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Since the early, 1980s there have been disputes over leadership within the Queens Republican Party, which has led to periodic election contests in the form of district leadership primaries, in addition to contests for members of the county committee.
A county convention will be held in September 2013. At that time, the county chairman, various county officers and the county executive committee will be elected by the county committee members, including those present at the convention and also through proxy votes cast.
During the last several county conventions, the county leader, Phil Ragusa, and his slate of officers have been challenged by insurgents. Ragusa has won these intra-party fights each time he has been challenged.
One of the key insurgent leaders has been City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park). Up until his recent defeat for state Senate by incumbent Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) in the 15th District in western Queens, Ulrich was being referred to as a rising star in the Queens Republican Party.
The Republican Senate campaign committee poured huge amounts of money into that race, but Addabbo won by a substantial margin. He, at this time, is leading 57 percent to 43 percent before all the paper ballots are counted.
Ulrich sent out a considerable amount of negative mailings attacking his opponent. Whereas negative campaigning does at times have a successful outcome, in the case of this race it did not. Addabbo did not use negative campaigning. He campaigned on his accomplishments in the state Legislature and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.
It is hoped that with an increasing number of Queens Republican activists, there will be no internal party battle for leadership next year.
In Ulrich’s case, he needs to spend most of his time campaigning for re-election to his Council seat in the 32nd District.
It is time for Ulrich and other insurgent leaders to sit down with the Republican county leaders and try to work out a solution agreeable to both sides.
These intra-party fights can take up a lot of time, manpower and financial resources that would be better spent in the election process.
More than 30 years ago, the Queens Republican Party had six state Assembly members and, until recently, two senators, but times have changed and the Queens Republican Party now has two Councilmen: Ulrich and Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), both of whom are running for re-election.
A united Queens Republican Party would be a big help in achieving the re-election of these two councilmen. If the Queens GOP continues this conflict over county leadership, it could hurt the Republican effort to maintain control of these two Council offices.
Ragusa is expected to run for re-election. In the last two times he has run for re-election as chairman, he has been successful, winning the county chairmanship by significant margins. Ragusa has proven to be a popular chairman. It would seem he would give his support to any serious effort to reach an agreement with the insurgent force.
These seemingly endless conflicts between various groups have hurt the Queens Republican Party’s efforts to compete in general elections.
It could be said that three years ago Queens Republicans did well in Council races by winning three seats. It will be making every effort to repeat those election victories next year.
What is at stake here is the survival of the two-party system in New York City, although in the city the Democratic Party has for the most part dominated politics since the end of the Civil War. We need a strong, multi-party structure that will compete in general fall elections.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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