By Rich Bockmann
The head of the Queens GOP said Tuesday he had not spoken to Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith about a possible run for mayor as a Republican, but he did give his prospects a slim chance.
“Whenever we run candidates for Assembly, Senate, Congress … we always ask the question, ‘Is there anything in your past that might embarrass you and the Republican Party?’” said Queens Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa. “I don’t think he can pass that test.”
Smith did not return a request for comment.
Ragusa was referring to several controversial undertakings Smith has been implicated in over the years. Smith recently denied having been involved in any wrongdoing in, but admitted he had done a poor job in setting the record straight.
The political website City & State last week published an in-depth article in which Smith addressed allegations he had used political favoritism in the Aqueduct Entertainment Group’s bid to build the Aqueduct Racino and minimized his involvement in two nonprofits that had been the subjects of official investigations.
Smith has not been charged in any of the investigations and no criminal wrongdoing on his part has been found, but he told City & State that he had failed to repudiate negative stories in the press.
“That’s a fault I clearly have learned not to do in the future,” he told City & State. “Absolutely not to do. Somebody writes something, you gotta call ’em right back up or put a statement out or something. Can’t just let it sit.”
Several articles have appeared lately alluding to Smith’s interest in a mayoral run on the GOP line, but Ragusa said he and the other four county GOP heads had not heard from the senator until after those articles were published.
The Democratic Party field for mayor is crowded with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Comptroller John Liu all eyeing runs.
In order to run as a Republican, Smith would need at least three of the party’s five county chairs to endorse him.
Ragusa said he would be more inclined to support Republicans such as NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly or Manhattan businessman John Catsimatidis before Smith.
“I don’t know. I think with the field out there, I would rather run a Republican” who is registered with the party, he said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.