The Queens GOP is locking horns with what I call, the Southern Insurrection. It’s all over the news and political insiders are getting giddy. While the the criminal trial of political operative John Haggerty is underway, a renewed battle is now being fought again for control of a party once thought to be insolvent.
In an exclusive interview with Robert Hornak, spokesman for the Queens GOP, Queens-Politics got the inside scoop of what’s going to go down in the next few days. Here’s the interview:
Q. Robert, why is Tom Ognibene attempting to usurp the GOP party?
Robert gives some background and presents Ognibene’s motive(s):
A. That’s a really good question, Adam. Ognibene has been in political limbo since he was term-limited out of the City Council and named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a 2001, case involving bribe-taking and building-code inspectors.
“Ognibene wanted to be a judge, but considering the nature of his case, it wasn’t going to happen”
Then he [Ognibene] ran for Mayor, said Hornak, and he was subsequently knocked off the ballot by the Haggertys. Hornak chuckles…
“The GOP went with Bloomberg and Tom got very angry,” said Hornak, adding “Ognibene once called the Hagggertys ‘poison in the well’, now he [Ognibene] is anti-Ragusa.” According to Hornak, the reasons for this alliance are not confirmed. “No one can explain why,” he said.
Q. So, What makes Ragusa the better choice for the Queens GOP?
A. “Where do I start?” asked Hornak, rhetorically. “Ragusa energized the party, and continues to do so. he recruited young people with skill sets to run with the ball,” said Hornak and he [Ragusa] is open to new ideas like harnessing digital communication technology to bring the party up-to-date with new voters.
Q. Sounds packaged, tell the readers of Queens-Politics more about him.
“He reinvigorated the party,” referring to Ragusa. After he said that, I probed a little further:
Hornak claimed Ragusa has been growing the party and reaching out to immigrant communities.
“We’ve found a lot of new immigrant communities that lean conservative and we’ve reached out to them with success.“Phil has worked tirelessly on this,” said Hornak.
In terms of political success, Ragusa was instrumental in electing Halloran, Koo, fund-raising, and now he’s working on judgeships, according to Hornak.
Q. So, You guys were instrumental in electing City Council Member Eric Ulrich, why is Eric going off the reservation with his endorsement for Tom Ognibene?
A. “He’s off the reservation completely…Eric is somewhat immature and short-sighted for an elected official. It’s probably to feed his ego and personal aspirations.” Hornak added that while Ulrich interjected himself into party politics, he has neglected the community he was elected to serve.
Q. What is your prediction regarding the judge’s decision?
“My prediction is that we’ll see clearly from evidence than Tom Ognibene was never Chairman.”
Even if he is elected, a far fetched scenario he laments,
“Ognibene is [still] a puppet put up by the Haggertys, John Haggerty would be the new Chairman even if Ognibene succeeds in court.”
Q. I know similar events happened two years ago, are we to expect this every time the County Chair is up for grabs?
A. “I think this is their last hurrah, John Haggerty will be in a state-house [prison] and Tom Ognibene… he’ll find something else to do.”
Q. What message would you like to send to the Haggerty brothers, Tom Ognibene, and Eric Ulrich?
“Come to the table and work with us.”
Hornak said their have been a multitude of instances to extend an olive-branch and come to the table for negotiation with the Southern faction for the sake of party unity. “Every attempt at outreach has been rebuffed or ignored,” said Hornak. “The Haggertys are into nothing less than full control.”