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Threatening the GOP’s “Independence”? Republican Pols Could Be Denied Independence Party Lines This Fall

July 15, 2010

A friendly emailer pointed to us from a story from City Hall News discussing a crucial factor for some Republicans in this years upcoming elections: the availability of the Independence Party line. That party could play a major role in determining who wins control of the coveted State Senate.

One of the candidates at risk of losing the line is none other than State Senator Marty Golden. Also, Frank Padavan and Anthony Como are mentioned as threatened pols facing the wrath of an Independence Party seemingly hostile to GOP candidates this year.

I encourage all of you to visit City Hall News for what usually is very important coverage.

Here is their story:

Fallout from the longstanding power struggle within the Independence Party could cost two priority Republican State Senate candidates the crucial Independence line this fall, according to State Independence Party chair Frank MacKay, threatening to upend Republican hopes of recapturing the State Senate majority in November.

State Sen. Frank Padavan and former Council Member Anthony Como have been using signature gatherers from the State Independence Party’s rival New York City faction, headed by Lenora Fulani and psychotherapist Fred Newman, to help them petition onto the Independence line, a spokeswoman for the city party confirmed.

State Sen. Marty Golden is also using members of the city Independence Party to gather signatures, said the spokeswoman, Sarah Lyons. Golden is not considered to be in a competitive race.

The city party is helping these Republican Senate candidates because they have been supportive in the past of non-partisan elections, the city party’s pet cause, Lyons explained.

But MacKay said associating with the city Independence Party could cost the three senators the Independence line when the party makes its endorsements this weekend. Since Padavan, Como and Golden are registered Republicans, they would need Wilson-Pakulas to be on the Independence line. That allowance can only be granted by the state party executive committee.

“This certainly doesn’t help their cause with the executive committee,” said MacKay. “They had no opposition and suddenly they have a lot of opposition. The Fulani folks and the Newman-ites and associations with those kinds of people can kind of be like the kiss of death. People get a little wheezy around cults.”

MacKay, though, said no final decisions would be made until he speaks with Padavan, Como and Golden, which he has yet to do.

The Independence line has often proven critical for Republicans in winning districts with heavy Democratic registration advantages.

In 2008, when Padavan squeaked through to re-election, Council Member James Gennaro got 44,811 votes on the Democratic and WFP lines, while Padavan got a total of 45,294 votes on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines. With just 483 votes between them at the end of a months-long recount, Padavan’s margin of victory was delivered many times over by the 3,320 votes he got on the Independence line.

Padavan is facing a tough re-election campaign against former New York City Council Member Tony Avella, while Como, running against State Sen. Joe Addabbo, is a top-priority Republican challenger.

Padavan shrugged off any concerns about getting the Independence line, noting that he has a longstanding relationship with MacKay.

“We have been told by Mr. MacKay that we will receive the line, so I have no reason to believe that won’t be the case,” Padavan said.

Referring to the divide between the city and state factions of the Independence Party, Padavan added, “They’ve got internal problems, but that’s none of my business and not really something I have any control over.”

Como declined to comment. Golden did not return a call requesting comment.

The State Independence Party has a close relationship with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who endorsed Padavan in 2008 and who is expected to be helpful again this year. The Bloomberg-Independence relationship is currently being scrutinized by the Manhattan district attorney.

Republican Senate candidates have generally been cross-endorsed by the Independence Party for years, but that trend may be at an end: at the party’s convention in early June, MacKay toldCity Hall that the party was leaning toward endorsing more Democrats in the 2010 Senate races. MacKay made those comments shortly after the party official nominated Andrew Cuomo, himself a Democrat, as its gubernatorial candidate.

The State Independence Party, headed by MacKay, and the Fulani-led faction have been at war for years, with the Fulani faction officially splitting off in 2005. But after a 2008 court decision, the state party retained almost all of the power over endorsement decisions.

Leading the charge to pull the line from Padavan, Como and Golden is Michael Zumbluskas, a state party executive committee member and the head of the state party’s downstate candidate recruitment. Zumbluskas said he would try to persuade other executive committee members to take his position.

“I don’t know how the executive committee can vote for anybody who is having the Fulani people carry petitions for them,” Zumbluskas said.

Zumbluskas is running for the Assembly against Micah Kellner on Manhattan’and said he expects the Fulani faction to challenge his signatures and try to get him kicked off the ballot in the coming weeks.

Zumbluskas said it is time for the state party to fight back.

“Enough is enough,” Zumbluskas said. “We’re trying to kill these people.”

I found that last line rather dramatic…

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2 Comments
  1. Young Republican permalink
    July 15, 2010 7:02 pm

    Will Regina-Potter get the Independence line this time? Btw, has she submitted enough signatures?

  2. indyidealist permalink
    July 15, 2010 10:12 pm

    The article neglects to state that the split in 2005 occurred because MacKay tried to disenroll from the party the entire New York City organization. All on baseless grounds, by the way. Why? Perhaps because we would not play ball with his efforts to sell the party line for his own benefit. Perhaps because we have a vision for the party, and have spent 2 decades building something that is legitimately independent in nyc, and not just a puppet of the democrats and republicans. Perhaps because he sees us as a threat to his consolidation of power. You’d have to ask him. While you’re at it, ask Zumbluskas about doing his ballot access petitioning by mail and kitchen counter, see if he has an answer about that. Ask him if he has a vision for the party as a means to give everyone an equal voice in the process, or if he’s just playing the game for money power and influence. I think you’ll find his answers wanting.

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