Boro Young Republican leader out — but successor vows to continue fighting party establishment

GOP Chairman Eaton takes bite out of Young Republicans
Photo by Tom Callan

Brooklyn GOP Chairman Craig Eaton may have thought he won his intra-party generational war when Jonathan Judge, the leader of the insurgent Brooklyn Young Republicans club, announced he would relinquish his seat — but Judge’s replacement vows that the tusk bashing will continue.

“We’re going to challenge [Eaton] to reform the Republican party,” said incoming Brooklyn Young Republicans President Glenn Nocera. “He’s not going to overtake us.”

Judge, 24, has led the Brooklyn Young Republicans since 2008. Under his leadership, the Young Republican Club’s criticized Eaton, a 50-year-old attorney, for supporting Mayor Bloomberg for re-election in 2009. The group also thumbed its nose at the Brooklyn GOP by not supporting Peter Cipriano — the party’s candidate — against Assemblyman Peter Abbate last year.

Judge’s group even soured Eaton’s celebrations over victories by Rep. Michael Grimm and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis by pointing out that neither candidate won the Brooklyn portion of their cross-harbor districts.

“There have been persistent failures by the GOP to earn a majority of support from voters [in Brooklyn],” said Judge, who lost a bid for an open City Council seat in Borough Park last year.

The ongoing dispute between the Kings County Republican party and its younger offshoot widened the generational gap among the Brooklyn GOP. And earlier this year, Eaton formed another Young Republican Club — and got the state organization to sanction his club, not Judge’s. He hand-picked Russel Gallo, an Eaton loyalist to run the club in hopes of reducing the clout of Judge’s club.

Now, Eaton and Judge aren’t talking.

“I can’t imagine there would be anything for us to discuss until [Eaton] shows some interest in working towards progress with all Republicans, not just the sycophants in his exclusive cadre,” Judge said.

Judge’s departure will not change this dynamic: when he takes over, Nocera said he’ll lead an independent Young Republican club destined to compete with Eaton’s “official” Young Republican crew led by Gallo.

“They made us independent [by creating the second group],” said Nocera, who is currently the club’s treasurer and is expected to be voted in as president later this spring.

Nocera’s ready for a street fight, but also said he’s clutching an olive branch in his bare-knuckled fist.

“We’re about reforming this party, and if [Eaton] wants to work with us and promote those issues, that’s fine with us,” Nocera said. “There’s hardly a pulse to show that Brooklyn’s Republican party’s alive. It’s ridiculous that there’s all of this infighting going on.”

Repeated calls to Eaton were not returned by our midnight deadline. Attempts to reach Gallo were unsuccessful.

The Brooklyn Papers / Preston Merchant