Curses and accusations fly in Republican proxy war

Golden boys: State Sen. Marty Golden backed former Congressional candidate Tim Cochrane over his former ally Craig Eaton.
Brooklyn Daily
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Every Republican was seeing red at the Brooklyn GOP convention on Sept. 30, as a faction led by state Sen. Marty Golden tried — and failed — to boot party chairman Craig Eaton.

The power struggle began with arcane parliamentary maneuvering, but ended with a raucous exchange of epithets and accusations of mob rule and brainwashing.

“It’s a lynch mob here!” Eaton yelled over the noise of audience members chanting “Sham!” after his allies tossed out nearly three hundred votes against the six-and-a-half-year incumbent.

Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and his supporters wanted to replace Eaton with Timothy Cochrane — a former Conservative Party congressional candidate for Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Staten Island — claiming that Eaton had failed to enlarge the Republican base or challenge long-sitting Democratic electeds.

To unseat Eaton, Golden brought 565 “proxies” — signed affidavits from executive committee members not present at the convention allowing him to vote in their stead. But the party’s credentials committee — a four-person body appointed by Eaton to decide the legitimacy of proxies — threw out 295 of the affidavits before they could be counted, arguing that they were invalid because Golden had collected them before the convention was officially called on Sept. 24.

Things got nasty when Golden stood up to protest the maneuver.

“You’re not in charge here!” said credentials committee head Gene Berardelli. “Stop acting like you’re in charge and be seated!”

But Golden, Cochrane, and their backers continued to shout motions for all the proxies to be counted — motions dismissed by GOP strategist Gerry O’Brien, who acted as temporary chairman during the convention. Chants of “sham!” broke out in the audience several more times, and one Cochrane supporter was ejected from the room.

All this happened before Eaton made his pitch for re-election, arguing the he deserved another two-year term for making inroads into deep-blue Brooklyn, with the election of Bob Turner to Congress and David Storobin to state Senate, in special referendums in 2011 and 2012, respectively. But the heckling continued unabated.

“You are a nasty son of a bitch!” shouted Glenn Nocera at the incumbent. Eaton severed the Kings County Republican Party’s 131-year-old relationship with Nocera’s group, the Brooklyn Young Republican club, in 2011 and formed the rival Brooklyn Young Republicans Club.

Eaton fired back by calling the crowd a group of thugs trying to enforce Golden’s will on the party.

“I’m not going to take direction from a state Senator about how I run the party,” said Eaton. “I’m not going to take direction from a state Senator about what candidates I’m going to run.”

Cochrane made his own speech, vowing greater outreach to Brooklyn’s growing Chinese, Caribbean, and Hasidic communities. The aspiring Republican boss said the party would die out without registering new members.

“We need to increase the Republican rolls, or we’re doomed,” said Cochrane.

Voters in the room backed Cochrane over Eaton 66–20. But Eaton had 420 proxy votes with him — which trumped the 270 Golden was left with after the credentials committee’s decision, for a final tally of 440 votes for Eaton against 336 for Cochrane.

Cochrane and his supporters vowed a lawsuit against the party to force it to count the tossed-out votes, arguing that there is no rule against gathering proxies before the declaration of a convention. Cochrane blasted the discarding of Golden’s proxies as a naked attempt by Eaton to cling to power.

“I’m disgusted with the process,” said Cochrane. “There’s no respect for the system.”

The convention battle followed a weeks-long mailing campaign from Eaton and his supporters. Letters sent to Republicans claimed that non-Republican members of Golden’s staff had “brainwashed” him into opposing the sitting chairman — who had been a longtime ally to the senator. A party leader said on the condition of anonymity that the main “brainwasher” is Golden’s chief-of-staff Jerry Kassar, who is chairman of the Brooklyn Conservative Party.

“Many loyal and hardworking Republican workers from across Brooklyn are furious that our party is being torn apart by paid staffers who aren’t even members of the Republican Party,” said one message signed by Russ Gallo, president of the Brooklyn Young Republicans Club, a former challenger of Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay), and a member of the credentials committee.

Kassar — who, as a non-Republican, did not attend the convention — dismissed the accusation.

“Simply not true. Anyone who knows Senator Golden knows he is his own man,” Kassar said.

Republicans on Golden’s staff also denied the claim, and argued that challenging Eaton did not harm the party.

“I don’t think running an alternative candidate for chairman is divisive. That’s why we have conventions,” said Golden aide Ray Riley. “We would have walked out of here united, if the election was not stolen.”

But some felt that the chairmanship battle was a self-inflicted wound to the relatively small Brooklyn GOP — and that the party of Lincoln cannot stand with its house divided against itself.

“The party faces enough challenges at this point, and this could have been settled other ways,” said one member, who asked not to be named.

Golden and Eaton have feuded several times in recent months. In April, Golden called for the resignation of the unnamed “County Chairman #1” mentioned in the federal indictment of state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D–Queens) and Councilman Dan Halloran (R–Queens) — who stand accused of attempting to bribe GOP borough leaders into letting Smith run for mayor as a Republican. Golden’s statement was widely viewed as an attack and accusation against Eaton. The two also endorsed rival mayoral candidates, with Golden backing former Metropolitan Transportation Authority head Joe Lhota, and Eaton supporting supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis. Lhota ultimately triumphed, and became the Republican nominee.

