The Liberal Party of New York endorsed businessman Adam Haber for Nassau County executive Wednesday, creating the possibility of a three-way race in the November general election.
Haber, a Roslyn school board member who is challenging former County Executive Thomas Suozzi for the Democratic nomination, must collect 1,500 signatures between July 9 and Aug. 13 for the Liberal Party to appear as a line on the November ballot.
Haber and Suozzi are competing to challenge GOP County Executive Edward Mangano in the general election.
Haber declined to discuss the possibility of a third-party run, saying he planned "to win the Democratic nomination. I am running as a Democrat and plan to be the Democratic nominee."
Suozzi's campaign declined to comment.
Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, who is backing Suozzi, said Haber's push for the Liberal nomination is reminiscent of Ralph Nader, who ran as the Green Party candidate for president in 2000. Many Democrats complained that Nader siphoned off enough votes from Democrat Al Gore in key states, particularly Florida, to swing the election for Republican George W. Bush.
"[Haber] could be a spoiler," Jacobs said, adding that Suozzi is unlikely to challenge Haber for the Liberal nomination.
Jack Olchin, state and Nassau County chairman of the Liberal Party, called Haber a "political outsider with bold new ideas for job creation and education, and will always protect a woman's right to choose."
There are 2,700 registered Liberal Party members in Nassau. Mangano defeated Suozzi in 2009 by 386 votes. Haber would have until Aug. 23, about two weeks before the Democratic primary, to decide whether to accept the Liberal line. If Haber lost the Democratic primary, he would have the option of rejecting the Liberal line, said William Biamonte, Nassau's Democratic Board of Elections commissioner.Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said the Liberal Party endorsement "will make no difference as residents know Ed Mangano is the only candidate in the race who cut taxes."
In 2009, Mangano ran on the Republican and Tax Revolt Party line -- an independent line on which he got 5,759 votes.Some Democrats say the Liberals have a history of acting as spoilers in the general election.
In 1980, Al D'Amato defeated incumbent Sen. Jacob Javits in the Republican primary for Senate. But Javits kept the Liberal line, and in the general election D'Amato beat Democratic Rep. Liz Holtzman by a comfortable margin.
In 2001, Alan Hevesi remained on the Liberal line for New York City mayor, despite having thrown his support behind Democratic nominee Mark Green, who lost to Republican Michael Bloomberg in a tight race.