Vickie Paladino recently held a fundraiser at NoNo Lounge on Bell Boulevard that was attended by about 80 supporters. According to one source, two prominent members of the Queens County Republican Party were spotted “lurking” outside.
Yet another source told us the pair was later spotted running across Bell Boulevard with a Paladino campaign sign.
We weren't able to verify the theft of signage, but during an interview with this paper earlier this year, Paladino readily admitted that she did not expect to get the support of the Queens GOP.
And by Paladino's own admission, she doesn't exactly have a friendly relationship with the new chair of the party, Joann Ariola. The pair reportedly had a heated exchange at a meeting recently about Paladino's candidacy.
Paladino was thrust into the public spotlight last summer when she confronted Mayor Bill de Blasio after a press conference in Whitestone, where she lives. She berated the mayor for flying off to join G-20 protestors in Germany not long after an NYPD officer was assassinated.
The confrontation was caught on video and picked up by a number of national news outlets, unfortunately for the mayor, who relishes the national spotlight. It was the springboard Paladino needed to consider a run for office.
Paladino will have a challenger in the Republican Primary, the winner of which will go on to likely face State Senator Tony Avella, presuming he is victorious in his primary contest, if it materializes
That Republican challenger is Simon Minching, a northeast Queens native who spent some time in Chicago earning a master's degree and working before returning to New York City.
While the Queens GOP hasn't officially endorsed anyone, the feeling is that they will likely support Minching if they do make an endorsement.
At the very least, it appears that they aren't too happy about Paladino running for the seat given what our sources told us about the fundraiser shenanigans.
While never a political powerhouse on par with the Queens County Democratic Party, the Queens GOP did at one time wield a fair amount of influence in the borough.
Even very recently, the Republicans held two state senate seats, boasted three members in the City Council (one went to jail, one went to the Democrats, and current councilman Robert Holden doesn't count), and even had a congressman in Bob Turner for a while.
Now, Councilman Eric Ulrich is the only elected official from the borough who identifies as a Republican, and even that has been called into question by some party diehards who feel that he is really just a Democrat underneath it all.
Unfortunately for them, the party is now effectively controlled by Ulrich and his supporters, so it will be interesting to see what happens when Ulrich runs up against term limits, which is going to happen sooner rather than later.
We're not sure what other seat Ulrich could possibly run for, so can we really take the Queens GOP seriously when they can't even manage to hold one elected office in the entire borough?
You would think that the party leadership would be excited about a primary if it includes two energetic opponents, which would bring some attention to the party and prove there are people in New York City who still want to run as Republicans and challenge the Democratic Party's stranglehold on the county (and really city, for that matter).
That in turn could bring in donors and new members, which would only strengthen the party in future races, even if Minching or Paladino eventually loses to Avella.
Instead, the party leadership seems content to maintain the current status quo, not challenge the Democrats with serious challengers to protect their own self-interests, and run a fly-by-night operation.
Apparently with the campaign signs of their foes under their arms.