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Queens Chronicle

County GOP fight for power continues

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Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:40 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

It’s deja vu all over again for the Queens Republican Party as one faction tries to wrest power from the other.

Both sides are claiming victory, but the state GOP only recognizes Phil Ragusa as the county chairman. 

Ragusa was re-elected on Sept. 28 by a vote of approximately 58 percent during a meeting at the Reception House in Flushing. State GOP Chairman Ed Cox called him on Thursday offering his congratulations. 

But at Villa Russo in Richmond Hill on the same evening, the maverick Republicans held their own meeting. It was led by Bart Haggerty, who is chief of staff for Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), and the brother of John Haggerty, now on trial for allegedly stealing more than $1 million from Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign.

Ulrich has said that it’s time for the GOP leadership to go. “We have serious problems,” he said. “I’m pushing for  change.”

Former Middle Village councilman Tom Ognibene won the splinter group’s vote for county chairman.

Both groups have filed with the city Board of Elections for certification.

“Now the hard work of unifying our party begins despite the best efforts of the Haggerty brothers to fracture the party,” Ragusa said. “We now focus our attentions on November’s elections and victories in 2012.”

Bart Haggerty refused to respond to numerous requests regarding this story.

Vince Tabone, executive vice chairman of the Queens Republican Party, said the Haggertys’ schemings are nothing new. “They filed lawsuits for leadership in 2005 and twice in 2007 and always failed,” Tabone said. “Eventually, the court will look at this one.”

Haggerty also challenged Ragusa in 2009 and lost. He claimed the voting system used was improper, but a court ruling sided with Ragusa, who got almost 62 percent of the vote.

Tabone, who is a lawyer, called the Haggertys “entirely lawless,” adding, “It’s a joke, but I’ll have to go back to court on this. It’s third-world stuff.”

He said the two brothers “agitate and cause confusion” and that they only got 30 percent of the vote. “They are trying to steal the election from Ragusa.”

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