2006-02-10 / Columnists

Councilman Addabbo Explores Run For State Senate

By Howard Schwach

City Councilman JosephAddabbo, left, with Mayor Mike Bloomberg who was signing autographs during last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Rockaway.
City Councilman JosephAddabbo, left, with Mayor Mike Bloomberg who was signing autographs during last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Rockaway. City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. is considering a run for the State Senate next November and may, according to published reports, have the financial and political backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his run.

If it sounds strange that a Republican mayor would back a Democratic candidate over a Republican incumbent, in reality, it seems to be politics as usual.

“Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno has apparently played Mike Bloomberg for a sucker one time too many,” says columnist Bill Hammond, writing in the Daily News. “For years now, Bruno has been taking Bloomberg’s campaign case and then stabbing him in the back – by voting against the West Side Stadium, for example and by blocking a big court-ordered increase in school funding for New York City.” At the same time, Hammond writes, Bruno originally backed Tom Ognibene for the Republican nomination for mayor.

So, the published reports say, Bloomberg would like nothing better than to rid the city of Bruno’s tenure as Senate Majority Leader.

Jim Rutenberg, writing in the New York Times, says that backing a Democrat such as Addabbo in the Senate race “would amount to a declaration of war against [Bruno] who is struggling to retain the party’s slim grip on the Senate and cannot afford to lose any Senate seats.”

Right now, the Republicans have a 35-26 seat majority in the Senate, which could turn into a Democratic majority with a switch of only five seats, something that experts say, is not unheard of in a midterm election year with a strong Democratic candidate such as Eliot Spitzer running for governor at the top of the ticket and Hillary Clinton running for reelection.

The mayor has targeted Senator Serphin Maltese as one of the Republicans who can be beat because he represents a district that includes an overwhelming majority of registered Democrats. Maltese has held the seat for 18 years, but political experts say that Addabbo, who lives in the area served by Maltese and who has name recognition from his father, Joseph Addabbo, Sr., who served as Congressman in that area for many years and also has a record as City Councilman to run on.

Addabbo told The Wave that the Times story came from an offhand conversation between the mayor’s people and Addabbo’s. “It’s amazing how a simple conversation brings a firestorm,” he said. “The mayor’s people were saying that he was going to target certain races and my rep said that I would be interested in running for the Senate after my city council seat expired.”

“I don’t want to say that I am running for the Senate,” he added. “Right now, my priority is getting phone service for Rockaway. I have the option to make the decision in early May and that’s what I’m going to do.”

According to Rutenberg, the mayor’s support of Addabbo could include “opening his wallet and getting his wealthy friends to do the same.”

That does not mean that the mayor will control Addabbo’s decision-making process. Addabbo said, “I would run for my own reasons, not the mayor’s. I respect his opinion and his support, but I have my own decision to make.”

“This political game involves a lot of personalities,” he added. “I can’t get bogged down in that. I am not going to run a race just because somebody else wants me to.”

Even some local Republicans are publicly rooting for Addabbo.

“Maltese has done nothing for the 23rd District,” says Republican District Leader Edward O’Hare of Broad Channel. “He’s the one that has us fighting with each other on the peninsula, keeping us divided. I’d like to see him out even if it means a Democrat like Addabbo wins the seat.”

As an example of why Maltese angers O’Hare, the local political leader pointed to the fact that Maltese threw out 210 proxies from Rockaway and Broad Channel Republicans in the recent election for Republican County Leader. The idea of Addabbo running for the Senate has sparked some interest and activity on the part of local candidates, some of who ran in the election against Addabbo six years ago and have been waiting out his term limit.

Both of the local Democratic leaders, Lew Simon and Geraldine M. Chapey are reportedly exploring the possibility of runs for the seat.

Could Have Bloomberg’s Support Against Maltese

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