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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Primary postmortem: A longshot D.A. bid brings no miracles

The usual handicappers had it right: Incumbent DA

The usual handicappers had it right: Incumbent DA Madeline Singas trounced insurgent Michael Scotto in Nassau's Democratic primary for DA. Credit: Newsday photos

Every election season, some hardy citizen with a tenacious streak makes a full-time gig of raging against the machine, at least for the duration of a primary campaign.

Michael Scotto took his shot this year. He chased the Democratic nomination for Nassau district attorney against Madeline Singas, an appointed incumbent backed by the party organization and flush with funds.

Scotto, a hard-driving former Manhattan prosecutor, touted his experience and suitability for the job as he campaigned to the end. He took whatever verbal knocks he could at Singas. Like most committed underdogs -- or like most candidates for that matter -- he resisted discussing about how he'd proceed if he fell short.

The 50-year-old Scotto lost Thursday as expected.

As a tiny percentage of registered Democrats voted, the out-funded Scotto pounded the pavement to the end, hoping the volatile results of sparse turnouts might break his way after all. If not, he indicated, he would not instantly endorse either Singas or GOP candidate Kate Murray for DA.

That's an unsurprising stance for an independent figure who bucked the odds for months.

Don't expect Scotto to walk now in the footsteps of Adam Haber -- the dissident businessman who mounted a primary seeking to become the Democrats' nominee against GOP County Executive Ed Mangano. Mangano's predecessor, Tom Suozzi, won that primary, 59 to 41 percent, before losing the November rematch.

Unlike Scotto, Haber had the wealth to loan his campaign $3 million to tilt against Suozzi, county chairman Jay Jacobs' longtime ally. Now Haber seems part of the county political scene, sitting on the Nassau Interim Finance Authority board after another election bid last year in which he tried to unseat state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola).

Eleven days ago, Scotto disclosed $12,760 in his campaign account, against Singas' $807,027. Rarely will message beat money when the finance gap yawns that wide. While Scotto was moving about in a recreational vehicle yesterdayThursday, having sent out his thousands of pieces of campaign literature, the Singas team boasted of get-out-the-vote efforts by phone and door-to-door canvassing.

In July, Scotto's campaign was so broke, he said he'd need to quit the race if he could not raise $50,000 for legal help to fend off a potentially costly challenge to his qualifying petitions from Singas & Company. Scotto survived the challenge with help from longtime Brooklyn attorney Louis Rosenthal -- having received what sources described as informal, unpaid advice from GOP elections lawyer John Ciampoli.

Even if election filings warned in big letters that "results may vary," those with an insurgent's spirit would still run, looking to create a rare rush of surprise.

But the punishing rain and low turnout of a rare Thursday primary foretold no miracles -- just a widely anticipated Singas blowout.

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