Democratic Nassau Executive candidate Thomas Suozzi took aim at Republican incumbent Edward Mangano Monday night, knocking his opponent's support of the tea party during a speech before some 600 supporters.
Suozzi, a former two-term county executive who lost to Mangano by 386 votes in 2009, told the crowd at the annual Nassau Democratic Committee Dinner that his defeat was due in part to growing tea party support that Democrats at the time "didn't see coming."
With tea party leaders in Congress behind measures to eliminate President Barack Obama's health care law, a move that led to the government shutdown, Suozzi said Mangano's support of that party made such national issues even more "local."
"We need to send a real clear message," Suozzi said in a nearly 30-minute speech at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. "We reject the idea that someone who says they're a tea party conservative should be Nassau County executive."
In a statement, Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin responded: "There's a clear difference in the race. Tom Suozzi raised property taxes by 23 percent and gave himself a $65,000 pay raise while Ed Mangano froze property taxes his entire term and rejected four pay raises."
Mangano attended a fundraiser Monday night at Oheka Castle hosted by businessman Gary Melius and former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) that drew a crowd of more than 500. It raised about $500,000, Nevin said.
At the $400-a-plate Democratic dinner, county party chairman Jay Jacobs questioned Mangano's campaign attacks that Suozzi raised taxes and agreed to accept a pay raise recommended by a bipartisan panel and approved by the Legislature.
"Ed Mangano, I have to ask, if it's such a bad thing why don't you give it back?" Jacobs said about the pay raise approved in 2007.
Suozzi told supporters Mangano "is not telling the truth" in his campaign ads and repeated his calls that the Mangano administration was inaccurate in touting a budget surplus this year.