Republican county leader foresees future GOP resurgence

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Another election cycle has ended, with the Republicans losing two out of three of their remaining elective offices countywide.

State Sen. Serf Maltese (R−Glendale) of the 15th Senate District was defeated by City Councilman Joe Addabbo Jr. (D−Howard Beach). Councilman Anthony Como (R−Middle Village) lost his seat in a special election to Democrat Elizabeth Crowley.

The remaining Republican elective office in Queens is held by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose) of the 11th Senate District. Presently, Padavan holds a slight lead over challenging Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows), with paper ballots still to be counted.

The Democratic Party now controls, besides the borough presidency, all the Queens congressional, state Assembly and Council offices, in addition to all the state Senate seats, with the possible exception of the 11th Senate District.

Queens Republican County Chairman Phil Ragusa gave his assessment of the recently concluded elections and also spoke about his plans for the immediate future.

He said that 4,811 new registrations were recorded in the district at the city Elections Board just prior to the election. Ragusa believes that most registrants registered as Democrats and contributed to the Democratic successes on Election Day. He also indicated that the large election turnout did not benefit his candidates.

In Padavan’s race, he carried the northern geographical portion of his district, including the 25th, 26th and 27th Assembly districts. He lost the 24th, 29th and 33rd Assembly districts. The last three Assembly districts are located mainly in the southern part of the Senate district.

Ragusa further said that both Maltese and Padavan campaigned hard. He pointed out that both former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mayor Michael Bloomberg campaigned for Maltese.

When asked the main reasons for the Maltese defeat, he said, “This is not a Republican year. There was a large anti−Bush vote, as shown by many Democrats voting straight [down] party line[s] by at least a 56−44 margin.”

Ragusa seemed upbeat and is optimistic about Republican chances in the near future. He has plans for a concerted registration drive to register more Republicans in Queens. He also has plans for next year, with the upcoming citywide races. He intends to make every effort to field candidates in every Queens Council district. He believes it will be easier to get potential candidates to run because of matching funds and campaign financing.

As for the situation in Albany, with the Democrats’ control of the governorship and state Legislature, Ragusa believes the Republican Party will regain a majority in the state Senate because “The people will become disenchanted with the Democrats controlling both the executive branch and Legislative branch of state government.” He added: “We need balance in Albany.”

When I asked him about a possible county insurgent movement next year similar to the one that tried to replace him as county leader last year, he said, “I’m trying to bring everyone together and have a united Republican Party.”

Ragusa attended the Republican National Convention this year in St. Paul, Minn., as an alternate delegate from New York. He was impressed at the time with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as were most of the convention delegates.

As for her possible future in national politics, Ragusa indicated that Palin has to build a national base, possibly by obtaining U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens’ (R−Alaska) seat if he resigns, assuming he is re−elected. In all, Ragusa feels Palin brought an energy to the Republican Party and wishes her well.

Ragusa also showed every indication of confronting his adversaries. He intends to move forward and regain lost ground.

Posted 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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