A savvy New York Republican strategist was asked Tuesday why Edward Mangano, Nassau’s GOP county executive, would appear alongside Democrat Andrew Cuomo at a property-tax-cap rally just as Rick Lazio — the candidate Mangano endorsed — was stumping in Suffolk.
“Because Cuomo’s going to win,” said the person, who asked not to be identified.
First, a brief disclaimer. At this time last year, you’d have heard the same certainty regarding Democratic County Executive Thomas Suozzi — who, by the way, was an early proponent of capping property taxes.
Instead, Mangano won — pulling off one of those famous low-turnout regional upsets that Lazio and other underdogs like to cite. That said, Cuomo does lead in polls. He does dominate in fundraising. He does have the bigger party organization behind him.
Lazio, meanwhile, struggles for traction.
Other signs of GOP nonaggression have cropped up. Former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato raised funds for the attorney general. Republican comptroller candidate Harry Wilson said Cuomo has the right fiscal agenda. And a “Republicans for Cuomo” group includes former GOP state chair Pat Barrett, former state Sen. Michael Balboni, former Pataki aide Michael McKeon, and GOP fundraiser Julia Koch.
Never mind, then, that Mangano comes from a major county GOP committee that was crucial to Lazio’s designation last month as the preferred challenger to Cuomo.
Never mind that Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello, who wasn’t commenting on the executive’s appearance with Cuomo, was key in turning back Suffolk Executive Steve Levy’s nomination bid against Lazio.
And never mind that Mangano said, in endorsing Lazio in March: “Rick will be a stronger partner for reducing taxes and fostering a business climate that puts people back to work in Nassau County.”
At this moment, both Cuomo and Mangano can look beneficially bipartisan, or postpartisan, or nonpartisan, by collaborating on matters of public business. Mangano must be viewing Cuomo as a force he’s likely to deal with next January. Some possible considerations:
1. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority is a state-created corporation that may or may not work smoothly with the Mangano administration.
2. The state might or might not find ways to financially assist the deficit-vexed county.
3. The next administration in Albany could have a lot to say about the proposed Hub project and whether a Shinnecock casino could one day come to that site.
4. Legislation relevant to the property assessment system may or may not be approved in Albany.
Mangano leads a county that nowadays has more enrolled Democrats than Republicans.
“This works for Mangano as much as it works for our side,” said an active Cuomo backer.
Cuomo’s Long Island numbers, in certain districts, were less than stellar four years ago.
Statewide, he got 60 percent of the vote. But in Nassau he bested Republican Jeanine Pirro with 54 percent, and in Suffolk, he nipped Pirro by a mere 27 votes out of 342,363 cast.
Lazio, at a senior center in East Islip, said: “Ed Mangano knows, and every person on Long Island knows, that there’s only one candidate that is really going to watch out for Long Island, really drive down taxes and that’s me.”
The former Brightwaters congressman said Cuomo “pretends that he is somehow a fiscal conservative when his whole life all he’s done is support liberal causes and liberal politicians.”
That angle of attack might make it more attractive for the Democrat to share a spotlight with Republicans.
Insiders deny a political quid-pro-Cuomo. But on Tuesday, the mutual benefits were apparent.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo together at a rally in Merrick in support of a statewide property tax cap proposal. (July 27, 2010)