A sleepy State Senate campaign in a heavily Democratic district of Queens is now front and center, after John "Junior" Gotti attended a campaign event for the Republican candidate at a Long Island pizzeria. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Aurelio "Tony" Arcabascio may not be a "connected guy," but his association with a member of the Gambino crime family is leading to unexpected attention in his long-shot bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Queens Senator Michael Gianaris.
"From a purely selfish perspective, I thank you and all the press for all the attention you're finally giving me. But I have been at this since March," said Arcabascio.
This past weekend, John "Junior" Gotti attended a fundraiser for Arcabascio at Saggio's restaurant on Long Island. The establishment is owned by Arcabascio's brother. Gotti, who lives nearby, spends a lot of time there with his family.
"I think he is a friend and a patron to my brother because he eats there and my brother is very cordial to him. And I think he was just doing something nice, that's all," said Arcabascio.
Even with new maps redrawn this year, this State Senate district is still heavily Democratic. Senator Gianaris, who declined to speak with NY1, is expected to fend off any challengers.
According to Arcabascio, Gotti promoted the fundraiser informally via email. The Republican candidate has no plans to return the money.
Critics, including NY1 contributor and radio host Curtis Sliwa, say Gotti should not be helping Arcabascio or anybody else running for political office.
"He welcomes his support and he's defiant about it. And I'm saying to myself, where is the Republican leadership? How come they are not disavowing this guy as if he were our version of David Duke? And the silence is deafening," Sliwa said.
In statement, the Queens County Republican Party says, "The Queens GOP has seen far too much criminal activity in our borough by elected officials and political operatives and we firmly stress our support for the rule of law."
Arcabascio said he also met with former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani about a possible endorsement.
"Former Mayor Giuliani, I had a meeting with him last Tuesday to request his support and endorsement. As of yet, I have not been formerly endorsed by Mayor Giuliani," said Arcabascio.
Giuliani could not be reached for comment.