Friday, June 11, 2010

Como Backs Out, Then Returns to Race by Michael Cusenza - Queens Chronicle

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Republican Anthony Como, right, who briefly served as a city councilman, will meet incumbent state Sen. Joe Addabbo in this fall’s election for the 15th District.

He’s in. No, he’s out. On third thought, he’s in.

Anthony Como decided Monday to commit to a campaign to unseat incumbent state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) in the fall, mere hours after the Republican pulled out of the race to focus on earning the executive director position at the Board of Elections, City Hall News reported.

Como told the Queens Chronicle Tuesday morning that after being inundated with phone calls, texts and e-mails from family members, friends, former constituents, state Senate Republican Minority Leader Dean Skelos and the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, he had to reconsider.

“It’s really an overwhelming experience to know that I have their support and their backing and their consideration — not only to run, but they know that I can win and do a great job in the Senate representing them,” Como said. “I know I made the right decision to run.”

Como, a Middle Village resident who served as president of the city Board of Elections, had been coveting the executive director job, which reportedly pays $172,000 per year, nearly $100,000 more than the salary of a state senator. He said the debut of new voting machines this fall was an impetus for vying for the top spot.

“I think that my experiences and my curriculum vitae would be a tremendous asset to that agency,” Como said. “But after I saw the support behind me [for the Senate run], I knew it was something I also had to consider.”

Como, who briefly represented the 30th City Council District in 2008 after winning a special election for the seat Dennis Gallagher was forced to resign, has the backing of the Queens County Republican Party. QGOP Chairman Phil Ragusa Tuesday said he was “delighted” to hear that the former borough assistant district attorney had changed his mind.

“This was difficult decision for him,” Ragusa said. “I feel he made the right one, because I think he has a great chance of winning.”

Asked if voters would consider in November his vacillating in June, Como said he believes that turning down the chance to become executive director will only enhance his standing among 15th District residents.

“I think it actually reinforces the fact of how much I care about the community I’ve lived in all my life,” he said. “People know what I stand for in the community, based on my record in the council, even in my short time being there.”

Como said that although he regards Addabbo as “a good guy — I’m not going to talk bad about him,” he “absolutely” knows if elected he’d do a better job.

“There are other districts in other parts of the state that are not suffering as much as we are, and there’s a reason for that,” he said. “I’m tired of hospitals closing down. We’re not getting the monies that are supposed to be brought back to the communities; we’re not getting the services we deserve. Enough is enough.”

Addabbo said he “takes every opponent seriously” and touted his efforts since taking office last year, adding that “the accessibility of a full-time senator who is focused solely on the role and job of a senator certainly is what the people have right now.”

Addabbo defeated then-incumbent Sen. Serf Maltese in 2008. At one time, Como served as Maltese’s chief counsel, and Maltese said “it’s like seeing my son do good, so I couldn’t be happier.”

Additionally, Maltese said he likes his protege’s chances in the fall “especially in the present climate, that people are very unhappy with incumbents and they’re very unhappy, specifically, with the state Legislature.”

Como indicated he’ll be running on the Republican, Independent and Conservative party lines and is looking forward to an exciting campaign.

“It’s going to be a victorious time in November, that I can guarantee,” he said.