Over the weekend, Rudy Guiliani made a robocall denouncing Republican Dennis Saffran’s misleading literature, but what you may not know is that for many Republican voters in the district, this was the final straw.
In an office somewhere in Whitestone Village, a secret meeting was called by Republican vote-getters to discuss Saffran’s misuse of the Guiliani name. “Saffran’s finished!” claimed a top GOP operative slamming his fist down and spilling his cappuccino over a stack of important looking papers. Composing himself, the operative stood up and blotted the sticky mess. “My people won’t vote for Republicans this year,” he said after a brief pause and a sigh of regret. The room fell silent, then suddenly heads began to nod. Without hearing another word, they knew what needed to be done. And then the texts began.
The message spread quickly, after all there’s not as many Republicans as Democrats (still, a lot compared to most districts), and the low number makes it manageable to reach them all, at least voters guaranteed to show up and, well, vote. Attempting to avoid a political embarrassment and save face, the Party would not make an official declaration, rather using other “unofficial” channels to get the word out including texts, social media, and old-fashioned telephone calls — which proved quite effective in Dan Halloran’s election. Anyway, in seconds, Republicans in northeast Queens would be voting for Paul Vallone, or at least not for Dennis Saffran.
Three strikes and you’re out.
Before the Guiliani call, at least in secret, republicans were withholding help from Saffran under the guise of limited resources. But now the message had clearly changed: Vote for the Democrat. Tensions began to strain between the Party and Saffran soon after he publicly switched his endorsement from Cats to Joe Lhota mid primary. Perhaps there was no better way to stick a needle in the eye of the local Party which were adamantly supporting Cats. To make matters worse, Saffran was meeting with Councilman Ulrich, whom the Party had been busy with fending off his attempts at a leadership coup. Promises were obviously made, and soon Saffran found himself alone and abandoned by the local Party, which despite its limited resources (they got Dan Halloran elected), could have given him an actual shot in this race.
The protest vote.
Still this wasn’t the final straw. Prior to the Guiliani tape, the republican sentiment was to abstain from voting for a new councilmember. Their reasoning was accompanied by a sense of general disgust and outrage with the national GOP (which will certainly play a role in other citywide elections, but that’s not the point here), as well as Dan Halloran’s recent arrest. Some Republicans would naturally cross party lines, but it was never mentioned or encouraged until now.
As if Dennis Saffran’s bid for Council wasn’t already in troubled waters, the little bit of help he could have received from the Party with GOTV will now be spending their waning hours telling their people to vote for Democrat Paul Vallone. Ouch.