A Friendly Meeting Between Friends
May 27, 2009 | 2901 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
They say that politics makes for some strange bedfellows, and what we love about Memorial Day is that those bedfellows usually make public appearances in the street, where they have to make nice and pretend like they really, really like each other, because, quite obviously, it would be incredibly disrespectful to let politics mar ceremonies to honor our nation's veterans, both those still with us and those not.

But politics is our game, and we couldn't help but notice the chance encounter of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former city councilman Thomas Ognibene at the Forest Hills Memorial Day parade this past Sunday afternoon.

You may remember that Ognibene took an unusual step in New York City politics: he tried to unseat an incumbent from his own party. Last election, Ognibene challenged Bloomberg for the Republican nomination on the basis that Bloomberg was a wolf in sheep's clothing, or more like a donkey in elephant's clothing.

Ognibene very publicly criticized Bloomberg for saying that he was a Republican and running on the Republican line (on the coattails of the then-very popular Rudy Giuliani in 2001), but espousing views and policies more in line with those of the Democratic Party. Ognibene even got a little steam behind his otherwise quixotic campaign, thrusting the Queens Republican Party in to the spotlight by forcing them to make a hotly debated decision between endorsing the sure-to-win Bloomberg or one of their own in Ognibene.

They eventually made the decision to endorse Ognibene, stunning many who openly questioned the wisdom of stoking the ire of the very powerful Bloomberg. Bloomberg eventually won the primary, as well as the general election over Fernando Ferrer, but not before Ognibene got back in the political spotlight for a few more minutes.

(The cynic in us believes that Ognibene never intended to defeat Bloomberg, but instead was trying to force Bloomberg's hand into handing out a few political favors, as well as a few bucks, to the members of the Queens Republican Party in exchange for Ognibene just quietly going away, but that’s just us.)

Which brings us to the Forest Hills Memorial Day parade and the handshake and greeting between Bloomberg and Ognibene. Where's the bad blood? Where's the animosity? Why did we see Ognibene marching in multiple parades this weekend lockstep with people who actually hold public office?

Well, maybe that's because Ognibene has plans to join their ranks once again by challenging sitting Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (a Democrat) this fall when she has to defend the seat that she won from Anthony Como, who barely had a chance to warm said seat when he took over for Dennis Gallagher, who was forced to resign.

If there are those that believe that Crowley won the seat based on overwhelming support for Barack Obama and that her name just happened to be below (albeit, way below) his on the last ballot, perhaps Ognibene believes he can mooch a little support off Bloomberg running on the Republican line this coming general election.

(It's worth noting that Ognibene might have been on to something with Bloomberg. Following the last election, the mayor inauspiciously switched his voter registration from Republican to independent - that's "independent" and not the Independence Party - after he won a second term. Although, that hasn't stopped him from seeking the support of the Republican Party once again, because the more lines the better, right?)

So perhaps it is in Ognibene's best interest to just play nice this time around - and not make waves – if he intends to make a bid for his old City Council seat this fall.

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