Being a Republican in Brooklyn during the 2016 election is like being a Red Sox fan in New York – lonely.
State Sen. Marty Golden is the only GOP member of the state Legislature from Brooklyn. No Republicans from Brooklyn sit on the City Council. Republicans, in fact, are outnumbered almost eight to one in the liberal borough (129,688 Republicans to 1,076,626 Democrats).
But the Brooklyn Young Republicans Club is holding on, with about 30 current members – including its president, Brandon Washington, a 26-year-old African-American. He says he’s comfortable being a part of Brooklyn’s minority party.
“I believe in eliminating big government, entrepreneurship, values, free markets. I was raised in a Christian home,” he said.
That home was in East New York, where he attended public school. At one point, he said, his family was on welfare. “My family are Democrats so I’ve gotten some flack,” Washington noted with a grin.
As with many center-right Republicans, Washington said he could not bring himself to support Donald Trump. He said he would write in another, undisclosed, name on his ballot.
The Trump nomination, he said, “reinforced the false notion that the Republican party is the party of racism, bigotry and hatred.” Instead, Washington said, the party should be offering solutions to problems facing minorities and other groups, and reinforcing what it stands for, rather than what it stands against.
GOP Makes Radio Waves
Brooklyn, a borough known for anomalies, also has its own homegrown radio show aimed at conservative Republicans. The program is named Vito & Vito after its two hosts – Vito DiGiovanni and Vito Palmeri. DiGiovanni said the two 20-something men have been pleased with the reaction to their show, which has 10,000 Twitter followers and is available through iTunes on iHeartradio.
DiGiovanni, who is enrolled in Brooklyn College, said he “can’t stand” Hillary Clinton He switched from tweeting #nevertrump to writing blog posts about why he planned to vote for GOP candidate.
Still, DiGiovanni believes Trump does not help the party’s image. “I believe in United States rights like life, liberty and property and the Constitution,” he said.
Recruiting Brooklyn millennials is at the top of both Washington’s and DiGiovanni’s to-do lists. Both said their focus following the presidential race will shift to electing local leaders – the core mission of the Brooklyn Young Republicans for years.
And what about the older generation of Republicans in Brooklyn? An attempt to contact the main Brooklyn GOP office led to the law firm of the last GOP chairman, Arnaldo A. Ferraro. His office knew of no forwarding number for the party.