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HOST INTRO: Mayor Bloomberg has less than a year left in office. A crowded field of contenders hopes to replace him. On the Republican side, five candidates are already vying for endorsements. But, as Matthew Vann reports, one Brooklyn Republican leader is holding out on supporting any of the GOP mayoral hopefuls.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, a group made up mostly of men, gather in the back room of Ceol’s Irish Pub downtown Brooklyn. The meeting of the Young Republican Club is getting underway.
[fade up AMBI: Pledge of Allegiance]
Members take their patriotism seriously and begin every meeting with the pledge of allegiance. They don’t have much time to determine who they’ll back for mayor. And they’re republicans in a very democratic city.
[AMBI: Glenn Nocera welcoming the group]
Glenn Nocera is the president of the Brooklyn Young Republican club – not to be confused with the Brooklyn Young Republicans Club. He’s 37-year-old and his members are more conservative than most other GOP political groups in the City. That’s why Nocera’s not endorsing anyone yet.
NOCERA: Every one of them, from my knowledge, is for abortion. And that’s one social issue that I’m certainly not for. A lot of them also for gay marriage. I’m not for that.
Of his fellow Brooklyn republicans, Nocera stands alone – he’s conservative fiscally and socially. And he’s waiting for someone to speak directly to the issues he cares about. That makes him more attractive to mayoral candidates like Joe Lhota, the guest speaker for this meeting.
[Applause for Lhota]
Lhota is warmly received but they are eager for him to get to the point.
[Nocera welcoming Lhota]
He steps to the center of the room and starts by playing up his connection to the neighborhood.
LHOTA: I moved to Brooklyn 25 years ago and I’ve lived in Brooklyn ever since.
And Lhota even caught Nocera’s ear with his opposition to a few of the most controversial policies of the Bloomberg administration.
NOCERA: I like that he’s against the camera lights and he want’s to do away with that soda ban thing.
But one issue Lhota is keen to address is the recent subway fare hike. It happened only a few months after he stepped as down as the MTA chief.
LHOTA: When I went there for the one year that I was there I did everything to keep costs under control. Discretionary costs in 2012 were less than 2011. The reason for the fare increase is directly related to the increase in pensions.
He knows it’s an issue likely to surface in debates with his fellow GOP candidates. And there are still a lot of them.
LHOTA: Is the field of republican candidates too crowded? No. I love to have a robust debate on issues. I think the concept of a crowded field is a good thing. (tight edit)
Thomas Hilton is a member of the Brooklyn Brownstone Republicans club. He’s not so sure of that.
HILTON: Some people think a big primary fight is good. I don’t. I think you need a lot of time to get a strong candidate out and before the public. And plus if the public doesn’t know who he is they’re not really gonna support him.
In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 6-to-1, it’s not going to be easy for a Republican to win. And so far, it’s been a game of musical chairs when it comes to endorsements ahead of the city’s Republican primary in September. That’s why many of the republican candidates are meeting with Glenn Nocera’s Young Republican Club. Nocera knows the clock is ticking, but says it doesn’t solve anything to rush into an endorsement too quickly.
NOCERA: We need to be working together because we’re out numbered to begin with. We can’t be fighting like we’re in high school. And with that I’d gladly work with anyone that wants to help grow the Republican Party.
And he’ll have until September to see who fits the bill for his endorsement.
Matthew Vann. Columbia Radio News.