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Queens Chronicle

GOP divide a chasm over public advocate

County, city Republican feuds turn ugly fast over Ulrich endorsement

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Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2018 10:30 am

A long-simmering divide in the Queens Republican Party appears to be causing an awful lot of commotion for what is being billed as a nonpartisan election in a Democratic city.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) has the official GOP endorsement in the special election to fill the vacancy in the city public advocate’s office that will be created when Letitia James is sworn in as the state’s attorney general on Jan. 1.

The election is likely to be called by Mayor de Blasio for some time in February. With numerous Democratic having announced their candidacy, published sources say Urich might have a shot in an open field that could have a large and divided group of Democrats — provided he can unify Republican voters under his banner.

Enter Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels and radio talk show host who as of Wednesday was still being listed as chairman of the New York State Reform Party on the party’s website.

Sliwa, with the backing of former congressman and former county GOP chairman Bob Turner, on Dec. 17 announced his own candidacy, saying he was the best-qualified candidate to unify Republican and independent voters.

A spokesman for Sliwa’s campaign told the Chronicle the Reform Party will legally dissolve on Jan 1, as it did not receive enough votes in the recent election for governor. He also said Sliwa will form a campaign committee after an election date is set.

The press release quoted Sliwa as calling Ulrich “a Bill de Blasio Republican,” citing specifically his 2013 vote for Melissa Mark-Viverito as council speaker. Viverito is also running for public advocate.

A separate press release two days later from Robert Hornak, a former Queens GOP official, cited four Republican clubs in the county challenging the endorsement of Ulrich and calling for debates.

The Dec. 19 press release also cited Ulrich’s support of Bo Dietl for the 2017 Republican nomination for mayor while the party endorsed Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn); and his political ties to John Haggerty, the executive director of the Queens County Republican Party who once served 10 months in prison for laundering $750,000 from Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 mayoral campaign.

Joann Ariola Shanks, chairwoman of the Queens County Republican Party — who ran against Turner and defeated him in 2017 — said in a statement and a telephone interview that Sliwa’s run amounts to a campaign of sabotage by party malcontents.

“What these disgruntled troublemakers fail to realize is, the Queens Republican Party, which is the legal entity of the State and National Republican Party, has unanimously endorsed Eric Ulrich who is the only Republican running for public advocate,” Ariola Shanks said.

She also said of the Queens-based Republican clubs cited in the debate press release, one, the Frank Kenna Club, is defunct; and that “many members” of the other clubs were unaware of the call for a debate.

Ariola Shanks also said the Whitestone Republican Club recently held a meeting where Vickie Paladino, who lost a race for the state Senate in November after the county party distanced itself from her, “spewed countless lies regarding Councilmember Ulrich and the Queens County GOP.” Ariola Shanks also slammed Paladino and some of her supporters, calling them “known anti-Semites and bigots connected to the Proud Boys and the social media site GAB.”

“This is a clear cut case of a bunch of miscreants who are sour because they were not successful in their own races,” she continued. “Their main purpose is to cause dissension in the Republican Party and increases the potential of a non-Republican winning the upcoming special election.”

As for Dietl, Ariola Shanks said he is a personal friend of Ulrich, who endorsed the ex-NYPD detective for mayor long before anyone else entered the race.

Ariola Shanks called Hornak “a nobody and a troublemaker,” pointing to his former post as executive director of the Queens County Republican Party under the “corrupt leadership of then-Queens County Chair Phil Ragusa and disgraced former vice chair, Vince Tabone.”

Tabone was sentenced to 42 months in prison in 2015 after being convicted of receiving bribes and witness tampering in connection with former state Sen. Malcolm Smith’s attempt to bribe his way onto the Republican ballot for mayor in 2013.

Hornak, in an email to the Chronicle, said while he could not respond for any of the clubs mentioned in his press release, had no difficulty responding to Ariola Shanks’ remarks aimed at him. He said she and Ulrich are attacking the messenger.

“As usual they are afraid of the light of truth being shined on them and their cynical plans to trick Republican voters,” he wrote. “If I am nothing more than a nobody then I should be very flattered that they seem to be so afraid of me and my activities supporting Republican candidates and ideals.”

He said the latter concept “is foreign to Ulrich and his puppet chairwoman who didn’t support Trump for President in 2016, didn’t support Malliotakis for mayor in 2017, don’t support any local candidates they perceive to be a threat to their weak hold on control of the organization, and who went so far as to record a robocall for Assemblyman Miller against the Republican who ran in 2016.”

He called Ragusa, who died in 2014, “one of the most honorable and decent people I ever encountered in politics,” and called for Tabone’s resignation and cooperated with the investigation.

Hornak also said Ulrich and Haggerty supported Turner “saying he was the only person who could unite the Queens GOP.” He accused them of ousting Turner for Ariola Shanks “when they found out that Turner was too independent for them to control.”

Hornak, who is Jewish, said there is no evidence of anti-Semitism among the cited critics, while they attack him and allegedly undermined David Bressler, who ran unsuccessfully this fall against Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and of attacking other Jewish Republicans in the county.

“So, I ask, who are the anti-Semites in Queens?” he wrote, accusing the party leadership of tactics used against President Trump. “Following the left’s playbook is despicable but not surprising for this group,” he said.

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1 comment:

  • stan chaz posted at 9:50 pm on Thu, Dec 27, 2018.

    stan chaz Posts: 33

    I love to see Republicans squabbling among themselves just like Democrats.
    But at least the Democrats have the true diversity to genuinely spark such debate.