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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Suozzi candidacy rumor refuses to die

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, right, speaks with

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, right, speaks with former County Executive Thomas Suozzi in Mineola. (Dec. 2, 2009) Credit: Howard Schnapp

For months, the man was adamant.

"I'm not running," said Thomas Suozzi, 50, when asked whether he'd seek to recapture his former post as Nassau County executive from the Republican who beat him, Ed Mangano. He said it publicly, repeatedly and without leaving himself wiggle room.

But others -- the Suozzi-allied, the Suozzi-opposed, the Suozzi-indifferent -- have been saying with almost equal certainty that the former executive, ousted at the polls in 2009, should not be taken at his word, and that, you could be sure, Suozzi really would enter the race.

"He wants to be drafted," said one political insider several weeks ago. "[Democratic county chairman] Jay Jacobs is keeping the field clear," reported another, shortly after. A third said back in August, "He's waiting for the right moment."

And indeed, all around Nassau County Monday, the buzz refused to die -- that the Suozzi comeback candidacy, publicly encouraged by Jacobs, will be happening.

Both were playing it close to the vest as the week opened.

Mind-reading is tough, but in this case, it sounds as if those second-guessers might have been credible after all, no matter what has come before from the horse's mouth. Politics is about today, after all.

Jacobs already went through the explicit paces of purportedly convincing Suozzi, showing the support, making the case. At the Democrats' county dinner in December, Jacobs' introduction of Suozzi prompted a standing ovation peppered with chants of "We Want Tom!" that followed anti-Mangano speeches deploring the state of the county.

Suozzi was heard to tell a well-wisher afterward -- who cited to him the audience response -- "I'm not running." (Of course, Mayor Michael Bloomberg used to say he wouldn't change city law to seek a third term.)

Politicos on Long Island were even critically assessing whether responses to a "Let's Convince Tom Suozzi" Facebook page really were all that robust. But the only relevant question about Suozzi running is what Suozzi wants to do.

If this contest happens -- barring, say, a Democratic primary victory by an underdog -- Suozzi will get to confront an incumbent who accuses him personally, and the "out" party generally, of having left Nassau in the straits with which it now struggles.

The first Suozzi-Mangano scrum proved very, very close. Might a sequel turn out the same way? We may just get to see.

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