2004-04-30 / Community

New Rockaway Republican Group Holds Second Meeting

New Rockaway Republican Group Holds Second Meeting

The Rockaway Republicans held their second meeting on Tuesday April 28 at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club with forty persons participating, a big jump from last month’s 26.

"This grass-roots effort grew in response to a spontaneous interest on the part of many Rockawayites to help President Bush win re-election, said Tom Lynch, the acting president of the new club. "We kicked the evening off with four long-time Rockaway residents publicly ripping up their Democratic voter registration cards and announcing their switch to the Repulican party. Belle Harborite Tom Hanan, one of the ‘switchers,’ stated that, after forty plus years, he had decided to make the jump because he was fed up with the policies and rhetoric of the party of his youth."

Frustrated over the abortion question and the Democrats’ ferocious verbal assaults on Bush, he told the asembled members that he was now "a recovering Democrat," and that he did not feel he was leaving the Democratic party but that the party had long since left him.

Matt Hunter, president of the Forest Park Republican club, was one of our guest speakers, sharing his knowledge of local politics and history with us and detailing how he had fought for five years to overcome obstacles to establish his organization. He encouraged Rockaway Republicans to do the same.

He was followed by Michael Benjamin who is seeking the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate against Charles Schumer this year. Benjamin laid out his platform and offered an articulate and spirited presentation of the issues. He’s supporting tax and spending cuts, is strongly supportive of the 2nd Amendment (the right to bear arms), school choice and free trade. He is also pro-life and supports the Bush administration on al Qaeda and Iraq. However, he noted that he’s against U.S. adventurism to fight drugs (he wants to bring U.S. troops deployed to fight drug traffickers in Columbia and Peru home since he thinks this effort is costly and counterproductive). He also favors tax reform and simplification. On local issues, he evinced great interest in ensuring our recreational areas, like Riis Park, receive adequate funding and get rebuilt so they can be what they once were. He offered to tour the area with interested residents to identify ways in which party leaders and federal officials can be helpful.

"This second meeting was even more successful than our initial one, but we continue to miss the presence of our 23rd assembly district leaders, both of whom were invited (as they had been last month). It’s worth noting that Joseph Kasper, district leader in the adjoining 31st has now attended both of our meetings. So at least one Republican leader in our community actually seems to have an interest in leading," Lynch said.

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