Primary insurgents blast party favorites

George Demos, GOP primary candidate for U.S. Congressman

George Demos, GOP primary candidate for U.S. Congressman - New York 1st Congressional District. (March 30, 2012) (Credit: James Escher)

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

Running as an insurgent in a party primary means staging your own fireworks.

So in all three GOP congressional primary fights for the right to take on incumbent Democrats in November, candidates without backing from the county committees have been ratcheting up the fiery rhetoric against those who do.

During the ballot-qualification process, efforts to knock rivals off the June 26 ballot inflamed the clashes. And there are the inevitable debates over willingness to debate. The task for the outgunned candidate is to convince rank-and-file party members that the favored candidate makes a less-effective November challenger.

So in Suffolk's 1st Congressional District, candidate George Demos rhetorically blasts away in emails, Web postings and other forums at Randy Altschuler, favorite of Suffolk's GOP and Conservative leaders. In the bi-county 3rd District, Anthony Tolda slams Stephen Labate in what currently remains a three-way tussle with Robert Previdi. And in Nassau's 4th District, Frank Scaturro hammers at Legis. Francis X. BeckerJr.

Family feuds can be the nastiest -- and this is the season for them.


UNUSUAL ALLIES: In the wake of Albany's latest partisan-driven redistricting, an interesting coalition crops up between reform New York City Democrat Bill Samuels and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua). Along with SUNY professor Gerald Benjamin, they appear on the website, discussing proposals for grassroots reforms in the state Constitution -- in contrast with the recent deal on future reapportionments between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the legislative majority leaders, which some critics see as further reinforcing major-party control of political lines.

TIPS WAR: Do not expect a bill pushed by Long Island caterers, aimed to erase liability over past "service charges" to customers, to sail quickly through the State Assembly, at least not like it did in the Senate last week. Sources say questions raised in the lower house involve the measure's impact on current lawsuits by catering employees, how an earlier settlement of claims by waiters in Chinatown restaurants might be affected, and other labor issues.


ROLE REVERSAL: If a Republican president seeking re-election suddenly announced a change of view on a hot-button cultural issue, wouldn't a chorus of Democrats say he was just trying to distract from a sagging economy and an unpopular foreign war?