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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

LI man makes run for U.S. Senate

John Mangelli, 46, is a Bayville lawyer and

John Mangelli, 46, is a Bayville lawyer and is running against Kirsten Gillibrand and Wendy Long for Senate in November. (Oct. 4, 2012) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Of five U.S. Senate candidates listed on the state election board website for the Nov. 6 ballot, one comes from Long Island.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic, Working Families and Independence candidate, hails from the Albany area. Challenger Wendy Long, the Republican and Conservative nominee, lives in Manhattan. Green Party candidate Colia Clark votes in New York City, records show, and Chris Edes, Libertarian, in Rochester.

That leaves John Mangelli of Bayville, a political unknown, as the lone Long Islander. He made the ballot by filing a reported 27,000 petition signatures from across the state, qualifying him to run on an ad hoc party line called Common Sense.

At best, his odds of winning or affecting the outcome are extremely small. Why try? "The quick answer is, I got tired of just sitting back and complaining," Mangelli said. "I wanted to make some changes."

Mangelli, a 46-year-old lawyer in private practice, who's married with three children, has a profile and platform that seem atypical for even a "protest" candidate.

For one thing Mangelli, who in his professional life has acted as a bankruptcy attorney, filed for Chapter 7 himself in 2007. "I'm not making excuses for it," he said. "I wish it never happened." But, he maintains, it gives him a perspective others running do not have.

"I can understand firsthand a lot of the trials and tribulations that New Yorkers are going through. I didn't have somebody to bail me out," he said.

To hear him tell it, untimely real-estate investments, big law-school debt, and an alleged Ponzi-style ripoff by a stockbroker all helped to crash his finances. "I felt and lived it and know how to get out of it," he said.

Mangelli had been a Republican. Current Nassau election records show him enrolled in the Working Families Party, but he's filed to become unaffiliated, a change that takes effect after the election. He said he's a fiscal conservative, and while expressing interest in protecting the environment, disagrees with what he found to be the "left-wing liberal" orientation of the Green Party, where he discussed his senatorial ambition at one point.

He talks of conservation.

"In reality we need energy. The greatest solution would be if everybody just slowed down a bit and stopped consuming every little thing around us," Mangelli said. "I am not an alarmist, but I do see the negative side of coal. And of oil. But at the same time, what do we do?"

He opposes hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, a relatively new technology that he said poses potential safety risks.

He described himself as "pro-life" and speaks of adoptions as an alternative to abortion.

Rather than commit to billions in foreign aid, and risking American lives overseas, he said, the United States must address needs of its people first.

In public polls, the major-party candidates are the only ones sampled, with "someone else" the rarest of answers from respondents. Mangelli, as of June, reported $6,552 in cash on hand. Recently, he said, he raised about $1,100 at a fundraiser in a friend's house in Old Brookville. For perspective: Gillibrand, considered the front-runner, in June reported more than $10 million cash on hand.

Mangelli -- a graduate of Commack High School North, the University of Maryland, and Thomas Cooley Law School -- says neither of New York's current senators speak for him.

He added: "A lot of politicians are out of touch. I'm about as in touch as you can get. That's why I wanted to run."

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