Heading into September 13
by Anthony Stasi
Jul 13, 2011 | 2336 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Queens County Republican Party has settled on a candidate for the vacant 9th Congressional District seat. For about a week, it looked as though the Republicans would be mired in an in-house fight to pick a candidate for the special election to replace Anthony Weiner.

The Brooklyn GOP, Queens and Brooklyn’s Conservative Party, and the Libertarian Party all signed on to support return candidate Bob Turner, who picked up 41 percent in his previous run for the seat. For a while, the Queens Republican Party and its chairman, Phil Ragusa, were considering backing Juan Reyes, an active attorney from Forest Hills.

The story here is that the Republican Party did something strategically right. Unlike mistakes that have happened in upstate New York, the Queens GOP realized that, as The Rolling Stones used to say “…If you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

The party needed to look more like the organized Democratic Party which, among many eager would-be candidates, chose David Weprin. The Republicans could not afford to go into a race with the odds already stacked against them and not be unified. In this case, Ragusa did what a chairman does, he kept the party whole. He can hold off Reyes to fight another day.

The Democrats, under Congressman Joe Crowley, seem to settle these matters with a little more ease. This is a task that is a little more involved for the GOP. The Queens GOP has been mired in internal conflict for years, and they are a much smaller party with less money to spend.

Ragusa is also newer to his post, while Crowley has been captaining the Democrats much longer. Robert Hornak, speaking for the Queens GOP, explained that while the party was enthusiastic about Reyes, they were also very happy with Turner representing the party again.

Bob Turner has an uphill battle for the obvious reasons. The district is heavily Democratic, and he cannot run as the anti-Weiner candidate like he did last time. Capturing 41 percent in the 9th CD was big, however, and Turner now has all of the party support he can ask for – a unified GOP and the Conservatives.

Turner also has enough money to self-finance at least a good part of the race. This is a big deal because (with the district most likely being redrawn soon) the Democratic Party might be slower to put money into the race…stress “might be.”

Turner gives the Republicans something else that they often lack, a return candidate. Too often GOP candidates get so soured from the experience of running that they head for the hills – or start writing about politics. By giving Turner the nod, Ragusa is showing a change in direction for the party.

The Reyes family is a politically polished family. Juan Reyes is a well-educated attorney and just what the party needs, but he was not what they need right now – not in this race. Ragusa would be wise to wait until the 9th CD seat is split up, and see if Reyes fits into one of those districts.

Turner may win the September 13th special election, but regardless of that, the Republicans can look for an office for which Reyes can compete. It would be a mistake to waste Reyes on an assembly race; he needs to run for a congressional seat at some point. Reyes is the first sign of a GOP bullpen, something they have not had since…something they have not had – period.

What the Queens GOP should be most concerned with right now is firming up its support for City Council members Peter Koo and Dan Halloran. These were two big wins for the Republican Party, and Koo gives the party a foothold in the fast-growing Asian population.
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