Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Como Inches Toward Addabbo Senate Challenge by Chris Bragg - City Hall News

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Candidacy is back-up plan for former Council member still waiting on NYCHA job

Anthony Como is still waiting to hear on the job he says was promised to him to be a commissioner for the New York City Housing Authority. But if that does not work, State Sen. Joe Addabbo could have something to worry about.

“I think my wife would kill me [if I passed on the NYCHA job]” Como said. “I’m upset. I’m hoping it comes through sooner rather than later. As long as I can stay in government, that’s what I’m looking for. Whether it’s the city level somewhere in the administration, or on the state level in the State Senate, I don’t know.”

Como said he was offered the $172,311-a-year commissionership last spring by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign around the same time Bloomberg sought support for his mayoral campaign from a recalcitrant Queens Republican Party.

Como said the last time he was in contact with the Bloomberg administration about the NYCHA job was in late November or early December, and was told the Department of Investigation inquiry was still ongoing into several zoning violations Como committed while renovating his Middle Village home in 2007.

One local GOP operative said that Como appeared unlikely to get the position at this point. The operative said tensions between the Bloomberg campaign and the Queens Republican Party, which on several occasions bashed the mayor after giving Bloomberg their Wilson-Pakula endorsement, were a factor in Como likely not getting the position.

Addabbo unseated State Sen. Serf Maltese by 15 points in 2008 and, although the GOP is desperate to regain the seat, it could be an uphill climb. Council Member Eric Ulrich, a rising star in the Republican Party who holds Addabbo’s former Council seat, was the top choice to run for the seat, but appears to be taking a pass.

“I have no intention of running,” Ulrich said.

Maltese was also initially approached about running for his old seat by the Queens Republican leadership. He declined.

Como served for a decade as Maltese’s Senate office counsel, and the two recently met with Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos to discuss Como’s candidacy. Como would also have the backing of Queens Republican Party chair Phil Ragusa if he ran.

If Como does run for the Senate, he could be slowed by a civil war within the Queens GOP. Como is aligned with the faction of the Queens GOP led by Ragusa, while a sizable minority of the party is aligned with a dissident faction led by brothers Bart and John Haggerty.

Members of the Haggerty faction have suggested that Como is not really interested in the seat, but is floating his name in order to angle for the Bloomberg administration job.

One member of the Haggerty faction noted that Como had not yet reached out to dissident members who hold a number of district leader spots in the Senate district, or the elected officials in the area who are part of that faction, including Ulrich and former Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene.

Ognibene is setting up a screening committee for the Senate seat around mid-February and said he hopes Como agrees to be screened. Other possible candidates include Gabriel Tapalaga, president of the Middle Village Republican Club and 2008 Assembly candidate Anthony Nunziato, a district leader who is part of the Haggerty faction. Ognibene said he is not interested in running.

Ognibene said he likely would support Como if he does reach out to the dissident faction of the party. Otherwise, Ognibene said he feared that the inter-party warfare could lead to divisive Republican primaries.

“These people have taken credit for electing a number of officials that they have nothing to do with, including Eric Ulrich’s election,” Ognibene said, referring to the Ragusa faction. “Instead of healing the wounds between the existing factions, they continue to act in a foolish manner—and will continue to see challenges to the candidates they select for public office.”