Local Republicans Hear Senatorial Candidate John Spencer
By Stewart Mirsky
Special To The Wave
Speaking to a packed house at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club on the evening of November 30, former two-term Yonkers mayor John Spencer made his case to Rockaway Republicans for the GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate.
Should he get the nomination, an uphill fight at this point, Spenser would face Democratic incumbent Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in November 2006. Most pundits agree that Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro currently has the inside track to win the GOP nomination, but Spencer made his pitch on the basis of his background as a successful two-term mayor in a major New York State municipality who successfully cleaned up and developed the old, deteriorated Yonkers waterfront during his tenure.
In response to a question from Rockawayite Joe Hartigan, Spencer acknowledged that Rockaway, as a waterfront community, faces many of the same challenges he had to deal with in Yonkers.
Noting his background as a Vietnam veteran and former firefighter, Spenser stressed his support for the Bush administration’s policies in combating the terrorist threat to this nation and emphasized the differences between his views and those of Senator Clinton on a host of policy questions, including support for court nominees who believe in judicial restraint, saving social security, which currently faces unprecedented financial stress in 2017, supporting policies conducive to economic growth, particularly in the upstate region where local economies continue to languish, and ending illegal immigration. Noting his record of accomplishment in Yonkers, Spencer reminded his audience that he had “pulled Yonkers out from under a state Financial Control Board and ended the federal oversight of a billion dollar desegregation case” there through effective and energetic policies. During his two terms he noted that he had lowered taxes while cutting spending and spurring economic growth. As New York’s new junior United States Senator, said Spencer, he would bring the same skills that served him as mayor in Yonkers to the national table.
He told listeners he would be a better nominee for Republicans than. Pirro, who he nevertheless praised for her work as Attorney General in Westchester County. But, he suggested, his positions more clearly reflect New Yorkers’ needs while offering a clearer choice when compared to those of the present incumbent.
He saved his strongest barbs for Senator Clinton who, he pointed out, is not as interested in the well-being of New York as in the upcoming presidential sweepstakes in 2008. “I care about this state and have traveled widely both upstate and downstate,” he said. “I have the kind of basic experience that’s needed to work with, and represent, our residents and local jurisdictions at the national level. I know what we need and how to negotiate with the feds to get it.”
George Greco, Chairman of the Rockaway Republicans, spoke glowingly of the prospective senatorial candidate, particularly because of his strong support for the second amendment, which secures the right to keep and bear arms. Overall, Spencer seemed to strike a chord with Rockaway’s local Republicans as many clustered around him after his comments, some spontaneously handing him campaign contributions. Spencer, himself, seemed visibly energized by the enthusiasm.
Other GOP officials in attendance included Ed O’Hare, Republican State Committeeman for the 23rd AD, and Phil Sica, President of the Queens Village Republican Club, the oldest Republican club in the city and, possibly, the nation. Sica recently ran against Helen Marshall for Queens Boro President. Also in attendance were Vince Tabone, Frank Kenna and Eric Ulrich, all officers in the Queens County Executive Committee.
Said Tom Lynch, Rockaway Republicans President: “We’ve never been so honored, to have so many local Republican officials showing up at one of our routine monthly meetings.