On the eve of his make-or-break day, Steve Levy, candidate for governor, hosted a reception for supporters at the Sheraton. The mood was buoyed by Suffolk resident Gary Berntsen’s winning 62 percent of the weighted vote in the nomination contest to run against Sen. Charles Schumer, which is expected to lead to a primary against Jay Townsend, the Conservative designee. Levy is working to get into his own primary against Rick Lazio.
John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman and key Levy backer, gave an “all hands on deck” speech (in which he joked “We are all here for the same reason – the bar…”) LaValle called Berntsen’s win “pretty monumental.” He thanked the 9-12’ers and the Conservative Society for Action. And, he urged the folks that if they see in the hotel one delegate – “living, breathing and moving” – to urge them to back Levy.
LaValle said citizens should “be with Steve” in their self-interest for what he’d do for them. In what seemed reminiscent of the old story about Nixon trying to project to the Russians that he was crazy – a way to get the edge -- LaValle said that even with news media in the room, he was willing to say that Levy is “crazy enough to do anything!”
(UPDATED INTERPRETATION: We solicited the opinion of a sharp witness to the address who believed that LaValle's message was more in the vein of saying that if he got to be governor Levy would do what he promised, which sounds crazy in the political universe.)
Not that Levy wasn’t pumped on his own. He talked about people getting off the couch, picking up pitchforks and storming the fort. He spoke of how Andrew Cuomo has experience running only one thing – the federal Housing and Urban Development agency – which he blamed as before for setting the whole economy off course. He warned against “insurmountable debt” and how the state currently lacks leadership.