Local Republicans Host Gubernatorial Candidate
Bringing his bid for the State GOP nomination for Governor to the peninsula, upstate Assemblyman Pat Manning spoke to a full house of Rockaway Republicans at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club on Wednesday evening, January 12.
The 6’ 11” state legislator strode in, about a half hour late, and was immediately handed the floor by Rockaway Republicans Chairperson George Greco who had been keeping the podium warm for him. Lean and lanky as an NBA center, Manning, displayed a quietly confident demeanor as he spoke softly but firmly concerning an issue that seemed close to his heart: the need for conservative-led reform of the NY State GOP. While refusing to attack Governor George Pataki, the titular head of the state party, Manning was emphatic about the need to change the Republican modus operandi in New York State as he lamented the gradual surrender of GOP politicians to a culture of consultancy which has consistently moved Republicans to the left to win votes.
“When you do that,” Manning warned, “you lose your base. They just stay home, as we saw begin to happen in 1998 when former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato, a Republican, lost his bid for re-election to Democrat Chuck Schumer in a process that has unfortunately continued to this day. Those voting for candidates on the left will never vote for Republicans when they have Democrats available anyway,” Manning said, adding that when your base loses interest and chooses not to vote, your opponent’s base gets to decide the outcomes of critical races. In essence, Republicans tilting left are giving away the store, he told his listeners, noting that Howard Mills followed this same tack in 2004 when he handed incumbent Democrat Schumer an historic win. The New York GOP, Mannning said, should not be repeating the same mistakes again and again and again.
Taking credit for introducing and pushing the STAR program, which reduces real estate taxes for seniors, Manning lambasted the high spending, high taxing ways that currently dominate Albany and warned that people are fleeing our state because of this. He emphasized that there’s little difference between high spending/high taxing Democrats and high spending/high borrowing Republicans. Both kill the economy with their profligacy, he said.
Although the economy is in decent shape downstate, he noted, the story upstate is totally different where things are pretty dismal. As he spoke he fondled a handmade baseball bat he’d brought with him, a bat, he said, made especially for him by workers in the Adirondack Bat Company in Herkimer County, “a place where people still make things.”
Holding up the bat with real passion he said his motto would be “A man, a plan and a bat” and promised to bring that same passion to the gubernatorial race in November. Manning said he’s in the race for keeps if he gets the Conservative line, which he believes he has a very good shot at. But he’s shooting for the GOP line, too, and promises to take the battle straight to the Democratic frontrunner, Elliot Spitzer, no matter what happens.
He accused Spitzer of “making war on Wall Street,” via the power of intimidation inherent in his office of Attorney General, and of directing the funds extracted in this way from Wall Street firms to politically expedient purposes instead of to help reduce the state’s cost overruns and high debt load. He was particularly harsh on Spitzer’s failure to pursue the $18 billion of annual Medicaid fraud which, he said, even “two New York Times reporters” could find. While Spitzer is chasing financial firms out of New York by his overly aggressive “investigations” which extract big financial settlements from these businesses in lieu of going to trial, he’s not pursuing the real fraud that’s costing the state billions, he told his Rockaway audience. At the end of the day, noted Manning, “the big financial firms will migrate across the Hudson to a friendlier business environment, and then watch your taxes skyrocket,” he said.
The Rockawayites and others in the audience took to Manning right away and the Rockaway Republicans handed him a campaign contribution from their members. The Rockaway Republicans plan to reach out to other GOP gubernatorial contenders and offer them the same chance to make their case on the peninsula that they’ve made available to Manning and, afterwards, will decide on the appropriateness of voting an early endorsement for one of them.
Also in attendance at last night’s meeting were Ed O’Hare and Terry Ariola, President and Vice President respectively of the South Queens Republican Club (and male and female district leaders of the 23rd AD); Eric Ulrich, President of the Ozone Park Republican club; Phil Sica, President of the Queens Village Republican Club; Tony Herbert, Vice Chair for Communications of the National Black Republicans Association; Robert Hornak, Chairman of both the New York Young Republicans Club and the Urban-Republican Coalition; and Breezy Point resident Tom Long, Queens County Leader of the New York Conservative Party. The President of the Bayswater Civic Association, Ed Raskin, a local real estate attorney, was also present. The Rockaway Republicans finished the meeting by voting to accept their recently proposed by-laws, one more step in the club’s formalization which is expected to culminate in issuance of a State GOP charter in March, the second anniversary of the group’s founding.