The two Democratic candidates challenging state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) are joining locals in slamming the Brooklyn Republican Party for inviting former President Trump staffer Sebastian Gorka — a firebrand Islamophobe with alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups — to headline its spring gala next month.
“The Republican Party is a personality cult built around the heinous presidency of Donald Trump. It’s not exactly surprising Brooklyn’s Republicans would invite a foot soldier of hate to our borough,” said Bay Ridgite Ross Barkan. “Sebastian Gorka is a neo-Nazi, an Islamophobe, and a disgraceful extremist. He doesn’t belong anywhere near Brooklyn. The Republican Party of Brooklyn is fund-raising off hate, fear, and shameless bigotry.”
Gorka, a Fox News contributor who has denied ties to neo-Nazi groups but was photographed wearing a medal connected to a Holocaust-era white-supremacist and anti-Semitic group in Hungary, will be the guest speaker at the May 16 event at the Dyker Heights Beach Club, hosted by Grand Old Party chairman Ted Ghorra.
Guests can pay $200 to attend, and those looking to shake hands with the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., can cough up $500 for an exclusive pre-gala reception that he will be joining.
Golden — who insiders say handpicked Ghorra to run the faction-riven party in 2016 after his arch nemesis, former chairman Craig Eaton, stepped down — denied involvement in planning the party and said it’s not unusual for party organizations to invite guests not everyone agrees with.
“While Sen. Golden is a supporter of the Brooklyn Republican Party, he’s not a party planner. This is a Brooklyn GOP event, not a Marty Golden event,” said his campaign spokesman Michael Tobman. “Political organizations — Democratic, Republican, Conservative and Working Families Party — regularly invite political speakers that some agree with, and others disagree with.”
But Barkan’s competitor, Bay Ridge Democrats member Andrew Gounardes — who lost to Golden in 2012 — blasted the pol for denying his influence in the party and turning a blind eye to the problem.
“Shame on him for ignoring the real issue here. This is not a matter of simply disagreeing with a speaker who holds different views than you,” said Goundares, whose club is hosting a protest at the venue the same night. “Golden’s failure to repudiate Gorka and his anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, neo-Nazi views is a slap in the face of every single person in our community.”
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Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D–Midwood) announced in an eight-minute video released on April 25 that he will not seek re-election after three and a half decades in office.
But the long-time pol said he is not ready to quit politics or advocacy just yet, and looks forward to his next steps.
“It has been an incredible 36 years of doing what I have been doing, serving people, making a difference in people’s lives, not being afraid to stand up and fight for the things that are important to me and our community,” he said. “Now other opportunities, wonderful things that I’m looking forward to being involved but basically continuing what I’ve done all my life — to fight, to stand up, to speak out, not to be afraid, in fact, only to be afraid of god but nothing else.”
Hikind has no future plans to announce right now, his spokesman said.
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State Sen. Simcha Felder (D–Midwood), who has controversially sat with the Republican party to give them a majority, broke his promise to rejoin the Dems if the Independent Democratic Caucus did first when he announced on April 24 that he will not come back to the Democratic fold, despite the True Blues winning a numerical, but meaningless, majority in Albany after the special election Tuesday night.
Felder, who previously told this paper that he would “be happy to be” back with the True Blues if he had “an ability to serve with the majority,” said on the eve of Tuesday’s election that secured two more Democratic seats, that he will continue to caucus with the Republicans for the good of the people he represents.
“I always try to do what is best for my constituents and New Yorkers. Political gamesmanship must not be allowed to jeopardize the leadership, committee structure and staff of the New York State Senate and push this institution into turmoil,” Felder said. “Upheaval and court battles among partisans is not the preferred method of governing.”
Felder faces primary challenger Blake Morris in September.