The race for New York’s 15th Senate District took a turn for the nasty on Monday with an exchange of insults and candidates questioning each other’s judgment.
And this is just for the Republican Primary, which is pitting GOP-endorsed Juan Reyes, a Forest Hills attorney, against City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).
On Monday morning, the Reyes campaign issued a statement questioning Ulrich’s judgment for associating with John Haggerty.
Haggerty was convicted last October of stealing money from the re-election campaign of Mayor Bloomberg and is out on bail awaiting sentencing. The headline on the press release asked “Why is a convicted felon filing Ulrich’s nominating petitions?”
“Part of the District Attorney’s investigation of Haggerty and his conviction related to Haggerty producing fraudulent campaign instruments,” the statement reads. “What does it say about Eric Ulrich’s judgment that he would have a convict handle important campaign-related documents?”
The statement also refers to Haggerty’s brother, Bart, as Ulrich’s current council chief of staff, a post he recently left.
Bart Haggerty has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Both Haggertys and Ulrich are part of an insurgent group within the Queens Republican Party that has been at bitter odds with the current leadership. The party officials declared their support for Reyes a few weeks after Ulrich announced his intention to challenge Democrat incumbent Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach).
The Reyes campaign called on Ulrich to “explain his ongoing ties with this convicted felon and explain why he continues to allow him a leadership role in his campaign for state Senate.”
And Ulrich campaign spokesman Bill O’Reilly fired back broadside on Monday afternoon.
“Mr. Reyes is running an angry — and at times bizarre — campaign in which he lashes out blindly and incorrectly,” O’Reilly said. “Two weeks ago he suggested that someone broke into his office to scatter plastic utensils about. Last week he attacked Councilman Ulrich for having more support than he does — which is true — and now this.”
O’Reilly’s statement said a campaign volunteer named Mike Michel submitted Ulrich’s petitions to the Board of Elections.
“Mr. Reyes needs to get his facts straight — and take a few days off to gather his wits,” he added.
O’Reilly’s mention of utensils refers to a police complaint Reyes filed on June 13 with the NYPD’s 112th Precinct to report that vandals had targeted his home, not his Manhattan office, on the night of his first campaign fundraiser.
A welcome mat was stolen and a box of plastic forks was dumped on the family’s front lawn.
The primary is scheduled for Sept. 13.