Eaton keeps seat as GOP chair

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GOP chair Craig Eaton was overwhelmingly re-elected to another term last week, besting challenger and longtime borough Republican politico Arnaldo Ferraro.

The call for Eaton’s continued stay in office came during the Kings County Republican Party Convention held at the Grand Prospect Hall Wednesday after the Bay Ridge lawyer received 75 percent of the vote of those at the event. Eaton had also collected 820 proxy votes to Ferraro’s 340.

Many of those proxies were collected by Bay Ridge State Senator Marty Golden, the borough’s only Republican elected official. Golden handed the proxies to Eaton personally at the convention %u2013 a move that Ferraro supporters called “disturbing and downright disappoint­ing.”

“In a show of unity, and leadership, Senator Golden should have remained neutral and should have limited his appearance at the convention to the role of the only Republican elected official in Brooklyn,” said Lucretia Regina-Potter, a Ferraro supporter and former GOP Assembly candidate for the 49th A.D. in Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights currently led by Peter Abbate, a Democrat.

Ferraro, the founder of the Fiorello LaGuardia Republican Organization and former Assembly member (he was elected to the 49th A.D. for one term in the 1980s before being ousted by Abbate), announced his candidacy against Eaton about a week before the convention, claiming that Eaton’s leadership was slowly destroying the party.

“Throughout my 40 years of active participation in the political affairs of our borough, I have worked with several County Chairmen. I can safely say that this is the worst our party has ever been,” Ferraro said. “We have lost nearly every gain, and squandered every opportunity that the Republican Party has had.”

Graciously accepting the chairman’s seat for another two years, Eaton said Wednesday that Brooklyn was on its way “to a more competitive two-party system.”

“I look forward to working with you over the next two years to grow this party,” he said. “We are calling all Republicans to join our ranks, volunteer, work on our campaigns, join the County Committee and help us ensure Republican victories in 2009, 2010 and beyond.”

With Democrats outnumbering Republicans eight to one in the borough, bringing GOP candidates to political office has always been an uphill battle in Brooklyn, said one political insider, who saw last week’s Eaton-Ferraro battle more about conflicting personalities than ideologies.

“Ferraro was always Eaton’s opposite,” the insider said. “When we were talking about supporting Giuliani for president, Ferraro was one of the first to be in favor. But when Eaton warmed up to the idea and called a vote, Ferraro abstained.”

In a statement released to this paper, Regina-Potter said that Wednesday’s vote “proved once more that the beleaguered Republican Party in Brooklyn is still divided and without guidance” and that Eaton showed “disrespect for those who dared challenge him.”

“As long as he is at the helm of the Republican Party in Brooklyn, there will be no peace and unity,” she wrote.

Updated 3:40 pm, October 19, 2011
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