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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone strode into a state political debate Tuesday, renewing speculation among some that he’s in the mix as a possible Democratic lieutenant governor candidate.
Bellone issued a statement calling on Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino and GOP state Chairman Ed Cox to call on Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) to resign in the wake of a 20-count corruption indictment. What’s notable, politically, was that Bellone’s weighing-in raised questions about why he was doing it rather than what he said.
Bellone’s profile “fits the bill” of a possible lieutenant governor candidate, said one Democrat consultant who wanted to remain anonymous as to not offend Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“Cuomo would want someone from either Long Island or Western New York,” the consultant said. “Why? Because those are the places where the governor wants to clean up” electorally.
Current Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy of Rochester isn't expected to be Cuomo's running mate again. On Monday, Duffy said: "The governor is going to announce something soon."
State Democrats recently selected Suffolk County to host their 2014 state convention next month, not only underscoring the importance of Long Island to the statewide election but also fueling questions about Cuomo’s choice of a running mate.
Suffolk County Democrat Chairman Richard Schaffer downplayed the idea of reading into Bellone’s statement.
“Steve is one of the leaders of the state Democratic Party,” Schaffer said, “and his statement is based on the fact that Astorino and company need to answer the question of whether they want to run on the same ticket as Grimm this year.”