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Republican hopefuls lay out campaign plans in boro races

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Five candidates, ranging from contenders for the U.S. Senate to the state Assembly, told members of the Queens Village Republican Club how they plan to win in November during the club’s meeting in Bellerose last Thursday.

Gary Bernsten, a retired Central Intelligence Agency officer who was in charge of the Tora Bora operation in Afghanistan and is challenging U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), called himself a conservative Republican who would not “run to the middle” in an attempt to beat Schumer.

The Port Jefferson, L.I., resident said he is pro-life and a member of the National Rifle Association who believes in smaller government and lower taxes — including no taxes on capital gains.

“We need to hold these Bush tax cuts. It’s imperative,” he told the cheering crowd at Trattoria Lucia.

Bernsten also attacked the Obama administration for piling on the country’s debt.

“These guys are worse than drunken sailors,” he said. “At least drunken sailors spend their own money.”

He said securing the border with Mexico should be a priority, saying drug cartels operating in Arizona rake in $10 billion a year and are “more dangerous than Al Qaeda.”

Bernsten called U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder an “idiot” for saying he had not read the controversial Arizona immigration law before deciding he opposed it.

As for Schumer, Bernsten said the senator has raised $500 million in campaign contributions over the last 30 years.

“He is the great trader for power with special interests,” he said.

Bernsten accused Schumer of authoring a Senate bill appropriating $700 million for border security only after he proposed the idea.

“They’re watching clips as I’m hammering him because he’s vulnerable,” he said of Schumer’s campaign.

Republican Bob Turner, a retired Rockaway Point businessman, said he decided to mount a challenge against U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) after the controversial passage of the federal health care legislation.

Turner said he might not be telegenic, handsome or have a catchy slogan, but he said Weiner is beatable.

“What we do have is someone who’s committed to principles,” he said, noting he has 200 campaign volunteers and expects to have 1,000 by mid-October.

Turner said he can defeat Weiner because the Brooklyn portion of the congressman’s district is dominated by Russians who can “sniff out socialism better than anyone in the world.”

He said the Queens portion also has a large number of Russians and Orthodox Jews who Turner said do not believe Weiner is a “help to Israel.”

Turner claimed Weiner is “behind the eight ball on every issue” in the district, including health care and taxes.

“I believe there is a great vulnerability here,” he said.

Kew Gardens attorney Asher Taub, who is challenging Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), said the scrutiny surrounding a $40,000 loan given to Meeks and other ethical troubles will be a benefit to him in his run.

“He’s my PR man,” Taub said of Meeks, who he said is being investigated by the state attorney general’s office and the FBI for the loan given to him by Ozone Park real estate developer Edul Ahmad.

“No one understands how easy it is to knock off Greg Meeks,” Taub said, suggesting the congressman would be unable to raise money because he would need funds for lawyers.

Taub claimed his campaign was getting help from the Democratic side who wants to see Meeks gone, but only referred to the person as “Deep Throat.”

Calling himself a conservative Republican, Taub said if elected he would not cut taxes but not raise them either.

Bayside resident Timothy Furey, an associate with Oppenheimer in Manhattan who is running against Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), called Weprin “the quintessential Albany insider” and criticized the Weprin family, who have held the Assembly seat for nearly 40 years.

“This seat is like a family possession,” Furey said, who also lashed at Weprin for siding with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) too much.

“David has not been one to buck Shelly Silver at all,” he said.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), who is being challenged by former Democratic City Councilman Tony Avella, said his campaign “is moving in the right direction,” referring to endorsements from DC 37 and the New York League of Conservation Voters.

Padavan said his re-election is important because whatever party controls the Senate, they will be in charge of redistricting.

“The stake in this election is not just me, it’s getting back the Senate majority,” he said.

Padavan accused Avella of running for mayor last year to raise his profile for a run against him and criticized the former councilman for hiring the Parkside Group — which Padavan referred to as “the most scurrilous lobbing political consulting organization in the state — to run his campaign.

“This is going to be a humdinger of a race,” he said. “Just keep your powder ready and stand by.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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