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Spinello endorsed by four party lines; challenger undaunted

Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello speaks at a

Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello speaks at a city council meeting on July 28, 2015. Credit: Newsday / David Olson

Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello is an Independence Party member backed in his re-election bid by the Republican, Democratic and Conservative parties.

The possibility of Spinello's name appearing on four lines on the Nov. 3 general election ballot -- he first must win the Sept. 10 GOP primary -- isn't the only peculiarity of this year's mayoral race.

There's also no Democratic mayoral contender in a city that until 2012 had an all-Democratic City Council and where there are nearly 50 percent more registered Democratic voters than registered Republicans.

Spinello touts the four parties' support as proof he can successfully work across party lines.

"They know I'm doing what's right for the city," he said.

But Spinello's Republican primary opponent, Councilman Anthony Gallo, calls the mayor "an opportunist" whose endorsement by "party bosses" doesn't reflect rank-and-file voters' wishes.

Lawrence Levy, executive dean of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies, said it's unusual for a candidate to receive joint Democratic and Republican backing. It may happen because a candidate truly is able to bridge divides or it could be for less lofty reasons, such as promises of jobs or a party's hesitancy to spend limited money on challenging a popular incumbent, he said.

Glen Cove Republican Committee chairman David Zatlin said Spinello "pretty much shares the Republican philosophy -- smaller government, less taxes. He's certainly made Glen Cove a much more business-friendly environment."

Glen Cove Democratic Committee chairwoman Ann Famigliette said the party had planned to field its own mayoral candidate but decided Spinello "had done good things for the city, and he needed another two years to keep on going and keep on revitalizing the city."

Spinello, 62, is running for his second two-year term as mayor. In the 2013 election, he had the backing of the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties in his race against the incumbent Democrat, Ralph Suozzi.

Famigliette said that despite hyperpartisan politics nationally, Democrats and Republicans can agree on some local candidates.

"Your local issues are: Has my garbage been picked up, are my streets clean, is my downtown being taken care of, is the tax revenue coming in?" she said.

The mayoral primary may end up being only a test run for the general election.

With backing from four parties, Spinello is guaranteed a spot on the November ballot. Gallo said he and members of his slate formed the Glen Cove United Party as "a safety net" in case they lose the GOP primary.

County elections officials are determining whether the party has enough valid petition signatures to appear on the November ballot.

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