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Suffolk’s former Democratic County Executive Patrick Halpin has joined the high-powered political consulting firm Mercury Public Affairs — where one partner earlier in his career helped oust him as the county’s top official.
Halpin, 61, has become a Mercury managing director, and will head the firm’s Long Island office, which will open up shortly in the Route 110-Melville area.
But it was Mercury partner Tony Fabrizio who — as a consultant to Suffolk Republicans several years before Mercury was formed — coined the term “High Tax Halpin” during the Democrat’s losing 1991 re-election campaign.
Halpin said he thanked Fabrizio when the two men first met recently. “I would never have been wise enough to get out voluntarily,” he said, joking.
Before his four years as county executive, Halpin had been a state assemblyman and a county lawmaker, and in 2000 he was the New York director of Al Gore's presidential campaign.
Halpin, who had his own government relations firm, said he first came in contact with Mercury officials last year when they both worked against a referendum to permit a mall on the Cerro Wire property in the Town of Oyster Bay. Halpin said that work led to discussions over several months about a potential role at Mercury.
“What impressed me is that they have a lot of smart people working for them, both Democrats and Republicans,” he said. “It’s a great fit for me and I look forward to building this business.”
Michael McKeon, a Mercury partner, called Halpin “effective, smart and result oriented” and said his hiring is “the start of a real effort to build out the Long Island practice, with both government relations and public affairs.”
It may also be a recognition that Long Island, once a major GOP political bastion, now has more Democratic voters than Republicans in both Nassau and Suffolk.
Mercury originally grew by working for former Gov. George Pataki, but it has branched out and included Democrats, such as partner and vice chair Fernando Ferrer, a former Bronx Borough president, MTA vice chair and one-time mayoral candidate.
Mercury has become a national public strategy firm with offices in New York, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and it's part of Omnicom Group Inc., which has 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.
Halpin said he will continue to do the “Meet the Leaders” show for Cablevision and will remain part of the five-member board that runs the Suffolk County Water Authority as well as chairman of the Babylon Industrial Development Agency.