Queens Republicans are vehemently denying published reports that they are going to replace Dan Halloran as their candidate for the District 19 City Council seat.
A front-page article in The Queens Tribune branded Halloran “Pagan Lord,” accused him of having “a leadership role in a vast community that very few people know about” and named him as a leader of “the Theod faith of pre-Christian Heathen religions.” Published reports declared, “Queen Republicans have engaged in serious discussions about replacing their nominee.”
The reports cite “multiple sources with knowledge of the situation” in declaring that “Their choice to replace him is Paul Vallone,” the Democrat who placed third in the September 15 primary.
Queens Republicans are denying the reports.
“The Queens County Republican Party has not for even a moment entertained a substitution of our candidate,” said Vince Tabone, Queens executive vice chairman and spokesperson for the Halloran campaign.
“What we have done is stand firmly with Dan Halloran and called on Congressman [Gary] Ackerman and his staffer Kevin Kim to renounce the vile, repugnant attacks on Dan Halloran’s faith and heritage,” he continued.
Ackerman founded the Tribune over 30 years ago. The paper’s sister company, Multi-Media, is handling political printing and consulting work for Kim, according to published reports.
Kim was Ackerman’s deputy director of community affairs until he took a leave of absence to run for office. He went from a perceived long shot to the primary winner with approximately 30 percent of the vote after Ackerman’s endorsement in the weeks leading up to the primary.
Tabone declared, “Dan is moving forward with his race and his campaign headquarters on Bell Boulevard is opening up this Saturday [September 26].”
A “pagan,” strictly defined, is a follower of any religion espousing multiple deities, such as Hinduism, Shinto, and Native American beliefs.
“People of goodwill in our diverse and vibrant community will not stand for religion baiting anymore than they would race baiting,” Tabone said.
While the reports have characterized Theodism as “pre-Christian,” it is actually a revival of ancient Scandinavian and Germanic religions, with the first Theod in North America founded in 1976, in New York.
In recent years, nature-based religions like Wicca and Theod-like assemblies have been recognized by the U.S. Army and segments of the Boy Scouts.
Available information indicates that the original New York Theod split into Germanic and Scandinavian branches, and there may be no more than a few dozen in Halloran’s “Normandy” group.
Part of their practice involves rituals over a “sacrifice,” after which the cooked animal is eaten. The leftovers are burned.
Halloran told The Queens Courier that they meet upstate, “three times a year.”
“I was raised as a Catholic and went to Jesuit schools, but after my father died when I was 18, I lost faith in the church. I’m part Irish and part Danish and I got interested because it was my heritage.”
Halloran declined to discuss his beliefs in detail, but said that his wife was still a church-going Roman Catholic.
As for Vallone, Halloran said, “Paul and I have been friends for a long time. We talk regularly.” He said he had spoken to party leaders, and had no intention of retiring from the campaign.
Queens Republican chair Phil Ragusa reportedly admitted having conversations about the candidacy. “I’ve gotten a few phone calls from people,” Ragusa said. “But I’ve talked to Dan and he told me that’s he’s definitely going to be running.”
“People called Phil,” Tabone said. “He was being cordial – that’s his nature.”