By William Lewis
The first special election for the 30th City Council District of Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood has ended, with Republican Anthony Como winning by a narrow 48-vote margin over Democrat Elizabeth Crowley after the paper ballots were counted by the city Elections Board. Now that the second special election for the same seat is in progress, the importance of political party designation comes into focus, since the political parties that the candidates represent will now be listed.
Among the 7,417 votes cast in the first special election, 4,383 were cast for the two Republican candidates, Como and Thomas Ognibene. A total of 3,034 votes were cast for the two Democratic candidates, Crowley and Charles Ober, which means that District 30's registered voters, largely Democratic by more than a 4-3 margin, voted in favor of Republican candidates.
Perhaps this is an isolated case in a special election, since Republican candidates throughout the city, outside of Staten Island, rarely win elections without third party support, mainly from the Conservative and Independence parties. It could also be considered, however, a forerunner of things to come in the national election this fall in New York.
In the second special election, being referred to as Round 2, it looks like Como will not have a primary opponent, since it seems he will be the only Republican running. Ognibene has bowed out of the race after losing to Como by more than 300 votes.
It was at the recent Middle Village Republican Club meeting that Ognibene announced he was withdrawing from further campaigning and had ceased his second petition drive. Furthermore, he was endorsing Como.
Politics can lead to many different results, and in this case we have Como defeating Ognibene, a man more than twice his age and who has served for 10 years on the City Council representing District 30. Seven of those years was as the Republican minority leader. Como, however, had the official support of the Republican county organization, and equally important was his endorsement by state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale). In addition, Como had a huge field operation on Election Day that proved very effective in getting supporters to the polls.
The Ognibene campaign put forth a tremendous effort, but could not match Como's operation. It has been speculated that the older voters who knew of Ognibene's achievements on the Council during the 1990s voted for him in large numbers, but many newer and younger voters cast their ballots for Como.
Ognibene, in a recent statement about the campaign results, said: “While the seat was vacant, it was fair for all candidates to run to fill that vacancy. Now that Anthony Como is the incumbent Republican councilman, it is apparent that we heal the wounds in the Republican Party and I join with my fellow Republicans in endorsing and supporting Anthony Como.”
On the Democratic Party side, the situation is less clear. Crowley is definitely running in the second round. As in the first round, she will be running with the Queens Democratic Party's endorsement. But Ober, the other District 30 Democratic party candidate who came in a distant fourth among the four candidates, has not announced his plans for Round 2.
He has indicated that he will not be making any official announcement as to if or whether he will be challenging Crowley until petitions are filed. If he does run in the second round, it will mean a Democratic Party primary between Crowley and Ober to see which one will be challenging Republican Como in the fall general election. Therefore, the Democratic Party candidate in District 30 has yet to be determined.
In the meantime, Como has been sworn in as the new city councilman for District 30. It will be an interesting race in the fall to see if Como can hold on to the seat. If Crowley emerges as the Democratic primary winner, it will be her third attempt to win that seat since she lost a race for it in 2001 and now has just lost 2008's first special election.