Republicans Split The Difference In Party Election
Preliminary results are in on the recent Republican races in Rockaway and it looks like they’re a mixed bag, according to a spokesperson for the Rockaway Republican Club.
After a hard fought campaign (exceptional for Republicans in this part of the world, according to one local politicians), the newly formed Rockaway Republicans appear to have won 27 of the 31 Queens County Committee seats they contested, including three in the Bayswater area of Far Rockaway.
All 27 winners are Rockaway residents. Previously, only five county committee persons from Rockaway actually lived on the peninsula and the Rockaway Republicans had made the lack of locals representing registered Republicans out here a campaign issue.
Tom Lynch, President of the Rockaway Republicans, said he was generally pleased with the results but admits his delight was tempered by the losses sustained by the two insurgent candidates for district leadership,
Eric Ulrich and Rosemary Duffy, both of Ozone Park. Lynch’s group had supported the insurgents against incumbent district leaders Terry Ariola of Howard Beach and Ed O’Hare of Broad Channel, both of whom have held their positions for the past decade and will now hold them for at least another two years.
Although the challengers, Ulrich and Duffy, carried Rockaway as they had hoped, they did not do it in sufficient numbers to offset the strong support the incumbents found in their home districts, largely reflecting a very light turnout of registered Republicans on the peninsula and a heavy get-out-the vote effort in Howard Beach and Broad Channel.
Lynch says he was personally disappointed by the Rockaway turnout. “We were okay on the west end,” he notes, “but hardly anyone voted in the primary in the Far Rockaway area, a big, big disappointment to us, especially after all the efforts we’d made to reach out to registered Republicans there. Lynch added that even on the west end, the incumbent leaders managed to run competitively “despite years of ignoring Rockaway’s interests.”
“It certainly wasn’t a landslide in favor of Rockaway candidates and interests out here,” Lynch explained, “even though we’d worked hard to get the message out about the need for change. Either the incumbents had a bigger impact than expected with their last minute advertising blitz, something we just couldn’t afford to match, or they had more local support here than we gave them credit for.”
When asked what comes next, Lynch indicated that the Rockaway Republicans now have 27 of their members with votes on County Committee “which at least gives us a seat at the table. I don’t see how they can continue to deny our club an official charter when we have voting members in the official GOP organization.” Still, Lynch acknowledged that the Rockaway Republicans remain a minority, even in Rockaway itself, since the re-elected leaders also won the majority of county committee seats by default (no one contested their candidates for most of the positions) and they retain the power to appoint outsiders to hold seats that are still vacant or which become vacant.
“I guess many registered Republicans in Rockaway just didn’t care as much as we did about the need to reassert Rockaway’s control over Rockaway positions,” adds Lynch. “Still, we’re prepared to move forward from here. Terry Ariola and Ed O’Hare won the leadership race and that’s what democracy’s all about. Will the Republicans be fielding candidates in the foreseeable future? “That’s our aim,” said Lynch. “There are assembly and state senate races coming up next year and Anthony Weiner’s got to run for re-election again, too.
Down the road two City Council seats will also be open when this year’s unchallenged, sitting incumbents step down because of term limits. At least incumbent Councilman James Sanders, on the eastern end of the peninsula, had an internal challenge this year. On the west end, Councilman Joe Addabbo doesn’t even have that. If democracy’s going to work, you need at least two parties nominating and running candidates. We want to work with Ariola and O’Hare to make that happen.”