Rockaway Republicans Hold First Meeting Braving an unseasonal ice storm last Tuesday night, local Republicans, interested Democrats and independents turned out at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club for the first official meeting of the new Rockaway Republican Club, successor to the recently closed Gateway Republicans Club. Speaking before a standing-room-only crowd, founding member Thomas Lynch, a local Belle Harborite, welcomed the hardy souls who had come from all ends of the peninsula, despite the sleet and driving snow, and offered them a little background on how and why he had decided to re-start a Republican organization in the Rockaways. Said Lynch: “I was a registered Democrat until September 11, but since then I’ve been appalled at the way Democratic leaders, both locally and nationally, have turned against President Bush, a man who did exactly the right thing in standing up for this country in the face of the vicious attacks of 9/11.” Lynch went on to note how disturbed he has become at the increasing level of rancor being leveled against President Bush and noted that he was particularly taken aback by City Councilman Joe Addabbo’s precipitous endorsement of early Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean. “It really shows where their heads are at,” said Lynch. But Lynch noted that John Kerry, the likely Democratic nominee at this point, hasn’t been much better. “He’s as harsh as Dean but he’s also more slippery, seemingly taking mutliple positions on every important issue. The only thing we know for sure,” added Lynch, “is that candidate John Kerry wants to be president in the worst way . . . and that he seems to harbor a genuine personal dislike for George W. Bush, the current White House occupant.” Stuart Mirsky, a local writer and some time Wave columnist, also spoke briefly, noting, “there’s a need in this town to restore a two-party system. The way things are now,” he said, “we have about as much choice in our local elections as they did in the now dead Soviet Union. There’s a reason people sometimes call our city the People’s Republic of New York. Our job, tonight,” he added, “is to start to change that, to build a credible alternative to the existing one-party system now operated by the local Democratic machine.” A number of other participants spoke, including Ken Huhn, former leader of the old Gateway Club. Huhn noted a need to “put up real candidates if we’re serious about competing with the Democrats, not just to cross-endorse Democrats because we can’t find our own slate of good people to run.” Belle Harborite Marc Gersh urged the new group to focus on linking up with the national re-election campaign of President Bush “because, as things look now, they’re going to need us . . . and this is a wonderful opportunity to do something substantial around which our new organization can really come together.” Jerry Cronin of Seaside urged the membership to begin linking up with other Republican groups elsewhere in Queens, as one way of breaking out of the political cul de sac that had many in the group concerned. “We have to do this if we want to ensure that Rockaway’s Republicans find their way back onto the map,” he noted. The meeting lasted from 8:00 PM until after 10 and only broke up as weather conditions continued to worsen. Lynch, who has become a spokesperson for the newly-formed Republican Club, told The Wave that the next meeting was tentatively set for Tuesday, April 13th, once again at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club at 8 p.m.