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Bronx elephants on the march

Bronx elephants are on the march. Not in the Bronx Zoo but to Pelham Bay. The Bronx County Republican Committee has moved from Williamsbridge Road in Pelham Parkway to the corner of Middletown Road and Hobart Avenue.

The Pelham Bay storefront, a former drycleaners, moonlighted as a Mayor Michael Bloomberg re-election campaign office in 2009. It was also the target of weekly protests by peeved Westchester Square merchants and residents when Bloomberg’s Department of Homeless Services plopped a homeless shelter on St. Peter’s Avenue. Democrat mayoral candidate Bill Thompson later upset Bloomberg in the 82nd Assembly District, to which Pelham Bay belongs.

Perhaps the corner is cursed. Republican Committee chairman Jay Savino thinks not. His office will open soon.

“We don’t expect protests,” he said.

Savino and 82nd Assembly District leader Fred Ramftl think the new office will boost the GOP’s profile in the Boogiedown. The Williamsbridge Road office, established by former state senator and Republican Committee chairman Guy Velella, sat in the middle of its block on the second floor of an unmarked building. A steep staircase to the office kept seniors and disabled Republicans away.

“Our landlord prohibited signs on the building,” Ramftl explained. “Some people had no idea we were there.”

The Pelham Bay office opens onto the street and is steps from the 6 IRT and several buses. The GOP will install a new soon to remind neighbors that “there IS a Republican Party in the borough,” Ramftl said.

The elephants will endorse candidates in a number of 2010 state elections. As usual, they’ll focus on the 80th, 81st and 82nd Assembly District and the 34th Senate District.

Reach reporter Daniel Beekman at 718 742-3383 or dbeekman@cnglocal.com

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