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In Unlikely Territory, The Brownstone Republican Club Strategizes

Over pizza; conservative commentary and election talk

on Court Street is, in many ways, a throwback to another era. In business for "more than 80 years," according to window paint, Sam's serves unfussy Italian food from a below street level storefront, complete with checkered red and white tableclothes.

Every month, The Brownstone Republican Club meets in the back room at Sam's. The meetings are lively affairs. The group, which formed in 1994 and has 340 members (not all active) according to President Joe Nardiello, talks politics, listens to guest speakers and eats pizza while maintaining the importance of their party -- even in a place like Brooklyn where they are vastly outnumbered and hold few elected positions.

While not a throwback exactly, the Club's members are older residents. At a recent meeting only one person could be considered young. But Nardiello and others are hoping to change that.

Local District Leader Russell Gallo, the guest speaker at the March meeting, is also the President of a new Young Republicans group, based in Bensonhurst. According to Gallo, the young Republicans exist, they just need motivation and direction.

"People in their 30s and younger want to be involved," he said, adding that his group already has 50 members.

Gallo's group is new, but young Republicans in Brooklyn have been organized for some time. The Brooklyn Young Republican Club was founded in 1880.

In a city where Democrats have an overwhelming enrollment advantage, Gallo said his group can help Brooklyn Republicans broaden their base.

"New York City is a one party city," he said. "It's time to turn the tide through action. The first part is with local clubs like this."

Gallo was surprised the club even existed.

"I was shocked to see there was a Republican club on Court Street," he said. "You guys here got great numbers for a Republican club!"

Gallo said the goal of his young Republican club was to collect signatures and get Republicans on ballots all over Brooklyn.

"We're looking ahead," he said. "2010 was great, 2012 will be better."

Brooklyn Republicans, perhaps because they haven't got much to lose, are able, unlike many democrats, to speak their minds freely.

Some members were unhappy that President Obama was on vacation when he declared the offensive against Libya. Others nodded their heads and vocalized approval when Gallo asked why Obama hadn't shown anyone his birth certificate.

"This President has not shown that document, has not shown his college and medical records," said Gallo. "Hypocrisy," he added.

Also discussed: the Wisconsin union supporters.

"The Tea Party extreme and dangerous?" asked Gallo. "These protestors were extreme and dangerous."

The Working Families Party, a New York City-based, labor-backed progressive organization, wasn't spared either.

"The Working Families Party is pretty much a communist front group," said Gallo.

Buddy Scotto, a native of Carroll Gardens and a member of both Republican and Democratic clubs, said the Brownstone Republicans don't have to worry much about offending people.

"The Democratic Club, they're obviously interested in getting people elected," he said. "The Republicans, they know they're not going to get anyone elected."

But those in attendance were inspired by Gallo's enthusiasm. One member said she could get 20 signatures for Republican candidates on her block alone.

District Leader for the 52nd Assembly District Joe Messineo agreed, and said the organization must continue growing.

David Koch April 08, 2011 at 01:59 AM
WFP is a front for the Communist Party? I guess that means the Brownstone Repubs are a front for the Totally -Obsolete-Club!
Bruce April 09, 2011 at 11:37 AM
I was not aware that there were any republican parties in brooklyn. I am not a resident of cobble hill or bensonhurst nor am I a republican . But I am a conservative and for me seeing some republican groups in brooklyn is a welcome change from the usual liberal crybaby/hipster and racist groups that are now running the show in this once proud borough . I believe that you guys represent the thoughts of what I believe is a silent ( non crybaby) majority that is getting sick of the liberal socialist agenda that is quickly ruining this once great nation. As I said I am not a republican but I would still like to come to your meetings from time to time. Thank you.
Tony April 09, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Oh yeah Bruce, you are not a "crybaby", just re-read your post and think for a second. If you use that condenscendant tone, please allow me to do the same. The "Socialist" world has a bad reputation in this country because of the cold war. If you think (again, second time today, hang on there will be a third time coming up), the world "socialist" is rooted from the latin "sociālis" or partner in English. I agree with you communism is not the solution, but "socialism" which is a major influence through out the world (Europe, South America, Asia, etc...), is supposed to soften the wild capitalism which was born in the UK. Third comment, when you said the "liberal socialist agenda that is quickly ruining this once great nation". Are you on cracks or something? The biggest financial crisis in our lifetime, the Great depression, started in 2008, under Bush, please be honest and don't blame only the democrats. I think most of the Americans are to be blamed (both parties, the borrowers, the banks, etc...) Fourth comment, another fact: the hipsters are a minority in Brooklyn, maybe a more apparent minority, but still a minority. Fith comment, I nothing against political debate, but I see a group of old white people, I don't see a group representing "Brooklyn". Brooklyn is very, very diverse. Disclosure: I'm white.
Beverly D April 23, 2011 at 10:36 AM
Brownstone Republicsn club- has been around, since Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn Heights . We wanted to have a closer location for other members to join and meet with us -on the 4th Monday of each month- at 7 pm, to discuss politics, community affairs. Sam's restaurants location -is convenient for everyone to travel to -there is the Bergen Street station on Smith Street, the B 57 on Court Street, it has its comfortable quaint atmosphere, with its warm lit lamps, best pizza, other delicios dishes, cappucino,etc.
Joe Nardiello April 23, 2011 at 05:53 PM
One political party holds 98% of elected offices in Brooklyn -- and yet, there's over 25% of Brooklyn's residents living at or below the Poverty line. Crime is de-emphasized. Issues drag on for years. People get detached/frustrated (exactly what the monopoly needs) and hardly an elected leader's feet is held to the fire -- as part of a larger Machine.. They can skate along, banking tax-based salaries, doing what they can for face/name recognition, aligning for Photo opportunities, one standing behind another and hoping for larger openings as career-tracked politicians. When one Party is dominant, the residents all lose. We need 2 options, elevating what we want to see improved, debated and demanding accomplishment (or, they are out of office). Instead of a politician never explaining where discretionary funds go -- they better. Instead of vilifying "the City" here and there, residents could identify local pols as part of the same, distant leadership -- and clean house. Failure should be identified and face a challenge -- that's why the Brownstone Republican Club exists. Why should residents allow rhetoric that someone is "fighting" for Education and Seniors, etc. election after election? People should not be "finessed" by roundabout answers and postponed results -- in what is a very savvy place otherwise. Want politicians beget by other politicians? (Do nothing.) Without a counterbalance, one year is the same as 5 years ago.

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