12:01 pm Feb. 26, 20131
Robert Scarmadella unexpectedly resigned this morning as chairman of the Republican county organization on Staten Island, providing a potential opening for Adolfo Carrion Jr. to get into the Republican primary contest for mayor.
Carrion, a former Democrat who is not registered in any party, needs the support of at least three Republican county organizations to appear on the G.O.P. primary ballot. He currently has the support of the Independence Party, but is hoping to run as the Republican nominee, too.
County committees usually follow the decisions of their respective county chairmen.
So far, the chairman in Brooklyn and the Bronx are supportive of Carrion entering the primary, and his participation is opposed by the chairmen in Manhattan and Queens, who endorsed the deeper-pocketed John Catsimatidis.
Scarmadella was the only chairman leaning toward Joe Lhota, the former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and former deputy mayor for Rudy Giuliani, who isn't independently wealthy but has performed better than any of the other Republican candidates in public polls.
It's not clear yet who will replace Scarmadella, and therefore whether his departure will benefit Carrion.
Craig Eaton, a Carrion supporter, wouldn't comment on that aspect of the resignation, saying only that "it was an honor and a privilege" to work with Scarmadella.
In a letter first published by the Staten Island Advance, Scarmadella said he was leaving (after a relatively short tenure) because he was "hamstrung in my ability to function and I want to put an end to the recent public displays of Party discord."
Scarmadella's vice chair is running for City Council against the Councilman James Oddo's chief of staff. That was creating some tension, according to sources.
Oddo recently led a coup, along with the other Republican members of the City Council, at the Board of Elections, installing allies in commissioner positions after Scarmadella and other chairmen missed the usually unenforced deadline for appointing their own people.
Scarmadella's replacement will be picked by members of the executive committee of the Staten Island Republican organization. A date for that meeting has not yet been set.
Guy Molinari, the Republican former congressman who for a long time dominated G.O.P. politics on Staten Island, recently switched his support from Lhota to Carrion because, he says, Lhota wasn't returning his calls quickly enough.
CORRECTION: An earlier version misidentified the office Scarmadella's vice chair is seeking.
UPDATE: Assemblyman Joseph Borelli, who endorsed Lhota yesterday, told me the change in chairman will not increase Carrion's chances of getting the support he needs to enter the Republican primary. "I doubt the next chairman will be on board with a Carrion candidacy," Borelli said.
According to Borrelli, the schism on Staten Island is between the elected officials and the chairman, and neither side has expressed openness towards a Carrion candidacy.