While they never enjoyed the same support as the borough’s Democratic Party, the Queens GOP was still able to get candidates elected in parts of the borough that were Republican strongholds.
And when the GOP controlled the State Senate, two Republican state senators were among the most powerful and influential elected officials in Queens.
But a longstanding fight over control of the party between two competing factions has left the party a shell of itself. Councilman Eric Ulrich is that last Republican elected official in the borough, and he will be forced from office due to term limits later this year.
Lately, it’s not always a given that the Republican Party will be able to field a competitive candidate when a seat opens up at any level of government.
It’s even more rare that the party can field two candidates in a given race to force a Republican Primary and perhaps energize their voters.
But this year, with the large number of City Council seats like Ulrich’s that will be vacant on January 1, a number of candidates from the red side of the aisle are interested in running for office.
Essentially, it was going to be the party’s preferred candidates against candidates backed by a Political Action Committee (PAC) called the Queens County Republican Patriots.
But thanks to a ruling by the Board of Elections (BOE), 31 GOP hopefuls aligned with the PAC who planned to mount a challenge in a June primary were kicked off the ballot due to a petitioning technicality.
The ballots reportedly listed election districts and volume numbers in spaces that should have been left blank. The BOE, which it should be noted is stacked with appointees loyal to the Democratic and Republican parties, ruled that the error made it confusing for voters.
The Patriots hurled accusations of voter suppression, while the leadership of the Queens County Republican Party said the petitions were disqualified in an open hearing, and the decision was based on election law, not dirty politics.
The PAC has filed a motion in Queens Supreme Court seeking to overturn the decision and validate the petitions to get the candidates back on the ballot.
But for now, registered Republican voters will have little options in the June primaries and will apparently have to wait until the General Election in November to cast a ballot.
It seems to us that the buzz surrounding a June primary is something the Republican Party would welcome, but we guess it also means that someone has to lose and that one candidate won’t get to just coast to November.