Phil Ragusa will remain chairman of the party, but it was announced Wednesday that former councilman Anthony Como will replace Vince Tabone as executive vice chairman.
Tabone, who pleaded innocent in a federal court on Monday to charges he accepted cash in return for efforts to get Queens State Senator Malcolm Smith's on the Republican line for this year's mayoral race, resigned following his arrest.
Councilman Dan Halloran also pleaded innocent, denying he arranged payoffs in exchange for setting up meetings between Tabone and Smith backers, who turned out to be an undercover agent and a cooperating witness.
Como said he is not concerned with focusing on the recent scandal involving Tabone and Halloran as the party moves forward.
“If you're worried about the past, you're going to miss the present and screw up the future,” said Como.
Como said he is also not concerned about the very public infighting in the party over the last couple of years, most notably Councilman Eric Ulrich's demands that Ragusa be replaced with former congressman Bob Turner. Como said he has a good relationship with Ulrich, and just spoke with him about of weeks ago on his birthday.
“We're not always going to see eye to eye on everything, but I know at the end of the day we all want what's best for the party,” said Como. “Just because we disagree, doesn't mean we have to make it personal and attack each other, because if we do that we are just going to end up shooting ourselves in the foot.
“I've always worked well within the party and in government, whether it's at the county or state level, and that's something I pride myself on,” he added. “And I know that's something I can bring to my new role.”
Como served a brief stint on the City Council after he won a special election to replace Dennis Gallagher, who resigned after he pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges. Como would later lose the seat to current councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley. He was also a commissioner on the Board of Elections from 2005 until 2009.
In an interview, Ragusa said he hoped Como, who was once on the staff of former state senator Serphin Maltese, a prominent figure among south Queens Republicans, can help quell some of the internal strife in the party.
“I would really hope so, but then again I never started these fights,” said Ragusa, who has been chairman since 2007. “Anthony is a fresh face who knows how politics works. He's a great asset.”
Incidentally, if for some reason Ragusa were to resign or step down before district leaders are required to vote on a new chairman later this year, Como would automatically become the chairman of the Queens County GOP.
“Anthony brings a tremendous amount of experience, integrity and vision to our Executive Committee and will be a vital part of our efforts to grow the Queens GOP,” said Ragusa in a statement. “Anthony will bring youth and vitality to our organization which will be essential as we eventually pass the torch to the next generation of leaders.”
Maltese, who served in the State Senate for two decades, said Como has connections throughout the party.
"He has credibility with people that I am friendly with, and he has credibility with people that Phil is friendly with," said Maltese. "We are going to be preaching unity, and Anthony is going to be very helpful in achieving that."
Other key appointments made by the party this week included First Vice Chairman Robert Beltrani, Vice Chairman Anthony Carollo, Vice Chairman Deborah Heinichen, Recording Secretary Samiha Makawi, and Members at Large James McClelland and Pierre Alcantara.
In an interview, McClelland said that the next step would be traveling the borough and opening up constructive dialogues with GOP district leaders in what has been a fractured Queens County Republican Party.
“I think this sends a message to the rank-and-file members that the party is moving forward in a positive direction,” said McClelland.
Also...The Queens GOP-backed Republican mayoral candidate, John Catsimatidis, will be celebrating the opening of his Northeast Queens Campaign Headquarters, 24-55 Francis Lewis Blvd., this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Follow Shane Miller on Twitter: @shanemillernyc