The disappearing Kings County Republican Party
After the 2020 General Elections, GOP State Assemblymember Michael Tannousis (64th District Staten Island — Brooklyn) and Congress member Nicole Malliotakis (NY 11th Staten Island — Brooklyn became the last Republican public officials in Kings County. The 64th Assembly Districts’ demographics and enrollment numbers will continue to change eventually favoring a Democrat. The next 2022 reapportionment based upon the 2020 census with just minor tweaking of the district boundaries by gerrymandering could easily make this a safe Democratic seat. There are plenty of registered Democrats in adjacent districts who could easily be added to the seat. The same holds true for Congress member Malliotakis’s seat by adding more liberal downtown Manhattan or other adjacent Brooklyn neighborhoods.
The last Republican Brooklyn Borough President who also ran on the Fusion Party line was Lewis H. Pounds who served from 1913-1917. The last GOP District Attorney was George J. Beldock who served on an interim basis from August 10, 1945, to December 27, 1945. He was appointed to this position by fellow Republican Governor Thomas E. Dewey.
Based upon the State Board of Elections registration figures as of February 21, 2021, there are 1,565,209 active Kings County voters. Brooklyn is a rock-solid overwhelming Democratic Party bastion. There are 1,103,594 Democrats versus 135,806 Republicans along with 4,562 Conservatives, 5,008 Working Families, 21,264 Other Parties without permanent ballot status, and 284,075 Blank (unaffiliated with any party). The numbers make Republicans irrelevant in virtually all contests for public office.
Kings County Republicans haven’t offered Democrats serious competition for public office on the City, State, or Federal level in years with the exception of Bay Ridge.
Despite overwhelming Democratic Party enrollment in Kings County, creative gerrymandering by the GOP-controlled State Senate in 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010 continued to preserve the Bay Ridge-based seat previously represented by Republican State Senators Bill Conklin, Chris Mega, Bob DiCarlo, and Martin Golden.
After the 1982 reapportionment, Democrats eliminated the districts of Brooklyn GOP Assembly members Vincent Riccio (51st); Florence Sullivan (50th); and Chris Mega (49th). Today, State Assemblymember Michael Tannousis represents a hybrid Staten Island East Shore/Brooklyn South Shore district.
The last GOP NYC Councilmembers elected from Kings County were Council Minority leader Angelo Arculeo who served from 1962-1982 and Martin Golden who won the seat back one last time serving from 1998-2002.
For decades, party leadership gave up running real candidates with proper financing to challenge Democratic incumbents. They preferred living off the political patronage crumbs from the Kings County Democrats in exchange for taking a dive. Democrats in return gave the few GOP officeholders a free ride. This combined with Democrats’ gerrymandering over decades of district boundaries contributed to atrophy resulting in Republicans’ disappearance today.
Enrolled Kings County Democrats outnumber Republicans eight to one. Crossover Democrats, who voted for former Presidents Reagan and Bush Senior in the 1980s, former Senator D’Amato in 1980-1998; former Governor Pataki in 1994-2002, former Mayor Guiliani in the 1990s along with Mayor Bloomberg in 2001, 2005, and 2009 continue to move out of town, retire out of state or succumb to old age. There is little or no evidence of any successful GOP outreach to new Caribbean, Hispanic, Asian, other immigrant groups, or middle-class African Americans. Once the GOP loses any incumbent City Council, State Assembly, State Senator, or Congressional representative, they are never able to reclaim the district. The only exception is when a majority of a district is based in Staten Island.
In Kings County, running as a Democrat or winning any Democratic Party primary is a sure bet to winning any general election. Remnants of the Brooklyn GOP can now fit in one of those old fashion street corner telephone booths which disappeared decades ago.
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate,
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