Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat seeking to become the state's next governor, had an unusual political ally Tuesday in a campaign stop in North Merrick: Nassau County's Republican county executive, Edward Mangano.
The event, at which both men touted their support for Cuomo's 2 percent property tax cap proposal, gave Cuomo some key Republican support for the issue in vote-rich Nassau County.
The event occurred as Cuomo's GOP opponent, Rick Lazio, stumped in Smithtown and East Islip. Former Democrat Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, whose effort to get on the GOP primary ballot failed at the June party convention, but who has yet to officially drop out of the race, was not invited to either candidate's event, his spokesman said.
Cuomo spoke to about 150 senior citizens about his proposed 2 percent property tax cap and said he welcomes the support from Mangano and other Republicans, such as GOP comptroller candidate Harry Wilson. On Monday, Wilson declared himself "a running mate" of Cuomo because they will both appear on the Independence Party line. Cuomo also received support from several upstate Republicans during his RV tour there last week.
Asked if it is unusual to campaign with someone who endorsed his opponent, Cuomo said: "I wouldn't say that it's the political norm. It's something I'm proud of. . . . I'll work on both sides of the aisle with any elected official who wants to get good things done."
Mangano left the event before he could be asked any questions and declined to be interviewed afterward. Mangano "still stands by" his Lazio endorsement, spokesman Mike Martino said.
Baruch College professor Douglas Muzzio said the Cuomo-Mangano alliance will benefit both men.
"Cuomo both sees himself and is selling himself as an untraditional Democrat," he said. "Untraditional Democrats sing 'Kumbaya' with Republican county leaders where there are a lot of votes. And as far as Mangano is concerned, you're with next governor of New York and it doesn't hurt to be associated with him and have a little chit with him."
Lazio, a former congressman from Brightwaters, said he is unconcerned by Mangano's appearance with Cuomo.
"It's a political con," he said in East Islip. "I think the people of New York can see right through it. . . . Ed Mangano knows, and every person on Long Island knows, that there's only one candidate that is really going to watch out for Long Island, really drive down taxes, and that's me."
With Thomas Maier