Spin Cycle

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

Brace yourself for 10 more weeks of Republican strife.
Suffolk Executive and party newcomer Steve Levy stated, in the most certain of terms Wednesday, when and where he thinks this one-of-a-kind nomination fight for governor will be settled.
"It's June 1, at the convention," he said. "There's going to be a floor fight. And fortunately, I'm hooked up with [adviser] Mike Hook, who successfully engineered John Faso's floor fight four years ago when everyone thought that Bill Weld was going to be the nominee."
Despite that, Faso went on to lose in a landslide to Democrat Eliot Spitzer in 2006. But each election is different. And both Levy and rival Rick Lazio have their own ideas of why this year's push against a better-known and better-funded Democratic attorney general could work to their advantage.
Levy recalled the surprises of the Iowa caucuses in 2008. "For so long we thought Edwards was a lock. And then it was Hillary who was a lock. And then Obama comes in and splits the vote," he said. "You just don't know what can happen in a two-month period."
One of the more unusual aspects of Levy's wild-card candidacy is that he has called the effort post-partisan. A more accurate term might be mid-partisan, or hybrid, or in-transformation. His campaign accused Lazio of "partisan attacks," which is interesting because in politics a partisan is basically defined as a committed party member.
But Wednesday, Levy spokesman Josh Hills - perhaps out of habit acquired in past GOP campaigns - issued a release with a series of quotes about Levy's relative strength, uttered by what Hills called "Democrat consultants." There's nothing post-partisan, bipartisan or nonpartisan about leaving the "ic" off the party name. That's a trademark Republican usage, going back to Sen. Joe McCarthy.
But hey, Levy did sign off on his change of registration a couple of weeks ago.
Still, he faces friction from other Grand Old Partisans.
Lazio's spokesman, Barney Keller, mocked Levy's "take-it-to-the-convention" statement Wednesday with this barrage: "I can see the pitch Steve Levy will be making to state committee members now: 'I'm a liberal Democrat who called Obama's stimulus 'manna from heaven,' supported government-run health insurance, and thinks Andrew Cuomo would make a good governor. Can I count on your support?' "
Another GOP candidate, real estate businessman Carl Paladino of Erie County, issued a shot of his own at Levy Wednesday that distorts one of the latter's key positions.
Levy calls for an emergency panel that would monitor new fiscal rules aimed at keeping the state out of bankruptcy. Paladino claimed Levy's recent statement - that Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch took up his suggestion of a panel - "proves Steve Levy is still a Liberal Democrat at heart." But Levy criticized Ravitch essentially on the same grounds as did other Republicans: that Ravitch shouldn't have included a mechanism for short-term deficit borrowing in his proposal.
For all the static, Levy stands by his predictions he'll prevail. Of the June convention, he says: "There are going to be a large number of [delegate] defections in the end when they confirm that Rick [Lazio] just doesn't have the juice to win in November, nor the plan to fix the state."

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