In retrospect you could say the Democratic vote for a new leader of the party was evident by looking at the buttons.
At the Democratic convention in the student center at Hofstra University Tom DiNapoli supporters wore red stick-on circles saying "DiNapoli & Patton - Bringing Us Together." The Lewis Yevoli supporters wore stick-on labels with Y-e-v-o-l-i, hand written in black magic marker. In retrospect you could say the battle had been won visually, from the very beginning.
David O'Brien of Wantagh, at 26, was Yevoli's numbers man. He used his laptop to set out a spreadsheet of the vote. He projected the numbers he expected from each district. "He'll be a full time chair. His personality is to go after the Republicans. The party has been too conciliatory. We have to go after them."
He knew where the votes were coming from. "The 16 A.D. may come with lot of votes. I hope they don't." He didn't get his wish. Dressed in a firey red suit, Judith Hope, Empire State Chair for five years, chaired the convention and said "Everyone believes this can be the beginning of a new day in Nassau County. You are the dawn of a new day in Nassau County. The job of Democratic victories starts here tonight. We are going to retire the Republican party in Nassau County. That's what the people want."
Roger Corman endorsed Mr. Yevoli because, "For the first time we united all the different factions in Hempstead and elected two trustees for the first time in 20 years because we decided to unite and not fight."
In his speech Lewis Yevoli said, "We all want unity - to work together. Then Lew gave a list of the ills of the "Nassau County under the complete control of the Republicans." He said people said the Hempstead candidates didn't have a chance, but he added "I got them elected!" He said he could be a full time, articulate spokesman for the party.
Congressman Gary Ackerman said he chose Tom DiNapoli because "This is about what we are going to do tomorrow." He added, "The time has come for new leadership."
Glen Cove Mayor Tom Suozzi, looking like part of a new young leadership said he chose Tom DiNapoli as the needed leader of the party for his positive connections and his choice of Barbara Patton that showed he wasn't out to control the board of elections. "She is not part of any fighting factions in our party." He said, "We must dismantle the Republican $2 billion power structure. He can unite us and make us all winners again."
The picture was taking shape. There was Tom Suozzi of Glen Cove for Tom DiNapoli, who has Mike Deering working with him again. (Mike is the past executive director of Friends of the Bay.) There was a young brightness among them.
Tom DiNapoli took the microphone. "Tonight is a great night for all of us. It's not a night for a victory for me or Lew. It is for the Democratic party. We have stars and have them right here. Star's glitter rubs off. You're all going to shine again. Good politics translates into good government."
Like a good salesman, he dealt with the negative. "I'm a busy person but I'm willing to put the time in." He asked others to commit their time too.
His speech could have been written by James Carville. There was one basic message - unity. The one thing all the party members wanted.
Then the count started. With about three more districts to be heard from there was a pause in the voting as the Merrick numbers were challenged. David O'Brien looked at his computer and said the count was DiNapoli 887 and Yevoli 359. "I guess I'm not that good at math," said the Yevoli supporter.
Mr. Yevoli conceded at that point, saying "We're going to leave the hall totally united. We're going to revitalize the party." The vote was finished by acclamation.
Tom said to the crowd "Shhh." When the room got silent, he said, "That's the sound of Democrats not fighting."
Telling the simple message won the election for Mr. DiNapoli. It appears that he will attract a younger, brighter group of young Democrats to his side. Still, I hope they don't forget Mr. Yevoli. You don't make a cake without breaking eggs. Nice is good, but sometimes gutsy is better. It's not always appreciated, but sometimes you need someone to say "The emperor doesn't have any clothes on." We need a two party system. It is too hard for the Republicans to police themselves because they are "family."
Not that there is anything wrong with that.