Remember the Old Richmond Hill Republican Club?
by Larry Penner
Aug 17, 2016 | 10579 views | 0 0 comments | 253 253 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ongoing discussions about how owners of the old Richmond Hill Republican Club on Myrtle Avenue will use this property reminds me of a time decades ago when the Queens Republican Party was alive and well.

Late Richmond Hill Republican Club leader Wilfred Dalton was a major force in politics. Any serious city, state or federal GOP candidate would stop by his clubhouse seeking support.

Former presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan all spoke there.

In 1976, former governor Nelson Rockefeller still controlled the New York State GOP. During the Republican Presidential Primary that same year, the GOP establishment rallied around President Ford.

Dalton endorsed former California governor Ronald Regan, successfully electing pro-Reagan delegates to the national GOP Convention. In 1980, the GOP establishment was split between George Bush and Bob Dole. Proving the second time is a charm, Dalton teamed up with others and again elected pro-Reagan delegates, pushing him to the nomination.

Up until the 1980's, Queens Republicans routinely qualified candidates for all congressional, State Senate, Assembly and City Council seats.

The old Richmond Hill GOP club was once part of a vital Queens County Republican organization, which would offer Democrats serious competition.

After the 1982 reapportionment, Democrats eliminated the districts of Queens GOP Assembly members Rosemary Gunning, John LoPresto, John Flack, Al DelliBovi and John Esposito.

GOP state senators Frank Padavan and Martin Knorr voted for this reapportionment plan as it continued to protect their own gerrymandered districts.

John Gallagher gave up what is now the 26th Assembly seat in 1972 to run unsuccessfully against Democratic congress member Lester Wolff. Doug Prescott briefly recaptured this seat in the 1990s, but eventually lost, leaving Queens with no GOP Assembly members.

Republican Stae Senator Serf Maltese lost in 2008, followed by Padavan's own downfall in 2010, leaving Queens with no GOP representation in Albany.

The last GOP congress member from Queens to serve multiple terms was Seymour Halperin. After the 1972 reapportionment, he declined to run against Wolff when both were merged into one Queens/Nassau district.

In 1982, GOP congress member John LeBoutellier briefly recaptured this seat for one term. In 2011, Bob Turner won the 9th Congressional District in a special election to replace Democrat Anthony Weiner.

As a result of his district being gerrymandered out of existence, he ran and lost in the 2012 Republican Primary for Senate rather than seek reelection in another district.

During the 1990s under Republican mayor Rudy Guiliani, the GOP elected Tom Olgibene, Mike Abel and Alfonse Stabile from Queens. Today, the last GOP public official from Queens is Councilman Eric Ulrich.

Once the GOP has lost a representative, they are never able to reclaim the district

Queens Republicans are on the way to political extinction, As of April 1, there are 675,661 Democrats, 115,703 Republican, 5,228 Conservative, 1,426 Green, 3,329 Working Family, 25,672 Independence registered votes in the county, as well as 205,758 voters that express no party affiliation.

How disappointing that voters will have to look elsewhere for alternatives to the Queens County Democratic Party monopoly.

Larry Penner is a resident of Great Neck.

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