Can Bill Tassone mend the fences in county GOP?

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.

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