2004-06-04 / Community

Local Republican Group Meets With Conservatives

Local Republican Group Meets With Conservatives

A number of Rockaway residents, including local Republican Club President Tom Lynch, Met with officials of the Queens Conservative Party recently to forge an understanding between the two groups.

Lynch, who resides in Belle Harbor, joined fellow Republicans Pete Stubben, Gerard Cronin and Wave columnist Stu Mirsky at the Conservative Party endorsement committee meeting in Forest Park.

The Conservative Party, led by Breezy Point’s Tom Long, met in the American Legion Hall on Metropolitan Avenue to assess a number of prospective candidates who were seeking their endorsement. The Conservatives stress a return to old-fashioned social values like self-reliance, respect for traditional institutions like marriage, protection of the rights of the unborn and fiscal responsibility. They were looking for candidates who shared these views and could reasonably be expected to stand up for them.

Among the candidates who spoke was Rockaway resident Gerard Cronin who surprised many of those at the meeting by declaring his intention to unseat local Congressman Anthony Weiner in the next election. 

Cronin noted his experience as a history teacher (he has a masters degree in the subject) and his moonlighting as a bartender in Rockaway to make ends meet in his student days and afterwards. As a former bartender, Cronin indicated that he was uniquely situated to listen to his constituents because, he quipped, "Who listens to people better than a bartender?" Cronin promised to make attention to the needs and concerns of his constituents a cornerstone of his candidacy and to focus on restoring the values conservative Americans support while contributing to the restoration of democracy by helping to turn out incumbents, many of whom seem to believe electoral office is an entitlement. Cronin took Weiner to task for being more focused on his own political career than on constituent concerns.

Also prominent among the candidates seeking the Conservative line was State Senator and Queens County Republican leader Serph Maltese from Ridgewood. Mr. Maltese gave a short history of his political life, first in the Conservative party and then as a Republican, and described his activities over the years as a State Senator representing a large part of Queens. Democratic State Assemblyman Anthony Seminario and Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith, among others, also made presentations and impressed the nominations committee who seemed inclined towards them.

After the candidate presentations, Tom Lynch spoke briefly, both with State Senator Maltese, the Queens County Republican leader, and with Conservative leader Tom Long concerning issues of common interest. Lynch stressed the growth and energy of the new Rockaway Republicans and noted that one of its own, Gerard Cronin, was already making political waves. Lynch particularly asked Senator Maltese to reach out, on Rockaway’s behalf, to other local Republican district leaders to help Lynch build alliances with them through the coordination of efforts and development and pursuit of common agendas.

Afterwards, Lynch commented that he thought the meeting had been useful and noted that the Rockaway Republicans, through their new alliance with the national Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC), a group dedicated to emphasizing the libertarian strain in Republican party thinking, had already begun to have an influence. Through the RLC, the Rockaway Republicans have now met with the two Republican candidates for this year’s U.S. Senate nomination, Michael Benjamin of Brooklyn and State Assemblyman Howard Mills of Orange County and were impressed by both.

"We’re seeking to bring the different factions of the party together," Lynch stressed, "in order to build a winning ticket going into the fall elections. The Democratic senatorial incumbent is pretty well entrenched and very well funded. The Republicans’ best chance to unseat him is to field a vigorous, articulate candidate, after the democratic process has worked itself out. Then we need to close ranks in support of the party’s choice since the two contenders are both so impressive." Lynch concluded by noting that, "with a strong Senatorial candidate and a strong nominee in the Congressional race, like Jerry Cronin, we could surprise a lot of people this year.

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