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September 27, 2004

YR Newsletter: Sept. 27, 2004

1. Presidential Debate Watching Party - September 30, 2004

On Thursday, September 30 the NY Young Republican Club will join with Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century and the Young Democrats to watch the first debate between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry.

This debate, the first of three, will be broadcast from the University of Miami and will concentrate on Foreign Policy.

San Marcos Bar and Restaurant
12 St. Marks Place (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)
Giant TV screens and great Mexican Food!

$5 for non-Members - Free for Members
Party starts at 8pm, debate begins at 9pm.

Please RSVP to [email protected] to avoid long sign-in lines.

2. NYYRC General Meeting - October 14, 2004

Time: 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Place: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmens Club
283 Lexington Ave (bet 36th & 37th St), 2nd Floor
Admission: Members - FREE, Non Members - $5, F/T Students - $2.

Please join us for drinks after every meeting in the backroom at Saga, on Lex and 39th.

Tentative Schedule of Upcoming Speakers:
November 11, 2004 - TBA
December 9, 2004 - TBA

Other Republican Events of note

1. Latino Republican Club Fundraiser

Help Support Your Latino Republican Candidates!

The Latino Republican Club is hosting a fundraising reception for three exceptional candidates this year, and we need your help. Please join us for a wine & cheese reception honoring:

Paul Rodriguez for U.S. Congress
Al Curtis for New York State Senate
Max Rodriguez for New York State Assembly

DATE: Monday, September 27, 2004
TIME: 6 P.M. to 8 P.M.
PLACE: Women's National Republican Club, 3 West 51st St. (Between 5th & 6th Ave.)

Tickets are $25 to cover the WINE & CHEESE. Please call Lillian Ortiz at 212-901-7311 for tickets. You may also pay at the door. Cash or personal check only.


Come and support our candidates. Bring your friends. We look forward to seeing you. Come and party with us.

2. Presidential Party for the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign committee

Wednesday, October 6; 9pm
27 East 28th St
(212) 213-2424
This event is free. For more information, please contact Nasir Muhammad ,

3. Vice-Presidential Debate Watch

The Hunter College Student Government is pleased to announce it will be holding a a watch party for the Vice-Presidential Debate on Tuesday at the Kaye Playhouse, which seats 625 people. The debate will be projected on a large screen. Please RSVP by emailing [email protected] Their is an open microphone at 8 pm, just take the 6 train to 68th street.

More Fun Stuff From the Republican Convention

Our own Karol Sheinin was an official blogger for the convention. Here is some of her coverage:

Pics from the convention

More pics:

Interview with Arlen Specter:

Rick Santorum interview:

Air America is so classy:


1. The Official Handbook of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

We have a NY Times best-selling author in our midst. Mark Smith's new book, The Official Handbook of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, is officially a Times best seller as well as a best seller on Amazon. I know that all the erudite, pompous, pseudo-intellectual, Times-touting lefties are biting hard into their bagels as they read this in their beloved paper on Sunday.

According to Ann Coulter, "Mark Smith is one of the fastest rising legal stars in the country." You can purchase your copy now from Amazon.com

2. Buy your IHeartGWB T-Shirt

You've seen it in all the newspapers. Now get the T-Shirt from a NY Young Republican who loves George W. Bush. This is a very hip way to express your support for our commander-in-chief. Who says you can't irritate liberals and look good at the same time!! http://www.iheartgwb.com/

Posted by Ron Lewenberg at 03:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2004

Waiting for the Revolt

New York Sun Staff Editorial
September 17, 2004

New York's state government has operated so poorly for so long that the dedicated citizens who pay attention to what goes on at Albany tend to seize on the merest sign of hope. So it was with the results of Tuesday's primary elections, in which three - count 'em - three incumbent legislators lost the nomination of their own party, which effectively turns them out of office at the end of the year.

This was, indeed, higher than average. In the past 22 years, only 30 other lawmakers have failed to win re-election. Also, the outcomes of two Senate primaries in New York City - for the seat formerly occupied by Republican Guy Velella of the Bronx and the seat currently occupied by Republican Olga Mendez of Spanish Harlem - have convinced minority Democrats that they will gain two seats on the majority Republicans in November.

Another eight lawmakers chose not to run again this fall, and two - Velella and Assemblyman Roger Green of Brooklyn - gave up their seats upon being convicted of crimes. Even if Green wins his office back, as seems likely, there are likely to be at least 14 new faces among the 212 solons who muster at the state Capitol in January. It is tempting to see this turnover as a repudiation of the Legislature's recent performance, which was even more execrable than usual.

The Assembly and Senate, after all, failed to approve a budget until August 11, more than four months into the new fiscal year, adding a week to the record for the latest spending plan in history. They dithered their way past a court-imposed deadline to overhaul the financing of public schools. They failed to compromise on many of their self-imposed priorities, such as rethinking the long prison sentences imposed on drug criminals. New York University's Brennan Center for Justice chose 2004 as the year to publish its study identifying Albany as the most dysfunctional state government in the union.

