County GOP switches backing for guv - again

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The Queens GOP is having commitment problems.

After initially endorsing former Long Island congressman Rick Lazio for governor, the Queens County Republican Party reversed its decision last month in favor of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who abandoned the Democratic Party to run as a Republican.

Now the party has withdrawn its backing of Levy and is throwing its support behind Republican businessman Myers Mermel.

In a statement released by Mermel’s campaign, Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa called Mermel “the most reliable conservative in the race for governor and therefore the best man for the job.”

“In the face of a state adrift with scandal and moral relativism, fiscal chicanery and poor judgment, our state could use a true conservative to right the ship of state,” Ragusa said. “Myers will provide us with that kind of leadership born of conviction and the New York Times won’t be his lodestar.”

Mermel was previously running for lieutenant governor — he had been endorsed by the Queens GOP for that position — before entering the governor’s race late last month.

“The Queens County Republican Party believes New York state needs a rock-ribbed solid Republican conservative — fiscally and socially —and needs one now,” Queens GOP spokesman Anthony Carollo said. “With the entry of Myers Mermel, Republicans will now have the option of a solid Republican conservati­ve.”

Mermel said the Queens GOP’s support was “another indication that our message is resonating within the party” and took a shot at Levy in a statement.

“Republicans are taking a closer look at the candidates and recognize that I’m the true Republican in this race, and not a Democrat candidate with an election year change of heart.”

Mermel worked as a commercial lender and investment banker after college and started a company in 1994 that advised businesses on relocation efforts.

He still runs that business and also works in commercial real estate.

In the political world, Mermel was the New York state chairman for Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee’s campaign and was the New York state grassroots chair for GOP presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) failed campaign.

Also in the race is Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:46 pm, October 10, 2011
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