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The first round of the race for the 30th City Council District has ended with a close finish, with Republican Anthony Como in the lead followed by Democrat Elizabeth Crowley in second place and Republican Thomas Ognibene in third. Democrat Charles Ober was fourth, far behind the other candidates.

With Como ahead by about 70 votes over Crowley and more than 300 over Ognibene, it will take the votes of absentee and affidavit ballots to determine the official winner. There are approximately 50,000 registered voters living in the 30th Council District. When all votes are counted, more than 7,000 people will be shown to have voted in this special election.

As we look at the campaign itself in this area of western Queens, which includes Middle Village, Maspeth (since 2002), Ridgewood and parts of Glendale, Como and Crowley had the official endorsement of their respective county parties. Ognibene, who had served for 10 years in this office from 1992-2002, including seven years as Republican minority leader, was running this time as the insurgent against the organization candidates.

It was an intense race. The candidates used door-to-door campaigning, phone banking and frequent voter mailings.

On Election Night, after the results were in, I asked Ognibene about his views on the race.

"It appears that Anthony Como has a tough lead to overcome. I'll be sitting down with my people and decide what direction to take in the next election," he said. "In the meantime, we are beginning to collect signatures for the next round."

Republican state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) strongly supported Como. Maltese, however, will be facing a significant challenge this fall from City Councilman Joseph Adddabbo (D-Howard Beach). Therefore, he may not be able to assist Como that much since he will be occupied with his own race.

In this unusual election, held June 3, besides campaigning on the last day of the special election, several candidates were also collecting signatures for the second election round. The second round will be a primary election to be decided in September, the petition drive for which began June 3. The second race will be different from the one that just concluded in that candidates will have official party designations. Therefore, political party affiliations will be more of a factor.

In the second election round, the Queens Conservative Party will play a more important role than in the first round. Since official party designations are now in play, which Republican candidate gets the Conservative Party endorsement will have an advantage. It is difficult for Republican candidates, especially in the city, to win elections without Conservative Party support.

"Tom Ognibene ran a good race and came in a close third. He gave the people an alternative to other candidates," said Thomas Long, the Queens Conservative Party chairman. "We will have to count the paper ballots to see what happens. I will then wait and see what Tom Ognibene does and then go to our executive committee to make our choice for the next election."

The party endorsed Ognibene in this first special election.

On the Democratic side, it remains to be seen if Crowley has a Democratic opponent in the second election round, since Ober, her opponent in the first round, received less than 800 votes, compared to over 2,000 votes each among the first three candidates. If Crowley does not have a Democratic opponent, she will have additional time and resources for the fall campaign.

In all, the race was an interesting prelude to the 2008 fall campaign, which will include a presidential campaign that will influence the outcome of local races in Queens and throughout the state.

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