Queens Republicans have a new chairman.
After the death of Phil Ragusa last month, the county party’s executive vice chairman, Robert Beltrani of Jackson Heights, was automatically elevated to chairman.
Phil Ragusa, 74, of Beechhurst, who led the Queens Republican Party for seven years, many of them tumultuous, died Tuesday from leukemia at New York Presybterian Hospital.
Accolades from across the state and farther have poured in about the certified public accountant who took over the helm of the Queens party from former state Sen. Serphin Maltese, who stepped down in 2007.
Phil Ragusa of Whitestone, the longtime chairman of the Queens Republican Party, has died. He was 74.
Queens GOP official Robert Hornak announced Ragusa's death in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon.
The Queens Republican Party re-elected Chairman Phil Ragusa to another term leading the borough’s warring party at a meeting Friday that Ragusa’s opponents called a sham and appeared to only exacerbate the years-long divide in the party.
Queens Republicans, battered after years of infighting, held the reorganization meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Friday at the Reception House on Northern Boulevard in Flushing. At the meeting, Ragusa was re-elected chairman of the party by a resounding margin over former Rep. Bob Turner, who stood as the choice of the anti-Ragusa faction that has been led by Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and former Councilman Tom Ognibene, who attempted to wrestle control of the county organization out of Ragusa’s hands in 2011.
For all of their perceived power in city politics, the Queens County organizations for both major political parties were not on the winning side of their respective mayoral primary races this year. Queens Democrats chose City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) as their choice for mayor, while the Queens Republican leadership choose supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis as their standard-bearer.
Both lost, and now with six weeks to go until the city selects its new mayor, the county parties are seeking to unify behind the primary winners, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former MTA chief Joe Lhota.
The ongoing civil war between two factions of the Queens Republican Party is flaring up again — just in time for the 2013 city elections.
It all began when Queens Republican leaders failed to appropriately renominate Judith Stupp as the borough’s GOP commissioner on the Board of Elections by the Jan. 31 deadline. Stupp, a district leader from Bayside, is a key ally of Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa.
Republicans at the borough and state level are declining to comment on a published report in which Congressman Bob Turner (R-Queens, Brooklyn) said he might be interested in becoming the chairman of the Republican Party in Queens.
As a key Republican Party nomination battle for state Senate shapes up between Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and Forest Hills attorney Juan Reyes, the Queens Conservative Party today gave Ulrich an ideological boost by throwing him its support.
Dozens of Democrats welcomed now-former Republican Councilman Peter Koo of Flushing into the fold on Monday as he officially changed party affiliation.
It was a Democratic love fest as Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens and the Bronx), who is also Queens Democratic Party chairman, was joined by a host of area elected officials at the Board of Elections office in Kew Gardens.
The war within the Queens Republican Party flared up this week when Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) accused some members of the leadership of corrupt behavior, and his targets responded by slamming the lawmaker’s own ethics.
The party has long been divided between the group that supports the leadership of Chairman Phil Ragusa and an insurgent faction, in which Ulrich has become a leader since his election to the City Council. Other prominent figures in the rebel group include Bart Haggerty, Ulrich’s chief of staff, and his brother, the political operative John Haggerty, who was recently found guilty of stealing nearly a million dollars from the 2009 re-election campaign of Mayor Bloomberg.
City Comptroller John Liu of Flushing has promised to return any questionable money raised through his fundraising efforts after an in-depth story on his campaign finance reports was published Wednesday.
In a late-afternoon phone conversation on Wednesday, Liu told the Queens Chronicle that he has always made his rules clear and simple to campaign workers: “complete compliance with the Campaign Finance Board.”
Hitting the concrete in a suit and tie in temperatures that hovered around oppressive, Justin Wax Jacobs, a 22-year-old Briarwood resident with a penchant for politics, quickly learned to wipe his brow and try in vain to forget about the midsummer heat as he spent 12-hour days collecting signatures to run in the upcoming Sept. 13 special election.
For six days in July, Jacobs, who graduated this year from SUNY Albany with a triple major in political science, East Asian studies and history, canvassed his neighborhood with his family and friends to collect the 1,500 signatures he needed to run on the Independence party line in the special election for the 27th Assembly District, which covers parts of Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Rego Park and other areas of eastern Queens.
Despite the sweltering heat on Monday morning, Republican candidate for New York’s 9th Congressional District Bob Turner held his first, brief campaign press conference at Station Square in Forest Hills.
Queens and Brooklyn County Republican Party Chairmen Phil Ragusa and Craig Eaton officially nominated Turner as their party’s man last Friday in the Sept. 13 special election for the seat that former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) vacated. Turner, a semi-retired TV executive from Richmond Hill, had run for the same seat last year against the incumbent Democrat, losing the election with 42 percent to Weiner’s 58.
Let the races begin.
Following Gov. Cuomo’s announcement last week that the special elections for one Queens Congressional seat and two Assembly spots will be held on Sept. 13, or Primary Day, the Queens Democratic and Republican parties jumped to narrow the field of candidates.
As national leaders on both sides of the aisle continue to turn up the heat on Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) and call for his resignation, the bold-faced names of many Queens political players — some in office; others working in the private sector — have emerged as possible contenders should Weiner step down and a special election be called for the 9th Congressional District seat.
At press time, Weiner remained on an official two-week leave of absence from Congress as he seeks professional treatment in the wake of a lurid sexting scandal involving several women. He has said he has no intentions of resigning, but leaders in his own party — including President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — have indicated that he should call it quits.
Candidates have turned in their petitions in western Queens, and though the City Board of Elections has not officially announced who will be running, the Queens Chronicle has compiled a list of likely suspects for competitive races in the area.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall sketched out her vision for 2010 as she was sworn into office for a third time on Tuesday.
Voters returned Mayor Mike Bloomberg to office Tuesday, but by a far smaller than expected margin, as the Independent-Republican incumbent defeated Democratic challenger Bill Thompson Jr. with about 51 percent of the vote. Thompson, the city comptroller, won 46 percent, while the remainder was scattered among several minor-party candidates.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has years of experience in public office and backing from several large donors, but the Democrat is getting a run for her money from three candidates vying for her seat.
Republican City Council candidate Robert Hornak wants to party like its 1999.