What a difference 30 hours can make...
In the space of that time, former Council Member Anthony Como went from confirming with City Hall on Sunday afternoon that he would not be a State Senate candidate, to being convinced by a deluge of calls from some of the state’s top Republicans, his county chair and constituents that he would, in fact, begin collecting petitions to challenge Joe Addabbo in Queens as early as Tuesday.
“It’s 10:30 at night, I’m talking to you, and I basically an hour-and-a-half ago decided that this city and state can use me in the 15th Senate District,” Como told City Hall late into the evening on Monday.
Como attributed his decision in large part to the response to a City Hall article from Monday morning that explained what had been his decision to skip the Senate race to focus on trying to be selected as the new executive director of the city Board of Elections. Though Como said state GOP chair Ed Cox was not among those who reached out, Queens GOP chair Phil Ragusa was, as were State Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos, Senate Republican Campaign Committee (SRCC) chair Tom Libous and Brooklyn State Sen. Marty Golden.
“They seriously hoped I would run, seriously hoped I would reconsider, which I have,” he said.
Como said they reaffirmed pledges for extensive financial and political support in what he has been told will be their priority race for the fall in the fight what could prove the crucial swing seat in determining whether Democrats are able to keep their slim majority in the Senate.
He was also reminded of SRCC polls that he said show him close to Addabbo, and in some cases, beating him.
“There’s been polls taken, and those polls, I’ve been informed, have me leading the incumbent, Joe Addabbo at this time,” Como said. “I think it was about four points, if I remember correctly.”
Como has not been a candidate since his last race for Council, in November 2008, when he lost the seat he had won in a special election just five months earlier. He said he has no lingering campaign operation, and campaign finance records show him with a $0 balance in his Council campaign account.
As of Monday, Como had no active campaign operation together, but he said he was planning to file the paperwork to create one and open a fundraising account shortly.
He said he had spent part of Monday evening calling the commissioners who had backed him for the Board of Elections job, apologizing to them for backing out on the promises he had just the day before said he could not break.
According to Como, his supporters for the executive director job backed his decision.
“As they thought about it, they decided that it may be best for all parties,” Como said. “They were disappointed in one act, but happy and proud in the next.”
Asked whether his withdrawal should lead to a rush of support for the top job to longtime Board deputy director George Gonzalez, the Democratic-backed executive director candidate, Como said, “I honestly don’t.”
Como framed the argument partially in partisan terms, and took another swipe at Gonzalez’s management of the Board in the four months since Marcus Cederqvist resigned.
“I believe it should definitely remain a Republican spot. There’s no reason the top spot should go to a Democrat,” Como said. “I don’t know who the replacement will be, but I think George had an opportunity to prove himself and he didn’t.”
One possible replacement is J.C. Polanco, the Republican commissioner from the Bronx who serves as secretary of the board—and whose day job is to be the director of Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb’s New York City office—was already making calls late Monday to gauge support among the county leaders and fellow commissioners.
Referring to the stalemate among the 10 commissioners that has frozen the appointment process since February, Polanco said, “The question is, can we get to six votes?”
Polanco said that he was planning to speak to his family, Kolb and his fellow commissioners about pursuing the position in the days ahead, but expressed confidence that he would be able to rally enough support to win the backing of a majority of commissioners.
“I’m not interested in the stalemate,” he said. “I’m really just interested in having a conversation with my colleagues and seeing what they think the future of the board is. “
Polanco, who holds an MBA and JD from Fordham, is also an adjunct business professor at the Center for Ethnic Studies'at CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College. As he likes to remind people, he was a bat boy for the Yankees as a child.
But his Republican registration might be one of the most important qualifications for the job as executive director of the Board, Polanco explained.
Given the massive Democratic registration advantage in the five boroughs, Polanco said, “to have a Republican executive director speaks volumes about bipartisanship in this city.”