A couple of weeks ago, there was a major shake up in the Queens County Republican Party. Former congressman Bob Turner, who has served as party chairman since 2005, was voted out at the party’s re-organization meeting, replaced with district leader JoAnn Ariola.
It’s not unusual for a chairman to be replaced, but Turner was supposed to serve as a unifying figure for the fractured party, which has been plagued by infighting going back decades. The split has resulted in the party losing a number of state and city legislative seats in the borough.
The only prominent elected official from the GOP in Queens is Councilman Eric Ulrich. And there’s many in the party who see his handiwork behind Turner’s ouster. Once strong, the relationship between Turner and Ulrich soured over the years, and some insiders see Ariola’s ascension to chair as a move by Ulrich to take greater control over the party.
At least those are the hints behind the scenes, or in the case of one candidate for City Council in Brooklyn, the outright accusation.
Following news of the Queens County GOP vote, Bob Capano, who lost a four-way Republican Primary in September for the chance to represent the GOP on the ballot to replace outgoing councilman Vincent Gentile in Brooklyn’s 43rd District, issued a statement denouncing Ulrich.
Noting that he was Ulrich’s professor in the early 2000’s while the councilman was a student at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, Capano had this to say:
“If Eric Ulrich thinks putting his hand-picked puppet in as chair of the Queens GOP helps his 2021 mayoral ambitions, he is sorely mistaken. Queens residents know what an honorable public servant Bob Turner is, and for Eric Ulrich to initiate this coup just to centralize his own power is disgusting. Bob Turner was unifying the Queens GOP and bringing consensus to the party. It is very sad that Eric cares more about his own power than respecting the public service of a true gentleman in Bob Turner and the cohesion of the Queens Republican Party.”
You get an “F” Eric! All kidding aside, it’s a pretty strong denouncement from Capano, considering party politics is pretty much all about relationships, backroom deals and petty power grabs anyway, whether we like it or not.
But just so you know, even though Republican voters in the primary rejected Capano, he’ll still be on the ballot this November as the Reform Party candidate. Party affiliations and allegiances only run so deep when there’s an election on the line.