The same party leaders who cooked up a deal to put a placeholder candidate on the Conservative and Independence Party lines and then switch him out for whomever got the Grand Old Party nod also asked Reform Party candidate Bob Capano if he wanted to join in too — but both he and Reform party chairman Curtis Sliwa told them to buzz off.
“Tough noogies, I’m a Brooklyn boy, we don’t make deals. Bob is going to run as a Reform Party candidate, which did not make anybody happy,” said Sliwa. “There’s no deal, no deal-making in the Reform Party. We believe it’s the people who need to make a choice, not the pols in a dark room somewhere.”
Chairman of the New York State Conservative Party Michael Long admitted to asking three of the Republican candidates at the time — John Quaglione, who won the primary, Liam McCabe, and Capano — ahead of election day if they’d sign on to the plan as a way to rack up all the support they could and not split conservative votes in a highly contested election. Quaglione and McCabe both agreed, and even Capano was at first eager to join in, according to Long.
“Initially Bob Capano said ‘yes.’ I was at a dinner one night and he said, ‘what are we going to do about this?’ I threw the idea out to him and he thought it was a great idea, said he was all in,” said Long. “But a couple of weeks later, Curtis Sliwa was not happy with him and he could not do it.”
But Capano insists Long’s account is short on truth.
“I always said the decision ultimately was up to Curtis Sliwa as Reform Party chairman, but I never said I wanted to be a part of any deal,” he said via e-mail. “It’s not true.”
And Brooklyn Conservative Party chairman Gerry Kassar — who didn’t return a request for comment and still denies ever being a part of the scheme — was fully in the know, said Long.
“Gerry was aware of it, he’s naturally aware of it because it was his county that ultimately had to make the switch — I had nothing to do with that part of it, I’m not a delegate,” he said.
And Capano is now charging that the same party leaders who initiated the deal to swap out Conservative and Independence placeholder candidate John Bruno — which insiders said stank of back-room politics — are trying to silence his campaign by asking him to “play dead” and “step aside” so he won’t take votes away from Quaglione. He pointed to being left out of the Dyker Heights Civic Association forum on Oct. 10.
“This organization is run by the leaders of the Brooklyn Conservative Party and, undoubtedly, they view any public attention that I get as potentially taking away votes from John Quaglione, who recently replaced Mr. Bruno on their ballot line.” Capano said in a statement. “The Reform Party and I believe the people deserve more choices, not less. It is sad when a community organization puts party politics ahead of allowing their members to hear from all candidates on the ballot on election day.”
The club’s president told Kings County Politics that she was not aware Capano was still running for the seat, despite both Kassar and Bruno holding positions on the civic board, and Capano participating in the Bay Ridge Council on Aging Debate on Oct. 4.
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Bay Ridge journalist Ross Barkan, who announced last week that he’s mounting a run to oust state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) in 2018, may face a second-time primary challenger — Bay Ridge Democrats member Andrew Gounardes.
Gounardes, who serves as counsel to Borough President Adams and also lives in Bay Ridge, racked up 28,243 votes to Golden’s 38,584 back in 2012.
But Gounardes, who is now vigorously campaigning for Democratic Bay Ridge Council candidate Justin Brannan, said he expects to make a decision after November.
“I’ve been talking to people and formed a committee, I’m going to keep talking to people and make a decision after the general election, that’s my priority right now — the only thing I’m focused on now is Justin’s race,” said Gounardes. “It’s a big undertaking for sure, and I want to make sure that any campaign that I potentially run would have the support of people in the district, in the community.
Golden’s office did not respond to a request for comment.