In 1986, following the landslide victory in 1984 of the Regan-Bush re-election campaign the Voters Anonymous grassroots initiative in New York, led by Gary James was in political vogue. Following the grassroots GOP New York State legislative campaign in 1985, endorsed by the Honorable Warren Anderson, Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, James was tapped as black community for the Republican Gubernatorial campaign.
On September 2, 1986 under the letterhead of PEOPLE FOR O’ROURKE contact people Dick Behn and Aloise Buckley headlined O’ROURKE TO INAUGURATE HARLEM OFFICE
“Republican Gubernatorial candidate Andrew O’Rourke today announced the appointment of Gary James as statewide Black Community Coordinator of the People for O’Rourke. At the same, Mr.
Gary James, the chairman of the New York City Black Republican Council, announced that a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Harlem and a cocktail reception in the Bronx will highlight a full weekend of activities from Friday, September 5, through Sunday, September 7, as the Black Republican community gears up its statewide effort on behalf of Mr. O’Rourke and other Republican candidates.
Mr. O’Rourke will be the featured guest at the opening of the campaign headquarters at 6: P.M. Friday evening at 174 West 126th Street, Harlem NY 10027. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be attended by national as well as local Republican Party officials.
The evening will also highlight the official announcement of candidacy by Joan Dawson, seeking the 70th A.D. District State Assembly seat currently held by Geraldine Daniels. Also in attendance will be Edward Nelson Rodriguez, 7th District congressional candidate from Queens, and other congressional and state candidates.
Another of the weekend’s activities will be a cocktail reception in honor of Guy J. Velella, 34 District State Senator and Chairman of the Bronx County Republican Committee. The reception, featuring U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato and gubernatorial candidate Andrew O’Rourke, will be held on Sunday, September 7, from 4 to 8 PM at the Parkside Plaza Elegant in the Bronx. Hosting the affair will be State Senate candidate Alton Chase, Bronx coordinator of the NYC Black Republican Council.
In announcing the schedule, Black Republican Council Chairman James charged Mario Cuomo not only with betraying the trust of the black community but also with undermining the political process generally by his conduct toward former lieutenant governor candidate Abraham Hirschfeld. Mr. James called on voters to join the effort “to replace the arrogant Cuomo regime with the constructive enlightenment of an Andy O’Rourke administration.”
“We intend to encourage Democrats, Independents, and liberals to vote for Republicans in November, said James, “When Cuomo and the Democratic Party find a dry well in this election, they will certainly miss the water. We intend to replace the one-party tyranny of this state – and especially New York City – with bi-partisan government” The New York City activities will be part of statewide ceremonies being planned for a number of communities.”
NEW YORK POST on Tuesday September 2, 1986 published a piece with the following headline: ROCKY Jr. LEADS THE WAY AS GOP GOES TO HARLEM.
“Nelson Rockefeller Jr. whose name stands for money as well as New York politics, is helping underdog GOP gubernatorial candidate Andrew O’Rourke to open a campaign office in a surprise location for a Republican – Harlem. “It’s very exciting, really grassroots,’ said Nelson Jr., 22, a new Dartmouth Graduate working on his first political campaign as O’Rourke’s ethnic coordinator.
Nelson Jr., was careful to say the real credit for the new Harlem office should not go to him but to Gary James. James is an O’Rourke supporter who heads a group called the New York City Black Republican Council.
The late governor’s son agreed that Harlem is an unexpected place for a New York Republican to look for votes but added: ‘I think it’s important to reach out, regardless’ O’Rourke’s aides say young Rockefeller also has helped the campaign a bit with fundraising – one of O’Rourke’s biggest problems – but say that’s not hid main job. O’Rourke will cut ribbons and officially open his Harlem headquarters on Friday.
New York City Tribune on October 22, 1986, published the political aftermath of the press conference, the headline: “Black GOP Leader Issues Call for ‘RADICAL SURGERY’ To End Corruption”
The piece was emboldened with a bold photo of Gary James at the podium flanked by two rows of Black and Hispanic Republican candidates and district leaders from the Bronx, Harlem, and Jamaica Queens, 14 people in all. The byline was Vadim Kotler. The piece read”
“Gary James, chairman of the New York City Black Republican Council and a coordinator of People for O’Rourke, a group backing the GOP’s candidate for governor, said yesterday that radical surgery is required to remove the cancer of corruption and bring political accountability to New York.
James spoke at a press conference held by black and Hispanic Republican candidates and party leaders. He said that bi-partisan leadership was needed to end corruption in New York.
It’s a historic occasion, said Joseph Holland, the Manhattan coordinator of the City Republican Council. He said that the meeting aimed at creating a foundation for a united political movement among black and Hispanic Republicans.
Expectations that blacks will continue voting for the Democrats are a myth, Joseph said, predicting victory for the City’s Republican minority candidates on Nov. 4th. Blacks have been voting Democratic for the past half century, but things will not necessarily continue that way, Joseph said.
The press conference, held at 55 W. 125th Street, and organized by the New York City Black and Hispanic Republican Council, was beginning of the high visibility campaign for black and Hispanic Republican leaders, said James. The council was created 4 years ago to create voter awareness and participation in the black community, he said.
