Irrelevant Duke Eaton Foams at the Mouth as Young Republicans Strike Back
A kind emailer forwarded this story to us regarding the Brooklyn Young Republicans and their ongoing battle against hostile GOP tyrant Craig Eaton, “The Irrelevant One” (also known as “The Duke of Bay Ridge”).
Eaton, as you already know, has attempted to thwart and replace the reform-oriented organization, using a proxy satellite of the party structure to recruit new young GOPers rather than build bridges with the current leadership.
Young Republican President Jonathan Judge is heavily quoted in this piece by Henry Stewart.
Here is the substance of the story (and please visit the L Magazine’s page here to read the story in its entirety):
A young band of reformers has declared a revolt against the Brooklyn Republicans and its rulers, Kings County chairman Craig Eaton and State Senator Marty Golden, the only elected Republican in the borough and thus de-facto leader. The insurgents’ beef is ideological, cultural, technological, generational—and it’s personal.
“It’s a complete schism,” says Jonathan Judge, the just-turned-24 president of the Brooklyn Young Republicans Club. “People are fed up with how this party’s been run.”
Judge has cool blue eyes and a fire-red mop of hair; his nasal voice is Brooklyn-accented and infused with practiced confidence, like a politician’s. That makes sense, as Judge ran early this year in the special election for Simcha Felder’s former council seat, though he failed to win his party’s backing. The eventual Republican candidate, Judge notes sadly, received just 1 in 40 votes.
Over iced coffee recently, Judge, a Kensington native, told me his neighborhood has “really changed,” that in the last few years it has welcomed an influx of young professionals looking for a “more bucolic setting.” He notes happily the neighborhood’s “nice cross-section of different histories and cultures.” Wait—happily? What kind of Republican is this? Asking me to meet him at a vegan-friendly juice joint in Midwood? Wearing jeans and flip-flops?
Judge’s Republicanism is more Libertarian than Evangelical, rooted in small-government principles rather than social issues. Some of the Brooklyn Young Republicans “don’t mind gay marriage,” Judge tells me. Others are obstinately pro-choice. But there’s no homogeneity on such wedge issues. What they do share is a fierce disdain for corruption—Judge is completing a make-your-own-Master’s at N.Y.U. in government corruption—and a strong belief in low taxes, used to fund only essential services: positions which could win over an impressionable public, much of which Judge sees as non-ideological.
But the Eaton-Golden leadership, he alleges, is more concerned with defending the power they’ve amassed than in broadening the party’s reach: that it’s a deal-making Bay Ridge Boys Club clinging to its corner of influence, enabling the Democratic majority. Republicans often don’t challenge Democrat-held seats, and when they do, they run weak candidates. (And, maybe, vice versa: Marty Golden has run unopposed in his last three elections.) “Democracy doesn’t exist without choice,” Judge says.
Eaton denies these charges—”I’m really not worried about anyone’s power”—particularly the deal making. “Those deals took place 20 years ago,” he tells me. No deals exist now; none have been made in the roughly three years since Eaton became chairman, he stresses.
In fact, Eaton, 50, insists there’s no party division, “notwithstanding anonymous attacks from men and women on blogs.” Indeed, much of this ballyhoo has played out on the web, particularly on the reformist blog Atlas Shrugged in Brooklyn—whose contributors use as pseudonyms the names of Ayn Rand characters—which attacks Eaton’s “Bay Ridge Cabal” almost daily.
This speaks to the party’s generational divide. County leaders have long run the party with a top-down approach, Judge tells me. You “wait your turn,” he says, his pale face flushed from either summer heat or pique. But kids today don’t want to wait their turn: they’re into grass roots movements and decentralized media—a bottom-up approach to politics. “It’s changing the dynamic,” Judge says, on a county, statewide, even national level. The Old Guard hasn’t been nearly as web-savvy as itsyounger counterparts, although Eaton tells me that through the party’s website he’s building the base and expanding the candidate pool. “They feel threatened by that,” Judge says.
Eaton doesn’t sound threatened, although reports surfaced a few weeks ago that he’s trying to shut down the Brooklyn Young Republicans club and replace it with a more simpatico counter-club. He just sounds exasperated. “I’m just trying to get candidates elected,” he tells me, irritated. And if some Republican candidates have been weak? “I’m doing the best I can with the candidates we have,” he says. “I can’t fabricate candidates.”
So, Eaton is “exasperated” and “irritated.”
Well, reform has that effect on status quo creatures mired in the sludge of their own politics.
It makes them scared.
“I’m just trying to get candidates elected,” Eaton says.
Really? Could have fooled us.
The fact is Eaton has presided over the most costly, embarrassing chapter of our party’s history in this borough, with not one single success for him to use as kevlar against the stinging criticism his tenure deserves.
Craig Eaton is worse than a joke: he is a non-entity. All he knows how to do is lose, it seems.
His tactics have been derided and laughed at by Republicans across the state. Many of those same Republicans periodically send us emails telling us just how Eaton’s conduct is being perceived elsewhere.
“Not well” is the general consensus.
And yet to this day he has zero unpaid defenders. Other than the members of his Bay Ridge posse, he is all alone in Status Quo Land, a small precinct located in the area of Shore Road.
And so, the Battle for Brooklyn is chugging along, but I don’t see Eaton making it through this upcoming round. With another set of embarrassing elections and primaries headed his way, it looks like he might just have to return the crown jewels to The Golden Prince (Sen. Marty Golden) and strongly consider abdicating his throne.
God knows our party needs that desperately.