2009-04-15 / Political Page

GOP Endorsement For Bloomberg's Re-Election Still Not A Done Deal

Although Mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly has three of the five Republican county organizations in New York City in his corner, ready to give him their blessings and endorsements as their candidate for mayor, it won't be a done deal until all five GOP county organizations meet in a citywide convention some time next month for a final and official vote.

"There has to be a citywide convention vote to give or not give a Wilson/Pakula," explained Vincent Tabone, the Queens County Republican organization's executive vice chairman.

"Wilson/Pakula" refers to the law governing a political party's endorsement of a candidate who is not a member of that party.

According to press reports, the GOP organizations in Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island have decided to give Bloomberg their endorsements for mayor and the Republican line on the ballot in November.

That leaves the Queens and Manhattan organizations still undeclared on the question. Queens GOP County Leader Phil Ragusa has been outspoken in his opposition to Bloomberg up until now and we were unable to reach him yesterday to see if this was still the case. Ragusa, an accountant, was understandably not available for a political conversation on the day before the deadline for filing 2008 income tax returns.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Mayor Michael Bloomberg Tabone described the matter of a mayoral endorsement by the five Republican county organizations as "still up in the air, although the mayor is much closer than he was before".

At one point earlier this year, the five party leaders were flatly opposed to endorsing Bloomberg because after he won their support and the election in 2002, they said he snubbed them afterward and refused to give them any patronage appointments. This year they said, would be different, but Bloomberg persisted and has been successful thus far in winning the support of three leaders up to this point.

That doesn't end the process, Tabone explained, because the final endorsement must be voted at a party convention, to be held next month. At the convention, each county has a weighted vote based on party enrollment or on the Republican voter turnout in each county.

By Tabone's reckoning, Queens leads the other boroughs in the weighted vote with "about 30 percent", followed by the Brooklyn organization with "about 26 percent". The remaining three lag further behind.

He also explained that each organization may not get a total vote for a given candidate, in which case a mathematical computation based on the actual vote as compared to the weighted vote would have to be made to determine the winner.

Despite all the gnashing of teeth and acrimony created over granting or withholding the Republican endorsement, it's not crucial for Bloomberg because he has already been assured of getting the Independence Party endorsement for his re-election bid. With the mayor's popularity as shown in the polls, and with the campaign cash at his disposal, he should be able to exploit his role as favorite in the race and win fairly easily.

GOP 'CANDIDATE SCHOOL' A BUSY PLACE: Queens Republican leader Phil Ragusa opened the party's recent candidates school session with the comment, "Our goal is to give prospective candidates the tools they need to run effective and successful campaigns." Then he introduced a battery of speakers who covered every aspect of campaigning.

Vince Tabone, the county organization executive vice chairman, who learned the ABCs of campaigning in Rudolph Giuliani and George Pataki campaigns, spoke about the all-important nominating and petitioning process necessary to get on the ballot. Jason Weingartner, from the Blaney Associates political consulting firm, discussed fundraising. Daniel Egers, the county organization's PR man, talked about media relations and how to get a candidate's name and issues out to the public.

The school session, which eyed the coming City Council and boroughwide offices up for grabs this year, also heard from consultant Robert Hornak, himself a candidate for Queens Borough President, who spoke on campaign financing and Jay Golub, president of GSB Consulting, who organized the school session with Hornak, and who addressed ways of setting up a campaign.

Attorney Robert Bishop explained ways to get out the vote and John Bougiamas, who designed the organization's Web site, qgop.com, talked about using the latest technology in a campaign.

Republican candidates in Queens generally face an uphill battle against Democratic incumbents who have a huge edge in voter registration. Ragusa, however, promised to field as many candidates in every election that he could possibly find, and is making every effort to do just that, using the candidate school as his main weapon.

JUNG SEEKS FLUSHING COUNCIL SEAT: A full range of ethnic groups turned out on Sunday for an announcement by S.J. Jung that he is seeking the 20th City Council District seat in Flushing presently occupied by Councilmember John Liu that Liu is vacating to run for city comptroller.

Jung, 45, is the operator of a trading company and a community activist who has been involved with youth and immigration groups. On Sunday, he announced his campaign theme: "Come Together, Revive Together, Thrive Together" before a multiethnic coalition of supporters from Latino, African American, Chinese American, Korean American and South Asian groups.

Jung listed among urgent issues in Flushing and surrounding areas the need to balance smart growth with affordable housing as well as job creation and the revitalization of small businesses.

Others who have announced they will run for the seat are Ron Kim and Yen Chou. Liu has not announced an endorsement at this point.

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