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A New York State Tea Party leader is claiming that the Chairman of the Rockland County Republican Committee physically assaulted him and threatened him by asking if he knew what a Bronx Beating is. (For those that don't know, a "Bronx Beating" is an assault with baseball bats).

This ugly incident, whether it happened or just exists in the imagination of blogger and campaign manager Bob Fois, underscores how the rivalry between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment is growing nastier by the day and may explode sometime soon.

Let's start with a little background.

Vincent "Vinnie" Reda is the NY GOP's Vice Chair and also runs the Republican machine in bellwether Rockland County. An establishment Republican, he hasn't played well with the teabaggers in recent weeks.

Members of "Rally for America," the local Tea Party organization and the Tea Party site NewsCopy New York are saying that their candidate to face Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel in New York's 17th District, Tony Melé, has been passed over by the GOP in favor of another candidate, York Kleinhandler. But they insist Melé is really the stronger candidate. So unhappy are these Tea Partiers that and they've started a scorched-earth campaign against Reda and Kleinhandler.

The NewsCopy site, run by Fois, has complained that Reda has used strong arm tactics to stop Melé from running for Congress. The website has even gone as far as to play the race card against the regional Republican leader, claiming that Melé may have been bypassed as a candidate because he is half Puerto Rican.

The infighting continues on the pages of NewsCopy and Urban Elephants as Fois now claims that Reda assaulted him:

According to Fois, Reda was upset that Fois alleged on his blog he had lied "about the Conservative Party and that his county convention--run without proxies and strong-armed every wretched step of the way--was setup to bypass Republican Tony Mele over York Kleinhandler."

Fois claims Reda tapped on his the shoulder, shoved him against the wall, and asked him if he knew what a "Bronx beating" is.

Fois isn't saying if he is going to press charges.

Bad blood continues to boil as Fois and Reda are now arguing over the past military service of the rival candidates:

Reda has also questioned Mele's military record, without proof, yet has not provided any accountable documentation on Kleinhandler's own military status.

Finally, Reda kept insisting that Mele has never met with RNC Chair Michael Steele though multiple photos show Mele has met twice with the Republican leader.  The RNC has a favorable interest in Mele's candidacy, since it make sense that a Bronx native now living in Rockland who is a veteran and a Tea Party member would be a natural fit for the 17th.

Fois continues by taking potshots at Kleinhandler, digging up dirt about a Federal lawsuit against Kleinhandler and his brother David, that Fois says is "for predatory business practices against senior citizens."

The paperwork on this lawsuit against Kleinhandler was just filed on Friday, though points of the case go back to 2007.  One highly placed political operative in the judicial community described it as "just a business lawsuit" though one wonders why this was missed in the vetting.

And I always thought it was the Democrats that resorted to circular firing squads.

A reasonable facsimile of this diary appears on Left of the Hudson.

Originally posted to NYaltnews on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 02:51 PM PDT.

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