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Party foul! Schism deepens as two Republicans claim county committee chairmanship

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It’s Brooklyn’s Big Tent party — now with twice as many tents!

The rift in the Republican county machine has deepened — two Republicans claiming chairmanship of the county committee are convening the body for competing meetings. Bay Ridge lawyer Ted Ghorra lost the hotly debated election for the county party’s top dog to former Assemblyman Arnaldo Ferraro in September, but that didn’t stop him from calling a meeting of the party’s executive committee last week — and gavelling it in as chairman. A political operative allied with Ghorra claims that three-quarters of Republican honchos showed up to the wannabe’s meeting and that’s enough to crown him de facto party leader.

“If you hold a meeting and the party’s leaders show up, then that’s the party meeting,” said Gerry Kassar, chief of staff to Ghorra partisan state Sen. Martin Golden (D–Bay Ridge).

But those behind legally elected chairman Ferraro disagree. A party insider who supports Ferraro called it “laughable” that Kassar was delighted over the meeting.

“There was definitely not 75 percent of the executive committee at that meeting, and for someone to be so impressed and proud that Ted Ghorra held a meeting is laughable” the source said. “He held a meeting, good for him!”

Ferraro down-played the notion that Ghorra is usurping him.

“He can have a meeting,” he said. “This is America — you can do whatever you want. I wish he would have invited me.”

Ferraro beat Ghorra after an oversight committee at September’s convention deemed invalid 400 proxy votes Golden collected for Ghorra, allegedly over robocalls and misleading proxy ballot cards circulated by Golden’s people, sources said.

Outgoing chairman and longtime Golden archrival Craig Eaton appointed the oversight committee. Ghorra’s boosters claim Eaton had Ghorra’s votes thrown out as a slight to Golden amid their long-running feud.

Ghorra’s partisans called their own convention minutes later and nominated him chairman — then brought a lawsuit against the Ferraro and his slate over the fiasco. They go to court in December.

The party source supporting Ferraro called the lawsuit a waste of time and money — Golden allies lost a similar suit two years ago when Eaton was re-elected — and claims the senator tearing the party apart.

“It is clear that, at the end of the day, like two years ago, the candidate elected at the convention will be the chairman of the Republican Party for the next two years,” the source said. “All Senator Golden is doing is further forcing wedges between Republicans in Brooklyn and disenfranchising Republicans in Brooklyn, while causing lots of money to be spent in legal fees that should be spent helping candidates fighting to take back seats from the Democratic Party.”

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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