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BY DENNIS SAFFRAN

As a longtime Republican leader and associate of former state Senator Frank Padavan in the 11th State Senate district in eastern Queens, I am appalled that The Courier and QNS have given Queens County GOP chair Joann Ariola and her Executive Director, convicted felon John Haggerty, a platform for an outrageously distorted hit piece against Senate candidate Vickie Paladino.

The gist of their attack is that Paladino is some sort of “white nationalist” “fringe” kook while Ariola and her handpicked candidate Simon Minching, a 31-year-old Silicon Valley researcher who recently returned to New York City and maintains a voting address at his parents’ home, are “center right.”

In fact, it is Paladino who is in the center right tradition of candidates like Frank Padavan and myself, while Ariola has stated that the GOP must become a “progressive” party and Minching is running to the left of state Senator Tony Avella — for example supporting congestion pricing and the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, which Avella opposes.

The vile allegations of anti-Semitism seem to be based on the fantastical charges of one apparently unbalanced Minching supporter.  Her “evidence”?  A Jewish Paladino supporter posted an outraged retweet of a sickeningly vulgar anti-Semitic post by a group calling itself “Black Pride,” and was then photographed with Paladino at a fundraiser at my home.

Aha! Gotcha! I suppose that by this “reasoning,” I’m an anti-Semite too, which would have amused my Jewish father.

The offensive accusations of anti-Semitism are particularly ironic given that it is Minching, not Paladino, who has accepted the endorsement of the fringe Libertarian Party which, among various extreme positions, supports the cut-off of all military and economic aid to Israel.

Paladino, who gained citywide and even national attention when she confronted Bill de Blasio on her block in Whitestone after he’d flown off to Germany to speak at an anti-American rally rather than attend the wake of a murdered African-American policewoman, is the most exciting Republican candidate I’ve seen in Queens in years.

Is she a boring policy wonk like Simon Minching or me? No, but like Ronald Reagan, or Donald Trump, she knows how to cut to the heart of the wonkery, put it in language average people can understand, and give voice to the working and middle-class base of our party that is tired of being patronized and simply wants to preserve its values and quality of life.

I hope all Republicans will vote for her on Thursday, Sept. 13.

Editor’s note: Saffran is a Douglaston resident. It should be noted, as in all opinion pieces, that the views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of QNS or its staff.

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