Independence Party fundraiser draws top Republicans and Democrats

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Spin Cycle

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Nassau’s Independence Party may be under fire from the county Democratic chairman, but -- according to its leaders -- it remains in the good graces of many of Long Island’s other power players.

The party held its annual spring reception Thursday night at Oheka Castle in Huntington, the estate owned by influential Independence member Gary Melius.

Nassau Independence chairman Rick Bellando, Oheka’s catering director, said he couldn’t estimate how much money was raised. But he said that nearly 50 elected officials, covering state, county and local offices -- both Republican and Democrat -- attended.

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The turnout comes as Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs continues to call on New York Democrats and Republicans to reject the Independence Party endorsement for their gubernatorial candidates, which could cause the minor party to lose its ballot line.

Jacobs earlier this year sent letters to political leaders and elected officials throughout New York, complaining about the Independence Party's “corrupt” activities and “unwarranted power” in granting cross-endorsements to major party candidates. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor, has said he won’t accept the party’s endorsement, but Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has yet to indicate whether he will.

When asked about the matter earlier this spring, Cuomo didn’t commit either way, before Mangano -- who was by his side -- jumped in to criticize Jacobs.

Bellando has said Jacobs “should stay focused on working for the people. I'm just the little guy. He shouldn't be a bully and take on the little guy."

State and Suffolk Independence chairman Frank MacKay has dismissed Jacobs’ attacks as a “tantrum” by a leader whose party badly lost last year’s county executive race, and also lost efforts to reclaim the comptroller’s office and the legislative majority.

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"As a result of Jay's rantings, Democrats from throughout the state have called to express their dissatisfaction," MacKay said Friday.

Jacobs, reached later, said “I have no expectation that I’m fighting against is going to eliminate political expediency right away. That is the problem with our political system right now.”

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