We wish we could look upon the defeats handed to incumbents on Tuesday as slaps to the faces of the Albany leadership. However, we see scant evidence for such a reading. To begin with,51 members of the Legislature, or almost a quarter, will, come November, face no opponent from a major party. Most of those with opposition represent such safe seats that party primaries were the best chance to dislodge them. Only 30 of the 202 incumbents seeking re-election faced a major party primary, and 27 won.

Further examination of the three upsets reminds us of Tip O'Neill's celebrated harrumph about all politics being local. Assemblyman Robert Straniere of Staten Island, one of New York City's lonely Republican representatives at Albany, lost to a challenger, Vincent Ignizio, who was endorsed by the borough's GOP leadership. As members of a 47-member minority in a 150-seat house, neither Mr. Straniere nor Mr. Ignizio, unfortunately, can be expected to have much impact.

In Flushing, businessman Jimmy Meng defeated Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik, a freshman Democrat. Mr. Meng, who is likely to become the first Asian-American member of the Legislature, based his victory on an ethnic appeal that we do not find particularly edifying - and certainly has nothing to do with shaking up the Capitol.

The clearest sign of discontent with the Albany status quo came in Nassau County, where a Glen Cove city councilman, Charles Lavine, ousted Assemblyman David Sidikman. Mr. Lavine won with the considerable help of the Democratic county executive, Thomas Suozzi, who founded a Fix Albany political action committee with the express purpose of unseating go-along-to-get-along legislators of both parties.

Mr. Suozzi, who is targeting Republican senators Carl Marcellino and Dean Skelos in the general election, is setting himself up as the leader of a tax revolt. The way Albany manages Medicaid and public education, he rightly points out, shifts much of the cost to local government and goes a long way to explaining why local taxes in New York are 72% above the national average.

Mr. Lavine, in Mr. Suozzi's telling, is Paul Revere awakening patriots to the problem of "taxation without representation," while complacent politicians such as Mr. Sidikman ally themselves with the king. He compares the outcome of Tuesday's primary to the colonists' victory at Lexington and Concord. While we think Mr. Suozzi's critique of Albany's spendthrift ways falls a bit short - he says nothing about cutting Medicaid or education funding, only limiting the local share - we wish him luck at Bunker Hill.

Posted by Ron Lewenberg at 05:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 09, 2004

The Republican Party's Diminishing Strength in New York

by Gerald Benjamin
June 7, 2004

As befits a conservative crowd, the Republican Party has not rushed into New York City. The party was founded on July 6, 1854. It will open its first national nominating convention in New York City on August 30, 2004 — just over a century and a half later.

The GOP says that it is finally coming to New York because we offered "the best package of goods and services." Almost certainly the proximity of the convention's dates to the third anniversary of the simultaneous terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, and the courageously aborted attack on Washington D.C., on September 11, 2001 has something to do with it.

The Republican Party does have a long history in New York. But what has the state done for the national GOP lately? Not much. To find the most recent Republican presidential victory in New York State you have to go back 20 years, to the Reagan-Mondale race of 1984. For a victory in the city, you have to go back even farther – to the 1924 election when city voters supported Calvin Coolidge.

The pattern is the same for Congress: declining Republican strength in New York. At the turn of the 20th century, both United States senators from New York were Republicans; at the turn of the 21st century, both were Democrats. In 1904, 20 of 37 New York members of the House of Representatives were Republican; in 2004, 19 of 29 New York Congress members were Democrats. Of the 13 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from the city, only one - Vito Fossella of Staten Island – is a Republican.

Governor George Pataki is a Republican. So are New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a majority of the New York State Senate. But the governor gained office in 1994 not as a result of Republican strength, but as the beneficiary of an enormous electoral backlash against the three-term incumbent Democrat, Mario Cuomo. Pataki has held on for two additional terms through full use of the powers of incumbency, something that almost all modern New York governors have been able to use to their advantage. The State Senate remains Republican in the face of a rising Democratic tide through artful gerrymandering. The Assembly is solidly Democratic.

The mayor is a Republican by convenience; the GOP was simply a vehicle for his seeking and gaining office. Bloomberg's unsuccessful effort to make nominations for citywide office nonpartisan (see related article, "The Short-Lived GOP Revival" by Fred Siegel and Harry Siegel) was just one of many clear indications of his discomfort with the party label and his desire to free himself of its constraints.

The old metaphor used to describe the geography of New York politics was "the upstate-downstate split." Democrats dominated in New York City; Republicans ruled (with a few exceptions) to the east, north and west. But today many rural and suburban districts in the state elect Democrats to represent them in Congress. Suburban counties like Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester have Democratic county executives. Democrats have been gaining enrollment pluralities or virtual parity in many upstate counties. Statewide, the last year in which New York Republican's voter enrollment exceeded that for the state's Democrats was 1956. In March of this year, there were over 2 million more enrolled Democrats than Republicans in New York State.

And New York is not just a Democratic state, but a liberal Democratic state. In a recent Quinnipiac University poll, New York voters were more supportive of affirmative action, more strongly against the death penalty and more pro-choice than voters surveyed in a national sample.

Ever since the mid-1960s, the national parties have become increasing divided along ideological lines, with Republicans more conservative and Democrats more liberal. At the same time, the center of political gravity in the nation has moved, with the population, to the south and west.

