This early in the state races, with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo yet to officially declare for governor, campaign strategists on all sides have been testing how best to disparage their opponents.
Take “pay-to-play.” The term implies bribery -- legal or otherwise. An example from recent years: Hedge funds that hired political insiders to do business with the pension system. But campaign operatives also use the phrase more loosely to mean the common but problematic practice of government vendors contributing to elected officials’ warchests.
Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs and party executive director Charlie King played the “pay-to-play” card two weeks ago against GOP governor hopeful Steve Levy. For Levy, Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle did the responding.
LaValle basically counter-charged Cuomo with the practice and blasted Jacobs’ ties to former Nassau Executive Thomas Suozzi. Jacobs, he claimed, “presided over one of the worst abusers in the history of ‘pay to play’” under Suozzi.
But, notably, the followup is that not all Levy’s champions back this line of attack. For one, Roger Bogsted, the Nassau Conservative chairman, who wants Levy to get his party’s nomination, gives this blunt assessment:
“Both the Levy administration and the Suozzi administration did everything they could to get the most qualified people to help in government business. In appreciation for the opportunity to do such business, many firms contributed to those particular administrations. That’s the way it’s been for millennia, and the way it probably will be for millennia...Tha's just the way it is.”
“Levy is an honorable, down-to-earth guy. So is Suozzi.” Bogsted added. “Trading these kinds of barbs and attacks won't help either side, and is just going to disgust the voters.”