Rift dividing Bethlehem Republicans

Town Republicans say they are moving forward after an apparent rift divided some committee members and even divided support for the Republican candidate for the 21st Congressional District.

The rift has led to some committee members leaving the party and new members jumping on board.

Bethlehem Republican Chairwoman Melody Burns was re-elected to her post in September by the Town of Bethlehem Republican committee after vocal community activist and former county legislature hopeful Jared King challenged her for the seat.

Burns won the party election, and King is now out of the committee.

Spotlight Newspapers obtained a number of e-mails to town and county Republican committee members from former Town of Bethlehem supervisor candidate Victor Rodriquez, who has begun his own political action committee called RodPAC.

The e-mails detail an apparent coup led by King to remove Burns from the helm of the town party and also revealed some of the inter-workings of the committee concerning membership and political activities.

The intra-party fighting seems to have led to a few resignations as well as several threats of resignation, and centers around King's assertions that the party's leadership was playing town politics and only looking out for it own political future and not the party's.

After the party's first election, Burns said King had suggested scheduling a new election using a weighted vote after he spoke with Tom Marcelle, the Albany County GOP attorney.

"Jared ran against me. He pretty much had it all arranged," Burns said. When asked if King was still in the committee, Burns said, "Nobody really knows, he was involved in the elections in January when I was elected and nobody saw him again until May or June."

Burn did say King "is a good worker" and that "Jared is a political animal; he loves this stuff. He lives and breathes politics."

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