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Boro GOP dumps Mermel, backs Lazio for governor – QNS.com

Boro GOP dumps Mermel, backs Lazio for governor

Former Long Island congressman Rick Lazio marches in the Phagwah parade in Richmond Hill earlier this year. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Howard Koplowitz

And you thought Elizabeth Taylor was fickle? The Queens GOP is changing its endorsements for governor like Taylor changes husbands.

The party made its fourth endorsement for governor shortly after the end of last week’s state Republican convention, deciding to back former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio, whom they originally endorsed before they dumped him for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, whom they then withdrew their support from in favor of businessman Myers Mermel.

Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa seconded Mermel’s nomination for governor from the floor of the convention at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, but after Lazio won enough convention votes to be considered the party’s nominee, the county party reversed course again.

“We all came together and I said we would emerge from the convention united,” Ragusa said in explaining the county’s fourth endorsement.

The Queens GOP chairman said he did not think the rapidly changing endorsements were an indication that the party was dysfunctional.

Mermel was originally running for lieutenant governor and the Queens GOP endorsed him for that position. When he decided to enter the governor’s race late last month, the party dropped its endorsement of Levy to back Mermel.

“He’s a very good candidate but, unfortunately, he got in the race a little too late,” Ragusa said of Mermel. “I hope that he stays around and stays active in politics. Hopefully, he’ll be a force going forward.”

Ragusa said he believed Levy was a viable candidate, but the Suffolk County executive failed to reach the 51 percent of the vote he needed to be on the ballot as a Republican. He left the Democratic Party earlier this year in an effort to run as a Republican.

“I thought that Steve Levy had a good chance because he was a county executive out in Suffolk and he’s done a fine job out there,” Ragusa said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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