Sep 29, 2010 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
John DeSpirito III and Joanie Mahoney are like Turkey and Greece. They just don’t get along.
As a result of the longstanding tiff between the chairman of the county Republican Party and that party’s top-elected official – the county executive – the local GOP has been torn asunder for three solid years. It’s still split and going broke here on the eve of mid-term elections.
But there could be hope on the horizon for Republicans as they prepare to choose a new chairman in the next few weeks.
Bill Tassone, who lives in Liverpool, thinks he’s the man for the job. One reason? He’s friends with both DeSpirito and Mahoney.
‘I can bridge that gap’
Everybody knows about the DeSpirito-Mahoney squabble, Tassone told me on Sunday.
“I can bridge that gap. I have a good working relationship with Joanie dating all the way back to her father’s run for mayor in 1989. I can talk with Joanie.”
And he has DeSpirito’s personal support.
“He and I both think I can be a very good chairman,” Tassone said.
The 63-year-old owner of East Coast Title Service, Tassone declared his candidacy two weeks ago only after DeSpirito announced that he would not seek re-election.
Tassone will run against three other candidates who’d stepped up weeks ago to challenge DeSpirito, who was being criticized for running the party into the red and for feuding with Mahoney. Former state Senate candidate Tom Dadey is endorsed by the county executive, while former county Legislator Jim DiBlasi and Republican committee vice president Leonard Manfrates are also running.
The 700 members of the Republican committee vote every two years for a chairman, a position which DeSpirito has held since 2006. The county committee must choose its new leader by Oct. 4.
County, town, city experience
Tassone’s GOP service dates back a quarter-century. In the 1980s, he worked for the campaigns of former Syracuse Mayor Roy Bernardi and County Executive Nick Pirro. In 1989 he helped City Councilman Bernie Mahoney in his close but unsuccessful campaign for mayor against Democrat Tom Young.
While he’s proud of being involved in those major races, Tassone also points to his work on the town level. He was chairman of the Salina Republicans in the early-1990s, then served on the Clay committee for five years before returning to Salina where he’s now vice-chairman under Joe Falge.
In town wide races, Tassone said, “I’ve taken a lot of brand new candidates and helped make them winners, candidates who actually beat incumbents, which people say is impossible.”
He counts among his success stories Salina Justice Andy Piraino, former Salina Town Supervisor Dave Utt and former Salina Town Councilor Kathy Rapp (who’s now a county legislator).
Last year, he managed his wife’s campaign for county legislature as Judy Tassone defeated incumbent Democrat Dave Stott by a narrow margin. She now represents the 4th District, which includes Liverpool, in the county legislature.
This year, Tassone’s heavily involved in the campaigns of congressional hopeful Ann Marie Buerkle and Assembly candidate Rick Guy.
Joanie seeks party support
The DeSpirito-Mahoney conflict started when she began campaigning for county executive in 2007. Under DeSpirito’s leadership, the county committee forced her to run a primary against their designee, Legislator Dale Sweetland. She and DeSpirito have had little contact since. Now the county’s first-ever woman executive hopes that the party machinery will rev up her next campaign.
“I have to run again next year,” Mahoney told YNN on Sept. 13, “and I’ve basically been shut out of the local party and had to get here on my own three years ago, and I would really like to be part of the party process next year.”