Friday, November 14, 2008

Crowley Cites Democratic Gains in Queens by Jonathan P. Hicks - City Room Blog -

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It was something of a mutual admiration society on Thursday morning between Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and United States Representative Joseph Crowley.

Representative Joseph Crowley is the Queens Democratic chairman. (Photo: Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Mr. Crowley, who is also the chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, was the speaker at the breakfast hosted by the Association for a Better New York. And Mr. Bloomberg made a last-minute addition to his schedule to appear at the event.

At first, Mr. Bloomberg focused his remarks on his support for the redevelopment of Willets Point, an industrial enclave near Shea Stadium in Queens. But then he turned his attention to Mr. Crowley.

The congressman, Mr. Bloomberg said, “always seems to be in the right side of issues,” adding that the “great opportunity” to develop Willets Point would not have been possible “without the help of Joe Crowley.”

Mr. Crowley, in turn, said that Mr. Bloomberg “has done a good job as mayor.”

“I think people are pleased with the job he has been doing,” Mr. Crowley added.

What does that bode for a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent mayor seeking a third term? Would the Queens County Democratic organization be kindly disposed to supporting Mr. Bloomberg?

“We have a healthy respect for each other,” Mr. Crowley said in an interview after the breakfast. “He comes to me when there is an issue he believes I can help. We disagree on some things, too. But we have a good relationship. However, it’s much too soon to talk about what might happen next year.”

However, Mr. Crowley added that there are two longtime Democratic officials who have already committed to seeking the party’s nomination for mayor in 2009: Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., and United States Representative Anthony D. Weiner.

“There are two people out there already who I think can do the job and who are looking to run as Democrats,” Mr. Crowley said. “The mayor is a formidable candidate. But I don’t think anyone is unbeatable.”

Mr. Crowley added that he had not given any thought as to what might be involved in the legal maneuvers that would allow Mr. Bloomberg to run for re-election on the Democratic line.

The congressman did speak about the Democratic Party’s gains in Queens, pointing out that the longtime State Senator Frank Padavan, a Republican, was only narrowly ahead of the Democratic challenger, City Councilman James F. Gennaro, in the results from last week’s general election, with about 8,000 absentee and other paper ballots yet to be counted.

In addition, a City Council seat that had long been held by Republicans went Democratic in last week’s election. Councilman Anthony Como, one of three Republicans in the Council, was defeated by Elizabeth S. Crowley, a developer of educational programs for nonprofit agencies. She is also a cousin of the congressman’s.

“I think we’re doing a great job as a Democratic Party in Queens,” Mr. Crowley said. “If we’re able to win the Padavan seat, which I think we will, it will mean that every member of the Assembly, the City Council and the State Senate from Queens will be Democratic.”

Mr. Crowley added “we’ll no longer be viewed as the political stepchild.”