The Anti-Mondello Rule

ALBANY—Prominent Republicans around the state have spent the last several days digesting the report of the Eristoff Commission, which outlined an agenda for a stronger party moving forward, talked baldly about past mistakes, and has a recommendation that could be read as a charge against the current state chairman Joe Mondello.

Recommendation 6 would bar concurrent service of a county chairman as the state chair. This would apply to Mondello, the Nassau County Republican chairman, who has been the subject of much criticism since he commissioned this report last December. (Steve Minarik, who preceded Mondello in the post, also served as a county chairman, so this is nothing new.) The report calls this concurrent service “inappropriate and demonstrably impractical.”

“The roles are—or should be—fundamentally distinct, and the separate demands of each are frequently incompatible. The New York State Republican State Committee needs a dedicated chair unfettered and uncompromised by the demands of running a local county organization,” the recommendation reads.

It does not call on the state chair to step down, but rather calls for the drafting of a bylaw amendment by August. Mondello’s term ends in September; in the past, his spokesman has said he will run for re-election.

John Faso, a former Assembly minority leader who has called on Mondello to resign, told me he read the Eristoff report Thursday night.

“It’s unprecedented for the Republican Party to undertake this kind of study and self-reflection, and I think we’ll be stronger for it,” Faso said. “I think the recommendations are all very important.”

I asked Faso specifically about the county chair-state chair recommendation.

“I do think that in order to really implement the report you need a chairman who is essentially full-time chairman,” Faso said. “The report is clear that we have a very large task in front of us. In order to accomplish all of these recommendations, you need to go 24/7.”

Dan Isaacs has openly proclaimed a bid against Mondello, and there are rumblings about people like Faso, former state senator Ray Meier and Niagara County chair Henry Wojtaszek taking over.

Wojtaszek, should he be elected the state chairmanship, would face the same conundrum of whether or not to resign his current post. Wojtaszek told me by phone that “we need to review all of the recommendations and see which ones can be implemented.” He said he agreed with the report’s overall tone.

The Anti-Mondello Rule