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Queens Chronicle

State Court Ends Challenge To Maltese As GOP Chairman

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Posted: Thursday, March 9, 2006 12:00 am

A state Supreme Court judge ended a challenge to State Sen. Serphin Maltese’s leadership of the Queens Republican Party last month.

In a ruling dated Feb. 22, Supreme Court Judge Charles Thomas ruled that the results of the party’s September 2005 leadership vote were valid, and that Maltese would have won even if the votes were counted in the way the challenger had requested.

The challenger, Bart Haggerty, is the brother of John Haggerty, who served as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Queens deputy campaign manager. The two brothers are the founders of the Forest Park Republican Club, an unofficial organization that endorsed Bloomberg in the 2005 election. The Queens Republican Committee, led by Maltese, endorsed former City Council minority leader Thomas Ognibene for the Republican mayoral nomination.

Haggerty challenged Maltese for the party leadership at the party’s September 2005 organizational meeting and lost the vote of the borough’s district leaders.

He immediately filed suit, saying the weighted voting system used by the party was improper. The district leaders were assigned votes based on the number of Republican votes cast in their district in the last election. He also said that his supporters had not been given sufficient notice of the meeting and that some of his proxy voters were wrongly excluded.

However, the court ruled that the party’s rules are legal and that the election was conducted properly under those rules. The court also found that if all of the rejected proxies, both Haggerty’s and Maltese’s, were included and the weighted voting system was discarded, Maltese still would have won.

Maltese and Bloomberg have been at odds since the election. Bloomberg has called on Maltese to do more to win the city more state education aid, and reportedly expressed interest in backing a challenger for Maltese’s Senate seat, possibly Howard Beach City Councilman Joseph Addabbo.

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