Tea time! Anti-tax speakers rock Salty Dog

Trading races: Ridge Republican moves campaign to Coney
SWITCHEROO: Republican Andy Sullivan now plans on running for council in Coney Island instead of Bay Ridge.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

People usually go to the Salty Dog to drink beer, but on April 25 dozens of right-leaning Ridgites poured into the popular Third Avenue bar for a taste of tea.

They had come to hear Tea Party City Council candidate Andy Sullivan give speeches sure to get any rock-ribbed Brooklynite’s heart pumping. Sullivan, who had organized the old-fashioned anti-tax powwow with conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, is running against John Quaglione, an aide to State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), for the Republican nod to take on Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) in November.

Sullivan — a Freedom Tower construction supervisor best known for his “Hardhat Pledge,” which gathered the signatures of 100,000 construction workers vowing not to work on the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in 2010 — blasted government fees and business regulations for destroying jobs and sapping New Yorkers’ cash flow. He also trumpeted his own personal determination

“We are under siege by our own elected officials and our own legislative bodies. They are treating us like this giant ATM machine,” said Sullivan. “I think everyone in this room knows how important is the work we’re going to do, and everyone here should know this about me: that I am a fighter.”

Though not intended as a campaign event, Sullivan still picked up new donors and supporters.

“I got a couple unexpected surprises, good surprises,” said Sullivan. “Almost every face that was there was a new face for me, except for my immediate family. And they were neighborhood faces, and people that seem to feel passionately about these issues.”

Americans for Prosperity New Jersey director Steve Lonegan — former mayor of Bogota, N.J. — then took the stand to blast the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program Governor Pataki created that forces power companies to purchase permits for every ton of carbon dioxide they produce. Lonegan argued that the initiative is effectively a tax that raises the cost of energy, and keeps New Yorkers from spending their money the way they want.

“Every time the government takes a dollar out of your pocket for these failed programs, that’s one less dollar you have for your own freedom,” Lonegan declared,

Tea Party favorite Barbara “from Harlem” Stintson also took to the podium, attacking what she called a culture of dependency on government.

“More and more and more today, people have the attitude of ‘take care of me,’ ” Stintson said to a standing ovation.

Brooklyn members of the anti-big government movement applauded the evening’s tough ideas and tough talk.

“There was a great crowd, some great speakers, and of course, Andy’s always great,” said Brooklyn Tea Party president Frank Russo, who replaced previous leader Joseph Hayon earlier this year.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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