The two men hoping to win the Republican nod for Park Slope’s 39th District don’t see September 15 as Primary Day. Instead, it’ll he the bitter end to the venomous war of words the campaign has become.
“It’s going to be a different day on Wednesday [September 16],” said Joe Nardiello, who is challenging George Smith in probably the first Republican primary ever to take place in the 39th District. “We’re going to get rid of the negativity and run one of the most compelling candidacies New York has ever seen.”
What was first considered a political afterthought became one of the most entertaining campaigns in the borough when word spread that Smith had been arrested in Nassau County in December on sex abuse charges. The allegations stemmed from an ongoing dispute with his estranged wife. Smith’s credibility as a candidate was also brought into question when it was learned that he had been arrested for robbery and police impersonation in the 1990s.
While Nardiello has tried not to get his hands dirty, some of his supporters have been harping on Smith’s alleged criminal past ever since. Brooklyn’s Conservative party has even called on Smith step down from the Conservative line, where his name will be found in November if Nardiello beats him next week.
Smith responded to the charges on September 8, but the case was postponed to October 19, according to prosecutors.
As he continues to claim his innocence, Smith said that he no longer wants to respond to questions about the case in Nassau County.
Rather, he wants to talk about “serious issues like education, over development and unemployment.”
“The voters need serious people to take care of these issues, not people who want to throw mud,” Smith said. “People have to know that Mr. Smith is not going anywhere. The voters are going to see through all the smoke and mirrors.”
But the glass remains foggy. Earlier this week, Kings County Republican Party district leaders met to discuss the revelations about Smith, who was named the party’s candidate months earlier. The party opted to take a “leader’s choice” approach to the situation, meaning they could support whatever candidate they saw fit.
The party said that they will be taking no further action on the matter.
Almost immediately, Martin Cottingham, Republican District leader for the 44th Assembly District in Park Slope and Rosemarie Markgraf, the Republican District Leader of the 52nd Assembly District in Carroll Gardens, gave their endorsement to Nardiello, who had just recently received the support of Staten Island Borough President James Molinari.
Then there are the poster problems.
Nardiello supporters said that Smith has been seen around Smith Street and Court Street removing Nardiello’s campaign posters from neighborhood stores. One of the businessmen reportedly chased Smith out of his Chinese restaurant, witnesses said.
“He came in, said ‘You do not know Joe’ and slapped his own poster on the window,” said one supporter. “In my estimation this race is getting rougher and rougher. The Republican party should be saying to George Smith knock it off.”
“Local businesses should be allowed to operate and support the candidate of their choice without being affected by this kind of self-interested behavior,” said Nardiello when called by this paper.
Smith denied the allegations and instead accused Nardiello of taking down his campaign posters. A Smith supporter reportedly has a picture of this would-be theft, he said, again decrying the fact that this race has become about the candidates, not the issues.
“Joe Nardiello has nothing to talk about because he doesn’t have the people’s interest at heart,” he said. “All he wants to do is hold up a picture of me and say, ‘Look at this guy. He’s no good.’”
Again disputing Smith, Nardiello said that he is indeed taking the voters interests to heart -- interests he’s learning every day as he takes his door to door campaign down to the wire.
“The voting public is a little frustrated with politics as usual,” he said. “We offer something extremely different and we’re bringing it right to them.”
“We’re bringing honesty right to their doorstep,” he said, in a veiled feint to Smith and his campaign.
Can September 15 come any sooner?
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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