Monday, August 3, 2009
Ognibene and the Mayor take on Crowley
Looks like we have a David versus Goliath story occuring in the 30th Council District. In this case, David is wearing a pant suit.
City Hall News:
Mayor provides big help to one-time challenger he recruited into Council race
Elizabeth Crowley is running for the third time in little over a year for her Council seat, but what might have been an easy race to her first full four-year term has turned surprisingly difficult due to intrusion from an unlikely corner: Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Crowley has a strong opponent thanks wholly to the mayor, who while luring the Queens GOP himself, began recruiting former Council Member Tom Ognibene into the race at Council Member Eric Ulrich’s ceremonial swearing-in in February.
Ognibene, who held Crowley’s seat from 1993 through 2001, demurred. So Bloomberg called back later with added pressure.
“We need you back in the Council, Tom,” said the mayor, who in 2005 fought to keep Ognibene off the Republican ballot. (Ognibene, who was then a fierce critic of the mayor, eventually challenged him on the Conservative line in the general election.)
Bloomberg won the GOP line in part by promising Queens GOP leaders that he would help down-ballot candidates.
While some have questioned his commitment to this elsewhere around the city, he has so far kept pledges to back Ognibene. Resources like manpower, talking points and polling data will likely make Ognibene the beleaguered GOP’s best hope for picking up a seat in the November.
Bloomberg petitioners helped the former Council minority leader get on the ballot with an objection-proof number of signatures. And a public endorsement, with swings through the heart of the district, is only weeks away, according to Bloomberg advisers and Queens Republicans.
But some Queens Democrats are pushing back on the idea that Bloomberg will really get so involved. Democrats dismiss Bloomberg’s promises however as a ploy to get the Queens GOP endorsement—promises they say he has not kept.
Crowley has been personally insisting to colleagues in private conservations that “the mayor’s not going to help Tom,” according to those who have spoken with her. Her aides insist that Bloomberg’s support will amount to no more than a mailing or two.
“I haven’t seen him say one thing about Tom Ognibene,” Crowley said in an interview. “Not one.”
Ognibene, meanwhile, has made the mayor’s support one of the biggest talking points in his campaign. He has touted his arrangement with Bloomberg as proof that he can bring substantial resources back to his Queens district, even as a Republican.
“The most important relationship that I have is the relationship with the mayor’s office,” he said. “He was the one who asked me to run.”
Posted by Patrick Henry at 12:41 PM