county organization.
Numerous interruptions and delaying tactics by the Haggerty faction helped prolong Wednesday’s meeting, which started at 7:30 p.m. and went until 2:30 a.m. Conducting the meeting was former Astoria resident Vincent Tabone, now a Bayside homeowner, who was credited with keeping the meeting under control.
The day before the caucus, the Haggertys went into court attempting to delay or stop the meeting, but were unsuccessful. The insurgents were represented by attorney Martin Connors of Brooklyn, former Democratic Minority leader of the state senate.
After the sometimes raucous meeting, at which Adams, Edward Coyne, Philip Ragusa, Stephen Weiner and Tabone were among those elected vice chairmen, Maltese issued a call for party unity and a strong effort for all Republican candidates on the November 8 ballot. Maltese singled out Philip Sica of Queens Village, who is opposing Borough President Helen Marshall in her bid for re-election, as the focus of some of those efforts.
MAYOR CONTINUES ONSLAUGHT IN POLLS: The latest Marist poll on the Bloomberg-Ferrer mayoral race, released last Tuesday, showed the mayor continuing to lead comfortably in the November 8 election which is drawing closer
Helping to put Fernando (Freddie) Ferrer’s showing in even sharper focus were the headlines that appeared in the same newspaper editions as the poll that revealed the Democratic candidate’s claims of having had a public school education were not true.
In the poll, the mayor led Ferrer 50 to 37 percent in the mayoral race. Bloomberg also led among likely Democratic voters by 49 to 44 percent.
The poll, coming two weeks after Ferrer won the Democratic primary with no runoff, showed that the candidate did not benefit by the usual bounce, or spike upwards, that sometimes accompanies an election victory, despite the flood of endorsements Ferrer received following the primary. The former Bronx borough president’s campaign has never caught fire because of one misstep after another. With the election only 33 days away, Ferrer appears to need a miracle to cut into the mayor’s comfortable lead and start climbing in the polls.
It would also appear that the only possible chance of Ferrer’s snatching victory from defeat may have to come on Election Day. The only endorsement with any real political value that Ferrer has received in recent days came from Dennis Rivera’s healthcare workers’ union.
Although the mayor has received endorsements from labor unions totalling some 300,000 members, Rivera’s potent 240,000-member Service Employees International Union, Local 1199, has the reputation of being a more politically powerful organization because its members can bring out the vote on Election Day.
Rivera’s workers reportedly have started preparations for getting a large turnout to the polls on Election Day with a massive phone bank operation and mailings to both present workers and retirees. Union leaders are also calling on their many Hispanic members to elect the city’s first Hispanic mayor.
The mayor and his strategists are also planning a massive Election Day operation to get Republican voters into voting booths, fueled in part, we’re sure, by the mayor’s deep pockets. It could come down to whose foot soldiers do the better job, but there’s no doubt that if 1199 can’t win this fight, neither will Ferrer.
Meanwhile, Queens Democrats led by County Chairman Thomas Manton, are planning a big night in Queens for Ferrer on October 20 when he will be an honored guest at the Queens Democratic organization’s traditional annual pre-election cocktail party at Antun’s of Queens Village. A large turnout of party supporters is expected at the $150-a-ticket event.
RUDY STILL ON FENCE: Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, in Denmark to speak at a business conference, told a group of firefighters that he’ll make a decision next year whether he’ll run for president in 2008. But he added, according to press reports, “Sometimes you warm up and get ready and you don’t get in and pitch,” which sounds as if he isn’t ready to take the plunge.
The mayor spoke to the Danish firefighters because they raised $8,400 in support of their New York City brethren following 9/11. Giuliani’s role in rallying the city after that atrocity four years ago is still warmly remembered.
Meanwhile, United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) continues to do extremely well in polls on her re-election bid next year and the presidential run in 2008. She never hesitates to attack the present administration and currently is criticizing President George W. Bush’s plans to conduct an investigation into his own response to Hurricane Katrina. Clinton is pushing for an independent probe.
BP SAD JETS PICKED NJ: Borough President Helen Marshall, who led a last-minute campaign to convince the New York Jets football team to build a stadium in Queens and make the borough their home again, said last week that she was disappointed at the Jets’ final decision to remain in New Jersey.
“There was great enthusiasm and energy on the streets for putting the stadium in Queens,” she said. “In the last several weeks, many fans asked me to please make this happen.”