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Poll: Lazio would trounce Levy in GOP primary

ALBANY - By nearly 3-to-1, former Rep. Rick Lazio would beat Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy in a Republican primary for governor this year, according to a new poll.

However, the survey by the Siena Research Institute was conducted days before Levy declared his quest for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

Siena found 45 percent of Republican voters would back Lazio, of Brightwaters, while 16 percent would support Levy, who joined the GOP last Friday after decades as a Democrat. Forty percent said they had no opinion.

Lazio's lead over Levy increased to 60-19 when poll respondents were told Lazio is a "former Republican congressman" and Levy is "the current Democratic Suffolk County executive."

Pollster Steven Greenberg said, "While Levy is new to the Republican Party and new to the race, he has quite a bit of catching up to do."

In a matchup against Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, Lazio would lose 59 percent to 21 percent and Levy would lose 63-16.

Levy campaign aide Rene Babich noted the small difference in the competitive positions of Levy and Lazio against Cuomo despite Lazio having declared his candidacy in September.

"Once statewide voters get to know Steve Levy, they will defect to him as rapidly as the Republican leadership has," she said.

The Siena poll of 810 voters, conducted March 15-18, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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