Independence Party switches endorsements

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy speaks about gun violence before

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy speaks about gun violence before students at Mineola High School, calling on their help to ban high-capacity ammunition clips. (February 4, 2011) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Dan Janison

Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison, Dan Janison

Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday for 10

bio | email

The rule that no two elections are ever the same seems to hold especially true for the wild-card Independence Party.

In 2010, Nassau Legis. Francis X. Becker Jr. (R-Lynbrook) had the minor party's backing for Congress, giving him 2,940 votes in his loss to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola).

But this year, the Independence Party has switched support to McCarthy, even as Becker seeks the seat again.

This follows a change in party leadership. Rick Bellando, who replaced Bobby Kumar as the party's Nassau chairman last year, said he's a longtime fan of McCarthy.

Becker, having had the Independence nod in the past, said he was "stunned" he didn't get a screening interview, which Bellando said he requested too late. For now Becker -- favored by the Republican and Conservative organizations -- is preparing for a GOP primary contest against lawyer Frank Scaturro, who has been gathering petition signatures seeking a rematch of their 2010 faceoff.

The Independence line has shifted in a Suffolk race too -- with roles oddly reversed. This year, Republican businessman Randy Altschuler has the Independence nod against Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) -- whose 7,370 Independence votes last time were key to his narrow defeat of Altschuler.

Like Becker, Altschuler is the GOP county committee favorite in a possible rematch primary, in his case against George Demos.

With some in the Independence camp still backing Bishop, state and Suffolk Independence chairman Frank MacKay defended the Altschuler move, saying the party seeks candidates "who have achieved success outside of politics, proven leaders who can transform government."

Notably, that congressional contest is one of four statewide where the Independence Party now supports the Republican after backing a Democrat a year and a half ago. GOP Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks has the Independence line against the minor party's 2010 candidate, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester). Same goes for Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island), who unseated the 2010 Independence candidate, Democrat Michael McMahon, and Rep. Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook), who beat the Independence-preferred Rep. Scott Murphy (D-Glens Falls).

As MacKay notes, the party also is again backing for Congress:Matt Doheny and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld), two upstate GOP businessmen. Locally, Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) retained the Independence line.