By Sabina Mollot
Two years ago Robert Ardini, a marketing executive, was running a campaign against Carolyn Maloney for her long-held seat in Congress. The Republican political outsider ultimately only got 16.08 percent of the vote, but said he learned a number of lessons from the race, which he has since outlined in a new book called Running for Congress in Trump’s Backyard.
Ardini, formerly a Manhattanite who now lives in Long Island City, spoke with Town & Village about the book, which was semi-self-published through CreateSpace. This means while the book faced editorial scrutiny from the South Carolina-based publisher, Ardini still held most of the control. He also said he wanted to do the promotion for the book himself, which he’s just begun.
He said he wrote the book for the following reasons.
One was to offer help to anyone currently hoping to run for office based on his own experience of what worked and what didn’t.
Secondly, he wanted to “spread the word” about issues he’s passionate about like keeping the economy from imploding, lest he decide to run for office again. He’d decided to run two years ago after mulling the idea for years, while growing weary of being “an armchair critic.”
“I would say it’s for anyone interested in truly knowing what it’s like to run for Congress,” he said.
In Running for Congress, the now 57-year-old discusses being “benched” by his party, which initially had someone else in mind as a nominee. The party later gave him some support when that person dropped out, he said.
However, there was another potential suitor.
Despite not even running, Ivanka Trump got two out of five write-in votes for the Reform Party nomination for Congress during the primary, making her the winner.
Naturally, this concerned Ardini.
“Since she’s so high profile, I was worried my party would say, ‘Would you mind stepping down so she could run on both lines?’” he said.
Trump didn’t actually go on to run for anything.
Ardini also documented the big challenges any candidate faces like petitioning on the street.
“That was the most difficult part,” he said.
Volunteers collecting signatures were treated to such comments as “You seem half intelligent, so why are you a Republican?” and “You’re in the wrong town — get out.”
There were also 12 attempts — ultimately unsuccessful — to meet then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Still, on Election Night, Ardini called it a surreal experience when his own name briefly flashed across his TV screen, only to soon get completely eclipsed by the neck-and-neck presidential race numbers.
“You could say Trump trumped me,” he joked.
Another unique experience was getting his own impersonator for the day. Not that he hired one. At one point during the race, Ardini was contacted by a high school student whose teacher had given the assignment of finding a political candidate to study and assume the identity of for the weeks leading up to the election. “So I supplied him with all the information he needed.” Unfortunately, Ardini never got to see the act, since he wasn’t available to see the student at school during the day.
“So it was a wild ride,” said Ardini.
He has since chronicled that political joy ride into 66 pages, which makes his political memoir unusually slim. However, as Ardini explained it, he’s read too many political books that seemed artificially bloated with filler just to seem more legit.
Meanwhile, Ardini said he’ll be skipping this year’s elections as a candidate. At this point, he feels the only way to get a Republican to win would be to find someone well-known like Mike Bloomberg.
He’s also suggested TV political pundit John Stossel to the party. Stossel would need to switch parties though since he’s registered as a Libertarian.
“A Libertarian has never won a seat in Congress to date,” Ardini said.
But he feels the right Republican could still possibly succeed in the heavily Democratic 12th Congressional District, most of which is on Manhattan’s East Side, along with parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
“It’s the highest profile district in the country,” he said. “It includes the bulk of the Upper East Side. All the Republican movers and shakers tend to live in that area as well as Democrat movers and shakers.”
It’s also, as he notes in the book, a highly educated district, with 71.8 percent of its residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.
He hasn’t kept up with the current Congressional race too much, but said Maloney’s current Democrat challengers “seem formidable.” He added that while he believes Maloney, who’s easily held onto her seat for 25 years, has done some good work, and that he considers her to be genuine, he wishes she’d focus more on the economy. Specifically, he believes decreasing the national debt should be priority one before inflation gets out of hand from the inevitable borrowing or printing of more money.
“All of these people who feel great about socking away money for their retirement in IRAs might be in for a rude awakening when all of those dollars are only worth fifty cents when the time comes,” said Ardini.
Ardini said he had actually considered running as a blue dog Democrat, since he considers himself a moderate who’s fiscally conservative.
The Kindle version of Running for Congress in Trump’s Backyard ($10) came out on February 13, while the print edition ($13) was released on March 2, on Amazon. Next month, the nonfiction book will also be available at select bookstores. Ardini plans to donate a portion of the profits to the Manhattan Republican Party.