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Some City Republicans Appear Headed For Re-Election Despite Party Stigma

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Judging from Bill de Blasio's attacks on Joseph Lhota this campaign season, you might think "Republican" was a dirty word here in New York City, but some local Republicans are overcoming the party's stigma and appear headed toward re-election. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Here in New York, GOP is like a four-letter word, used so often to bludgeon Joseph Lhota that Lhota was soon distancing himself--

"Where I don't agree with the national Republican party is long and hard," Lhota said at a mayoral debate. "Do not lump me with the national Republicans."

Just look at the math. Republicans make up just 11 percent of the city's registered voters. There's just one Republican among the city's 12 representatives in the House, and just two city Republicans in both the Assembly and State Senate.

"Republicans are slowly becoming an endangered species in New York City," said City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who is the exception: a Republican who appears headed for re-election, seemingly immune to his party's unpopularity.

Ulrich is one of just four Republicans out of 51 City Council members. While he represents some of the most Republican-leaning neighborhoods in Queens like Ozone Park and Howard Beach, even his district is overwhelmingly Democrat.

"They know I'm a Republican. They know what I stand for. They know how I vote in the City Council. But they vote for me because they think I'm doing a good job," Ulrich said.

Longtime Councilman James Oddo, now a candidate for Staten Island borough president, says that the Council is unique, a place where attention to hyperlocal issues can win over swing voters.

"Within the most immediate level of government, City Council, they look to see if you are effective or not, and in some districts, that have enough of a Republican registration, you can win," Oddo said.

There is one district, and only one, where Republicans outnumber Democrats. It's on Staten Island's south shore, where City Councilman Vincent Ignizio says his opponent, Democrat Chris Walsh, hasn't bothered playing up party labels.

"I think he stays away from calling me a Republican because I think that would help me in this district," Ignizio said.

It's a scenario that Lhota can only dream of.

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