Republican Bob Turner’s victory in last month’s congressional special election was great news for the Queens GOP party, but internal squabbles continue to create splits within the group’s leadership ranks.
The Queens County GOP has been embroiled in a long-standing power struggle between current Chairman Phil Ragusa and former city Councilman Tom Ognibene, who is backed by Councilman Eric Ulrich and political operatives John and Bart Haggerty.
Last week, the two sides held dueling committee meetings and both proclaimed a new chairman was appointed.
According to Robert Hornak, spokesman for the Queens GOP, Ragusa was elected unanimously by the party.
“With a rogue faction lead by the notorious Haggerty brothers boycotting the meeting in favor of an unauthorized meeting in South Richmond Hill, technically Phil Ragusa won re-election with 100 percent of the vote,” the party proclaimed in a press release.
Meanwhile, Ognibene’s camp released a similar statement proclaiming victory.
Ragusa and his supporters attempted to file a restraining order against Ognibene’s reorganization meeting, and the two sides met in court on Tuesday. Both groups have filed paperwork with the Board of Elections naming their preferred man as the party chairman.
“It’s clear Phil is the official Republican Party chairman,” Hornak said to the Daily News. “Any argument that he isn’t or that there are co-county leaders is fiction and fabrication by the other side. They did not having close to the numbers to win.”
But Bart Haggerty, Ulrich’s chief of staff, said Ognibene is the best choice and has the support needed to be elected. “If votes are counted following election law, I believe Mr. Ognibene has majority of support,” he told The Forum this week.
Given the back and forth nature of the struggle, which happened two years ago as well, Haggerty said he welcomes judicial intervention that would allow a fair election, which he firmly believes Ognibene would win.
By Eric Yun