2006-03-01 / Political Page

Suozzi Challenges Spitzer In Governor’s Primary

Thomas Suozzi, who formally announced his candidacy for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination against Eliot Spitzer on Saturday, wasted no time in taking the battle to the state attorney general on Sunday, charging that Spitzer has accepted contributions from Albany lobbyists, trial lawyers and special interest groups “who he did not investigate,” Suozzi declared.

A Spitzer spokesman responded that for the past seven years, while Spitzer has served as attorney general, no one had done more to stand up to special interests and the status quo.

Suozzi, the 43-year-old Nassau County executive, leveled his charges against Spitzer during a luncheon at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach. Suozzi was responding to criticism from Spitzer supporters who said Suozzi had accepted campaign donations from Wall Street contributors, including William

Langone, a former member of the New York Stock exchange who is awaiting trial on I charges brought by Spitzer’s office. Langone has already contributed to Suozzi’s campaign and has steered other contributors to him.

Spitzer is a huge favorite over Suozzi, having lined up heavy support from Democrats, who anticipate an easy victory in both the primary and general elections that will put a Democrat in the state house in Albany for the first time since 1994.

This won’t discourage Suozzi from waging an energetic and abrasive race against Spitzer and giving him a bad case of agida. Spitzer, who has already raised about $19 million for the governor’s race, might have envisioned an easy campaign for himself based on his overwhelming support and the lack of a strong Republican opponent. But that will not happen with Suozzi as his primary challenger.

Suozzi said as much after he announced his candidacy on Saturday, telling reporters he would campaign in Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx the following day to send “a direct message to Eliot Spitzer that I’m leaving no stone

unturned” in the campaign.

Suozzi has about $5 million on hand to start I his campaign and claims to have another $10 million in pledges and donations to be announced. Although the latter have not been confirmed, it’s expected Suozzi will capitalize on the many enemies Spitzer has made in the investment community. His campaign financing goal, he says, is $20 million.

His campaign strategy calls for him to aggressively pursue Democrats in the middle of the political spectrum for the primary, and Independents and Republicans later on if he wins the nomination.

On issues, Suozzi will campaign to reduce property taxes and overhaul Medicaid and will charge that Spitzer has failed to pursue Medicaid fraud, and has not settled the education funding suit, which would give more education funding to New York City and the rest of the state.

We see Suozzi waging a noisy and bothersome (for Spitzer) campaign, but we think Spitzer has too much money and support to hold on to the Democratic voters he already has because the state party machinery is going to be working toward that end, too.

QUEENS REPUBS SHOWCASE CANDIDATES: On the Republican side of the gubernatorial ledger, the GOP hasn’t settled on a candidate yet, but this past Friday evening, the Queens GOP organization showcased the four gentlemen vying for their party’s nomination at their annual Lincoln Day Dinner at Roma View Caterers in Howard Beach.

State Senator Serphin Maltese, the Queens organization chairman, had the four governor hopefuls—Randy Daniels, John Faso, Pat Manning, and William Weld—each address the crowd. Also on hand was the candidate for the United States Senate, John Spencer, who will oppose Senator Hillary Clinton, and Jeanine Pirro, the party’s candidate for state attorney general.

Maltese also presented Long Island Congressmember Peter King with the Theodore Roosevelt Award and gave out Grass Roots Leadership Awards to Lauren M. Cacipopo, Joseph Meccariello, Christina HsiuPing Chiou, Gloria A. Piekarski and Stephanie Zgaljic.

At another Lincoln Day Dinner, this one held by the 131-year-old Queens Village Republican Club, state Senator Frank Padavan (R-C, Bellerose) presented Emma Eberlin a State Senate proclamation on the occasion of her 100th birthday.

“Emma’s long history of service to the community could only be matched by her youthful exuberance and vivacious character,” Padavan said in presenting the proclamation.

CONSERVATIVES BACK FASO: In the Republican gubernatorial race, former Assembly Speaker John Faso received a personal endorsement from state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long, who asked other party leaders to come out for Faso, too.

However, three county chairmen upstate decided to back William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, who has the backing of state Republican Leader Stephen Minarik.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state, so Conservative support is virtually a must for a GOP candidate. In fact, no Republican has won statewide office without running on the Conservative Party ballot line since 1974.

ENDORSEMENTS: In the Democratic race for attorney general, Andrew Cuomo was endorsed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Public Advocate Mark Green, also an attorney general candidate, was endorsed by former Mayor David Dinkins, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and former state Democratic Party Chairman Judith Hope.

Cuomo’s endorsement by Quinn, who is a lesbian, was considered significant because Cuomo and Green have been angling for support from gay groups in New York City.

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