And Then There Were None: How We Got Here – A Series
At the end of And Then There Were None, perhaps Agatha Christie’s most famous whodunit, the killer details exactly how the murders were executed—how the hoodwink was accomplished entirely under the reader’s nose. For many Republicans in Brooklyn, it must seem our current party failures are the results of some similar prestidigitation. In the past eight years, what should have been a time for growth and elevation has now culminated in utter ruin. You will recall at one time Republicans held the presidency, the city’s 13th Congressional district, the governor’s seat, the mayoralty, and control of the state senate. It seemed like things were going so well…
And then there were none.
Looking back, many Republicans are pondering the same question: how did we get here? What happened? To answer that loaded question, we must examine the structure of our party over the course of the past few years, the major players, and the major defeats. That is my goal over the course of the next few weeks.
While I cannot hope to approach anywhere near as brilliant a descriptive telling as Agatha’s, I will devote my first few postings here at Atlas to a multi-part series on the state of our county party. While some might think I am being critical without presenting solutions, I say we will learn nothing from our mistakes as a party if we do not realize what they were to begin with. In other words, history has a way of rhyming.
While it is impossible to cover it all, the major chapters of this series will be: Part 1—the loss of the city’s 13th Congressional district; Part 2—the loss of the mayoralty; Part 3—the loss or failure to win other key positions in state and local government (particularly the state senate); and Part 4—infighting and personal politics that have allowed our party to be written off.
Before I examine each—as a sort of we must discuss some major players that will make multiple appearances in this series (I call them “players” because those who follow politics closely in our party know that it can often resemble a drama or even an opera).
The Major Players
Former Congressman Vito Fossella as
A six-term congressman and SI native, Rep. Vito Fossella replaced Susan Molinari as occupant of the 13th CD. Plagued by scandal and shame, Don Giovanni exited stage left in 2008, giving the Republicans a somewhat difficult but absolutely necessary seat to maintain in Congress. The Republicans failed to keep the seat, which is now occupied by Democrat Michael E. McMahon.
Republican State Senator Martin Golden as
The Prince of Bay Ridge
Ask anyone who the most prominent Republican politician is in our local government, and you will likely hear the name “Marty” come up first. A former police officer and member of the City Council, The Prince beat Senator Vinny Gentile in 2002 to gain his current post, which he has held for four terms, three of which entirely unchallenged (2004, 2006, and 2008).
While still immensely popular, it seems, frankly the jury is still out on Marty. From the loss of the 13th Congressional district to the debacles of the mayoralty and the state senate, it is unclear where he stood and/or currently stands on these issues. One thing is certain about him: he has die-hard supporters, plenty of donations, and no challengers. It’s clear that in Brooklyn he is certainly thus far deserving of the title “The Prince.”
Kings County Republican Party Chairman Craig Eaton as
The Duke of Bay Ridge
In the Year of Our Lord—anno ducis 2001—current Kings County Republican Party Chairman Craig Eaton discovered his inner Republican. And then we’re told he switched his party affiliation (reminds me of a mayor I know…). Since then, it seemed that in no time at all this “born-anew” Republican was taking the reigns of power from the hands of former chairman Hy Singer.
“I believe in the Republican Party and the principles for which it stands,” Our Lord said upon taking seat in his realm. “Limited government; personal liberties; lower taxes; strong job growth, and a strong national defense.”
Yet, as my good friend John Galt indicated in his earlier post, under his “leadership,” the local party has atrophied and the failures have mounted. Over the course of the past few years of his chairmanship, he has also been responsible for a party that can claim no tangible successes as its own. As will be clear by the end of this series, The Duke has been at the center of the maelstrom, and has certainly escalated it by his actions.
Political Consultant Gerry O’Brien as
The Merlin of Malice, Party Warlock to the Duke of Bay Ridge
I have heard through the grapevine that The Duke likes to refer to him as a “wizard” of Republican political consulting—a master. Yet, Party Warlock Gerry O’Brien has been a key player in the happenings of the party over the course of the past few years, particularly under The Duke’s reign.
While it is no secret that Gerry waves his wand for more than one party—just ask for the right price—it seems that whatever “political consulting” he has provided for the party has not helped them in any way at all. In fact, it remains a mystery to anyone who has dealt with this man why anyone keeps him around at all.
The Warlock once opined in 2007 about restoring the party: “We are going to start at the infrastructure, and we are going to bring the blue-collar Republicans back to the party.”
….Cricket….Cricket…. So much for being a Republican seer.
Nevertheless, at least he delivers a refreshing thuggery in his dealings—in fact, anyone who has dealt with him on a good day is aware of his notorious temper and violent sense of self-importance. Reliable sources have informed us at Atlas that he has threatened, cajoled, and attempted to crush anyone who gets in his way. This kind of conduct is extremely detrimental to the local party’s image and must be stopped.
One other thing is crystal clear when it comes to our Party Warlock: wherever The Duke is, the Merlin of Malice is not too far behind.
These are just a few of the players involved in how we got to where we are today. Some are certainly more responsible than others, but no leader can shun fault as we lay amongst the ashes today. In the coming days, I will try to detail how these figures and others have been involved in bringing us to the lowest point in our county party’s history. From there, we can look to the future—knowledgeable of our failings—and restore our party to the reformist agenda that once made our party great.