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Fiorello LaGuardia and Michael Bloomberg began their careers as New York City mayors with a commitment to reform in terms of changing the political and electoral systems under which the city operates.
Both ran and won their offices as Republicans with third party support, but while in office showed little interest or loyalty to the Republican Party. LaGuardia, during his 12 years in office, never supported Republican candidates for state or national office. In fact, he supported and campaigned for former Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt every time Roosevelt ran for re−election.
Bloomberg did not take any active role in former President George W. Bush’s re−election campaign or in U.S. Sen. John McCain’s (R−Ariz.) campaign for president last year, although he now indicates he supported McCain.
In 1937, after LaGuardia was re−elected to a second term, there was talk in various political circles about him becoming a possible presidential or vice presidential candidate. The question arose, however, under which party would he run or if he would run as an independent, third party candidate.
At several points before the presidential elections of 1940 and 1944, LaGuardia hoped Roosevelt might choose him as his vice presidential running mate, but that did not happen. LaGuardia continued campaigning for the Roosevelt ticket and at one point led a committee called the Independent Voters for Roosevelt.
Bloomberg, after his re−election to a second term in 2005, seemed to show some interest in running for vice president on one of the two major party tickets or president as a third party independent. In the early part of last year, he seriously gave consideration to running as a third party presidential candidate, but ultimately decided against it.
LaGuardia, when he ran for re−election in 1937 and 1941, had to run in a Republican primary both times and won those primaries to maintain the party designation. Bloomberg’s re−election campaign in 2005 did not have unanimous Republican support.
The Queens County Republican Party endorsed former Republican City Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene for mayor, although Ognibene was not able to achieve a ballot position and run in a Republican primary against Bloomberg in 2005. This year, Ognibene’s position seems somewhat stronger if he chooses to run again for mayor.
The conclusion of LaGuardia’s political career came in 1945, when he was considering running for a fourth term as mayor. But earlier that year, he discovered that none of the city’s five Republican county chairmen would not support him for re−election. He also found that the Liberal Party would not support him. At that point, he retired from elective office.
Reviewing the present mayoral election situation, Bloomberg, who failed in 2003 through a voter referendum to make citywide elections non−partisan with no party designation, is now trying to get any political party he can to give him a ballot position. So far, no city political party has indicated support for his re−election bid.
In the city Republican Party, the Kings County organization has endorsed Bloomberg with a vote of its executive committee. The vote came down to 30 to endorse with nine opposed and one abstention. What stands out is that 25 percent of the Brooklyn vote was against Bloomberg. There is a possibility Staten Island may follow Brooklyn in supporting Bloomberg.
Recently, however, the Republican county chairmen of Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan met with Ognibene and conducted an interview regarding the possibility of his running for mayor as a Republican. The interview seemed to go well. It now appears it will be a struggle between Bloomberg and Ognibene for the mayoral candidate designation of the Republican Party.
The petition drive to get candidates on the ballot starts in June, so political parties will have to decide soon who their mayoral candidates will be.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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