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Anybody’s game in Smithtown
The political fate of Patrick Vecchio and his 39-year reign as Smithtown Town supervisor will be determined next week, with the count of absentee and affidavit ballots scheduled to begin on Monday.
Vecchio, 86, did not get the Republican Party nomination this year. So he primaried the party’s choice, town board member Ed Wehrheim, who led Vecchio by 39 votes — 2,822 to 2,783 — after the machine count in last week’s GOP primary. With 373 absentee ballots and a handful of affidavit votes to be tallied, it’s still anybody’s game.
The count could last one day or a lot longer, depending on how vigorously attorneys from both sides contest the validity of the ballots.
Given the bad blood in this one, the over seems like the safer bet.
New face at NY State GOP
The New York State Republican Party’s leadership team got a shot of Long Island political savvy this week when Alexandra Nigolian was elected to serve a two-year term as secretary.
Nigolian’s activism comes in Manhattan, where she is an officer in the local GOP chapter, but for six years she has been executive director of the Nassau County Police Department Foundation.
That nonprofit organization helps fund a variety of police-related programs, but its main purpose is to raise money and support for construction of a new training academy for the Nassau County police. The foundation has committed $3.5 million to the academy, which has taken some stumbles and drawn criticism from opponents who said it would be too big, too expensive and unnecessary, and argued that Nassau should find a way to use Suffolk County’s police academy in Brentwood. Now the plans have been downsized from the original 100,000 square feet and $40 million price tag, and the department says construction could start later this year.
Building the academy has long been a priority among some of the same deep-pocketed Long Islanders with whom the state GOP would love to build closer relationships. And the state party now has a stronger connection to Long Island police groups at a time when their support could be a factor in local races, including the very tight race for Nassau County executive.
Back from the dead
Who gets to debate
Mayor Bill de Blasio is crushing Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis, an Assembly member representing parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn, according to an NBC-Marist poll released Tuesday. Among likely voters, de Blasio is up 65 percent to 18. But the real consequence of the poll might be how it affects the debate stage.
The most straightforward way to qualify for the first of two Campaign Finance Board-sanctioned debates is by raising and spending $500,000, which de Blasio has done. Malliotakis should be able to do the same: She has raised just under that sum and spent some $270,000, which doesn’t include the cost of September TV commercials.
The same might not be true for other candidates, such as former City Councilman Sal Albanese, the Reform Party nominee. That is, unless he raises and spends the big half-a-million, far above his current numbers, or both shows funding numbers of $174,225 and an 8 percent showing in either of the most recent Marist or Quinnipiac polls. The catch? Those polls would have to include the names of all seven mayoral candidates on the ballot.
The NBC-Marist poll on Tuesday named only de Blasio, Malliotakis and former NYPD Det. Bo Dietl. Dietl is not participating in the city campaign finance program, so he can earn a debate spot only if the journalistic sponsors invite him. But sponsors for the primary debates this year didn’t do so for another nonparticipating candidate, Mike Tolkin, the Smart Cities Party nominee.
So de Blasio’s lesser-known challengers will have to bank on the unlikely prospect of a new poll throwing them all a bone soon. Meanwhile, Malliotakis is running uphill.