The Democratic Party does not have concrete projects for empowering the black community, while many anti-poverty programs have not worked, James said. The Republican Council carries a message of self-reliance to the black community by stressing the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to responsibility, he said.
The black community has to generate its own resources, James said. To establish political ascendancy, we have to establish self-reliance and independence.
When there is one party domination, social and political sewage goes to that party and corruption becomes inevitable, said Vincent Baker at the press conference. Baker is the author of Republican Party and Black Americans: A Political History.
James also charged that Gov. Cuomo is undermining the democratic process by refusing to debate the Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew O’Rourke.”
The Comptroller of New York State Edward Regan, also contributed to the grassroots GOP initiative in a letter dated September 25, 1987, over the signature of Leslie Maeby Executive Assistant. The letter is addressed to Mr. Gary James Black Republican Taskforce 88. The letter reads:
“Dear Mr. James: Enclosed is a check from Comptroller Regan for the Lionel Hampton Living Memorial Banquet. Mr. Regan is eager to do all he can to help promote your taskforce. Please feel free to call us if there is anything we can do. Sincerely Leslie A. Maeby Executive Assistant.”
The White House and the National Republican Committee (RNC) was interested in political developments in New York. A letter from the White House addressed to Mr. Gary James, chairman New York City Black Republican Council, over the signature of Haley Barbour Deputy Assistant to the President Director of Political Affairs. The letter dated August 13, 1986, read as follows:
“Dear Mr. James: Thank you for your letter of July 10, addressed to Mr. Regan, and the attached proposal for a Black Republican Statewide Taskforce, which I read with great interest.
The concept itself is very good, and I would appreciate your keeping me informed of its progress. If successful, it is certainly a prototype that could be used in other states, and we would be happy to work with you and the Republican National Committee to that end.
Please feel free to contact me or Barbara Hayward, who is the White House Liaison with the New York State Republican Party, any time you feel we may be of help. Best wishes in your endeavors. Sincerely, Haley Barbour Deputy Assistant to the President Director of Political Affairs.”
On February 8, 1988 we received the following on the letterhead of Congressman Jack Kemp.
I want you to know how much Joanne and I appreciate your efforts on my behalf in New York State. I recognize that I am not the ‘establishment’ choice in New York, but our campaign will pick up steam after we emerge from the pack in New Hampshire.
Your hard work, courage, and dedication are deeply and thoroughly appreciated by the entire Jack Kemp family. Sincerely, Jack
Chase was quick to ask an interesting question: Yo G, do you think that they took the liberty of passing your ‘qualifications’ to the Kemp people too’?
You’ve got a lot of lyrics with you good buddy, but I couldn’t control my brief laughter…
We received another letter from Congressman Kemp, dated March 28, 1988, that struck a different political tone.
It is not possible in just a few words to adequately thank you for everything you have done to help me with my campaign. We will always remember the days of commitment, effort, and to quote Churchill, the ‘blood sweat, and tears’ involved in the triumph we all hoped lie ahead.
While the nomination is not ours, I think it’s fair to say that we have made a difference in, and a significant impact on, consequences and that issues are important. Even more, we helped set the terms of the debate for the future. Without your help this would not have been possible. Without your willingness to give of your time and talent ‘the cause’ we believe in would not have been moved forward.
Long after the words are forgotten, and the issues have undergone change, the spirit that sparked our efforts will remain and go forward. That spirit will go on if we are willing to continue the battle for the enduring principles of country, family and progress that transcend any one campaign or any moment in time.
Joanne and I and the whole Kemp family thank you for all your help and your sacrifices. This was not the time for us to prevail. But that time will come, and I know we will be there together. Sincerely, Jack
On November 28, 1989 we received a letter from Honorable Lee Atwater, Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC).
“Dear Mr. James:
In September I convened the first Small Business Advisory Council (SBAC) meeting on behalf of the Republican National Committee. SBAC is a 30-member advisory group of Small Business and entrepreneurs from across America. This group will meet with the president and vice president, local legislators, department heads, and business leaders to identify issues crucial to the small business community.
The SBAC will address different ways to improve small business access to capital, resolve problems in rural small/economic development, develop minority businesses, and increase small business involvement in international trade. The president has demonstrated his commitment to small business through his unwavering support for a capital-gains tax cut. This important legislation will spur economic activity, create jobs and encourage new small businesses, to be formed.
President Bush and you are committed to supporting the growth and expansion of America’s small business. I have appointed Jim Whitehead ad director of SBAC, and he will be responsible for keeping you informed of our activities. Please feel free to contact him with your comments or suggestions. We welcome your active participation. Thank you for your continued support. Sincerely, Lee Atwater, Chairman Republican National Committee”
On the national and state levels we’re being embraced and encouraged to participate in every opportunity, while at the local county level our activities are being sabotaged and sandbagged. Their political motives are blatant and obvious, at county. I was getting a better appreciation for the dichotomy between how politics is being done on the national and state levels as compare to the ad-hoc politics that rules New York City GOP county politics.