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Judge orders GOP redo county chairmanship vote

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It’s been nearly a year since the Brooklyn Republican party had a leader — and it may not get one any time soon.

State supreme court judge Edgar Walker ordered the party on Aug. 13 to redo a contentious Sept. 30, 2015 vote for county chairman, because it was riddled with improprieties. But party sources who have been locked in a legal battle for months say they may go back to court rather than hold the do-over election.

The raucous caucus and subsequent legal challenges extend from a years-old feud between former party chairman Craig Eaton and state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge), who each backed separate candidates in the 2015 vote.

Eaton put up former assemblyman Arnaldo Ferraro, and Golden backed lawyer Ted Ghorra last year. Ferraro got the most votes in September after party officials selected by Eaton claimed hundreds of ballots cast for Ghorra were invalid.

But partisans of Ghorra held a second convention outside and picked the lawyer. And so both men claimed victory and went as far as to gavel in their own competing meetings.

Walker ordered a new convention, ruling that the committee that tossed Ghorra’s votes acted in bad faith and that the raw ballot numbers suggest Ghorra would have won. He also decided that Ghorra’s sidewalk convention was invalid, court documents show.

But Walker missed the point, Ferraro’s people say. Officials tossed the votes, because they were cast in error — Golden aide James McClelland made robocalls misleading electors into voting for the wrong guy, said Ferraro attorney Ezra Glaser.

“I think that there’s a lot that’s just overlooked,” he said. “Including the fact that Golden’s right-hand guy testified that he mislead voters.”

Ghorra’s lawyer said the ruling is a major win — even though Walker didn’t name him the new chairman outright — because the judge said that it was highly probably Ghorra would have won had the committee not scrapped votes for him.

“Winning is good, we obviously won the case,” Ghorra lawyer John Ciampoli said.

Eaton called the ruling bogus and the litigation a waste of resources, because the party is supposed to be electing Republicans and defeating Democrats — not fighting amongst itself.

“The decisions by the Hon. Edgar G. Walker are so biased and filled with inaccuracies, that if appealed, would most certainly be reversed,” Eaton said. “These decisions come after four days of trial and months of Brooklyn Republicans having spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs in fighting fellow Republicans — money which should be spent electing Republicans to offices in the city, state and federal governments.”

Still, Ciampoli may appeal the decision with the hopes Walker appoints Ghorra outright, based on raw votes.

“It’s a great probability that Ghorra won the election, I just am under the impression without having to add up the numbers that Ghorra won,” Ciampoli said. “We might go back to the court or appellate decision after reviewing our options and ask for the outright relief based on the math that Ghorra won.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, August 18, 2016
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