On his Albany-based radio show, Fred Dicker spoke earlier this morning with two potential primary candidates with an outside shot at the governorship: Suffolk Executive Steve Levy, a Democrat, and Erie Executive Chris Collins, a Republican. Both boasted of having gotten their counties under fiscal control after inheriting deep problems and presented themselves as immune to “special-interest” influence.
Levy called it “one of those crossroads years as far as the future and health of this state,” and described his action over the weekend as putting “a toe in the water.” He called himself a “proven manager who can take a budget that is in disarray and can bring it back to health.”
Is it “moral” to take on a sitting Democratic governor, as Rep. Charles Rangel suggested it is not? “If I were to do it I’d base my decision on whether or not the public is being receptive to my vision of restructuring (state government) from top to bottom,” Levy said. “…Any individual has a right to run for public office…I don’t think people should be fearful or primaries.” He noted last year’s presidential contest on the Democratic side had numerous candidates and “no one at the end said it was divisive.” A Democrat won the contest, he noted. “Primaries can be healthy in a democracy.”
With Andrew Cuomo leading in polls, he was asked about facing the current attorney general. Levy sidestepped and noted that unknowns have come from behind to win, and cited new Nassau executive Ed Mangano’s win. “The mood is such right now,” he said, “that people are looking for a manager.” He spoke of having cut spending three years of his six in office.
“I’m a policy wonk,” he said. “I love this stuff.”
“In the next couple weeks and months,” he said, he will “find out if my vision my ideas and my platform is resonating.” What’s “liberating,” he said, is that he wouldn’t need to pander and can speak his mind.
Would he consider another position in state government, say comptroller or attorney general, on a Democratic ticket? “I’ve learned in this business never to say never to anything. …but certainly my skill set is best (for) an executive position. I have the track record of righting a sinking ship.”
Levy also sidestepped Dicker’s question of whether he’s been hearing from Republicans interested in his potential candidacy.
“I’ve always managed as a centrist, a person who gets it that you have to allow the business community to expand tax base,” he said. He considers himself a “fiscal conservative” and pro “law and order” while socially, more “progressive” and “moderate,” he said, saying he thinks the “electorate at large” is suited toward “that type of mixture.”
For his part, Collins avoided criticism of front-running GOP candidate Rick Lazio, said his years of experience in private business give him unique job-creation experience and stood by his choice to attack Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who has “single handedly, basically stolen any future our children have in this state for jobs and success” by serving “special interests.” Collins said he'll decide in a month if he's in or out.