GOP candidates learn ropes in Bayside class – QNS.com

GOP candidates learn ropes in Bayside class

Robert Hornack, executive director of the Queens Republican Party, chats with former U.S. Senate candidate Jay Townsend during a coffee break.
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

To run as a viable Republican candidate in Queens, Bayside civic leader Vince Tabone said at a seminar Saturday that potential candidates not only need the GOP’s support, but the support of other parties.

“That kind of coalition building is integral,” Tabone said.

Tabone, who ran for the 26th state Assembly District in 2010 but lost to Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), was one of several speakers at the Queens GOP’s fourth annual candidate school.

The four-hour-long seminar at the Adria Hotel, at 220-33 Northern Blvd. in Bayside, discussed topics such as gathering candidate signatures, campaign financing and using social media.

“It’s an opportunity for potential candidates and people to understand the process, to get some nuts-and-bolts information,” said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).

The ratio of Democrats to Republicans in the borough is about six to one, according to statistics from the state Board of Elections. As of Nov. 1, Queens has 663,395 active registered Democrats and 128,011 active registered Republicans.

Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa said the turnout of about 25 people at the school was good. He said the school not only helps potential candidates, but also the party.

“This is one of the processes that we use to get people interested in running for office,” Ragusa said.

Tabone said in his talk on coalition building that the process of a candidate gathering signatures for a spot on the ballot can have many pitfalls and candidates can be rejected for a minor infraction, such as not filling out the cover sheet properly.

“The Democrats are going to throw you off the ballot if they can manage it,” Tabone said.

He also said Republican candidates need to get the support of at least one-third of a party — like Conservative, Independence or Libertarian — to be viable, but the GOP also reviews candidates in advance and wants to ensure that the contenders will not run away from the party’s platform after they are elected.

Robert Hornak, a former borough presidential candidate, said earning the party’s support can help candidates not only in the election but in the primaries. Given the large size of Queens County, Republican candidates will face a lot of competition.

“It’s a lot of candidates looking to run for office,” Hornak said.

Other speakers addressed more technical aspects of campaigning. John Bougiamas, who is on the executive committee for the party, stressed the importance of using campaign websites and social media.

“It’s a 24-hour medium for you to communicate with your potential constituents,” Bougiamas said.

Dan Peterson, director of new media for the Queens GOP, said many candidates incorrectly assume they can go to the county and ask for resources, but candidates need to develop a team and supporters first.

“I think the seminar is good because a lot of people interested in running for office don’t know the depth of a potential campaign,” Peterson said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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