The next political campaign for Tom Suozzi is currently in the making — even if that’s not his overt intention.
The theme of the campaign is that he was the innocent victim of a voter backlash over high property taxes and a sour economy. And that’s why he lost his bid for a third term as Nassau County executive, not because he failed in any way in governing the county.
His Web site — tomsuozzil.com — has been updated several times since his concession three weeks ago, and the entries include:
-The 22-minute post-campaign video, “The Suozzi Administration 2002 — 2009 Repairing, Reforming and Reimagining Nassau.”
—A Dec. 2nd Newsday column headlined: “Suozzi’s impact and ideas went beyond Nassau County.”
-A Dec. 2nd NY Times editorial headlined: “A Misguided Tax Revolt” (with Suozzi as the victim.)
They might want to update with a Dec. 16th NY Times editorial referring to “wrathful voters, who just fired the able Nassau County executive, Thomas Suozzi, because they were sick of paying high taxes.”
All true, possibly.
But that downplays other factors, such as Suozzi’s failure to carry his home county when he ran in the Democratic primary for governor in 2006, long before the national economic recession.
It ignores what many Suozzi allies concede privately — that internal polling has consistently shown Suozzi with almost universal name recognition among Nassau voters, but low favorable ratings. In other words, support a mile wide but an inch deep.
And it ignores a problem that runs hand-in-hand with high property taxes: the inability of Suozzi to fix how property is assessed — a system so distrusted that one of four homeowners file a formal challenge the fairness of their assessment every year.
Suozzi hand-picked Harvey Levinson to run for assessor in 2003, then convinced the county legislature last year to make the position appointive, and named Ted Jankowski as assessor 11 months ago after Levinson retired.
Just this past May, after more than seven years in office, Suozzi conceded that the assessment system, “is broken. The public can't stand the assessment system."
Suozzi has admitted mistakes, but none about governing, only that he might not have worked hard enough to get out the Democratic vote.