On Politics
by Anthony Stasi
Apr 28, 2009 | 2602 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Talk to any candidate that runs for office in Queens and once you get beyond the issues of the day, the conversation eventually becomes about the borough itself.

I used to do the same thing at fundraisers outside the borough when I was a candidate. I could hear myself saying things like "we have two major airports, one baseball team, etc." Queens still exists as one of the only places in the city where the population and the ideology are sometimes changing and still changeable. It is for this reason that we get so many interesting candidates for our local offices.

About six months ago, my publisher asked that I check out a webinar on social networking. I misread the email and thought he was asking me to visit a wine bar. Since I do not review restaurants, I ignored it. Then again, over sandwiches, the publisher of this paper asked me to join the social networking site Facebook. So it hit me at that point that I was not supposed to be reviewing wine. Taking great pride in not being current with technology, I had put it off. But I relented and joined Facebook. I thought it might be an opportunity to share the column in places where it might better serve the paper.

The rise of Internet social networking allowed the current president to raise a boatload of money in his campaign last year. And it will help many other - lesser known - candidates as well. Enter Robert Hornak, who is running for Queens borough president. Hornak has been active in New York City Republican circles for a long time. He is a smart person, but as you may already be thinking, a Republican in this city runs against the wind.

Hornak has been very active on Facebook. What's more, the very active Manhattan GOP members (the members of the party that drink out of glasses and not plastic like the rest of us) are now very connected to Republicans in the outer-boroughs thanks to social networking sites. Hornak boasts a good amount of "friends" on his Facebook page. If he can find a way to tap into the frustration that city Republicans feel while reaching them on a consistent basis for fundraising, he could mount an interesting challenge. It's an experiment in new politics.

I wrote a few weeks ago how Democrat David Kerpen is looking to upset primary incumbent Helen Marshall for the Democratic nod for Queens borough president. Kerpen is also very "plugged in" to social networking, but for Kerpen looking to unseat an incumbent in his own party might be difficult. Hornak can get on the ballot with much work. His focus has to be on November.

Hornak's first big fundraiser is Thursday, April 30, at the Reception House on Northern Boulevard. Political commentator Dick Morris is the keynote speaker. His fundraiser has its own page on Facebook. Running as a non-Democratic candidate in this city requires a candidate to pull out all stops, because of that Hornak's campaign might be interesting to watch this year. If he can achieve beyond the percentage of his party's registration (which might be around 35 percent), then he would have done something remarkable in that he found a way to dip into resources previously untapped.

It takes a certain person to run for public office. Most people hate public speaking, and they hate being judged. This is a combination of the two. Hornak wants to make it to official "player" status in the New York City political scene, and maybe this can help him get there.

Technology has come a long way. In 2000, I was one of the few candidates with a website. We received few hits because there was still a lot or people not online yet. (For the record, many of the hits were just me checking it out.) I guess my problem with Myspace, Facebook, and whatever is the next big thing, is that it doesn't resemble something columnist George Will would do. Since I always liked Will's passion and class, I began - in high school - to emulate George Will (I wasn't a popular kid). But George Will is now on Facebook, so it's okay for purist conservatives that still think they can eliminate the designated hitter rule in baseball to now join in. Thanks George.

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