Last week, the world saw the Republican Party on display at our party’s National Convention in Tampa. And though you might not have been able to see it on TV, there was a decidedly New York flavor.
Yes, our state was well represented at the RNC. New York isn’t in the mainstream with the national GOP, as we all know. But it’s worth remembering that New York has an incredible Republican tradition. We’re the home of the Rockefellers, Teddy Roosevelt and Rudy Giuliani. We bring an important perspective to the party, even if we’re in the minority. We don’t agree with the national party on every issue, and that’s okay. But we do agree with the most important GOP principles — cutting taxes, creating jobs and getting government out of the way of hardworking people and small business owners.
I arrived in Tampa on Monday amid a potential disaster. Hurricane Isaac was passing by in the Gulf, just a few dozen miles west of the Tampa Bay area. The events set for Monday were canceled.
The New York delegation had breakfasts each morning chaired by notable Republicans from the state. On Monday, the chairman was the highest-ranking New York Republican, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. On Tuesday, we were hosted by our former U.S. senator, Al D’Amato.
After the events Tuesday, I met up with Rick Lazio, the former congressman and candidate for governor and U.S. Senate. Rick has endorsed my campaign for Congress, and he introduced me to everyone in the delegation I didn’t already know.
Luis Fortuno, the governor of Puerto Rico, chaired our breakfast Wednesday. We spoke before Wednesday night’s events, when he gave a stirring speech. I enjoyed hearing his thoughts about the Puerto Rican community in the United States. The immigrant community here in New York leans Democratic. But Gov. Fortuno spoke about the conservative values shared by many Puerto Ricans, who cherish faith and family.
Here in my district, many of our immigrants, such as the Russian Jews in Forest Hills, came to the United States to flee an all-powerful government. They’ve lived what big government Democrats want — and that’s why they’re Republicans.
(As a side note: on Wednesday night, two of our Queens Republicans, my friends Councilman Eric Ulrich and landscaper Sal Bacarella, ran into the liberal commentator Chris Matthews at an after-hours event. Let’s just say Matthews is friendlier on TV.)
None other than my good friend Mayor Giuliani hosted our Thursday breakfast. And that night, Mitt Romney accepted our party’s nomination for president. Gov. Romney doesn’t speak with the same flourish as President Obama. But he knows how to do something the president has failed to do — grow our economy and help middle-class people.
I hope that last week New Yorkers saw a party that’s very different than what some Democratic politicians like to portray. Some of the most memorable speeches were given by women. We had mayors, governors, members of Congress and a former secretary of state. Let’s face it — lower taxes and more jobs benefit everyone.
I learned that national Republicans are following what’s happening New York City. They know that Republicans can win here. They know I won here in 2009, along with Eric Ulrich, that Michael Grimm won here in 2010, and Bob Turner won here last year. Congressman Peter King told me my run for the Sixth Congressional District seat is a priority. Gov. Pataki urged people to support me, because my win would send shockwaves through the political establishment in New York City.
That’s what I’ll remember from this convention. I had a great time down in Tampa, and met many amazing people. But the point of our convention is to give people a choice. New Yorkers can choose more taxes and fewer jobs — the same old, same old that’s gotten us to where we are today. Or they can choose a different direction.
Dan Halloran is New York City Councilman for the 19th District in northern Queens and the Republican candidate for Congress in the 6th District. He was an at-large delegate to the GOP convention.