Posted 12:00 am, October 2, 2013
Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him
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Reader feedback

Jim Murray from Dyker Heights says:
Lhota won the Republican primary now he will have his campaign run by the opposition. How can we trust Eaton to actively support and promote Lhota's campaign when he is a Catsametetes supporter. Even Cats has yet to support the primary winner, Lhota.
Oct. 1, 2013, 11:05 pm
Christine from Carroll Gardens says:
Why were Golden/Cochrane supporters (including the Chief Clerk of the Brooklyn office) who are employed by the Board of Elections allowed to take the entire day off before Tuesday's run-off Primary?

None of the Eaton supporters at the Board of Elections were permitted time off to attend the convention.
Oct. 2, 2013, 2:28 am
Jen from Canarsie says:
One thing unmentioned in this otherwise excellent story is the speeches by the two candidates, Cochrane and Eaton.

When Cochrane spoke, the Eaton supporters were quiet and respectful, allowing Cochrane to deliver his speech with no interruptions.

However, when Eaton rose to speak, the Cochrane/Golden supporters heckled and shouted repeatedly, interrupting Eaton time and again.

This tells you everything you need to know about the crowd that day.
Oct. 2, 2013, 5:03 am
pete from bay ridge says:
I will never vote for Marty Golden again, no matter how awful the Democratic alternative is. He is disgusting.
Oct. 2, 2013, 8:31 am
M.R. from Sunset Park says:
Sad that Golden's hacks felt they had to threaten and frighten the patronage job holders at the Bklyn Board of Election. These people don't make lots of money, and Golden frightened a lot of people with his threats to fire them if they didn't vote his way.

It should be illegal to do this.
Oct. 2, 2013, 8:38 am
In the know from North Brooklyn says:
The most telling part of the evening was that thug, Gerry O'Brien, was the chair for the event. Craig is being used by that thug and doesn't see it! All that matters is that Gerry's consulting money continues to flow and he will aid whoever and whatever keeps the greenbacks coming. Craig has been dupped. How can he tear down Marty in all his mailings (obviously produced by Gerry) and still say he wants Marty re-elected? How disgraceful!
Oct. 2, 2013, 10:48 am
Dr. No from North Brooklyn says:
Best mailings ever!

I knew Marty Golden was no damn good, but after those mailings I finally knew why. Golden should hang his head in disgrace after what he allowed his staff to do to Eaton.
Oct. 2, 2013, 11:48 am
Jake from Williamsburg says:
For those of you who normally don't pay attention to local Republican politics:

1. In the spring, Golden slanders Eaton, suggesting he is part of a scandal when all the evidence points elsewhere. No mention of Kettle Black or any of the Golden scandals.

2. Golden uses his hand-picked Elections Commissioner to threaten and intimidate Republican employees at the Board of Elections, suggesting they will lose their jobs if they don't petition for Golden county committee candidates.

3. Golden supporters at the Board of Elections shred a nominating petition for the candidate running against the mother of Golden's hand-picked Elections Commissioner. The Board covers up the incident, refusing FOIL requests.

4. On Primary Day, in the only District Leader race in Brooklyn, in the heart of Golden's senate district, the anti-Golden candidate beats Marty's choice by a landslide.

5. The Eaton forces pick a location in the center of Brooklyn, with two bus lines stopping directly in front of the venue, and mail notices a week in advance (there is n0 specific requirement for advance notice in the by-laws).

6. In the weeks after the primary, the Eaton forces do a whole bunch of mailings from different people to convince people of the merits of Eaton's re-election. Golden's candidate does one mailing, a month before the convention. It consists of a single-sided, one-page letter from their candidate.

7. Eaton supporters sit quietly and respectfully while Golden's candidate addresses the crowd. Golden supporters scream and yell and harass Eaton when it's his turn to speak.

8. Party rules state that Credentials Committee is the sole authority on determining who may vote. Pre-dated Golden proxies are disallowed. Golden forces insist that they be allowed to vote down the Credential Committee's decision, even though party by-laws do not allow it.

9. Golden forces lose, and threaten to go to court.
Oct. 2, 2013, 12:57 pm
Nicholas from Bay Ridge says:
Golden acts like a child, according to the reports from the Republican Convention on Monday. He should stop crying first off, and second, stop making attempts to destroy the republican party. He acts like a spoiled stepchild, crying when he does not get what he wants. Grow up Marty. I will never vote for Golden - I am a republican but will vote for any Democrat that runs against Marty in 2014.
Oct. 2, 2013, 1:35 pm
Old guy from Bay Ridge says:
The last two comments, from Jake and Nicholas, reflect my sentiments on this issue exactly!
Oct. 2, 2013, 11:52 pm
Steve from Dyker Heights says:
Didn't anybody notice that Craig Eaton is wearing John Catsimatidis' tie???? What a tool!
Oct. 4, 2013, 3:02 pm
Mr. Blackwell from Saville Row says:
It's a nice tie. Not thrilled by his striped shirt, though.
Oct. 4, 2013, 3:17 pm

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