Queens is the most diverse borough in the city, but not when it comes to local politics, as the Democratic Party has a stronghold on many districts in the borough. County Republicans, though, are once again trying to shake things up amid a political scandal and party infighting. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report as part of her Queens Week series.
Democrats are the Kings of Queens when it comes to county politics, but borough Republicans are not backing down.
They have the largest number of registered Republican voters in the city, 128,000 of them, and the party is working hard to turn out the vote.
"The stars have to align to win public office, but we can do it," said Robert Hornak, executive director of the Queens Republican Party.
Some candidates are long shots, but not in the 19th City Council district, where Republicans want to recapture the seat held by City Councilman Dan Halloran. The Republican is fighting federal corruption charges and will not seek re-election.
"Northeast Queens has been represented by Republicans historically much more than by Democrats," Hornak said. "We think we have a good chance."
Up against a crowded field of Democrats, the party threw its support behind Attorney Dennis Saffran following Halloran's arrest in April for an alleged bribery scheme to get Democratic state Senator Malcolm Smith on the Republican mayoral ticket. Former Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone was also arrested.
"This is not the kind of thing, especially in an election year, it's not the kind of thing we wanted to go into this year having hanging over us," Hornak said.
Well, that and the very public struggle for power within the party, which began long before the scandals.
"The party apparatus at the local level really isn't doing a very good job of growing the party at the grassroots level and bringing new immigrants into the fold, which I think is essential to our survival," said Queens City Councilman Eric Ulrich.
Ulrich wants longtime Chairman Philip Ragusa out.
To that, Ragusa replied, "I just focus on the future and I just let those things just roll off my back."
Ragusa later said the party is more inclusive than people think, but he's relying heavily on its strong Italian base to vote for citywide and local Republican candidates, regardless of their color.