Magazine article The New Yorker

Dem Delegates

Magazine article The New Yorker

Dem Delegates

Article excerpt

The Republican Party in New York City is not unlike a species of tropical bird, in that it has evolved in unusual ways, will most likely never be dominant, and has always held a tenuous status in the political ecology of the five boroughs. During the Republican Convention, last week, New York City Republicans were certainly exotic. Overheard in the lobby of the hotel where they stayed: "Republicans from New York are pinko Commies anywhere else."

On the third night of the Convention, Rudy Giuliani was scheduled to speak, followed by Sarah Palin, and the delegation from New York went to hear them, and to cast its votes in the official roll call. Jay Savino, the chairman of the Bronx County Republican Party, walked into the Xcel Center unshaven, having flown to Minnesota on Monday with a few other delegates and with Giuliani, in a jet belonging to John Catsimatidis, the Gristede's supermarket mogul, who is considering a run for mayor. Beside Savino was Juan Carlos Polanco, a man with dark hair that was gelled flat on top but then broke out into a cascade of curls down the back of his head. Polanco, who had been a batboy for the Yankees, is an attorney on the staff of the New York State Assembly minority leader, James Tedisco.

Polanco was chewing gum and talking to a Bronx alternate delegate named Anthony J. Ribustello, who had the build of a sumo wrestler and was wearing a hoop earring and a pin-striped suit. (He played the character Dante Greco on "The Sopranos.") Country music had been piped into the hall. Savino said, "My wife likes this stuff. Now, 87.7, the Pulse of New York--DJ Surge from the Bronx--I wish they were spinning here, but you get the cards that you're dealt."

Ruben Estrada, a delegate from Orange County, was standing nearby. He said, "We should have a poster next time: 'Obama, fuhgeddaboudit!' I mean, come on, we're from New York here."

Savino turned toward a man in a blue sports jacket and said, "Hey, Chairman." It was Vincent Reda, an elderly delegate from Rockland County, and he seemed perplexed. Delegates from Wisconsin were gathering across the aisle, and Reda had seen a man in a hat that resembled a large hunk of Swiss cheese.

"What is that?" Reda said.

The former New York senator Al D'Amato came in and took a seat near the former State Senate majority leader Joe Bruno, who acknowledged that seeing Giuliani onstage, but not on the ticket, would be bittersweet. …

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