Curtis Sliwa, the 2021 GOP mayoral nominee and the founder of the Guardian Angels, has launched a new political club in Astoria Queens aimed at breaking up the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) stronghold in western Queens, he announced in a release Wednesday.
The new group, which Sliwa has dubbed the “Ronald Reagan Republican Club,” is intended to challenge DSA-backed pols who represent the area including Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx, Queens) and City Council Member Tiffany Cabán (D-Queens).
“We’re going into the belly of the beast of the Democratic Socialists of America in New York City,” Sliwa said in a statement. “We’re going to take on AOC and Cabán.”
Sliwa, who was comprehensively beaten by Adams in the 2021 mayoral race, started the club along with Robert Hornak, the GOP strategist who ran his mayoral campaign.
The area’s representatives in Albany — state Senator Kristen Gonzalez (D-Queens/Brooklyn/Manhattan) and Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani (D-Queens) — are also DSA members.
Sliwa blasted Cabán, a member of the council’s Progressive Caucus, for the group’s recent move to have members sign onto a new “Statement of Values” that included a pledge to do “everything we can to reduce the size and scope” of the NYPD. Fifteen council members left the once 35-person caucus after refusing to sign the statement.
“Imagine the hubris, the hutzpah, to go up to your fellow Democrats and say, ‘you will either sign onto our progressive pledge or you are persona non grata, we’ll grind you into the ground,” Sliwa said.
Caucus leaders and some remaining participants say all members were given the chance to provide feedback on the statement before signing it.
But Cabán fired back in a Wednesday morning Tweet, saying Sliwa — an Upper West Side resident — wants to come to Astoria and “tell us how to live.”
“The UWS’s most deranged right winger wants to come to Queens and tell us how to live,” Cabán wrote. “He’s scared of @AOC and my vision for democracy, economic stability, and true public safety. Help send this deluded bigot back where he came from by chipping in today.”
She also included a donation link for her re-election campaign at the bottom of the Tweet.
In a statement to amNewYork Metro, Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign said she’s won the district by wide margins in both of her re-election campaigns in 2020 and 2022.
“Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has won with over 70% of the vote in both of her re-election campaigns, defeating well-funded challengers,” the campaign said. “In 2020, her Republican challenger raised $10 million against her – making it the second most expensive House race in the county.”
The club seeks to “bring conservative values to the forefront of local politics” by putting up challengers to the progressive western Queens pols, according to the release. It will work with the community through an “open dialogue” while promoting Republican ideals like slashing spending, reducing the size of government and cutting taxes.
“This is not the old Astoria that so many of you grew up in, visited, had family and friends in, it has made a major detour towards socialism,” Sliwa said, during the club’s opening event at 31-35 41st St. location in Astoria.
“That all changes tonight, because we are fighting back,” he added. “We’re fighting back first for America. I always judge a candidate, no matter who they are, Democrat, Republican or Independent, if what they’re saying is in the best interest of America.”
Sliwa’s club will be open to backing not just Republicans, he said, but also moderate Democrats who are willing to work with both sides of the aisle. He invoked former area City Council Member Peter Valone Sr. — who he praised for being able to work with both former Mayors David Dinkins, a Democrat, and Rudy Giuliani, a Republican.
Sliwa said he wants his club to adopt the DSA tactics of using grassroots “boots-on-the-ground” operations to get-out-the-vote that have been so successful for their candidates. And he’s currently vetting candidates to run in this year’s City Council elections, whose backgrounds are being checked “extra carefully” to avoid a repeat of electing someone who has fabricated large swaths of their background like Congress Member George Santos (R-Queens/Nassau County).
“There are candidates, they are being vetted as we speak, extra carefully, especially because of the horror of George Santos,” Sliwa said in a statement. “We will check, check and double-check their backgrounds. We are in the process of doing that now.”
This story was updated to include a statement from Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign.