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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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GOP Primary Battle

The registered Republicans in Nassau County’s 4th Congressional District (CD) are being asked on Tuesday, June 26 to choose their nominee for the U.S. House seat which has been held for nearly 16 years by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola).

Nassau County Legislator Fran Becker (R-Lynbrook) is the GOP’s official choice, and Becker won a 2010 Republican Congressional primary against one of the challengers he’ll face later this month, Frank Scaturro, a Hempstead resident who grew up in New Hyde Park. One difference in this election cycle is that the Becker-Scaturro race on June 26 is a head-to-head match-up whereas two years ago a third candidate also ran, finishing far behind both Becker and Scaturro. Legislator Becker, president of Becker & Associates and a Certified Financial Planner, lost to Rep. McCarthy in 2010’s general election.

As in the 2010 primary contest, Becker has some advantages over Scaturro, starting with access to the Nassau County Republican committee’s apparatus, which includes activists who walk door-to-door and make phone calls on behalf of candidates chosen at the county’s nominating convention. Scaturro, however, has shown organizational strength by securing enough signatures from registered Republicans in the 4th CD to force a primary, and his campaign has been able to raise enough money to launch an extensive direct-mail operation.

There is a consensus among political operatives that the June 26 GOP Congressional primary will be a low-turnout affair. The lack of public interest can be tracked to the limited media buzz surrounding the primary election and the conventional wisdom holding that Rep. McCarthy should have little trouble winning re-election in November 2012, against whomever the Republicans nominate. I’m not convinced Rep. McCarthy will automatically be returned to Washington, D.C. for another two years.

For starters, the newly redrawn 4th CD’s boundaries, which were cut after the completion of 2010’s U.S. Census reduced to 27 from 29 the number of U.S. House seats in New York, are more favorable in 2012 for a Republican candidate with GOP-friendly communities like Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh, and Island Park now falling within its confines. These voters may not want Rep. McCarthy, a reliable supporter of the U.S. House’s Democratic caucus, as their representative in Washington, D.C.

In the meantime, the district’s registered Republicans must sort out the type of candidate they want to have face Rep. McCarthy. Becker brings to the table years of experience as an elected member of the Nassau County Legislature, where he currently chairs its Towns, Villages & Cities committee. He also came close to ousting the Congressional incumbent in 2010, losing by a 54 to 46 percent margin. Scaturro, a partner at the law firm FSB FisherBroyles, became a visiting professor at Hofstra Law School after spending more than four years in D.C. as counsel for the Constitution on the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary committee. In that role, he worked closely with the U.S. Senators who reviewed the U.S. Supreme Court nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito.

There’s also a Conservative Party primary in the 4th CD on June 26 but it is the Republican nomination that both campaigns want the most.

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