Gia Arnold believes she has earned an interview from GOP committee
ALBION – Gia Arnold is only asking for an interview from a five-person committee that will fill a vacancy for the 62nd Senate District’s endorsed Republican candidate.
George Maziarz had the party’s endorsement but he has declined the nomination. Today was the deadline to accept or decline.
Arnold had already worked to force a Republican primary after she submitted petitions signed by about 1,500 registered voters last week. But she hasn’t been interviewed by key Republican Party leaders in the 62nd Senate District, which includes most of Niagara, all of Orleans and a western portion of Monroe.
She said today during news conferences in Albion and North Tonawanda that she doesn’t want the party leaders to use “backroom politics” to select a candidate.
Arnold, 24, is a mother of three young children. She and her husband Jeremy own a tree trimming business.
She became active in politics last year after the SAFE Act was passed by the State Legislature and Gov. Cuomo. Although Maziarz opposed the SAFE Act, Arnold says the senator could have done more to work towards its repeal.
She fully expected to square off against him in a September Primary.
“I was shocked because he has been out campaigning,” Arnold said about Maziarz’s announcement. The two both attended and spoke at a rally Saturday in Albion about Second Amendment rights.
Arnold said she sought an interview with Republican Party leaders in the three counties in the spring, but they told her they had already picked Maziarz back in February.
She was interviewed by Orleans County Conservative Party leaders and they endorsed her. However, State Conservative Party leaders gave the endorsement to Maziarz. She is now trying to get that endorsement. She fears the five-person Republican committee to fill vacancies will pick someone in “the club” and the Conservatives will then rubber stamp that endorsement.
“I believe I deserve a chance based on all the work I’ve been doing in the district,” she said today.
She would like to see the committee, which will include three people from Niagara, interview candidates from Orleans and Monroe counties, and not just “anoint” someone from Niagara County. (Many media outlets have listed North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt as the likely Republican favorite.)
“Isn’t it time we break-up the good ole boys club?” Arnold said at her stop in Albion this afternoon.
Ed Morgan, chairman of the Orleans County Republican Party, told the Orleans Hub on Sunday night that a Niagara County candidate would likely get the committee’s endorsement because Niagara has three of the five votes.
“Would a candidate from one county with a lesser population not effectively serve a constituency from another with a greater population?” Arnold said. “How about endorsing a home-grown not hand-picked candidate that has been working hard to gain support the past several months in his own backyard.”
If Arnold isn’t the choice of the committee, she believes she has enough signatures to be on the ballot for primaries in September. She also is working to run under the Libertarian line in November.
The Republican candidate will likely face Johnny Destino, a Niagara Falls attorney. He has the Democratic Party line. He ran as a Republican in a primary against Maziarz in 2012. He switched parties this election.
Arnold said she wasn’t impressed by Destino for changing and running as a Democrat this time.
“That says a lot about his morals that he’ll do anything to get elected,” she said.
Arnold was joined in Albion by Paul Lauricella, vice chairman of the Orleans County Conservative Committee. He said the group is in strong support of Arnold, who said she wouldn’t serve more than 8 years. Maziarz has been in office as a state senator since 1995.
She has shown a willingness to speak out on issues and fight, Lauricella said.
“She could handle those boys downstate,” Lauricella said. “She’s an independent thinker and she wouldn’t sell out on Day 1 like all of the others once they are elected.”
Lauricella said Maziarz leaves with a lot of fans in Orleans County.
“I like George,” Lauricella said. “He’s a very personable man. He’s just been there too long.”