Brooklyn GOP Rises in Diversity and Optimism

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Kings County GOP Chairman Ted Ghorra spoke to KCP about a new wave of scrappy Republicans in a “Democratic city,” campaigning during COVID-19, and bolstering diverse candidates in Brooklyn for the upcoming general elections.

Andrew Windsor, a 23-year-old New York native and law student, said much of his focus is on community work in Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Bath Beach.  

“I approached Chairman Ghorra after the June 2020 primaries because I believe in, and I know he and his team absolutely welcome and encourage, increased youth involvement in the Brooklyn GOP, especially at the grassroots level and beyond,” said Windsor. 

“That means younger Republicans working with county leadership and its candidates in voter outreach, such as door-knocking, phone calls, park cleanups and fundraising, by way of simple examples. This past weekend, we were able to bring out dozens of younger Republican volunteers for our campaign teams, which was great,” said Windsor about his experience with the youth initiatives.

Windsor explained that in the broadest sense, Republicans stand for educational choice, lowering taxes, cost of living, and government fees that limit bureaucratic barriers on small businesses, among other things.

“Personally, this means Republican policies that make it easier for me to raise a family or start a business here in Brooklyn; that’s not something I can say under Democrat leadership and their increasingly socialist policies,” said Windsor.

Windsor said he’s not discouraged about being in a “one-party town” because the pendulum swings both ways in politics. He said he would, however, like to see classrooms that foster more of a healthier environment for kids with ‘Republican’ ideals and not “bully” or indoctrinate students into one way of thinking. 

“This is what’s happening, we have people coming from different areas who are all young and it’s a nice thing,” said Ghorra talking about the Brooklyn GOP youth initiative

Kings County Republican Chair Teddy Ghorra

Ghorra said that many Republican youths don’t feel represented, even in school, because they can’t freely express their views in “left-leaning academia.” As a poly science major in college, said Ghorra, you’re supposed to go without your mind completely made up. “People have their leanings, their views, but you should listen,” said Ghorra.   

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday a push for more “patriotic” education in schools in direct response to the “bullying” “left” and the New York Times’ history of enslaved Africans in America, or the “1619 Project.”

Time Magazine writes that historians, dating back to the 1920s, have argued in the past whether history curriculums in schools should work to instill more patriotism or recount people’s lived experiences with distressing events, such as American chattel slavery and systemic racism, with accuracy.

For example, Trump noted in his announcement how the late author, Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States is now widely used in schools since it was published in 1980. The book is credited for helping popularize a bottom-up approach to history, as an alternative to telling the story of the U.S. via the top-down achievements of elite white men.

As part of the federally-funded “patriotic” curriculum, Trump promised the adaptation of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, by Wilfred M. McClay, a University of Oklahoma historian would be added to school curriculums. While some on the right side of the political divide hail the book as “an extraordinary act of patriotism,” Georgetown University history professor Michael Kazin argued it “ignores most social movements ” and gives the “silent treatment to the long struggle for black freedom.”

According to Ghorra, the hyperlocal party is diverse and reflective of residents across the borough, something that Republicans nationally have caught flack over since the 1990s when institutions started tracking party demographics.  

“I’m first-generation American. My parents both came here from the Middle East. I grew up from nothing,” said Ghorra about his background. “I worked my tail off.”

The Kings County Republican Party’s executive committee has members of different classes, occupations, genders, religions, and races, said Ghorra. “We have now and have also had in the very recent past a diverse slate of candidates,” said Ghorra, trying to appeal to a wider range of people in a “blue wave” market. “Everyone’s communities deserve representation that reflects their collective interests and issues, while simultaneously being offered a diversity of views, and solutions to the issues that face so many of us.”

Ghorra said he encourages hard work and solid, grassroots outreach for younger people interested in the program. Ghorra said communities are better off when politicians earn their vote, an achievement made that much harder by the COVID-19 crisis. He said COVID put an incredible strain on campaigns, which understandably put running for office as the last thing on people’s minds for months. 

Raimondo “Ray” Denaro was 27-years-old when he took on incumbent and now term-limited Councilman Mark Treyger in 2017 for his seat in District 47 and lost. The Gravesend native said he noticed that years ago he was the youngest person in the room, and recently, he feels like the eldest. “It’s clear that they feel underrepresented and they have not had their voices heard,” he said as to why that is.

Denaro said his own somewhat stressful experience in running for city council for the first time was eye-opening. “You know and acknowledge that there are some things in your community you want to change, but when you hear other people. Their issues may be bigger or different from your issues, and it was great to listen and take all that in and try to make positive change,” said Denaro about the council race.

“I think New York City is a melting pot of different groups whether that’s race or sex, and I think the Republican Party now is more diverse than ever,” said Denaro. 

Ghorra said he wholeheartedly believes in a two-party system.

“A two-party state is checks and balances. It gives each party an opportunity to check the other party and keep the other honest. I think any state would benefit from being a purple state,” said Denaro in agreement about better representation in the democratic process. “A one-party rule works for so long and then when you have the pendulum swing so hard one way, what happens is it swings the other way very hard and then that starts the conflict.”