NY Sun

Weekend Edition, November 22-24, 2002


Young Turks Seeking Harder Line in N.Y.C.


Staff Reporter of the Sun

There are two contradictory theories about why Republican candidates for
local office keep getting shellacked in Manhattan: they're too right wing -
or not right wing enough.

After their humiliation at the polls this November, when Republican
candidates for the state legislature lost even in their Upper East Side
stronghold, the latter theory is gaining strength.

The move to bring local Republicans back to their ideological roots is led
by Jay Golub, an intent 34-year old dentist who ran for City Council on the
Lower East Side in 2001, and Robert Hornak, president of one faction of New
York's Young Republicans.

They say they plan to run a slate of council candidates this year on issues
like opposing taxes and rent control, a more Republican platform than the
city has seen in years.

"We should be proud to be Republicans," said Dr. Golub, who plans to run
again next year. "It's the issues where we disagree with Democrats that need
to be the focus of our campaigns."

The attempt to change the party's course is a local mirror image of the
national Democrats' travails. Even as House Democrats picked San Francisco
liberal Nancy Pelosi to lead them, some New York Republicans are looking to
move right, away from a liberal tradition long led by Senator Roy Goodman,
now out of office.

"This is an appeal to our party base," Dr. Golub said.

Dr. Golub met yesterday with the chairman of the Manhattan County Republican
Party, John Ravitz, to present a five-point platform for Republican
candidates who will run for the 10 council seats in Manhattan next year.

The points include support for a strong police force and reform in education
and government. They are also pushing to cut taxes and spending,
"fundamentally chang[ing] how the government views the taxpayers," and
guaranteeing that new buildings go up without rent regulation. Mr. Golub
says he wants to end rent control altogether.

The duo's platform has some in the Republican establishment raising their
eyebrows. Rent control, for example, has been held sacred by East Side
Republicans; sometimes they have even attacked Democrats for being soft on

"If they want to commit total suicide, that's a very convenient way to
accomplish it," said Roy Goodman, a former State Senator and the elder
statesman of moderate, East Side Republicanism, of the opposition to rent

The Party's current chairman was more diplomatic.

He's put together some ideas for the future that I think are very good, that
I think can be implemented," Mr. Ravitz said of Dr. Golub. "But if they want
to run somebody on the East Side who's pro-life, anti-tenant, anti-gun
control, they can run somebody, but they'll get 10% of the vote.

Mr. Ravitz, whose bookshelf at the venerable Metropolitan Republican Club
recently held a book called "Executive Job-Changing," did not run for
reelection to the State Assembly this year.

His resignation, and the failure of the Republicans to keep his seat, means
there are no Republicans in local office in Manhattan for the first time
since the Civil War. That's despite the party's dominating mayoral and
gubernatorial elections for a decade.

While Mr. Ravitz says he's "not concerned about a coup," Mr. Hornak and Dr.
Golub have written something that looks a lot like a manifesto, and Mr.
Hornak has long been at odds with the county party, which at one point
accused him of stealing the name of their Young Republican club.

Their manifesto, titled "the Urban Republican Platform," promises to "sweep
away" the Democrats' attempts to stereotype Republicans as anti-gay and

Mr. Hornak and Dr. Golub point to the fact that New Yorkers are used to
voting for Republican mayors and a Republican governor, anf they hope to win
Mayor Bloomberg's support.

But Mr. Bloomberg - until recently a liberal Democrat - is no Republican
ideologue. He takes his political advice from a Democrat, William
Cunningham, and a Republican, Vincent La Padula.

"There's no Democratic or Republican way to pick up the trash," said one
mayoral advisor. "But the fact that this guy is bringing up these issues is
good for the party."

A Manhattan Republican strategist, Joseph Mercurio, was more blunt.

"The notion that we lost because we were too Democratic is crap," he said.
"The reason the governor did better in New York is that he out-Democrated
the Democrats."

Dr. Golub and Mr. Hornak, however, plan to put their theory to the test.
They hope to announce their slate of council candidates in January, and to
hit the streets soon thereafter.

"The goal is to create a real opposition party in the city," Dr. Golub said.