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Tea party is poison pill for GOP

Republican and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, left,

Republican and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, left, and former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi. Credit: J. Conrad Williams Jr./Howard Schnapp

The Republican's ahead in the big, industrial, northern state. The Democrat's leading down South. And in New York City, where the last two mayors were elected as Republicans, Democrat Bill de Blasio is so far ahead, the R beside Republican Joe Lhota's name could soon stand for "ROUTED!"

And somehow or another, the tea party is affecting things everywhere.

In blue New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie has carefully avoided its taint on a cloud of relative reasonableness and his blanket of warmth for Barack Obama. In far redder Virginia, Republican Ken Cuccinelli has happily embraced the tea party rigidity and paid big time: He's been stumbling badly against Clinton-centric dealmaker Terry McAuliffe. Did I mention that's in Virginia?

In New York, every other de Blasio attack on Lhota seems to mention the tea party, even though the Republican candidate has long established himself across a long career as far more of a bureaucrat than an ideologue. Truly, last year's tea party passion is becoming this year's tea party poison.

It's even seeped into the bloodstream of the big Nassau County race, where ex-exec Tom Suozzi is trying to unseat current exec Ed Mangano.

The Democratic challenger has tried several ways to get at the Republican incumbent. In the final hours, his hopes are increasing pinned on two volatile words.

"Tea party."

They're emblazoned on the final avalanche of direct-mail pieces. We'll know Tuesday night how intensely they connect.


1. Belts fastened

2. Carry-ons stored

3. Seats upright

4. Tray tables locked

5. Cell phones, laptops, iPods, Kindles ON!

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After 25 years, Robert Budd is still finding fresh ways to help people understand: Here's what it's like to live with intellectual disabilities, mental illness or traumatic brain injury. What choice does he have? As CEO of FREE, the nonprofit Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, he's personally responsible for 3,500 clients at 150 facilities, mostly on Long Island. And there he was on Friday at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, introducing advocate Temple Grandin, who lives so inspiringly with autism she was played by Claire Danes on HBO. "Temple is an amazing role model and advocate," Budd said. "She reminds us all that differently abled people can have an extraordinary impact on the world."


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