In these days of blue waves, Republicans in New York must look back fondly to 1997, when they had a Republican governor and attorney general, 12 Congressional seats and one U.S. Senator, control of the State Senate with several strong incumbents even in New York City, and a mayor of New York cruising to re-election and quickly becoming a national figure.
Last year’s elections saw the GOP lose multiple State Senate seats and control of that body, putting state government entirely in Democratic hands. Republicans also lost some ground in the House. And next year, Donald Trump will be at the top of the ticket as GOP candidates try to regain some territory. The only reason not to call the current moment a nadir is because it actually could get worse.
Republican New York City Councilmember Joe Borelli, who represents the South Shore of Staten Island, tells the Max & Murphy Show that there is a path for Republicans to be relevant again, but it won’t be easy. It starts with winning back four State Senate seats next year and trying to rebuild a party infrastructure through local races upstate. A mayoral win in 2021 seems unlikely, he says, because of the amount of money and media attention that the crowded Democratic primary will likely generate. Borelli is candid that his current campaign in the 2019 public advocate race is a long shot.
Hear our conversation below, including Borelli’s analysis of Democratic power—that it is entirely based on identity politics—and his explanation for his full of President Trump:
One thought on “Republicans Have Hit Rock Bottom in NYC. Time to Rebuild, or Start Drilling?”
There was a time in the 1960’s to 1970’s when Republicans played a major role in both New York State and NYC politics. New York had Republicans Nelson Rockefeller as Governor, Louis Lefkowitz as Attorney General, Jacob Javits as Senator and John Lindsay as Mayor. Republicans also represented a majority of the Congressional delegation, control of both the State Senate and State Assembly (. Republicans held a majority of suburban elective public offices on the town and county level. They also remained competitive in many NYC neighborhoods. At different times during the 1960’s, NYC had Republican Borough Presidents Joseph Perriconi (Bronx) and Robert Connor (Staten Island), Congress members Paul Fino (Bronx), John Lindsay (Manhattan) and Sy Halperin (Queens).
There were six NYC GOP State Senators. They included Roy Goodman (Manhattan), John Calandra (Bronx), Bill Conklin (Brooklyn), Martin Knorr and Frank Padavan (Queens) along with John Marchi (Staten Island). Ten Republican State Assembly members were elected from all five boroughs.
The last Republican Senator was Alfonse D’Amato who served from 1981 to 1998, State Comptroller Ned Regan (1979-1993), State Attorney General Dennis Vacco (1995-1998) and Governor George Pataki (1995-2006). Since that time, no Republican has been successful in winning any statewide office.
The last Republican NYC Mayor was Michael Bloomberg who served from 2002 to 2012, NYC Comptroller Joseph D. McGoldrick (1938 to 1945) and NYC Council President Sanford Garelick (1970-1973).
One way of judging the health of any political party is looking at the number of candidates running for public office that qualify for ballot status. Political parties are organized on a State Assembly basis with a male and female State Committee person. Within each Assembly district are a series of election districts represented by two district committee people. Real political parties find candidates and active registered party members to circulate nominating petitions.
In the 1970’s during his tenure as Republican Party State Chairman from 1972 to 1977, Republican Party members routinely qualified candidates for all Congressional, State Senate, Assembly, NYC Mayor, City Comptroller, City Council President, Borough President, District Attorney and NYC Council seats. There were real Republican County organizations in all five boroughs. NYC State Assembly district Republican clubs were common and active. This included both a State Committeeman and State Committeewoman. There were several thousand county committee members representing election districts within Assembly districts. They were the foot soldiers who circulated nominated petitions for candidates placing them on the ballot Many GOP candidates had adequate funding and support to give Democrats real competition. Republicans running for office had volunteers going door to door distributing literature along with financing for mailings, phone banks and get out the vote operations.
Fast forward to today. according to State Board of Elections, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 5,865,049 to 3,641,825 statewide. In NYC, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3,109,032 to 470,518. Democrats control all statewide and NYC citywide offices. Of five borough Presidents, only Staten Island is a Republican. All five District Attorneys are Democrats. The State Senate has 40 Democrats to 22 Republicans statewide. NYC has 22 Democrats and 2 Republicans. The State Assembly has 106 Democrats to 43 Republicans and one independent The NYC delegation has 59 Democrats and 2 Republicans. The state Congressional delegation has 21 Democrats and 6 Republicans. All 12 NYC Congress members are Democrats. There are only a handful of active Republican county and club houses in the 62 NYC based State Assembly districts. A majority of the county committee positions within each borough organization, except on Staten Island are vacant. In many cases, the GOP is unable to find anyone interested in running for public office let or qualify candidates for ballot status. As a result, many Democrats running for the City Council, State Assembly or State Senate have no Republican opponent in the Fall General Election. Outside of Staten Island and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn there are no Republican members of the State Assembly, Ditto for Congress, State Senate, Borough President (except Richmond County) or District Attorney. Two of the last three Republican NYC Council members are from Staten Island. The third is Eric Ulrich from Queens. He will retire in 2021 due to term limits. Republicans in NYC outside of Staten Island have disappeared like old fashioned street corner telephone booth. The late GOP State Chairman Richard Rosenbaum would have been disappointed in the decline of his beloved Republican Party.