Old boss, same as the new boss
Jun 02, 2020 | 3784 views | 0 0 comments | 404 404 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In these trying times we find ourselves in, a lot of us are probably wishing we could go back to a simpler time.

And unless you come from a war-torn country or some other daily life-or-death situation, many of us have ever quite experienced what we are all going through today. But was there ever really a simpler time?

The human mind has the capacity to focus on the positive as troubles get further and further in our rear-view mirror. As we distance ourselves from a trying and troubling time, we tend to remember the hardships as less and less hard.

You’re probably thinking this is a pretty heavy topic for the Pol Position desk to be thinking about, but it leads us to discussing our favorite political trainwreck: the Queens County Republican Party!

A reader sent us a column from The New York Times that was printed in November of 1987 titled “Warfare in Queens G.O.P. Reported Crippling Its Leadership.”

We like to think of the Republican Party in Queens of the past as being much more organized and influential, not the dysfunctional mess of today that has been hemorrhaging seats at the state and city level for the past decade.

We remember a time when the GOP in Queens could run viable candidates against Democrats that actually stood a chance of winning and holding office. It seems these days, the best the party can do is nab whatever candidate the Democrats didn’t want on their line to run on theirs.

Infighting and a power struggle among different factions for control the party has led to the erosion of any semblance of strong leadership.

But as it turns out, things weren’t much different in the “heyday” of the Queens County Republican Party.

The paper writes that the party was in such turmoil that year that it couldn’t make a play for the borough president seat left vacant by the suicide of Donald Manes, nor nominate candidates for eight judgeships.

At the heart of the dissension, the paper writes, was John Haggerty.

If the name “Haggerty” sounds familiar, its because John Haggerty’s sons, John Jr. and Bart, are still at the heart of the struggle for control of the Queens GOP. And if you are a Republican - regardless of which side of the struggle you find yourself on - most blame the lack of a unified party for the long demise of the party in the borough.

Back in 1987, both the elder Haggerty and Sheldon Farber claimed they were the chair of the party’s Executive Committee.

Haggerty claimed 35 members of he 50-member committee elected him chair, and he immediately fired the party treasurer. Farber contended that he was chair until his term officially ended in ten months.

Party members asked several high-profile names to try to mediate the dispute, including Senator Alfonse D’Amato and Serphin Maltese, who at the time was state chairman of the Conservative Party and would eventually be elected state senator on the Republican line, but to no avail.

Which is eerily similar to what happened in 2015, when former congressman Bob Turner, who was supported by the Haggerty brothers, was supposed to bring stability to the party following the death of longtime chairman Phil Ragusa.

But the good feelings didn’t last long, as Turner was forced out as chairman a mere two years later. Now there aren’t many rank-and-file members of the party who are optimistic about the Republican Party’s ability to run viable candidates, even with the borough’s penchant for voting red.

When Manes left the borough president’s seat vacant, the party that year ran Estelle Cooper, who most remember as assistant parks commissioner. ''Whatever is left of our party is slowly being killed,'' she said at the time.

Those words would prove to be prophetic, it seems, over and over again. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
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