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Lawmakers launch fight against Steve Levy's bid for guv

ALBANY - Citing his strident opposition to illegal immigration, minority lawmakers Wednesday vowed to derail Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy's bid for governor.

Four Hispanic lawmakers, including Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), said they planned a statewide publicity campaign against Levy and boycott of his political contributors.

They also wouldn't rule out bottling up Suffolk legislation in the Assembly, as happened with a sales tax authorization in 2007. At the time, Levy opposed efforts to open a hiring hall for day laborers and backed measures to prevent them from gathering in large numbers on streets to get jobs.

"We will travel throughout New York State to expose Steve Levy's record of intolerance," said Ramos, who Levy tried to defeat a few years ago. "We will not allow Steve Levy to become governor."

Levy shot back that the "overwhelming majority" of state residents, including Hispanics, are against illegal immigration, as is President Barack Obama.

Levy also accused the lawmakers of violating state ethics rules by threatening to block his contributors from doing state business, such as contracts and bills. He said he plans to file a complaint with the state Public Integrity Commission and to ask the Assembly to censure Ramos and others.

Six legislators, including one Asian-American and one African-American, released statements opposing Levy's gubernatorial bid.

Assemb. Grace Meng (D-Queens) said, "his lack of respect and empathy for fellow Americans will not bring New York forward but rather backwards."

Levy, speaking in the Capitol, criticized Meng and others for failing to close this year's $3.2-billion budget deficit. "These guys have to get thrown out ... These are the guys whose ineptitude has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy."

The anti-Levy campaign, launched Tuesday by Assemb. Peter Rivera (D-Bronx), plans to publish a list of Levy backers and hold events across the state highlighting what it says is his insensitivity toward minorities. Rivera recalled Levy's attempt to have Suffolk police enforce federal immigration laws.

Suffolk Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Brentwood) blamed Levy for not doing more to denounce racism. "We will travel the state to let people know ... and they will reject this kind of fringe campaign" by Levy, he said.

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