Longtime Republican Betty Lugo remains open to GOP nomination for Queens DA

Betty Lugo kicks off her campaign for Queens DA earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Betty Lugo

Betty Lugo kicks off her campaign for Queens DA earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Betty Lugo

By David Brand

For nearly a quarter century, attorney Betty Lugo, a Democratic candidate for Queens District Attorney, was a Republican. She changed her party affiliation to Democrat a week after the November 2018 Midterm Elections.

Lugo, one of seven Democrats running in the DA primary, has voted as a registered Republican 22 times since 1997, when she ran for City Council, according to Board of Elections records.

The former Nassau County prosecutor, who founded the city’s first Latina-owned law firm in 1992, told the Eagle that she does not define herself by party affiliation.

“Both parties have issues to be honest with you,” Lugo said, classifying herself as “fiscally conservative and liberal socially.”

Lugo switched her party affiliation on Nov. 13, 2018. Image via Board of Elections

Lugo switched her party affiliation on Nov. 13, 2018. Image via Board of Elections

“I believe more with the Democrats, but the Democrats are moving too far to the left and the Republicans are moving too far to the right,” she continued

Despite the party switch, Lugo said she remains open to running as a Republican, if she could make it onto the ballot.

“Yes, I would consider it,” Lugo said. “We should look at the person, not the party.”

Daniel Kogan, an attorney with a law office in Ozone Park, was the only Republican candidate to qualify for the June 25 primary ballot. Kogan did not respond to multiple requests for comment by phone or email, nor did the Queens County Republican Party.

The deadline for ballot substitutions passed April 12, but the GOP could maneuver to get a new candidate on the ballot if they decided to nominate Kogan for a state Supreme Court judgeship, thus vacating the prosecutor slot. Kogan could decline the judicial nomination and remain on the ballot for Queens DA, however, the BOE told the Eagle.

In February, Lugo changed her primary address from an apartment building in Chelsea to a home in Maspeth. Her new address is located in Council District 30, where Lugo has a role model for switching parties in order to win a general election.

“I would do similar to what Bob Holden did,” Lugo said. “He ran and lost to Liz Crowley, but there were still a lot of people not happy because the parties [are] so extreme right now.”

She made similar statements to the Queens Chronicle in an interview earlier this year.

Councilmember Bob Holden, a longtime civic association leader, challenged then-incumbent Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley in the 2017 Democratic primary for District 30. Crowley soundly defeated Holden to retain the party’s nomination.

District 30 is dominated by white, middle-class homeowners critical of the policies of Mayor Bill de Blasio, most notably around homelessness, and the Queens GOP sensed an opportunity. They offered Holden the Republican nomination for the November 2017 general election, and Holden defeated Crowley by 137 votes to capture the Council seat. *

Holden considers himself a Democrat again — that’s how the Council website classifies him, at least — but he is not afraid to cross party lines. On April 19 Holden issued an unprompted statement denouncing an Office of Court Administration directive that would prevent ICE from making arrests in state courthouses without a judicial warrant, a position in stark contrast to his Democratic peers.

*Correction: This story initially said Holden won by 133 votes.