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Op-Ed: NYC GOP Must Unite Now Behind Sliwa for Mayor

With the results of the elections earlier this month, combined with the burgeoning federal corruption investigation moving closer to Eric Adams, the New York GOP should unite now behind Curtis Sliwa for Mayor.
Curtis Sliwa in his signature red beret. Photo: malyousif/Flickr.

By Bob Capano

With the results of the elections earlier this month, combined with the burgeoning federal corruption investigation moving closer to Eric Adams, the New York GOP should unite now behind Curtis Sliwa for Mayor.

Let’s look at just one race from this month that demonstrates Sliwa’s ability to out-perform other Republicans in districts across New York City, which is a necessity to win a city-wide race. The entire New York City political establishment agreed that the 47th Council District race in southwest Brooklyn between Democrat Justin Brannan and Republican Ari Kagan would be one of the closest races of the fifty-one districts. However, Brannan cruised to victory with 58.17% of the vote to Kagan’s 41.31%, which crushed any hopes of the GOP making gains in their minority caucus.

In this same council district, which includes the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Coney Island, and parts of Bath Beach, Sliwa got 52.3% of the vote in his 2021 mayoral campaign.

Southern Brooklyn has long been a key battleground essential for any Republican to become Mayor. Sliwa has already proven his strength throughout this area. In addition to the council district, Sliwa dominated this entire swath of Kings County by winning over 60% of the vote in the 45th, 47th, and 49th Assembly Districts and over 55% in the 46th and 48th in 2021.

Significantly, in the Brannan district, like other parts of the city, those that do not affiliate with any party outnumber registered Republicans. Therefore, it is an absolute necessity for any city-wide Republican candidate to be able to attract significant support from these voters. Sliwa has long been a champion of this group, including during his stint as Chair of the NYS Reform Party.

Unfortunately, some in the GOP take exception to Sliwa’s “tell it as it is” independent approach to politics. For example, months before Mayor Adams publicly revealed plans for a migrant shelter at Floyd Bennett Field, Sliwa warned that this would be happening. Rather than joining him in opposition early on, Queens Republican Councilwoman JoAnn Ariola told Sid Rosenberg on his #1 rated show on WABC radio that Sliwa was just “a radio personality” spreading innuendo. Sliwa turned out to be 100% correct.

Since then, Sliwa has led rallies across the city opposing these migrant shelters and the increasing amount of taxpayer dollars going to them. He has also become a regular on national television on this issue.

This crisis could cost Americans $451 billion according to a House Homeland Security Committee report. As more of our money goes to the housing, feeding, education, and health care of these illegal migrants at the expense of vita basic city services for legal residents, voters will only become even more critical of Democratic leadership at City Hall. Indeed, Mayor Adams just announced cuts to school safety agents in our schools and that there will be no NYPD academy classes indefinitely. It does not get more serious than this, and we must remember Mayor Adams originally welcomed illegal migrants with open arms.

GOP leaders who take exception to Sliwa’s no holds barred approach should embrace it rather than fight it. Sliwa’s honesty, regardless of how it reflects on any political party, and his unique brand built over decades is precisely what enables him to attract the needed support from Independents and Democrats.

The fact that Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, next in line to be Mayor, could be the Democratic candidate if the dominos continue to fall on Adams would make Sliwa an even stronger candidate.

In 2021, Adams squeaked out a primary victory over his far-left opponents. His experience as a former police officer and his tough talk on fighting crime made him a common-sense moderate Democrat to many in the general election. This blunted the main strength of Sliwa- his clear bona fides on fighting crime.

However, with potentially no Adams in the mix, a future Democratic nominee, especially Jumaane Williams, will not have this same advantage. Even if Adams survives and runs for re-election, he will be weakened by the aura of corruption that now surrounds his administration. In addition, his experience and tough talk in the last campaign has not translated to improvements with New Yorkers’ perception of public safety. People are still afraid on the subways and New Yorkers increasingly must wait to get basic goods at stores because more items are locked up because of rampant shoplifting.

So, on the top two issues facing our city, the migrant crisis and crime, Sliwa is already positioned as the de facto GOP leader. We should make it official by making him our united Mayoral nominee.

Bob Capano was a GOP City Council candidate in Bay Ridge and has been an adjunct Professor of Political Science for over 15 years. He served in senior level positions to former Republican Members of Congress Bob Turner and Vito Fossella. Follow him on twitter @bobcapano.