Raucus Republicans Fight for the 39th

The Brooklyn Paper
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If they keep this up, someone may confuse them for... well... Democrats.

For the first time in -- let’s just say ever -- two candidates are battling it out for the 39th Council District’s Republican line in November’s election.

Yet the actions of candidates George Smith and Joe Nardiello as they prepare for the upcoming primary contest -- as well as their behavior -- is far from conservative.

Over the last few weeks, Nardiello has continually tried to get Smith booted off the ballot because the candidate, who had just recently moved to the borough, was registered in Nassau County as he collected signatures throughout the 39th District, which includes Carroll Gardens, Windsor Terrace, Park Slope, Kensington and Borough Park.

Nardiello’s attempts are being backed by Gerry O’Brien, who is seeking a Republican County Committee spot. O’Brien is also mired in an ongoing feud with Smith, who claimed his wife had “stolen” several of his petition signatures last month.

During a recent hearing of the Board of Elections, Smith said that he had put in notice that he had re-registered in Brooklyn when he moved to Borough Park, but the Board never received it.

Since a candidate doesn’t have to live in a district until the actual election, Board of Elections President Frederick Umane let Smith swear to an affidavit that he was living in Brooklyn when he was collecting petitions.

Smith did so, but at the same time demanded to know who was the man who had challenged his petitions. He said he didn’t know the challenger, identified in Board of Elections papers as David Greene.

“Would Mr. Greene please stand up?” Smith asked aloud in the middle of the Board offices. “Do we know who this guy is? I have a right to know who put up stuff against me.”

No one stood up. Greene was later identified as a former Republican leader.

Smith also found it curious that Greene was represented at the hearing by -- surprise, surprise -- O’Brien, proving that either there are very few Republicans in Brooklyn or that his nemesis was part of the effort to get Smith bounced.

“I object to Gerry O’Brien representing my challenger,” Smith bellowed at the hearing. “His wife took my signatures!”

Smith demanded an investigation into the alleged theft, but Urmane told him to calm down.

O’Brien shrugged off Smith’s accusations.

“When you blame the dog for eating your homework, you don’t ask people to kick the dog,” O’Brien said.

Umane allowed O’Brien to represent Greene, despite repeated demands by Smith that Greene should show himself.

While the Board allowed Smith to remain on the ballot, Nardiello’s camp took the matter to court. Smith survived the courtroom challenges as well, and was so happy about his victory, he gloated about it.

“They came at me from all sides,” he said in a statement. “But when you’re right, no one can stop you. The Court saw right through those frivolous challenges and confirmed my right to be on the ballot.This is total vindication for me.”

But O’Brien wasn’t done yet. As this paper went to press he was reportedly going to the Kings County District Attorney’s office, claiming that Smith had allegedly filed an general petition objection against Martin Cottingham, who was running for Republican State Committeeman.

The name he used? David Greene.

It seems that this GOP race is exactly as advertised: a Grand Old Party.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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