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Political Action: Como, Ognibene vie for GOP endorsements

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A special election will be held in June to replace Gallagher, who is resigning under a plea bargain with the Queens district attorney's office due to pleading guilty to misdemeanor sex abuse charges. The special election is scheduled to be non-partisan, so political party designations will not be listed on the ballot. The race will also include Democrat Elizabeth Crowley, who ran for Gallagher's seat in 2001, and civic leader Charles Ober.Ognibene and Como addressed the club membership that was present before a vote was taken to indicate members' candidate choice. Como, endorsed by the Queens Republican County Party and supported by state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), spoke first. Como thanked the club for its past efforts on behalf of other Republican candidates and congratulated the club's officers. He spoke about his actions working with the Rego Hills club in the past and asked for its endorsement.When Ognibene spoke, he said he was ready to serve, since he previously served as the Council minority leader and was now running for re-election. He also described about his past efforts as a councilman to reduce taxes and crime. Ognibene indicated he believes he is well-qualified to resume his former office.After both candidates left the meeting, ballots were given to each club member present to vote, then collected and counted. Como won 17-11 and in effect received the club's endorsement.On the previous evening, at the Middle Village Republican Club, Ognibene was narrowly endorsed by a 20-18 vote of that club's membership. In Queens, it is highly unusual for political clubs to take positions on candidate selection. Usually the Queens County Republican Executive Committee makes such selections. This is a very unusual election, however, with two Republican candidates well-known in party circles.Since this race is non-partisan, both candidates could be on the ballot in addition to Democratic candidates come June, when the special election will be held. This council district, which takes in much of Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood, is the only Queens seat Republicans have. They are expected to make every effort to hold it.At the Regular Republican Club meeting, one of the guest speakers was Pat Toro, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Queens Chapter #32, which he indicated has about 300 members. He said he thought all U.S. presidents should be former veterans since each serves as commander in chief of the armed forces. He spoke about his organization working to prevent veterans hospital closings. He thinks his organization has a good working relationship with Queens public officials in both political parties, and believes former veterans will have a decisive voice in deciding who is elected as our next president.I also spoke briefly to the club membership and discussed the primary results in both political parties and the results' impact on the nominating process.The Rego Hills Regular Republican Club, chaired by Dolores Maddis, was first formed about three years ago and is becoming increasingly active in the community.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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