The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, June 02, 2005  

Nassau County Executive Tests the Waters

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer may face a Democratic primary challenge in his quest for the governor’s mansion. The New York Times today reports Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi is considering entering the race (“Nassau Leader Considers Run Against Spitzer, Pleasing G.O.P.,” by Patrick D. Healy and Bruce Lambert).

According to the Times, Suozzi “recently confided to prominent party members that he is preparing to run, arguing that his profile as a suburban Italian Catholic moderate and reform-minded Albany outsider would make him a strong candidate in both New York’s cities and suburbs.”

Some Democrats, including former New York State Comptroller Carl McCall, are trying to dissuade Suozzi from running for the state’s top office. Former governor Mario M. Cuomo, a friend of the Suozzi family, appears more equivocal: “Tom is extremely ambitious and is doing just about everything he can to move up the ladder beyond Nassau, that’s for sure. If Eliot Spitzer remains as popular as he appears to be at the moment, there’s not much sense in Tom challenging him, but anything can change. You never know when a candidate is going to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing.”

There are other concerns. The Times reports:

A polished speaker and telegenic campaigner, Mr. Suozzi also has a volatile temper and a tendency for overkill. Fellow Democrats in the Nassau County Legislature have complained in the past of roughshod treatment. […]

Displaying political muscle to challenge the entrenched incumbency of state legislators, Mr. Suozzi sponsored a Democratic primary in his home district last year in which his candidate, Charles Lavine, ousted Assemblyman David Sidikman. The move infuriated some state party leaders, but Mr. Suozzi built good will among others by giving thousands of dollars to a successful Syracuse Democrat for State Senate.

And here’s the perspective of the Empire State’s Republicans:

Whatever Mr. Suozzi is up to, Republican leaders love it. For some time, party officials around the state have been saying that a Suozzi candidacy would show that Mr. Spitzer is not invincible, and have been making mischief for Democrats by arguing that Mr. Suozzi has the good looks, cockiness and experience to be a serious candidate for governor.

Time will tell.

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