2004-06-18 / Community

Cronin Kicks Off Congressional Campaign

Cronin Kicks Off Congressional Campaign

Speaking before the third official meeting of the newly formed Rockaway Republicans last Tuesday night at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club, local resident Jerry Cronin urged club members to support his recently announced bid to replace Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of Brooklyn.

A 17-year veteran teacher in the parochial school system who has taught at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, among other places, Cronin outlined his reasons for running. These, he told the crowd, include his opposition to Weiner’s anti-Bush rhetoric and his concern that the incumbent Congressman doesn’t adequately represent his constituents’ views.

Cronin, who previously ran for governor of New York State on the Right-to-Life line, noted that Weiner has voted in favor of allowing flag burning as a legitimate form of protest, has called the president of the United States a liar (echoing the partisan Democratic line), and has voted to oppose legislation restricting partial birth abortions. Said Cronin: "Even the American Medical Association has rejected the notion that partial birth abortions are ever medically necessary. Yet our current representative in Washington wants to allow a procedure that essentially induces labor to remove a viable fetus and then destroys it by puncturing the unborn baby’s skull while still in the birth canal, two inches away from its emergence into the light of day." The audience sat in stunned silence as Cronin, visibly shuddering himself, described this procedure.

Cronin went on to note that, unlike his opponent, he has not spent his time fundraising as a career campaigner. "I’m running a grassroots effort," he said. "I’m beholden to no one, since I don’t spend my days going around, hat in hand, soliciting funds. No one tells me what to do or what I should stand for. If elected to Washington, I’ll be a free agent, attuned to my constituents and their interests, not perpetually focused on advancing my own career."

Cronin, who has a masters degree in history, stressed his strong opposition to bi-lingual education and said he is looking forward to debating his opponent. He explained that he was moved to run when he read a recent column by New York Post writer Rich Lowry about the problem of incumbency. Said Lowry: "Eighty-one incumbents ran unopposed in 2002," with the expectation of an "even less competitive cycle this year. This means, representatives increasingly operate without the factor that tends to force them to be representative — the fear of defeat." Cronin said this article was one of the main factors prompting him to take up the political cudgel. "I want to do my best to restore democracy to our voting system," he said, "and that means competition. The gerrymandering of districts to protect incumbents has turned too many of our elections, on all levels, into foregone conclusions. This saps the incentives of our representatives to really pay attention to their constituents’ concerns."

Cronin invited his audience to join him in his grassroots effort and, afterwards, he met with local Republican leaders Tom Lynch and George Greco, and with Queens County Conservative leader Tom Long who joined the Rockaway Republicans at their third meeting. Said Lynch, spokesman and acting president for the Rockaway group, "We’re on the same page as Jerry Cronin and delighted that one of our own has decided to jump into the political fray. The default view among voters today is that incumbents can’t be beaten. We aim to change that and we’re starting with Jerry." George Greco, who also spoke at the meeting, called on the membership to "get it together and make a statement out here in Rockaway that people will hear all the way to Washington."

Keith Hunter of the Forest Park Republicans, a sister organization to the Rockaway Republicans, was also present, representing his membership, and Joe Kaspar, Republican district leader from the eastern part of the peninsula, put in an appearance as well. Afterwards, Lynch noted the next club meeting will be held in about a month and "may be moved to another part of the peninsula to enable us to reach other parts of the Rockaway community."

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