Kingston Republicans ended last week’s nominating convention with just one candidate — mayor — for 11 seats in city government.
Hours later, that candidate, business owner Vince Rua sent out a press release declining the nomination, citing the Kingston Republican Committee’s failure to field anyone for him to run with. That failure means that Mayor Steve Noble and his progressive “One Kingston” slate could walk into office next year without opposition.
“I am not willing to subject myself to dirty politics and take a cut in pay to be a lame-duck mayor,” wrote Rua. “Our city has not one person who is willing to challenge the current Common Council.”
The Feb. 23 convention marks a new low point in the fortunes of Kingston Republicans who, a decade ago, had four candidates vying for the party’s mayoral nomination. Since then, Republicans share of the city’s electorate has dwindled alongside their representation in city government. Deborah Brown, a Republican who represented the City’s Ninth Ward and was the council’s sole Republican, was defeated in 2017 by current alderman-at-large candidate Andrea Shaut.
Currently, the only Republican representing Kingston voters is County Legislator Brian Woltman who holds the city’s District 7 seat. He will run for re-election in November but Republicans have so far failed to field challengers to take on incumbent Democrats in two other Kingston legislative districts.
But Republicans could still field candidates for any of the posts. County Republican Committee Chairman Roger Rascoe said candidates have until April 4 to file nominating petitions to get a spot on the ballot and said that there were candidates for some county offices who were simply not ready to announce at the recent convention. Kingston Republican Committee Chairman Chuck Polacco did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Rua is a former vice chair of the Kingston Republican Committee. In 2017 he helped organize a slate of candidates for city offices running under the motto “Restore Kingston Pride” and pushing an agenda of lower taxes, fewer tax breaks for developers and resistance to additional low-income housing in the city.
Just one RKP candidate won election, Seventh Ward Alderman Patrick O’Reilly. But O’Reilly, who is not enrolled in a political party, declined to accept the position of minority leader. Earlier this month he accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination as he seeks a second term in office, nominated by Bryant “Drew” Andrews who he defeated for the council seat in 2017.
Rua has been positioning himself for a mayoral run for several years. He has a website promoting his candidacy and touting an advisory board that included ex-mayor Shayne Gallo. In his statement, Rua lamented the lack of challengers to Noble’s One Kingston slate, echoing Gallo’s statement the night he lost the 2015 Democratic mayoral primary to Steve Noble.
“God help Kingston,” Rua wrote.