New York City Republican Party activists are encouraging thousands of GOPers to temporarily enroll in the Democratic Party to help elect the most moderate or conservative Democratic candidates in the upcoming primaries for Congress and state Senate.
Because of the Democratic Party’s gerrymandering debacle, there is no deadline for re-enrolling in a political party for the Aug. 23 primary, which means voters can change their party registration at the voting booth on primary day by filling out an affidavit ballot.
“I’m speaking to Republican leaders about this issue. We’ve created an opportunity for Republicans to elect moderate Democrats,” said former longtime Brooklyn Republican Party chairman Craig Eaton.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Right now New York City is a wrecking ball and in a downward spiral.”
Business mogul John Catsimatidis, who has helped bankroll the city Republican Party and ran for mayor in 2013, said GOPers should consider crossing over and crashing the Democratic party primaries to try to make a difference.
“We have to elect common-sense Democrats in the primaries,” said Catsimatidis, whose daughter, Andrea, is chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party.
Because of the huge enrollment advantage, the Democratic primaries determine who will be the next congressperson or legislator in most parts of the city.
There are nearly 3.5 million registered Democrats in New York City compared to 519,000 Republicans.
But there are also about 1 million city registered voters who are listed as “blank” or not affiliated with a party — a much larger number than Republicans — who can also re-enroll as Democrats or Republicans before or on primary day.
In what is expected to be a very low turnout during a primary election held in late August, a few thousand or even a few hundred party crashers or newly registered Democrats could tilt an election.
In the newly drawn 12th Congressional District taking in the east and west side of Manhattan, eastsider Rep. Carolyn Maloney and westsider Rep. Jerrold Nadler are pitted against each other, along with attorney Suraj Patel.
Maloney said she would “absolutely” welcome registered independents or unaffiliated voters — and even Republicans — to re-enroll as Democrats and vote for her.
“I support the decision [to allow an open primary] … People aren’t used to voting in August. Many families are on vacation. It’s only fair,” she said in a Wednesday interview with The Post.
Maloney’s campaign spokesman Bob Liff later cracked, “If Republicans have come to their senses, let them register as Democrats and vote for Carolyn Maloney in the 12th.”
Meanwhile, there are a dozen Democratic hopefuls running in the new court-ordered 10th Congressional District that runs through lower Manhattan and much of brownstone Brooklyn and Sunset Park and parts of Borough Park.
But one Republican leader argued that the GOP should strengthen itself, not encourage its voters to switch to another party.
“Party activists, including in the Republican Party, should, in my view, concentrate their time in helping to elect Republican candidates in these races as it is a more productive use of time and effort to increase not decrease their party voter rolls,” said Brooklyn Republican Party Chairman Ted Ghorra.
Party officials who support “closed primaries” — not allowing voters from outside the party to swoop in and influence their primary elections — are considering an 11th-hour move to urge state Steuben County state Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister who is overseeing the redistricting case, to bar last minute party switching.
They want McAllister to reinstate the Feb. 14 deadline to change party registration that was used for the June 28 primary elections for governor and state Assembly.
The unusual “open primary” situation occurred after judges nullified the Democrats’ partisan gerrymandered district maps — which GOP critics labeled a Hochulmander since Gov. Kathy Hochul signed off on them — for Congress and state Senate and ordered primary elections on Aug. 23 based on districts redrawn by a court special master.
The Feb. 14 deadline restricting party re-enrollment no longer applies.
But one state elected official said the voting has already begun for the August primaries with absentee ballots applied for and submitted by voters, making it difficult to retroactively make changes.
“I have always supported closed primaries. But I’m concerned about changing the rules after the election procedures have already started,” said Doug Kellner, a Democrat who is a co-chairman of the state Board of Elections.
Kellner also said the issue regarding party enrollment had previously been put before the presiding judge and state lawmakers and neither addressed the issue.