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Parting shot: Eaton allies smack Golden as GOP chairman departs

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He got in one more punch on the way out the door.

The Brooklyn Republican County Committee’s outgoing chairman hit his nemesis with one last jab when the committee voted for his replacement on Sept. 30.

Departing chairman Craig Eaton’s hand-picked successor, former Bensonhurst assemblyman Arnaldo Ferraro, beat out Bay Ridge lawyer Ted Ghorra — supported by the Eaton antagonist state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge) — because the oversight panel appointed by Eaton threw out more than 400 votes for Ghorra in a shady, back-room deal, critics say.

“It reminded me of the smoke-filled back rooms of the Boss Tweed days, but without the smoke,” said Glenn Nocera, a district leader and member of the county committee. “The only smoke was coming out of the ears of the supporters of Teddy [Ghorra].”

Votes by a party’s county committee are often handled through so-called “proxy votes,” by which most of the nearly 2,000 people representing sub-districts across Brooklyn allow district leaders and elected officials they support to cast bundles of votes on their behalf. A “credentials committee” combs through these “proxies” to make sure they are valid, but the criteria are not public, essentially allowing committees to decide elections by determining which votes to count.

In last week’s county chairman vote, Golden brought 421 votes for Ghorra, but the credentials committee, whose members Eaton selected over his nine-year tenure, tossed all but 17 of them, in order to snub Golden’s favored candidate and elevate Eaton’s selection, Golden said.

“It was his people, and the other side wasn’t let into the room, so they set the table how they wish,” Golden said.

Golden has made previous attempts to unseat rival Eaton, but the credentials committee stymied him, he said.

“The last time they threw out 300,” Golden said.

More than a slap in the face to Golden, the move disenfranchised voters, particularly people of color — whom the national party is actively courting — who overwhelmingly cast their lot with Golden and Ghorra, Nocera said.

“A large amount of these proxies were African-American and Spanish Republicans who are not getting their voices heard,” Nocera said. “We’re supposed to be inclusive in a sort of big tent way.”

Eaton did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the credential committee’s actions. Credentials committee member Phyllis Carbo declined to comment, and the other two members didn’t return calls.

Ferraro contends that many of Golden’s tossed votes were actually for him — something Golden denies — and he disputed the notion that anyone was disenfranchised.

The former assemblyman also said he’ll be able to heal the party rift that between the rival camps now that he has replaced Eaton.

“For the past couple years, there has been not-good feelings between Marty Golden and Craig Eaton,” Ferraro said. “So you oppose somebody, and when that somebody is no longer there, what reason is there to continue the feud?”

For his part, Ghorra plans to sue Eaton over the nixed proxies — a move Golden’s allies tried two years ago, but which a judge tossed on a technicality.

This time, Golden believes they’ll win, the senator said.

“I’m sure that the courts will decide, at the end of the day, for Ted Ghorra,” Golden said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 8:40 am, October 5, 2015
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