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Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
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Clearing the Air

1. As of the moment this is being written, Legislator Ed Mangano leads County Executive Suozzi by 497 votes on voting machines. The counting of over 8,000 absentee and other paper ballots might be completed by the time you read this. Most political people believe Mr. Mangano is the favorite to win because more enrolled Republicans returned absentee ballots than enrolled Democrats. However, some of those Republicans are actually older “hidden” Democrats, vestiges from a time when it was smarter and safer to enroll with the G.O.P. just in case you had to do business with the county or town. Are there enough of them to make up that kind of ground? Twenty years ago, the answer was definitely, “maybe yes.” Today, it’s not as clear. Insiders say that the Mangano campaign worked the absentee ballots much more than the Suozzi campaign, meaning they made direct contact with applicants. If so, it’s another sign that the Democratic Party is losing institutional knowledge of even the basic mechanics of campaign making. It isn’t all about collecting large campaign checks.…

 

2. Republicans and others are dismayed that the Conservative nominee, Steve Hansen (an employee of Mr. Suozzi in the county government) invested his time and resources attacking Mr. Mangano. Voters have a variety of motivations for voting for a candidate on one line as opposed to another. Mr. Suozzi appeared on three ballot lines and Mr. Mangano on two, but chances are their percentages would not have significantly changed if they both were only on one line. Not running on the Conservative line likely helped Mr. Mangano pick up votes from some non-Republicans. All in all, it probably mostly evened out. That being said, the appearance of cynical manipulation remains sublime. The 2005 Conservative nominee for Executive was appointed to a district court judgeship and ran with Democratic Party support in 2008.…

3. Just over two weeks before Election Day, county Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs and the Democratic State Committee made public attacks on Republican candidate Mangano because of his relationship to a printing business operated by his brother. The business, New Media Printing in Bethpage, was at one time involved in a tax dispute with the IRS. I cannot speak to the tax problems that Mr. Mangano’s brother’s business may have had in 1998, but something important didn’t come up. In just the last five years, political clients for whom that business has printed campaign materials have included: the New York State Democratic Committee, the North Hempstead Democratic Committee, Friends of Tom Suozzi and other Democrats whose names are familiar to many readers. Local Democrats have had a very positive relationship with New Media, which is one of Long Island’s few unionized print shops. The attacks began just after publication of a poll that showed a large Suozzi lead and a large majority of voters unfamiliar with Mr. Mangano. In an apparent attempt to drive up Mr. Suozzi’s percentages to appropriate “statewide” levels, Mr. Jacobs unfairly portrayed as a criminal enterprise a firm on which Democrats had relied for years. He has possibly trashed a relationship that produced well for many Democratic candidates in order to promote the momentary interests of one. Stunning. Short-sighted. Selfish.…

4. If County Executive Suozzi had proposed county control of the public schools at another time (say, in any of the previous ninety-four months in which he had served as county executive) or as part of some overall comprehensive plan for government efficiency or savings, we might all be having a different conversation about it. More disturbing than the proposal itself is the accompanying theme that he has been politically martyred by schoolchildren, and that voters were so enraged, crazed or lobotomized that in their confusion they voted against their tax savior. It is actually embarrassing, and it is already backfiring. Mr. Suozzi needs to ask himself if he really wants to go out like this if he loses, or go on like this if he wins.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. He lives in New Hyde Park.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: millercolumn@optimum.net