The Republican primary for the state Senate in the newly redrawn 15th District is getting nasty in the final days.
The campaign of Forest Hills lawyer Juan Reyes,. who is backed by the Queens GOP leadership, sent out a mailer this week accusing his opponent, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) of having voted 95 percent of the time with Democratic Speaker Christine Quinn on the City Council — even stating his voting record is more aligned with Quinn that Democrat Charles Barron, who is a known political nemesis of the speaker.
In one instance, Ulrich, who was endorsed in his primary race by the Queens Chronicle, is accused of voting in favor of same-sex marriage, stemming from a 2010 bill that passed the City Council that required the City Clerk’s office to present information regarding rights same-sex couples legally married in others states have in New York.
The law passed after former Gov. David Paterson issued an executive order allowing New York to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. New York State legalized gay marriage a year later. The mailer also accuses Ulrich of providing $18 million in taxpayer funding to liberal groups, money that was approved by the full council.
The mailer also criticizes Ulrich’s ties to John Haggerty, a Republican campaign operative who was convicted of stealing money from Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s 2005 campaign. Haggerty’s brother Bart was Ulrich’s chief of staff.
In another mailer, a photos shows Ulrich in a suit is decorated with Soviet-style medals with the caption; “Comrades! The glorious party leadership has already chosen comrade Ulrich as your new senator. Do as you are told and obey them!” The mailers were sent out by Friends of Juan Reyes.
“This type of hateful and malicious mail has no place in a political campaign,” Ulrich responded. “Juan Reyes is spreading lies about my record because he is desperate. He is running a campaign that his children won’t be proud of.”
He explained that many of the funds listed on the mailer were not his, but were part of a budget he and most of his colleagues voted for. Ulrich further criticized Reyes’ campaign for being made up of “the lowest of the low.”
Gerry O’Brien, spokesperson for the Reyes’ campaign, defended the “Comrade” mailer, comparing the way Senate Republicans lobbied Ulrich to get into the race to politics in the former Soviet Union. State Senate Republicans gave Ulrich $250,000, something O’Brien, who has be involved in GOP campaigns for state legislative seats in Brooklyn and the Bronx in the past, said is uncommon.
“I've never heard of a local Republican candidate getting a check that size by [State Republicans],” he said. “It was never intended to be a Republican slush fund for state Republicans to pick their own candidates. It just rubs a lot of the people the wrong way. It reminds people of the top-down form of government the Soviet Union had.”
The Reyes campaign is also slamming Ulrich for his retweeting of a line in this newspaper’s primary endorsement of him that noted former U.S. Senator and 1996 GOP Presidential nominee Bob Dole’s “last known endorsement was for Viagra.” Dole has endorsed Reyes..
“Eric Ulrich's rude and mocking comments about Sen. Bob Dole prove that 27-year old Ulrich is unfit for public office,” said Reyes.”This sleazy and sarcastic comment about one of America's greatest heroes is beyond contempt.” O’Brien echoed that statement, saying the tweet shows Ulrich’s inexperience.
“There's going to be a lot of people out there who will say 'He's just not ready,’” he said. O’Brien believes people will be surprised by the results of the election.
Ulrich said he believes the mailer controversy will help him.
“This is helping my campaign,” he said. “My base is fired up.”
Voters go to the polls this Thursday, Sept. 13.