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Nassau GOP lawmakers abandon Edward Mangano

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks about how

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks about how he is governing in the wake of the federal case against him on corruption-related charges on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Something’s off.

That was clear Monday, even before Edward Mangano walked in to deliver his eighth State of the County address at the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum.

Usually, when Nassau Republicans — or for that matter Democrats during the decade they were in power — gather, the group stands together. The executive in the middle, flanked by elected officials, most prominently of the majority party, on either side. Sort of like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on full display, showing off the depth and beauty of its reach.

But not Monday. No, not at all.

Instead, Nassau’s Republican lawmakers physically abandoned Mangano before they would do so politically a few hours later, leaving him to stand alone.

Mangano spoke from one lectern; Republican lawmakers opened and closed the proceedings by making use of another one. And as for seating, lawmakers settled themselves in a section so that instead of sitting with Mangano, they faced him — eye to eye.

That was the first in a what would become a series of public aggressions and attempted humiliations against Mangano as the day wore on, stings that — since they came from fellow Republicans, and the legislature in which Mangano himself once served as a charter member — seemed to hit hard.

Mangano must have known something was amiss, from the minute he walked out and kissed Norma Gonsalves, Nassau’s presiding officer, before turning back to his lectern to speak. He wore his Nassau flag-themed tie; and in an address that went on for more than an hour, he seemed, at times, to veer between being defiant and proud, and hopeful and hurt.

He stood up there, alone, and went over every single initiative of his administration, from veterans’ housing to ball fields; and he spoke of things yet to be done, from a sewer outfall pipe to virtual neighborhood watches. But during unscripted moments, some of the pressure of being a county executive working against his party, and against a federal indictment on corruption-related charges, seemed to wink through.

Mangano talked about one company that was persuaded to move from the Bronx to Nassau, Supreme Screw — something, he said, “I am familiar with.” He talked about swimming in Zachs Bay as a boy, not realizing that he was swimming in sewage from an outfall pipe. “No wonder I have so many issues,” he said, laughing — before adding, “You swam in it, too.”

From time to time, a few spectators would rise and walk out. At one point, almost half of the lawmakers in front of him, Republican and Democrat alike, appeared to be reading their cellphones.

Mangano was most eloquent speaking, off the cuff, about Nassau. “We have a beautiful county here,” he said, sounding more like a wistful valedictorian than a politician. “You only need to travel elsewhere to see what this county has , its diversity, its beauty.”

There was applause when Mangano finished.

But a few minutes later, he would hear a Democrat, in rebuttal remarks, speak about corruption in Nassau. And a few hours later, on the steps of the legislature, he would hear that a group of lawmakers — including Dennis Dunne of Levittown and Richard Nicolello of New Hyde Park, who, like Mangano, were charter members of the legislature, which replaced the old Board of Supervisors in 1996— had asked him to step down.

He’s not going to do it.

And after Monday, Nassau Republicans aren’t going to be asking him to run again, either.

But that could be fine with Mangano.

He came in as a loner, with no significant party support.

And it appears that, at a time of his choosing, Mangano will go out as a loner, too.

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