It’s a strange time to be a New York Republican—a strange enough thing to begin with. Republicans have got their man in the White House, in the statehouse, and in Gracie Mansion, but here in the city, they’re still outnumbered five to one. What’s more, the city is more stridently politicized than at any time since Reagan. Anger—over Iraq, over Ashcroft, over everything—is suddenly in vogue. New York Democrats simply can’t stop themselves from telling anyone who will listen just how much they hate the president.
And local Republicans trying to defend the Bush administration aren’t helped by how little their party seems to care or know about the city. (Tom DeLay’s cruise ship, anyone?) The inescapable message is that Bush clearly doesn’t need New York.
Yet far from feeling besieged (remember the Alamo?), the city’s Republicans are fighting back aggressively with a fierce barrage of checks. After D.C., New York is now the most important fund-raising stop for the GOP. For young Republicans—whose New York was shaped by Giuliani—the city represents an enticing possibility. It may still be a city-state of liberalism, but to local Republican opportunists already dancing at the thought of hosting the convention this year, that also makes it the country’s next conservative frontier.