State Sen. Philip M. Boyle made a decision last year to play footsie with the Machiavellian mastermind of Suffolk County politics. Now Boyle has the taint of the swamp on him. And it won’t wash off. Worse, Boyle isn’t even trying to get rid of the stench.
That’s a debilitating problem for Boyle, who is seeking his fourth term in the Senate after many years in the Assembly.
His opponent, former Suffolk Legis. Louis D’Amaro, has unambiguous stands on voting and ethics reforms that make him the clear choice for any voter who believes in honest elections, decries backroom deal-making, and wants to pull the plug on Suffolk’s sorry political cesspool.
Boyle, 57, a Bay Shore Republican, was part of an odious 2017 deal between county Democratic boss Rich Schaffer and former Conservative Party head Edward Walsh to deprive voters of choices in judgeship races by cross-endorsing candidates. As part of the deal, Schaffer backed off the sheriff’s contest. Walsh, a former corrections lieutenant convicted of corruption charges on the basis of evidence from then-Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, abandoned DeMarco, an actual Conservative, in a favor of Boyle, who has no law enforcement experience but did employ Walsh’s wife in his office, part of Boyle’s history of hiring relatives of political cronies. And Boyle did not rule out accepting the Democratic line from Schaffer, who was ready to extend it.
The deal blew up when Boyle lost the GOP primary. Even now, Boyle says he supports the party boss system and says candidates should be allowed to run on as many lines as party bosses will give them. Primary voters stopped him from leaving the Senate for the high-paying sheriff’s job. Why should he be returned to a job he didn’t want?
D’Amaro, 57, thinks the system is repugnant and broken. He’s right. An attorney from North Babylon, the Democrat spent 12 years in Suffolk’s legislature as a thoughtful lawmaker. He supports a full range of real ethics and voting reforms — including redistricting by an independent commission to create competitive races. He says candidates should run on one ballot line, that the State Legislature should be a full-time position with no outside income, and that lawmakers should hold hearings and discuss bills before passing them. Judges, he says, should be appointed in a way that insulates them from politics. He will be a strong voice for local interests if Democrats take control of the caucus.
D’Amaro’s very presence in this race is unusual. For years, Schaffer essentially gave Boyle and his predecessor, Owen Johnson, a free pass to Albany by nominating Senate candidates who were not serious contenders. He does not support D’Amaro’s candidacy. It’s easy to see why.
To be sure, we have applauded Boyle in the past. His environmental advocacy has been sound, he did good work as chair of the Senate task force on heroin and opioid addiction, and he is fiscally conservative. But that can’t save him now that his integrity is so badly tarnished.
Newsday endorses D’Amaro. — The editorial board