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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Charges against Mangano will hang over election season

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks about how

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks about how he is governing in the wake of his criminal case on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A decision by a federal judge Wednesday to push County Executive Edward Mangano’s trial on corruption-related allegations into 2018 likely set the stage for some major political scrambling.

For Republicans, the delay keeps the allegations against Mangano, his wife Linda, and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto in the public eye during the upcoming campaign season — when all but one county officeholder is up for re-election.

Will that complicate the party’s efforts to keep majority control of the legislature? Will the party — as sources have told Newsday — refuse to put Mangano forth as its candidate for a third term? And if the party did refuse, how would Nassau Republicans — who traditionally loathe primaries — respond should Mangano launch a run anyway?

Nassau Republican Party Chairman Joseph Mondello’s office said it could not reach him Wednesday to pass along a request for comment”

As for Mangano — who was his usual confident self when talking to reporters after the U.S. District Court proceedings in Central Islip Wednesday — he said he’s not worried about any of it.

“A trial date is a date,” he would say in an interview later, after he’d returned to his office in Mineola. “A lot of things can happen, including dismissal.”

Is Mangano going to step down?

“No,” he said.

What does he think about sourced reports saying that Mondello wants to nominate another candidate to run in November?

“That comes from backstabbers who are climbing all over each other to get the job,” he said.

Is Mangano going to go for a third term?

“I have plenty of time to decide,” he said. “I have not made a decision yet, and will have to take into account a lot things before a decision is made.”

Whoa. That seems to be a change from a few months ago, when he seemed to be gearing up for a fundraising push. But, as Mangano pointed out Wednesday, he’s never — publicly, at least — announced a run for a third term. He said he continues to concentrate on county-related tasks, including bringing the Islanders hockey team back to Nassau.

Seeking a lengthy term has been dicey for both of Mangano’s predecessors. Republican former County Executive Thomas Gulotta decided against seeking a third full term after his own party — stung by residents’ ire over the county’s drop to almost junk-bond status — began criticizing him.

That was in 1999 — when voters drove Republicans out to make way for a Democratic majority.

In 2000, they kept the momentum going by voting in another Democrat, Thomas Suozzi, who was himself denied a third term in 2009 when voters decided to return control of Nassau to Republicans.

“I feel like it’s 1999, so maybe we should break out that song again,” Jay Jacobs, head of Nassau’s Democratic Party, said in an interview Wednesday.

He seemed as confident via telephone as Mangano did standing before reporters.

“I think Edward Mangano could go for a third run and that would be great for us, because we would love to run against his record,” he said, adding that the allegations against Mangano — who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, as have his wife and Venditto — would hang over every local campaign.

But corruption-related allegations in Nassau haven’t been limited to Republicans; there are ongoing investigations of Democrats as well.

That alone will seed the issue of corruption — and what to do about it — across every campaign.

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