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Bloomberg backs Ognibene in bid to oust Liz Crowley

Tom Ognibene (l.) shakes hands with Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a dinner at La Bella Cucina in Middle Village, where the two men endorsed each other. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Jeremy Walsh

The Republican challenger to City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) got a big boost to his campaign last week when Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped by to endorse him.

Tom Ognibene, who held the seat Crowley has now from 1992-2001 before being replaced by Dennis Gallagher, was pleased to have the support of a man who helped thwart his own mayoral ambitions four years ago.

Bloomberg successfully challenged Ognibene’s petitions and got him kicked off the Republican mayoral primary in 2005. Ognibene ran unsuccessfully on the Conservative Party line.

Shortly afterward, Ognibene took Bloomberg to task for saying he was “almost embarrassed” to be a Republican, but these days the old wounds appear to have healed.

“There is a difference between bad blood and being on opposite ends of the political scale,” Ognibene said last Thursday outside La Bella Cucina Restaurant in Middle Village. “It’s my belief that for keeping the city on an even kilter and running things efficiently, there’s no one better than Mayor Bloomberg.”

Bloomberg, who stopped by the restaurant to speak at a dinner in Ognibene’s honor, joked about their previous antagonism.

“It’s no secret the big guy and I have had our disagreements,” he said. “I’ve always thought he has the right to be wrong.”

But Bloomberg also said Ognibene’s experience in the Council during “the bad old days” before the recent drop in crime would be beneficial.

“This guy has the experience, he has the breadth of knowledge. He’s been there, he’s done it and he can do it again,” the mayor said.

Ognibene has a way to go to catch up with Crowley’s campaign war chest. He had raised $36,596 and spent $8,330 by Sept. 4, according to the city Campaign Finance Board. Crowley had raised $70,315 and spent $24,301.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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