By Howard Koplowitz
The rift between two warring factions of the Queens Republican Party is heating up after former City Councilman Tom Ognibene said he plans to run for chairman of the party.
Ognibene’s wing of the party is allied with Bart Haggerty and his brother John, and recognizes Bart Haggerty as chairman while another group acknowledges Phil Ragusa as head of the party.
The dispute is the basis for a long-running feud between both sides.
Ognibene said the inroads the Queens GOP has made in recent elections, including the victories by U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Kew Gardens), City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and the competitive race waged by Republican Jane Deacy for the Assembly in Rockaway all occurred in areas of western Queens, outside of Ragusa’s power base in the northeastern part of the borough.
Ragusa was not available for comment and Queens GOP spokesman Robert Hornak could not be reached.
Ognibene said he was “absolutely running” to become chairman “because they’ve failed,” referring to Ragusa’s faction.
“The county [party] has had a lot of opportunities to raise money, to form Republican clubs and do the kinds of things that support candidates,” Ognibene said. “There’s a complete lack of leadership.”
Ognibene said the party scheduled a meeting for Wednesday night to elect a new chairman and said he believes his faction has the right to organize the party under Bart Haggerty.
Bart Haggerty could not be reached for comment.
It was unclear whether Ragusa’s side planned to hold its own reorganizational meeting.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.