Fight for boro GOP leadership started in the 1980s

By William Lewis

In past years there have been various fights between factions in the Republican and Democrat parties in several counties throughout the city. Few of these battles have been as intense and as long as the contest between two factions in the Queens Republican Party.

Since the early 1980s, no Queens Republican chairman has completed their terms of office without being forced out, being defeated for re-election or leaving before their term was completed.

The Queens Republican bylaws have a provision that indicates when a county chairman leaves office the county executive vice chairman next in line then moves up and becomes the county chairman.

The new county leader remains in office to complete the term until the county convention takes place. At that time either the incumbent chairman is re-elected or a new chairman is elected.

There is no provision for the county chairman to be elected by the Republican county committee when the county chairman steps down.

In the early 1980s, Queens Republican Chairman Jack Muratori resigned. The Republican County Executive Committee elected a new chairman. Executive Vice Chairwoman Lilly Bachman went to court and the court ruled that even though she had not been elected, the county bylaws automatically made her the county chairwoman.

As a result of the situation, a county confrontation continued for years after that. It can be said that the county battle started at that time and has continued in various ways up to the present.

Today, since the death of Queens Republican Chairman Phil Ragusa, attorney Robert Beltrani has moved up from executive vice chairman to chairman without being elected, due to the county bylaws stating that the next county officer in line moves up to chairman without an election.

At a recent meeting of Queens Republican leaders, it was decided to have an election for a new county leader. Beltrani agreed, but at this time Beltrani seems to be the lead candidate. If he is elected, it can be hoped that all opposing groups will accept Beltrani and move on.

The recent battle for leadership has gone on most of the last 10 years.

Efforts are being made for both sides in this endless battle to compromise and try to work together. Several meetings have been held by both sides in an attempt to work out problems, but negotiations continue.

As has previously been mentioned, these continual interparty battles have taken up a lot of time and resources. That being the case, it means Queens Republicans have less time and resources to go up against Democratic candidates.

If a significant number of Republican leaders do not accept the election of their new county leader, the battle will continue. We could even see another court case.

Next year is the year for reforming the Queens Republican Party. It will be the year of candidates running for district leaders and county committee in Queens. The only public races in 2015 is for district attorney and some judgeships.

The rest of the elections will be for party positions in the form of primaries.

In September 2015, the Republicans will have their convention, at which time new county officers will be elected, including the chairman. The Democrats will be electing their county officers this year.

Both parties hope to be ready for the national presidential race in 2016.

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