The City of Kingston Republican Committee is seeking new leadership as they gird for what is expected to be a ferocious political fight for the 19th Congressional District next year.
On Nov. 11, Kingston Republican Committee Campaign Committee chair Jerry Brown issued a statement from Republican Committee Vice Chairman Chuck Polacco announcing the resignation of Chairman Joe Ingarra. The statement said simply that committee had received and accepted Ingarra’s resignation and planned to hold a special election to replace him.
“Joe has served faithfully in this position and we want to express our gratitude for his service to the committee and to our community,” Polacco’s statement reads.
Ingarra has not made a public statement regarding his resignation and did not return calls seeking comment. Polacco and Ulster County Republican Committee Chairman Roger Rascoe both said that Ingarra’s resignation had been planned prior to the election and that he had chosen to step down midway through a two year term in order to focus on his legal practice. Both officials also denied that Ingarra’s resignation was linked to the party’s disappointing showing in the Nov. 7 election. A committee-backed slate dubbed “Restore Kingston Pride” secured just one seat, Ward 7’s, on the city’s nine-member Common Council. The party also lost an incumbent in Ward 9 where Deborah Brown has spent the past four years as the council’s sole Republican member. The losses in the ward races were offset by an upset victory by Republican Brian Woltman in the county legislature’s District 7, who defeated incumbent Jennifer Schwartz Berky in what had traditionally been a Democratic stronghold.
“Whenever anybody loses it’s a disappointment,” said Polacco. “The committee worked really hard and things fell the way they fell.”
Rascoe praised Ingarra for adding members to the Kingston committee’s ranks, which have dwindled in recent years as the party has struggled to field candidates and win elections. Rascoe said a beefed-up committee and a strong on the ground presence would be key next year when the party will be charged with defending the 19th Congressional District seat currently occupied by Republican John Faso. Rascoe said last week’s elections showed the strength of a motivated Democratic base that could raise money from outside the county and deploy paid canvassers from groups like Citizen Action and the Working Families Party to conduct voter outreach.
“We lost some key races,” said Rascoe. “It was a wake-up call that we need to build up our ground game.”
That pressure, Rascoe said, was likely to increase drastically next year when money and other resources pour into the county as Democrats seek to unseat Faso who is seen as politically vulnerable in a district where Democrats and Republicans are near evenly matched. Rascoe said that he had spoken with State GOP Chairman Ed Cox who promised to allocate party resources to stem the expected Democratic onslaught.
“We are in the eye of the storm,” said Rascoe. “And Ulster County is a target.”