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Despite Dem dominance, Brooklyn GOP director sees bright future

BAY RIDGE — New York City is a Democratic Party bastion, but the new executive director of the Kings County Republican Party isn’t all doom and gloom about his party’s future in the Big Apple.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Steve Maresca, who was tapped to serve as executive director of the Brooklyn GOP at the party’s county convention at the Bay Ridge Manor on Oct. 4, said he sees reason for hope for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 elections, particularly in Bay Ridge.

He insisted that his optimism is well-founded, despite the devastating losses in 2018 of longtime Republican State Senator Marty Golden and GOP congressmember Dan Donovan.

“The next three years are going to be critical, not only in Brooklyn, but in New York State,” Maresca told the Home Reporter.

Next year will not only have a presidential election, but on the local level, one of the most anticipated congressional races will take place if Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, as expected, runs against incumbent Democrat Max Rose in the 11th Congressional District covering large parts of Southwest Brooklyn and all of Staten Island.

But Malliotakis would first have to win a Republican Party primary. On Nov. 9, Joseph Caldarera, a former sex crimes prosecutor in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, announced that he intends to run for the seat.

A Rose-Malliotakis matchup would be a hot race, according to most political observers.

Maresca said he thinks Malliotakis, if she prevails in a primary, would have a great chance of unseating Rose, especially with President Donald Trump at the top of the ticket. Trump is deeply unpopular in most of New York, but remains a favorite in the Staten Island portion of the 11th C.D.

“It would be a hard-fought race. But Nicole has 10 years in the Assembly. She is a known quantity,” Maresca said. “I also think the Trump vote will come out next year and that will help Nicole.”

In addition to the House race, freshman State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge and several other neighborhoods in southern Brooklyn, will be running for re-election in 2020 and Maresca said he feels confident the GOP can find a good candidate to run against him.

The following year, there will be City Council races.

In 2022, it will be time for a gubernatorial race. “Andrew Cuomo has indicated that he wants to run for a fourth term. I think he will be vulnerable,” Maresca said.

As executive director of the Brooklyn GOP, Maresca will be working closely with Republican County Chairperson Ted Ghorra. Ghorra, who first elected in 2016, was re-elected at the Oct. 4 convention.

The other officers elected at the convention were Vice Chairperson Georgea Kontzamanis, Secretary Raymond Reilly and Treasurer Thomas McCarthy.

“I liken it to a corporate structure where you have a CEO and a COO. I feel like Ted is the CEO and I’m the COO. The party is run by Ted. He is the ultimate boss,” Maresca said.

But Maresca added that the role of executive director is a fluid one and that he is free to shape it any way he wants. He will play a role in recruiting candidates to run for public office and will be developing campaign strategies for specific candidates, for example.

Maresca will be juggling a busy career as a financial advisor with his political work. The born-and-bred Brooklynite is a graduate of Xaverian High School and St. John’s University. He is one of the founders of the Verrazzano Republican Club in Bay Ridge. The club is led by Liam McCabe.

There has been intra-party fighting in the Brooklyn GOP in recent years, particularly when Golden was the state senator and held great sway over the party. At the time, Craig Eaton was the party chairperson and the two were locked in perpetual battle.

Maresca, who has a long history with the Brooklyn GOP that dates back to the Reagan administration, said he has always managed to get along well with all of the warring factions in the party.

He can identify with the struggles candidates face. He has run for public office on several occasions. In 1989, he challenged incumbent Democratic Councilmember Sal Albanese. He lost that race. In 1992, he ran against Assemblymember Eileen Dugan and was defeated. In 1998, he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination to challenge longtime Assemblymember Peter Abbate.

Since 2015, Maresca has served as the Republican Party’s district leader in the 49th Assembly District. His co-leader is Angela Petit.

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