At this point, you could almost praise Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's close associates for the openness with which they're trying to manipulate the election system to improve their man's chances at winning.
Almost, but not quite.
There's a new candidate looking to represent the Green Party in the race, which will pit the Republican Mangano against one of two Democrats: former county Executive Thomas Suozzi or businessman Adam Haber. He is Phillipp Negron, 25, of Freeport, and Nassau County Green Party chairman Jim Brown has never heard of him.
But lots of Mangano's people have, including Negron's uncle, Nassau Industrial Development Agency chairman Timothy Williams.
Also aware of Negron's run: the five Mangano employees, including Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin, who notarized Negron's nominating petitions or signed his paperwork as a contact person.
Negron is a brand-spanking new addition to the Green Party, having registered to vote as a member three weeks ago.
The point of Republicans bringing in a Green Party candidate is to siphon votes away from the eventual Democratic nominee, since both Greens and Democrats pull votes from the left side of the political spectrum. Using third-party lines in such a way is fairly old hat as political skulduggery goes, and it's not hard: Negron needs only 60 signatures to get on the ballot.
But there is something awe-inspiring, and maybe a skosh lazy and arrogant, about the complete lack of desire on the part of Mangano's people to mask their intentions in any way.
In polite company, it would be considered worth the effort to get people who aren't prominent in the current executive’s administration to sign his "opponent's" paperwork, and maybe even to have the candidate introduce himself to the chairman of the party he hoped to represent. It would even be traditional to offer Brown a small favor or consideration, a political trinket, one might say, as a way of smoothing the play.
Instead, the petitions were sent in with a New York Giants football logo atop them, a slap at Nassau Democrats' attempts to get the Republicans in trouble over a luxury skybox at MetLife Stadium purchased by the Republican political action committee headed by Mangano's chief deputy, Rob Walker.
Nevin's response when asked about the logo by a reporter: "That was tasteful. We're advancing the ball forward."
So for once, I can't slam our local politicians for a lack of transparency. This is as open a twisting of the political system as anyone could ask for.
If it works, it will be the fault of uninformed voters for falling for the ruse. It doesn't count as being tricked if the magician showed you how he planned to do it.