Eric Mingott is a proud Republican. He’s a former Marine and presently works as a tax accountant, but his heart is – and forever shall be – in service to the public. Mingott was a hopeful for the 35th Assembly District until his dreams were crushed after John Haggerty knocked him off the ballot, but now (as he’s eying another run for office) he’s looking to the future to rebuild a fractured Republican party.
During his campaign in 2012, Mingott had taken the time to register friends and family with the Republican Party so that they could serve as witnesses to his petitions. “Family, friends, they registered republican because of me — and we’re glad and proud — but the BOE didn’t process them in time,” he said. Mingott said he collected 260 signatures out of the 185. “We received enough but at the end of the day, but we failed because of the witnesses.”
Then John Haggerty showed up at court. He was one of the “perps whose hands were in it and exposed themselves to knocking me off the ballot,” said Mingott. Haggerty, a convicted felon that specialized in the nuances of election law, challenged Mingott’s petitions. But Mingott didn’t have his own election lawyer fearing it would cost too much money and reasoned with himself that, after all, it was a Hispanic coalition and the Future Majority Project (an advocacy organization which helps Hispanics and women win public office) that had put their faith in him and propped up his grassroots campaign. However, he said for the sake of the Party, and for solidarity, he backed off when Haggerty attacked. “We’d have been in court until after the primary,” he joked at his decision which he regrets everyday. “I am a Marine and Marines never give up.”
His experience is one small battle of a war that has been going on for 30 years. Most recently, insiders consider the illegal appointee just part of a ‘proxy war’ waged by southern Queens rebels Tom Ognibene and Eric Ulrich. However, Mingott does not believe that the ends justify the means.
“If you don’t like the leader you challenge them in an election – you don’t sabotage them,” said Mingott.
But Mingott, who considers himself part of the old school of gentleman politics, believes if “they said they mailed it, then they must have mailed it” and that the public humiliation of either side is ungentlemanly.
“Why would someone in that position lie,” he asked while insisting the matter be handled in-house. “Within the party, our infighting should not be public, which is the best way to go.”
It looks as if it will be a tough battle looming ahead as the Judge’s decision is appealed in court. Although Mingott doesn’t know Michael Michel, he knows Judith Stupp and said she ran the BOE to the best of her abilities. “These are pure party positions where we need good citizens because at the end of the day the American people are the ones that will be hurting. New Yorkers in general getting hurt, the voters are getting hurt — it’s not about sneaking things in at the last minute” he relented.
Mingott believes the proxy war is doing irreparable harm to the Party’s image. “We’re hoping we can move the party into a better position; it’s not about leadership, the party leadership is there…but more and more everyday people don’t want to be republicans because of the mass-media looking at us as anti-everything. It’s not about leadership it’s about resources.”
In the 35th AD in the East Elmhurst \ Corona section of Queens with incumbent Jeffrion Aubry, the GOP are outnumbered 10 to 1 and trying to get a Republican movement in his district would be a tough undertaking. Despite the odds, Mingott seems undaunted. “People don’t want to hear us because of what the national level republicans are preaching.” Again, Mingott insisted it’s not for lack of leadership. “Our leadership is there we need younger people and fresh faces. It’s time to focus on elections and reelecting our candidates and finding new ones. The infighting serves no purpose.”