Or rather, perhaps we should say officially “heat up” for this election season, because the jockeying has been going on now for several years.
A source told us this week that the Queens County leadership-backed candidate for district leader in the 28th Assembly District is in real danger of being bounced from the ballot for, what else, issues with petition signatures. That would leave Bart Haggerty - who along with his brother John has long been trying to wrest control of the party from chairman Phil Ragusa and his supporters - running unopposed.
In fact, our source also told us that the county leadership-backed candidate in the 30th Assembly District is also experiencing petition troubles, and might have to fight to stay on the ballot as well.
Why is this important, you might be asking yourself? Good question. (We're not even sure if we know!)
It's important because the district leaders are the folks who will elect a new chairman - a vote that will happen later this year. If Haggerty is elected the new district leader, not only is it one less vote for Ragusa, but it also calls into question the influence of the county leadership when they can't even stop their biggest critic from becoming district leader.
And they know this, too.
About one month ago, we received a flyer in the mail from a group calling itself the Queens County Victory Fund, which we have been told is a group working on behalf of the current leadership of the Queens County Republican Party.
It urged voters in the 28th AD to refuse to sign any petition to get Bart Haggerty on the ballot. That's a pretty bold step over a district leadership position, which most voters probably don't know even exists or what responsibilities come with such a lofty title.
In fact, we haven't seen this much public wrangling over a district leader position since the contentious elections last year in Brooklyn.
Back to the mailing. On the reverse side, there are details about John Haggerty's – Bart's brother - indictment for allegedly stealing $1.1 million from Mayor Michael Bloomberg by creating a shady poll-watching operation.
He is accused of using the money to buy a house in a tony section of Forest Hills. The mailer further alleges that some of the money - $102,000 to be exact - was funneled to Bart.
But if the party can't even get a candidate on the ballot to oppose Bart Haggerty, no number of negative mailers are going to stop him from being elected. This should be an exciting rest of the year for the Queens County Republican Party.