The Brooklyn GOP and its chairman, Ted Ghora, are facing claims of “racism” and not being “inclusive” by current and former members of the party.
Christine Parker, a Black woman and former Republican candidate for Brooklyn’s 35th City Council District, was the most outspoken in her criticism of the Brooklyn chapter of the GOP.
“They do not want any sort of diversity, nor is Ted a leader,” said Parker. “They are racist. They are incompetent and they are nitwits.”
Parker feels as though the Brooklyn GOP did not do enough to help her during her candidacy, preferring to back candidates more likely to stick to the status quo. She says the GOP was choosing to back candidates who “aren’t going to do anything for the community.”
She said she is worried about the direction the party is heading towards.
“The only thing they have to do is put the nail in the coffin. It’s just a matter of time until the party is dead,” said Parker.
Avery Pereira, a candidate currently running for District Leader of the 51st Assembly for Republicans, claims to be facing a similar set of issues that Parker faced during her candidacy a couple of years back — pushback from the Brooklyn GOP.
Pereira received 128 signatures required from registered Republicans in his district to qualify, 57 more than necessary to be placed on the ballot, according to a court document acquired by Politics NY. The signatures were challenged as being fraudulent although there was no basis to these claims, according to a source in the GOP party.
The same source says that Brooklyn GOP leader Ghora and Chief Clerk of the Kings County Board of Elections Ray Riley in particular tried to “run out the clock” on Pereira’s candidacy. Pereira contested the fraudulent claims, but had a very short window to submit the documents for filing with the Board of Elections.
The Board of Elections reviewed the signatures determining that only 62 of the signatures obtained by Pereira were valid, nine less than the required amount. Pereira was then disqualified as a candidate.
The GOP source says that Ghora called the Brooklyn GOP director Steve Maresca the following day, “gleefully bragging” that they were able to get Pereira off the ballot.
Pereira then allegedly asked Riley to send him the documents he needed to contest the decision electronically, but Riley instead had Pereira go and pick up the documents in person at the office in Manhattan after making him wait almost a full day. Here, the source says, Pereira was forced to wait almost two hours to receive just eight photo copies. Pereira had missed the deadline as a result.
Pereira resorted to taking the issue to court. Timothy J. Peterson, the objector to the signatures, according to court documents, had no evidence to present during court. The court then validated over 60 signatures that were previously invalidated by the Board of Elections. Pereira was then allowed to appear on ballots.
Pereira has also been subject to what he calls “blatant attacks” from his opponent David Sepiashvili about Pereira’s family. Pereira says he has also been subject to attacks on social media.
“They are irrelevant to anything,” said Pereira.
Pereira, a Hispanic and member of the LGTBQ community, won’t go as far as to say the Brooklyn GOP and Ghora are racist, but do think the party should be more inclusive.
“The party is not as diverse and as inclusive as it should be in Brooklyn,” said Pereira. “I’m running for re-election because the party needs to grow and expand.”
Former Republican and longtime president of Crown Heights 77th Precinct Community Council, James Caldwell, said he agrees with Parker that the GOP and Ghora are racist. Caldwell was originally a Black Democrat who shifted his party affiliation to Republican during the Donald Trump Era but has recently returned back to his original party.
“It’s part of the reason why I changed my party affiliation back to a Democrat,” said Caldwell. “I didn’t really see anything being done in the minority community.”
As for his opinion on the GOP’s current chairman, Caldwell feels as though he hasn’t done enough to make the Republican party more inclusive.
“A leader is supposed to look out for their supporters,” he said. “A lot of that will fall on [Ghora].”
A source within the party contended that Ghora and the GOP aren’t racist — but rather, inept and greedy.
“They are just incompetent and power-hungry,” the source said.
President of the Verrazzano Republicans club Liam McCabe, who has had differences with Ghora in the past, called the allegations against Ghora outrageous.
“These attacks are unfounded against him. It’s one thing to have a political difference but making up false allegations is ridiculous,” he said.
McCabe and Ghora are currently backing two different Republicans for mayor. McCabe has backed Fernando Mateo and Ghora has backed Curtis Sliwa. Still, McCabe maintains that the claims of racism within the party are unfounded.
“I’ve been around the party a long time. In fact, as an Arab-American, he [Ghorra] has faced racism and ethnic slurs, which I’ve been witness to,” McCabe said.
For his part, Ghora vehemently denies all claims of racism, but does feel that the Brooklyn GOP needs to be more diverse — a direction, he says, he is moving the party in.
“We’ve gone out of our way to make sure we’ve broadened our community members to be reflective of the diversity of the borough,” said Ghora. “Anything to the contrary is simply untrue.”
This story first appeared on PoliticsNY.com