This has put New York Republicans at a disadvantage. The state's Republican leaders rose to national prominence when the kinds of moderate, pragmatic politics and policies that succeeded for them in New York were those that Republicans thought were necessary to win nationally. But the ideological polarization of the major parties made these appeals less attractive to the more conservative national GOP, while at the same time making the GOP less attractive to New Yorkers.

The failed national career of Nelson Rockefeller tracks the decline of New York Republicanism as a national force. In 1960, the newly elected New York governor threatened to take the presidential nomination by storm. Vice President Richard Nixon met with Rockefeller at the governor's Fifth Avenue apartment. The two negotiated the famous "compact of Fifth Avenue". In return for Rockefeller removing himself from contention, Nixon agreed to various things Rockefeller wanted in the Republican platform, including, a stronger position in favor of civil rights. Conservatives responded with outrage.

In 1964, Rockefeller was the center of a jeering confrontation at the national convention as he condemned "extremists [who] feed on fear, hate and terror, [and have] no program for America and the Republican Party." The party that year turned decisively rightward and nominated Barry Goldwater for president. In 1976 Gerald Ford, under conservative pressure, removed Rockefeller (appointed, not elected, to the post) from his ticket. No New York Republican has been a serious contender for the national ticket since.

At the same time, the painful truth is that slow-growing New York has become increasingly less important in national electoral politics. When Dwight Eisenhower was nominated in 1952, the state had 45 electoral votes; this year it will cast just 31. Republican presidential aspirants may need the campaign money they raise here, but they have shown that they can win the presidency without New York's electoral votes. And the kind of appeals that could win a national Republican candidate the votes of a majority of skeptical New Yorkers might very well lose them GOP votes elsewhere in the country.

In short, over the last 30 years, national Republicans have learned to win without New York. If they forgot that lesson - and focused on winning the state - the positions might well cost them the votes of the increasingly conservative party faithful elsewhere in the country.

Gerald Benjamin, a political scientist, is dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at SUNY New Paltz and a former Republican elected official.

Posted by Ron Lewenberg at 07:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 01, 2004

Left at the gate - Spirited young GOPers ignored by party elders

Some of the most interesting and energetic Republicans in New York won't be in Madison Square Garden this week. They're young party outsiders who have been running spirited campaigns in politically hostile districts for the last few years, only to be thwarted at every turn - primarily by leaders of their own party.

The dispute appears to be based on ideology. The young, self-styled urban Republicans call themselves conservative in the tradition of Ronald Reagan: devoted to low taxes, less government, school vouchers and a no-nonsense approach to crime and national security.

The chieftains of the New York GOP often give lip service to the same positions but have either stood in the way of the young activists or denied them crucial help when it counted.

Party leaders seem to think success in New York depends on presenting Republicans as genteel, inoffensively moderate and even liberal at times, a formula that worked for decades, particularly on Manhattan's East Side, but recently led to a string of electoral losses.

You don't have to share the ideology of the GOP mavericks to feel empathy for them. Nobody should be happy about the way machine politics chases young, creative people out of public service at a time when city and state government are starved for talent.

Michael Benjamin, for instance, a 34-year-old investment banker who has raised money for Gov. Pataki and other Republicans, spent 14 months on a lonely trek through all 62 counties in the state, meeting local GOP leaders to line up support to challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Although Benjamin initially met with success - he claims to have raised nearly $1 million from 25,000 contributors - the effort ended when state chairman Sandy Treadwell selected a different candidate, Assemblyman Howard Mills, and abruptly ordered county chairmen to dump Benjamin. They did, and he dropped out.

"We built support among local Republicans, but every time we made any progress, we were undermined by state party leaders," says Benjamin. "They give no consideration to anybody but their handpicked candidates, and they did everything they could to stop me."

"We've been running candidates to re-brand the party, but without the party getting in the fight with us, it's a message that is doomed to failure," says Robert Hornak, the chairman of a New York Young Republican Club. In addition to recruiting and supporting candidates, the club sponsors lectures, parties, social events and debates against young Democrats.

Hornak, a political consultant, managed last year's City Council candidacies of Jennifer Arangio, Josh Yablon and Jay Golub, who challenged, respectively, Gifford Miller, Gale Brewer and Margarita Lopez. All lost, but they used the opportunity to challenge Democratic orthodoxy - without help or encouragement from the state GOP.

Hornak's reward for his GOP activism is a literal lockout by the party: He was unable to secure any kind of credentials for this week's convention and watched last night's proceedings with his club at an Irish bar in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The young turks say the closed-shop attitude of the state party is not only cruel but self-defeating. "Party registration in this state is rolling against us. We've got no advantage. We've got to start fighting in New York City," Hornak says. "Why should any Republican stay a Republican if the party doesn't reach out and doesn't stand for something?"

Tonight, the Democratic National Committee is holding a Masquerade Ball to lampoon the way its Republican counterparts are presenting a moderate face to voters this week. The Dems shouldn't be surprised if the shunned urban mavericks, unable to attend their own party function, show up at the ball, looking for a new home.

Originally published on August 31, 2004

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