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Maltese endorses Catsimatidis days before going on campaign payroll

Former state Sen. Serphin Maltese has endorsed John Catsimatidis.
TimesLedger Newspapers

Former Republican state Sen. Serphin Maltese endorsed grocery store magnate John Catsimatidis for mayor Tuesday, but the longtime Queens lawmaker is a volunteer on Catsimatidis’ campaign and will be on the payroll in April.

“John Catsimatidis is the only candidate, Republican or Democrat, who has the hands-on experience needed to run a city like New York,” Maltese said in an official statement released by the campaign. “He gained that experience as a self-made businessman who has built companies from the ground up — balancing budgets, making payrolls and creating tens of thousands of good paying jobs.”

Maltese preceded the current chairman of the Queens County Republican Party, Phil Ragusa.

Some Queens Republicans questioned the validity of the endorsement, since Maltese is already volunteering on Catsimatidis’ campaign and the billionaire businessman will be signing checks for Maltese in a matter of days. “The best endorsements are from those who believe in a candidate rather than the promise of a payday,” said one Queens GOP insider.

But Maltese said that he has long supported the billionaire Greek immigrant, and had first encouraged him to prepare for a mayoral bid just after Mayor Michael Bloomberg won a third term.

“I’ve been urging him to run in the interim,” Maltese said in an interview.

Catismatidis’ campaign contends Maltese is not currently on board with the team, but confirmed that the former lawmaker will be hired as a part-time consultant beginning April 1.

“He was planning on endorsing a long time ago and has known John for a number of years,” said Rob Ryan, senior adviser of the campaign. “He’s been a longtime supporter.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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