By Rich Bockmann
Borough Republicans were seeing red this week over comments Gov. Andrew Cuomo made about which GOPers were not welcome in New York state.
Cuomo was on the air late last week with WCNY host Susan Arbetter discussing the divide between moderate and “extreme” conservatives.
The governor said there are GOP candidates running for seats in Albany who are campaigning against legislation such as the gun-control laws the Republican-led state Senate passed last year.
“Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are?” Cuomo asked. “Because if that’s who they are and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”
The comment angered Republicans across the state.
Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa called on Cuomo to retract his statement and apologize to every New Yorker who held such beliefs, regardless of political party affiliation.
“It’s shocking, to say the least, that the governor thinks he can tell New Yorkers how they should think,” he said. “That he would actually outline a litmus test for what beliefs he finds acceptable for people in New York to hold, and what beliefs he doesn’t just disagree with, but thinks the people who hold such beliefs should be prohibited from living in the great state of New York, is appalling.”
Robert Hornak, the party’s executive director, said Cuomo’s interpretation did not reflect the broad range of political positions held in Queens.
“Diversity is one of the things that makes New York such a great place to live and raise a family, including a diversity of thought and ideas,” he said. “And while there is certainly a diversity of thought within the Republican Party on these beliefs, these beliefs also cross political party lines.”
Several Queens Republicans gathered at Borough Hall Tuesday during a rally organized by the Queens Village Republican Club to express their displeasure.
“Queens County has hundreds of different people, different cultures living harmoniously together each and every day,” former City Council candidate Joseph Concannon said. “Why would a governor degrade himself by singling out one group which happens to have a different political view then his?”
Republican Herb Stupp, a former commissioner of the city Department for the Aging, said Cuomo’s comments would force from the state “the cardinal, Catholic bishops, orthodox Rabbis and ministers and millions of New Yorkers who support the right to life, traditional marriage, the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense. What a disgrace that people who have traditional viewpoints would be shunned by our governor.”