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Political Action: Boro GOP elects Ragusa to another term as chairman

An important county committee meeting was recently held within the ranks of the Queens Republican Party that has determined its county leadership structure for the next two years.

The committee, by a better than 3-to-2 margin, chose to elect incumbent county Chairman Phil Ragusa to another two-year term. It also elected his entire slate of county officers. Insurgent leader Bart Haggerty obtained a significant vote total, but still lost by a wide margin. The two Queens Republican elected officials, state Sen. Frank Padavan of Bellerose and City Councilman Eric Ulrich of Rockaway Beach, both of whom were present at the meeting, split their votes with Padavan supporting Ragusa and Ulrich supporting Haggerty.

During this process, Donna Caltabiano, who recently ran a strong race for the state Assembly in a special election held in the 38th Assembly District, was elected as county secretary.

These current interparty struggles for control of the county organization have been going on for six years, although within the Queens Republican Party battles for control of the organization have been going on periodically since the early 1980s.

The Queens Democratic Party holds its county organizing meeting in even years, so it will be holding an election for county leadership next year. It is generally assumed county Chairman Joe Crowley and his slate of officers will automatically be re-elected next year.

That is not necessarily the case, though. The role of independent Democratic clubs in Queens, not under the jurisdiction of the county organization, has grown in recent years. They have challenged their county leadership over various issues, especially the selection of candidates.

Prior to the Queens Republican convention, a series of party leadership primaries took place. The 28th District leadership primary between Jay Golub and Haggerty was one of the most important Republican primary races.

Golub represented the organization against insurgent Haggerty. The race was fought intensely with Haggerty winning, but questions about that race remain.

It seems Haggerty claimed in his campaign literature that he had been endorsed by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The former mayor’s senior adviser and main spokesman, Tony Carbonetti, has indicated in writing that Haggerty did not have Giuliani’s endorsement. That being the case, the registered Republicans of the 28th District, especially those who voted in the primary, are entitled to an explanation as to why Haggerty states in his primary campaign literature that he had Giuliani’s endorsement.

The campaign is moving into high gear in the Dan Halloran-Kevin Kim race for the 19th City Council District seat in northeast Queens with both working on getting out the vote. The Halloran headquarters office manager is Janet Milone. She is the president of the Northeast Queens Republican Club and has in the past been the office manager for Padavan’s campaigns.

When asked about the race, she said, “This is a grassroots campaign with much enthusiasm. We have both Republicans and Democrats helping us.”

In terms of Election Day voting, Halloran has superior ballot position with four party endorsements while Kim has one party endorsement, but the main question is who will turn out on Election Day? Will the voters turn out in as small numbers for the general election as they did during the recent Sept. 15 primary election, or will there be a larger turnout? It could depend on how and if the candidates are successful in motivating their supporters to vote.

In the final totals of the 19th District Democratic primary, after the absentee and military ballots have been counted, Kim has maintained his more-than-500-vote lead over his nearest opponent, Jerry Iannece, who came in second. Iannece, however, increased his lead over third-place candidate Paul Vallone from 100 to more than 300 votes.

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