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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Primary Scorecard

Nassau voters can be forgiven their general lack of interest or knowledge about the Tuesday, Sept. 14 primary elections. Some of the candidates vying for their affections, and the media outlets which should be covering the prospective office holders, apparently took the summer off.

Gail Goode, for instance, the Brooklyn attorney trying to deny U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand the Democratic nomination, issued a news release on July 29, challenging the Senator to six debates. Goode’s website has posted, as of this writing, no new statements for the media since then.

The press also dropped the ball. For instance, when the three Republicans vying for the right to challenge the winner of the Goode-Gillibrand contest held a televised, live debate last month on New York City’s NY1, a 24-hour cable news channel, The New York Times didn’t even send a reporter to cover the proceedings, although The Wall Street Journal’s Greater New York section did. The Times published the next day an Associated Press wire service story about the debate, which featured former Nassau County legislator Bruce Blakeman, economist David Malpass, and former Congressman Joseph DioGuardi. There appears to be a news blackout in effect for the Gary Berntsen (Port Jefferson, NY)-Jay Townsend (Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY) primary for the Republican nomination to contest U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s re-election bid, too.

Former Suffolk County Congressman Rick Lazio of Brightwaters is involved in one of Sept. 14’s GOP primaries, although assessing what either Lazio or Buffalo’s Carl Paladino, his rival, would do as governor has required the state’s registered Republicans to conduct their own due diligence. Neither Lazio nor Paladino generated much media coverage or paid advertising this summer on issues which might directly confront a Lazio or Paladino administration in January 2011.

Turning to Nassau races, it was left largely to weekly newspapers such as this one to tell anyone there were party primary elections in Nassau’s 4th and 5th congressional districts (CD). Frank Scaturro, a New Hyde Park native who served as counsel for the Constitution on the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee, is waging a spirited campaign for the Republican nomination in the 4th CD against Nassau County Legislator Fran Becker (R-Lynbrook), the GOP’s official choice to face off against Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) in the fall.

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights), who represents the 5th CD, which includes portions of northern Nassau County, has to turn back a challenge in next week’s Democratic primary from Patricia Maher of East Meadow. Should the Congressman prevail on Sept. 14, he will then square off against the winner of the 5th CD’s Republican primary election, which pits Great Neck attorney Liz Berney against Dr. James Milano of Oyster Bay. The 5th CD’s boundaries extend into Queens.

The stakes are also very high next Tuesday for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, one of five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for state attorney general. DA Rice may win the election but the editorial boards of The New York Times, The New York Daily News, and The New York Post have already endorsed other Democrats for the job.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net