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Kruse hopes to repeat buddy Mangano's win

"It might be the year of the underdog," says Rich Kruse, a close buddy of newly minted Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano who is gunning for the soon-to-be-open seat of Long Island Association president.

Kruse, a consummate networker with a Rolodex that tops 10,000 contacts, admits that he's not one of the most prominent candidates to lead the Island's largest business group -- the list is said to include former Newsday publisher Tim Knight, Mitchell Pally, a former executive at the LIA who now is in a law practice, and LIPA chief Kevin Law.

But, while he might not be as well known as some of the others vying for the position, he makes up for that in verve and promotional savvy, he says.

Unlike other potential candidates for the job, which is being vacated sometime next month by current president Matthew Crosson, Kruse is shouting from the Webtops that he wants the job, often reminding his many, many friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And, of course, he pumps his message at networking functions.

"I'm the Ed Mangano in this race," Kruse says, hoping to copy Mangano's surprise win over Tom Suozzi for Nassau's top spot.

Crosson is leaving to become president and chief executive of the Greater Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

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