Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

Nassau County has reached one of those rare junctures where it seems quite possible that both major parties will come out losers in the same election year -- each in its own special way.

Neatly summarized, the Democrats' problem is that they are the "outs."

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The Republicans' problem -- still brewing -- comes from being the "ins."

No third party was needed to give both ends of the ruling duopoly their troubles.

Nassau Democrats -- much like Albany Republicans -- hold the dubious distinction of being shut out of most major elected offices. Their best hope for November is to retain their 10-year grip on the district attorney's office and to keep the Republicans in the county legislature, who already hold the upper hand, from gaining an even tighter grip.

In what's mostly an off year around the region, the DA's race, which tops the Nassau ballot, features two Democrats locked in a tense primary.

Madeline Singas holds the job now, but in an acting capacity. As chief assistant under DA Kathleen Rice, she moved up when Rice left for Congress in January. Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had the power to choose another DA until the next election but opted not to.

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On primary day, Singas faces the way-outfinanced insurgent Michael Scotto, a former Manhattan prosecutor whom she recently tried but failed to disqualify in court with a petition challenge.

The winner of that primary must face Republican supervisor Kate Murray, from the GOP's Hempstead stronghold.

Only two years ago, the county executive, comptroller and clerk, all Republicans, won re-election. County Democrats have thus been largely out in the cold for five years, and longtime county chairman Jay Jacobs faces internal unrest. He's been at war with Rice and with Long Beach Democratic chairman Michael Zapson.

Nassau's empowered Republicans, meanwhile, are facing troubles that only "ins" could endure -- a tart blend of federal investigations and serious civic questions about how they run things. The problem is not electoral, but governmental.

Most recently:

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The federal indictment that forced Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) out as majority leader involves his push for a big-dollar water filtration contract with Nassau County.

The Town of Oyster Bay, a GOP stronghold, helped a private businessman secure loans by arranging with lenders to have the town pay in case of defaults, Newsday reported this week.

The Mangano administration signed millions of dollars in no-bid contracts just under the $25,000 legislative-approval threshold, some for questionable reasons.

Call it the murkier side of "public-private partnerships."

While individuals worry about who may be probed or charged next, concerns continue over the county's fiscal viability. Still in business despite a more Mangano-friendly, Cuomo-crafted board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority has warned anew of ongoing "significant" risks in the county's budget plan.

Anxiety stalks. Who's next? What's next?

Chasing power is one thing, holding it another. In Nassau for the moment, many of the pursuers have one kind of malaise; those pursued have another.