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Queens Chronicle

GOPers hope District 32 success spreads north

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Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2009 12:00 am

So what does it all mean for District 30?

Republican Eric Ulrich won election to City Council District 32 on Feb. 24, giving hope to some GOPers that they can take back the seat currently occupied by Democrat Elizabeth Crowley (Middle Village).

District 30 includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood, and parts of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill, and the area shares some similarities with the neighboring District 32. Some see the result of the recent special election as a bellwether for the upcoming November contest.

Phil Ragusa, chairman of the Queens County Republican Party, said the two districts are fairly comparable and tend to lean to the right. Like other Republican leaders, he believes the draw of now-President Barack Obama was a large reason Crowley defeated her rival, Anthony Como, in 2008.

Next time around the elections are only for city positions, with the mayoral seat the biggest race going, and Ragusa sees the party’s chances of reclaiming the district as likely. “It will go back to the normal type of elections we have,” Ragusa said.

Tom Long, chairman of the Queens County Conservative Party, agreed the results are a good sign for District 30. “In 2008, there was no doubt that there was an Obama wave or whatever you want to call it,” Long said. “In 2009, there will be people voting primarily for City Council and mayor, which is all local. It will have a different effect.”

So who will run? Currently, that list of possible contenders is composed of former council members. Ragusa said he believes Como will give it another shot. Como could not be reached for comment by press time.

Another name that’s been floated is former Councilman Thomas Ognibene, who served in the seat from 1992 to 2001, when he left due to term limits..

Ognibene, who ran for the seat during the June special election last year, said it is too early to commit at this point. “I want to see who else is running,” he said.

Still, he believes he may hold an advantage over some others.“People look favorably at me in a lot of ways,” he said.

Ognibene served as Ulrich’s campaign manager and disagreed that the victory reflected on the district. “Eric was such a strong candidate on an individual basis,” he said. “It’s hard to know whether that will carry over into the District 30 race.”

The November election will be the third for the seat in less than two years. Politicians have been playing musical chairs since Dennis Gallagher stepped down in March after pleading guilty to forcible touching and third degree sexual abuse.

Como won the initial special election race out of a field of four, including Crowley, but got knocked out just months later.

The winner of the upcoming election will finally get to hold the seat for a full term of four years before facing re-election.

Welcome to the discussion.