Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:00
If there is a path to defeat, the Democrats of Nassau can usually find it. The current primary battle between Thomas Suozzi and Adam Haber is shaping up as a replay of 1977. In that year Assemblyman Irwin Landes, the organization candidate faced off against David Pierez, as an endowed candidate who invested his own fortune into the race. Landes also had Liberal Party endorsement and Pierez referred to the minor Party as “political whores.”
The Republicans had three candidates, Fran Purcell, the favored choice of Party Boss, Joseph Margiotta with 198,000 signatures on his nominating petitions; State Senator John Dunne, the brilliant, Republican-Liberal alternative and Ralph Caso, the incumbent County Executive who had fallen out of favor with the Republican organization.
In September, 1977 Landes won the Democratic primary, 45,000 votes to 20,000 for Pierez. Purcell easily won on the Republican side but surprising things were happening.
Five weeks before the election it was revealed that Landes had been practicing law without a license for 24 years and had not filed tax returns for many years. Landes stopped campaigning, the money dried up and except for Denis Dillon, the Democratic candidate for District Attorney seeking his second term and Marie Santagata running for the County court on the Democratic/Conservative line, all other Democrats lost countrywide. The opportunity for victory was squandered. Had it not been for the Landes debacle Democrats might have won both the County Executive’s Office and the Supervisor’s post in North Hempstead, a feat that they did not achieve for another 12 years.
After supporting Bobby Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, Congressman Allard Lowenstein, George McGovern and being a Democratic Committeeman, Zone Leader, National and Judicial Convention Delegate and member of the New Democratic Coalition, the liberal wing of the Party, I became disgusted with the Democrats’ in fighting and being unable to win any local offices. Without changing my ideals or my philosophy, I became a Republican in 1978.
In 2013, the Democratic primary will either give voters a viable alternative or result in the candidates once again hurting their chances by attacking each other. Instead of focusing on the past, all candidates for elective office should focus on the future and non-partisan solutions. In the words of one politician: “The best ideas should win.”
Thomas F. Liotti is an attorney and Village Justice in Westbury. In 1977 he was the Democratic/Independent candidate for Supervisor in the Town of North Hempstead.
Thomas F. Liotti