Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 10 September 2010 00:00
Declaring that his candidacy for the Republican Party nomination for governor was in “great shape,” former Long Island congressman Rick Lazio made another campaign stop in Massapequa last week, with a visit to the Massapequa Diner.
Although most of his conversation with the local media was about jobs and the economy, Lazio also gave some personal insight into why, after a 10-year absence, he is back in the political arena. In 2000, Lazio, then a four-term congressman from the Second Congressional District, lost a highly publicized U.S. Senate race to Hilary Clinton.
Lazio related that during the past decade, he had been encouraged to run for both Nassau County and Suffolk County executive races and even a try for his old congressional district. However, both the resignation of then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer and what Lazio termed as the “disappointing” performance of Spitzer’s successor, David Paterson, prompted him to make the governor’s run.
“When things are as bad as they are, when people are as turned off, angry and distrustful as they are, it is time for good people to step up,” Lazio said.
Lazio further spoke of his home state’s “proud history,” his plan to create jobs, and his contention that New Yorkers “don’t have to accept failure, mediocrity, and corruption.”
When asked about the weakened condition of the state GOP, Lazio remained upbeat. He admitted that spending increases on the national level during the Republican reign of the 2000s was “not true to [the party’s] principles,” with the consequences coming in the elections of 2006 and 2008. But he added that the party has now been given a second chance. With the public still angry over taxes and spending, the term fiscal conservatism, Lazio claimed, “is not a negative. It’s a great positive.”
As for himself, Lazio said that if elected, he would treat state taxpayers “with respect” while being stingy with their money.
“There will be no jobs until we have stability, with taxes down and deficits down and incentives to invest,” he said.
When reminded that the state assembly is likely to remain Democratic and the future of the state senate less certain, Lazio felt, that if elected, he could still achieve his agenda, pointing out that in neighboring New Jersey, the state’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, managed to work with a Democratic legislator to enact a property tax cap.
Lazio also noted that any New York governor has strong powers, including the veto pen and as chief negotiator with employees unions.
“I will focus on areas where I have executive authority,” he said. “And I will appeal to the public to follow through on their [the legislator’s] commitments.”
Finally, on the subject of Long Island jobs, Lazio touted on creating a mixture of what he termed “advanced technology green jobs” and infrastructure jobs that would be achieved in a cost-effective way. He mentioned the Kings Park development as a possible “green research park” and job-creating collaborations between colleges, universities, and local businesses.
Recently, State GOP Chairman Ed Cox issued a public letter reiterating his support for Lazio’s candidacy. This led to speculation that Lazio was losing ground to his primary challenger, upstate businessman Carl Paladino. However, a local GOP official told Anton Community Newspapers that the letter was merely a way to keep the party united, reminding voters that Lazio received the party’s designation for governor at the June GOP convention.