The Republican Party line is officially open in November's 30th City Council District general election.
And according to Queens GOP Chairman Bob Turner, there's a "very good" chance that Bob Holden, the insurgent Democratic candidate who lost this month's primary to incumbent Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale), will wind up on it.
"We have a reorganization meeting tomorrow night and this will certainly be a major topic," Turner told the Chronicle on Tuesday. "I don't know if anyone else is going to stand for the seat, but certainly the possibility of Bob is very good."
The original Republican candidate for the seat, which represents all or parts of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodside and Woodhaven, was area attorney Joseph Kasper. But Kasper had no active campaign, was not registered with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, had not appeared at any candidate events or debates, and does not live in the district.
As rumored in recent days, the Queens GOP nominated him on Monday as a candidate for Queens Supreme Court, making Kasper, who has run for judgeships numerous times in the past, ineligible to run for the Council.
When asked if he anticipated any issues in granting Holden what is known as a Wilson Pakula certificate to run on the GOP line since he is a registered Democrat, Turner said he did not.
"It depends on who would want to stand up to replace Kasper," he said. "But right now, I don't see that individual on the horizon.
"It would be nice if [Holden] wanted this," he continued, adding that he has yet to talk to the civic leader about the possibility.
Holden, who lost the primary roughly 63 to 36 percent, will be on the November ballot regardless, running on the Conservative, Reform and Dump de Blasio lines. He told the Queens Chronicle on Friday that he would be glad to take the Republican line too, but that the party has not reached out to him about the idea. He said he heard about the rumor about a week ago.
“I would take it if there were no strings attached,” Holden said. “I thought the Republicans had someone there but if they wanted to extend it to me, I’d certainly listen. I’d be foolish not to.”
Turner said his party would be wise to at least consider Holden for the line, as the 30th Council District includes sizable pockets of Republican-leaning voters among which the outspoken civic leader, despite being a self-described moderate Democrat, is a popular figure.
"That has crossed our minds," he said. "We're well aware of the voter registration differential there."
The possibility deepened the already fierce war of words between Crowley and Holden, who, as president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, has been a sharp critic of the incumbent.
Her camp said Holden has been “lying to voters about his party affiliation” and called the idea of his running on the GOP line a “bait and switch.”
“‘Angry Bob’ has really been ‘Lying Bob’ this whole time,” Crowley said in a prepared statement provided by her campaign to the Chronicle. “He clearly always planned to run as a Republican after the primary, but lied to voters time and again these past four months. What’s worse, he used taxpayer money to fund his campaign of lies and lay the groundwork for this despicable bait-and-switch. If we can’t trust Bob as a candidate, then we certainly can’t trust him in elected office.”
Holden said he has been a registered Democrat for 44 years, “longer than Elizabeth Crowley has been alive,” and said several times that he never planned to take the GOP line and has not been in contact with the party about the idea.
He said the only time he spoke with a Republican about running on the line was before he announced his primary campaign, when party member Michael Conigliaro said Holden should let him know if he wants to run. Holden said he didn’t want to step on Conigliaro’s toes in case he wanted to run, and then once he saw that Kasper was on the ballot, he announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination.
And he said party labels do not matter much to him.
“I’m not a member of Democratic clubs; I’m not a member of Republican clubs,” he said. “I’m a member of the civic club.”
Holden claimed that Crowley is “nervous” about his candidacy despite her win in the primary, when only Democrats could vote and turnout was low, in large part because she’s too far to the political left.
“I can’t change my party; I’m a Democrat for 44 years,” he said. “There are moderate, more conservative Democrats in the world, which the mainstream Democrats don’t understand. They’re on the radical left, which I think Elizabeth Crowley is. She doesn’t fit the district.”
Crowley put Holden on the right, her campaign’s statement claiming he has an “extensive record of extreme conservativ[ism] in the Democratic-leaning district.”
It also said an analysis of contributions to his campaign “showed the vast majority coming from registered Republicans,” which “would put the candidate’s support in line with Holden’s well-documented disparaging of immigrants and minorities.”
Holden responded by saying he doesn’t know the party affiliations of his contributors, and doesn’t care.
“How could I check that?” he asked. “Who would? Five hundred people gave to me. And why the hell does that matter? Am I going to say, ‘You’re a Republican — I won’t take it’?”
He also bristled at the idea that he disparages immigrants and minorities. Holden’s wife, Amy, personal secretary to former Gov. George Pataki, is ethnically half-Japanese, half-Italian.
“Oh my God, how does that work?” he said when told of the Crowley team’s statement. “If that’s something they put out, that’s a disgrace. How dare she say that?”
“I think my family portrait reflects various cultures, so how dare she say that. It’s out and out disgraceful. Tell my wife that. Tell my grandchildren that.
“It just confirms the nastiness and dirtiness of politics. That’s why I didn’t want to get into it in the first place. You tell Elizabeth Crowley the gloves are off because of that comment.”
Holden’s run for the seat follows his retirement this year as a college professor.
The possibility of Holden running on the Republican line was first reported on by the Queens Courier and Queens Tribune.
This story has been updated to include Monday's quotes from Bob Turner, as well as a clarification on the preliminary Democratic primary results; Crowley won 63 to 36 percent.
— Christopher Barca contributed to this story