The increasingly desperate battles being waged upstate for control of the State Senate has Democratic Party supporters looking elsewhere to see whether they had overlooked any seats.
So about two weeks ago, one group working on behalf of the Democrats started polling in the 8th district — yes, the David Denenberg-Michael Venditto non-race.
The goal was to see whether there was a backlash against the harshly negative campaign Republican Venditto has been running against Denenberg, the Merrick Democrat who stopped running in September after accusations from his former law firm that he had bilked a client out of more than $2 million.
The thinking was that if polling showed that district residents were upset about the attacks on Denenberg, a very popular and effective county legislator, it might make sense to funnel some last-minute money into his non-campaign.
Alas for the Dems, the polling found Denenberg trailing by 15 points. Not bad for a (politically) dead man, but bad enough that the race was deemed not worthy of investing any campaign cash in.
The Nassau Republican Committee, on the other hand, gave $50,000 to Venditto (R-Massapequa) last week, last-minute funding that spokesman Tony Santino said was not a reaction to Denenberg’s supposed viability. Santino called the spending part of the plan from the beginning to keep television ads for Venditto, son of Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, running through Election Day. Maybe. Or maybe not.
Word is circulating that district residents received robo-calls on Sunday touting Denenberg. And civic leaders in Denenberg’s Bellmore-Merrick power base continue to work on his behalf.
A news release issued Monday by Claudia Borecky, president of the North and Central Merrick Civic Association, was titled “The Real Scoop about the 8th Senatorial Election.” Its subtitle: “Facts — Plain and Simple.”
The missive sought to dispel what it called “mistruths” being propagated about Denenberg and included this passage:
“Yet, the campaign ‘Denenberg for Senate’ is over. There are no campaign funds being expended and Dave Denenberg is not campaigning. But that doesn’t change the fact that there is a choice. Election law is clear. In a democracy, the person who gains the most votes wins.
“Simply, if Dave Denenberg wins this election, he will be our next senator.
“So please keep these facts in mind when you go into the booth on Election Day.
The choice is the same as it’s always been. Do we want someone who has been our Legislator for 15 years; who many of us relied on in the aftermath of Sandy; who has improved our communities and brought home the lion’s share of county aid to his district? Or do we want someone who is the son of a supervisor and been in office for barely two years?”
As astute political observer Lawrence Peter Berra once noted, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
So, is this one over?