Last Minute Republican Attack Ads Knocked
The conventional wisdom was that, at least in Queens, the Democratic primaries were always the most contentious, with politicians knocking each other all over the ring. When there was a Republican primary, it was usually more sedate and issue-oriented, a matter of form rather than substance.
This year, however, the tables have been turned.
The Democratic primary in the eastern end of the peninsula has been rather sedate, especially when one of the candidates, incumbent senator Shirley Huntley, is under indictment in connection with a sham non-profit.
The Republican Senate primary, however, has become a free-for-all, with one of the candidates, Juan Reyes, throwing all sorts of garbage at his opponent, City Councilman Eric Ulrich.
Earlier this week, with the primary yesterday and with little time to respond, Reyes hit the district with ads implying both that Ulrich is gay-friendly and that he has consorted with criminals, including some on his campaign staff. In the doing, Reyes outted an Ulrich staffer who is gay but has not announced it to the world.
In an attempt to smear Ulrich, the Reyes campaign put out a flyer that said, “Earth’s Greatest Super Villains Endorse Eric Ulrich for State Senator,” providing quotes from such fictional characters as Lex Luther, Cruella DeVill and Lord Voldemort. Along with them is a photo of unpaid Ulrich volunteer John Haggerty, who was convicted of stealing money from Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his last campaign. John is the brother of Bart Haggerty, who was Ulrich’s chief of staff.
Said one Ulrich staffer, “Presumably this is intended to be funny, but the only joke here is Juan’s candidacy.”
Another Reyes mailing implied that Ulrich was “gay-friendly,” knocking Ulrich for having dinner with an “openly gay Democratic Councilman and his husband.” The flyer did not stop there, stating that Ulrich “hired an openly gay chief of staff for his office as well as one other gay staffer.”
Ulrich, who is being backed by the state organization, called the mailings “disgraceful.”
Reyes’ spokesperson told the Daily News that the flyers were not gay-bashing, but were intended to show that he flip-flops on issues.
“[He] was elected as a conservative Republican and them he moved immediately to the left, Gerry O’Brien, a Reyes campaign consultant, told Daily News reporter Lisa Colangelo. He cozied up to Council Speaker Christine Quinn. He voted for the gay marriage resolution.”
In fact, Ulrich staffers say, he voted only for a resolution that would allow county clerks to advise gay couples seeking marriage licenses as to which states they could go to where they could get married.
Records show there was never a gay marriage resolution put before the City Council. The gay marriage law was enacted by the State Legislature, not the city.