It may have been done in a backhanded manner, but Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone sent out an email late last week, in which he announced he’s running for re-election next year.
Bellone mentioned his ambition to remain county executive for a third term in the last line of his message, which appeared more inspired by the recent outpouring of support for gun-control measures by young people after the school shootings in Parkland, Florida.
In the last line of the message, which went to tens of thousands of people, Bellone said, “I look forward to working with the next generation of leaders throughout my second term and during my re-election in 2019.”
Bellone also appeared to be mobilizing young people who turned out nationwide to protest gun violence late last month.
“We have a number of campaigns and initiatives that we need on over the next 18 months,” Bellone wrote. “If you are interested in volunteering your time and energy on these efforts, please send an email to email@example.com today.”
Some backers of Suffolk Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer, with whom Bellone has clashed in recent years, suggested privately that Bellone may be trying to amass a force to challenge Schaffer as party leader in September.
Jason Elon, Bellone’s spokesman, said, “It has nothing to do with that.”
Schaffer himself emailed Bellone back, saying, “Thanks for the email. Let me know how I can help.”
Asked if Bellone may be looking to take him on, Schaffer said, “I’d be hard-pressed about what’s on Steve Bellone’s mind.”
As for Bellone’s re-election plans, Schaffer was more cautious: “2019 is a long way off. We’ve got 2018 to get through first.”