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/ May 16, 2014
Gallatin Junior Aides Republican Underdog In State Assembly Race

It’s not every day that a junior in college is a top aide to a politician. Nor is it every day that a single mother and retired JAG officer runs on the Republican ticket for an assembly race in DeBlasio’s New York.

To the normal NYU student (normal being relative), Gallatin junior Chris Hofmann might seem like a square; a straight-laced dude who wears sweaters only a mother could love. He’s quick to give a firm handshake when we meet at the Starbucks on campus, and is much nicer than a Left-leaning Independent would like to admit of a Republican. He says he’s running for the New York Regional Chair of the College Republicans National Committee, that “it’s a big deal.” He wins the chair later in the month, around the time when I meet the candidate he represents, Maureen Koetz, at NYU’s own College Republicans chapter meeting.

Maureen Koetz, a veteran and native New Yorker, put herself in the running for New York’s State Assembly. If elected Koetz would represent portions of downtown Manhattan spanning from Little Italy to Battery Park City. The seat is currently held by longtime incumbent, Sheldon Silver.

The Sheldon Silver Saga is an article in itself. His longtime friend admitted to being involved in a $9 million charity scam. Silver signed off on a payout to an assemblyman’s sexual harassment victims. Silver also allowed his children to register using his Grand Street address, so they could vote in his district.

Though a win is a longshot, having Koetz in office mean she’d not only dethrone an assembly chair,  but his speakership would be up for grabs, too. The Queens native spoke to a group of 20 College Republicans inside Kimmel in April.

“I like to think that this campaign is about pan partisan pragmatism,” Koetz said, leaning against the side of the podium. “We have to…lead across the spectrum. We can’t live at one of the spectrum as Republicans. Think of all the great success we had in New York among Republicans. That’s a hell of a legacy.”

Although this is Koetz’s first run for office, she’s been in the public service her entire life. After graduating from American University, Koetz held positions in the U.S. Navy, Air Force, the EPA, the Nuclear Energy Institute, and the U.S. Congress. She moved back to New York in 2006.

“If you ask me what is green energy it’s a subway hooked up to a nuclear power plant,” she added.

Despite her party name, Koetz’s energy platform is pretty progressive, and she’s rubbing elbows with more of the District’s Democrats than she is with the state assembly’s Republicans. She’s pretty dogged on reaching reform in development deals and taxations, figuring out what we’re going to do with commercial space at the World Trade Center area, and getting tort reform.

“We don’t have to buy into the ultra-progressive, the crippling culture of dependency…I believe that destroys people’s souls,” Koetz added. “That’s not to say that we should not have a safety net for the people who truly and absolutely need it.”

A win for “the wannabe citizen legislator”  would definitely be a true underdog story. Until then, Koetz’s campaign runs out of her Battery Park City apartment and Sheldon Silver still controls the Assembly’s votes.

Hofmann told the room: “There are a lot of great stories about the underdog winning in politics and this will certainly be one of them.”

[Images courtesy of Chris Hofmann, via]