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HOUSE DIVIDED: Republicans fear fallout from Golden-Eaton feud, source says

Craig Eaton (left) and guests Michael Reagan (center), and John Catsimatidis at the Brooklyn Republican Party’s annual dinner. Photo courtesy Brooklyn Republican Party

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The ongoing feud between state Sen. Marty Golden and Brooklyn Republican Party Chairman Craig Eaton is threatening to undermine the party, according to a longtime GOP leader, who is watching nervously from the sidelines as the infighting continues.

“It could set us back 20 years,” said the Republican Party member, who agreed to be interviewed by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on the condition that his name not be used. “It’s a very divisive situation,” said the source. The party’s rank and file members are hoping the two men can patch up their differences before the campaign season goes into high gear, but no one is holding their breath, the source said. “They’re both strong headed individuals,” he said.

Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) is one of only a handful of Republican elected officials in Democratic- dominated New York City. Both he and Eaton hail from Bay Ridge.

The feud blew out into the open last month after Golden sent a letter to US Attorney Preet Bharara requesting that he publicly reveal the name of an anonymous “County Chairman No. 1” mentioned in the criminal complaint against state Sen. Malcolm Smith and Councilman Daniel Halloran, who have been charged in an explosive political corruption case involving an alleged scheme to bribe GOP county chairmen in New York City into letting Smith, a Democrat, run on the Republican line for mayor. The county chairmen would have had to agree to put Smith on the ballot in order for him to have been able to run on the GOP line. Bronx GOP Chairman Joseph Savino and Queens GOP Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone were also indicted in the scheme.

“County Chairman No. 1” was not accused of any wrongdoing, but in his letter to Bharara, Golden wrote that “serious questions” were being raised about the person’s integrity. “Although this individual has not been indicted, I believe the 300,000 plus members and hundreds of activists within the city’s Republican Party require the publication of such information to allow them to determine if said individual should remain a leader within the Republican Party,” he wrote.

The letter drew a sharp rebuke from Eaton and the GOP chairmen from Queens and Manhattan, who sent a joint letter to Golden blasting his efforts to make the identity of “County Chairman No. 1” public.

Another source of tension between Golden and Eaton is the mayor’s race, according to the source who spoke to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Golden has endorsed former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Joseph Lhota, whole Eaton is backing billionaire supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis.

Golden was also said to be concerned over the fact that he lost the Bay Ridge portion of his senate district in the November 2012 election to Democrat Andrew Gounardes. Golden, who won that race because of strong support in Marine Park, Geritsen Beach and other areas of the district, is said to believe that the County GOP leadership did little to help his campaign.

“I don’t know where this is all going to wind up. But if Marty’s looking to oust Craig from the chairmanship, he won’t find any takers. Nobody wants that job. Being a county chairman is a thankless job,” the source said. The same person also attributed Golden's loss of Bay Ridge in the election to a strong Democratic year. "You can't pin that on Craig. You had Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. It brought a lot of Democrats to the polls," he said.

But another source, one close to Golden, said the senator is seriously worried about the direction of the party and has formed a new committee called Republicans for Change to mount a serious effort to overhaul the party’s leadership. “He has a lot of support on this within the party. People want change,” the source said.

The election for the Brooklyn leader of the Republican Party will take place less than a month after the mayoral primary in September.

In his first public appearance since the feud became public, Eaton was front and center at the Brooklyn Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner on May 9 at the El Caribe catering hall in Mill Basin.

More than 400 people attended the dinner, which featured Michael Reagan, eldest son of the late Ronald Reagan, as the guest speaker. Catsimatidis was honored as the Man of the Year.

Eaton made no mention of Golden but instead turned his firepower on Democrats, according to people who attended the dinner. He spoke of the importance of electing a Republican mayor. "There are literally tens of thousands of men and women alive today because of the crime fighting policies enacted by New York’s Republican mayors," Eaton said. "We can’t let Democrats erase all the progress we’ve made in fighting crime," he said.

Golden did not attend the dinner.

May 16, 2013 - 2:07pm


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