By Bill Parry
The executive committee of the Queens County Republican Party voted unanimously to place Robert Holden on its line for the Nov. 7 municipal election, during an eventful reorganization meeting at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach Wednesday night. The Queens GOP then proceeded to name Joann Ariola its new chairwoman after she defeated incumbent Chairman Bob Turner.
Holden will now run on the Republican, Conservative, Reform and Dump de Blasio lines after losing his challenge in last month’s Democratic primary against City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) for her District 30 seat, which covers Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood.
Crowley defeated Holden handily, 64 percent to 36 percent, but Holden said he would gain more votes in the general due to his popularity among Republicans, thanks to relationships he has made as the longtime president of the Juniper Valley Civic Association.
“They offered me their party line and I accepted their nomination and I thanked them and I thanked Bob Turner for his years of service,” Holden said. “They know me and it shows they know I’m popular in my community. I told them I remain a Democrat. There were no negotiations and no strings attached. I won’t march in lockstep under the Republican banner. I don’t wear political labels anyway, I’m a community guy.”
Attorney Joseph Kasper was the original Republican candidate, but the Queens GOP nominated him Monday as a candidate for Queens Supreme Court, which Kasper accepted, clearing a path for Holden, who will have a Wilson Pakula certificate, an authorization from a political party which allows a candidate registered with another party to run as its candidate.
“I still have to do the same thing I’ve been doing. The big thing is there’s one less person. Kasper won’t split the vote now,” Holden said.
Crowley, meanwhile, is blasting Holden for lying to voters about his party affiliation and using taxpayer money to lay the groundwork for “this week’s bait and switch.” During an incendiary campaign season, Crowley’s campaign referred to Holden as “Angry Bob” comparing him in campaign literature to Grandpa Abe in “The Simpsons” TV series.
“‘Angry Bob’ has really been ‘Lying Bob’ this whole time,” Crowley said. He clearly always planned to run as a Republican after the primary, but lied to voters time and again these past four months. What’s worse, he used taxpayer money to fund his campaign lies and lay the groundwork for this despicable bait-and-switch. If we can’t trust Bob as a candidate, then we certainly can’t trust him in elected office.”
Holden fired back.
“I’ve been a Democrat for 44 years, longer than Elizabeth Crowley has been alive. Everything I did was legal,” he said. “And unlike the corrupt career politician Liz Crowley, I put community interests above party politics. As for bait and switch, Elizabeth Crowley should be the last one to throw around such allegations, While my fund-raising efforts have been grassroots, honest, open and unblemished; Elizabeth Crowley was caught cheating taxpayers and was charged with fraud by the NYC Campaign Finance Board in a past campaign.”
Holden produced records that showed Crowley was fined for a number of violations when she ran for the seat in 2001.
Crowley said Holden is well-known for his conservative stances, racist attacks on minorities and immigrants, and a “scorched-earth approach to addressing opposing viewpoints.”
“As for Crowley’s racist remark, it’s not only offensive to me and my family but a pathetic attempt by the corrupt Crowley machine to divert attention away from her miserable nine-year record,” Holden said. “My wife Amy and I fought racism our entire lives and unlike the Crowleys, the Holden family portrait reflects the real diversity in this city. My wife’s an Asian immigrant and two of my grandchildren are a blend of white, Latino and Asian.”
Crowley offered strong words to GOP leaders for orchestrating the deal.
“This is exactly the kind of backroom dealing that discourages voters from participating in the electoral process,” she said. “Republican voters didn’t nominate Holden nor did they have a chance to weigh the merits of their candidates in an open primary. Our local Republicans and the whole community deserve better leaders, not opportunists like Bob Holden who will throw away their principles in exchange for a ballot line.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr