Political Action

By William Lewis

In the 11th State Senate District, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) is facing a strong challenge from City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows).

Padavan has three party endorsements: Republican, Conservative and Independence. His Independence Party petitions, however, are being challenged by Peter Boudouvas, a former member of Padavan's staff, who resigned early last year. At that time, Boudouvas was running for Republican district leader in the 26th Assembly District of against District Leader Phil Ragusa. Ragusa is also the Queens Republican Party chairman.

In last year's primary race, Padavan endorsed Ragusa rather than Boudouvas, who had been a member of his state Senate staff for seven years. Ragusa won the primary election.

Presently, general objections and specifications have been filed against Padavan's Independence Party petitions.

The city Elections Board will soon determine if Padavan's Independence petitions are declared valid or invalid based on the challenge. After the Elections Board decision is made, the losing side can appeal the matter to the State Supreme Court.

In national politics, one of the most important aspects of the presidential campaign will soon be occurring: the selection of vice presidential candidates by both major candidates. Almost always, the emphasis in choosing running mates has been to help the slate by balancing the ticket in terms of geography or experiences in certain government fields.

In a significant number of past presidential campaigns, however, vice presidential candidates hurt the ticket least. That was true in the Republican Party during the last half of the 20th century. In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower almost removed Richard Nixon from his ticket as the vice presidential candidate when it was disclosed that Nixon, while in Congress, received gifts from questionable sources. Nixon stayed on the ticket.

Nixon, when he first received the 1968 Republican Party presidential nomination, chose as his running mate Maryland Gov. Spiro Agnew, who did not help the ticket during the campaign. Later, Agnew, as vice president, resigned due to charges of income tax evasion.

President George H.W. Bush in 1988 picked U.S. Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana as his running mate and Robert Dole in 1996 picked U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp of New York, both of whom did little to help their respective slates. Quayle may have contributed to Bush's defeat when he ran for re-election in 1992.

It can be said, although Democrats have been more fortunate in choosing vice presidential candidates during the last half of the 20th century, that there have been some less than successful running mates chosen in the past.

In 1972, U.S. Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota chose as his vice presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Thomas Eagleton of Missouri. Unfortunately, soon after Eagleton was nominated for vice president, it was disclosed that he had suffered from severe mental depression and been hospitalized, during which time he had received electric shock treatment.

McGovern removed Eagleton as his vice presidential candidate and had difficulty finding someone to take his place. He settled on former Peace Corps Director “Sargent” Shriver, who proved to be somewhat less than an effective vice presidential candidate. That year, McGovern was defeated in 49 out of 50 states.

In 1984, U.S. Sen. Walter Mondale of Minnesota, while campaigning against President Ronald Reagan, running for a second presidential term, chose as his running mate U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of Queens. She proved an effective campaigner when running for Congress. As a vice presidential candidate, however, she was less than impressive and continually pressed by the media about her personal life and husband's business dealings. Reagan won 49 out of 50 states.

There seems unlikely that U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) will be chosen as U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) running mate. If chosen, we will have a second female vice presidential candidate from New York State.

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