Though the Queens Republican Party declared incumbent chairman Phil Ragusa the victor in a tense leadership vote last week, insurgent candidate Bob Turner is not backing down yet.
The former congressman–like past challengers of Mr. Ragusa–is claiming he won the election and is hoping to invalidate his opponent’s victory in court.
“There were elections in the Soviet Union conducted more fairly than this one,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich, Mr. Turner’s most prominent booster. “From what I understand, our attorneys will be drafting paperwork to invalidate Phil Ragusa’s certificate.”
“We have nothing to defend. They haven’t brought a suit against us. We want the court to uphold Bob Turner’s election as the chair,” Mr. Ulrich added, indicating that they would be filing the suit in court tomorrow.
But according to a Republican source familiar with the situation, Mr. Turner faces an uphill battle. While Mr. Ulrich said the party counted 100 percent of votes cast for Mr. Ragusa as valid and dismissed half of those cast for Mr. Turner, courts rarely overturn the results of elections conducted by county organizations.
Robert Hornak, the executive director of the Queens GOP and a staunch opponent of Mr. Ulrich’s southern faction of the party, was confident Mr. Ragusa would remain the chairman.
“This is more of the same from this ethically challenged group,” Mr. Hornak charged. “They declared Bart Haggerty the Chairman in 2009 and Tom Ognibene the Chairman in 2011. This claim has the same merit as those.”
Two years ago, Mr. Ulrich’s insurgent faction of the party tried to install former Councilman Tom Ognibene as chair and then challenged his election loss in court. That challenge failed.
“What happens is, legally they can contest the election,” explained the Republican source, who predicted Mr. Turner would struggle to ultimately win control of the party. “If you go by precedent and history, every time they’ve lost when challenging the results in court. Judges don’t want to get involved in political fights unless there’s some glaring illegal activity.”