Pope Becomes Issue in Queens Council Race

The Pope photograph is in the right corner of the flier.

The Pope photograph is in the right corner of the flier.

A holy war has erupted in a Queens City Council race.

Democrat Lew Simon slammed Councilman Eric Ulrich today for distributing campaign fliers that feature a picture of Mr. Ulrich with Pope John Paul II–as he’s done in at least one previous campaign.

Mr. Ulrich, a former seminary student, has been distributing the fliers at religious venues across the district, but Mr. Simon’s campaign claimed that using the ex-pope’s image in a campaign was “arrogant” and “offensive.”

“Using a picture of the Holy Father on campaign literature is arrogant, dishonest and offensive to Catholic voters,” charged Doug Forand, a spokesman for Mr. Simon. “Unlike Councilman Ulrich’s misleading attempt to pander, Lew Simon has a long history of actually working with local churches and Catholic schools to raise money, stay open and continue serving the people of Queens—a relationship he will strengthen even more as a member of the City Council.”

The two-sided flier says asserts that, “Catholics couldn’t ask for a stronger voice in the City Council” than Mr. Ulrich. It also notes that he will, “Respect the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to natural death,” an allusion to Mr. Ulrich’s views on abortion.

The district, which ropes in neighborhoods like Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Breezy Point, is heavily Catholic and relatively conservative. Mr. Ulrich, a Republican, bested Mr. Simon in a 2009 special election and remains a favorite as he vies for re-election.

He shot back that Mr. Simon was “delusional.”

“Lew Simon is delusional and is running a desperate campaign,” Mr. Ulrich told Politicker. “I am proud to be a Roman Catholic and I’m not ashamed of my record of helping Catholic schools or supporting other faith-based initiatives. This is just another bizarre rant that has come out of Lew Simon’s campaign.”

“Lew Simon will have to do a lot more than attack a picture of the pope to win this election,” he added.