The Republican Party has a problem in New York City. Democrats number 3.2 million New Yorkers while Republicans are a mere 470,000. That’s a ratio of over 7:1. The Republican Party in New York has been shrinking as the Democratic Party has continued to increase its registration advantage over the GOP. There is no doubt the New York Republican Party is facing an uphill climb in its efforts to increase its outreach and presence within the Big Apple. The “New York values” attacks of Senator Cruz on Donald Trump have made this task even harder, as it essentially adds a ball and chain to the party in the city and the region for that matter.
Let’s be clear, Senator Cruz’s comments are just another instance in a long list of remarks and actions by national Republicans that have hurt the Republican Party in New York City. Time and time again, New Yorkers have been on the receiving end of both verbal and political mistreatment by members of the GOP. At the same time, these same Republicans come to New York and ask New Yorkers to fund their campaigns and anti-New York agendas. Cruz’s comments and these actions do not help the GOP at the local level.
In 1975, New York City was in rough shape. With hat in hand, New York came to a Republican president, Gerald Ford, to ask for a bailout. Ford said “no” and the New York Daily News had its iconic headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”
In 2002, President George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget Director, Mitch Daniels, sought to divert over 45 percent of promised post 9/11 reconstruction aid to other programs. A Republican tried to funnel $9 billion away from New Yorkers who months before had suffered the worst terrorist attack in American history.
Only a few months after the worst natural disaster to hit the New York area, Hurricane Sandy, 31 Republican senators voted against providing federal aid for victims. Of course, many of these same senators, including Ted Cruz, would later request federal aid for disasters that impacted their own states. That January 2013 vote reeked of hypocrisy.
In 2015, Americans watched as national Republicans balked at taking care of New York’s Finest and Bravest by making the Zadroga Act permanent. Their rationale? It might cost the United States too much money to take care of our first responders. New Yorkers shook their heads in disbelief. And this wasn’t the first time Republicans said no on this very issue.
In 2010, they dragged their heels — while at the same time saying that they would “never forget” the sacrifices made on 9/11 — when New Yorkers and Americans united to demand the initial passage of Zadroga. The final bill passed in the Democratic-controlled House because Democrats knew that it would not pass when the GOP took the majority in the next session. Only 31 House Republicans voted for Zadroga’s passage while just one House Democrat voted against it.
This has been occurring for decades which has contributed to the drop in Republicans in New York City.
Each and every time a national Republican like Texas Senator Ted Cruz takes a verbal or legislative swipe at New York, the public takes note. They file the incident away as another time that a Republican doesn’t care about them. So, when the local GOP attempts to engage New Yorkers through outreach, it comes as no surprise that they are met with resistance. Who in their right mind would want to join a party that often attacks them, their values and where they live?
New York is a microcosm of the United States. We are the greatest city in the greatest country in the world. Yet, national Republicans have a long history of giving less-than appropriate treatment of New York City and its residents. These are the same people who could actually help future GOP campaigns and interests, but some try to turn them into a dirty phrase.
It’s time that national Republicans learned their lesson and that Ted Cruz’s comments are the last in a long line of words and actions at New York’s expense. They are not helping to grow the party in New York.
Photo by Gage Skidmore
Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist and columnist, is president of Somm Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter at @evansiegfried