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Editorial: Re-elect Steve Israel in 3rd Congressional District

Steve Israel, Democratic incumbent candidate for the 3rd

Steve Israel, Democratic incumbent candidate for the 3rd Congressional District. (Aug. 8, 2012) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Whether or not Democrats regain control of the House -- and it's a steep uphill climb -- it's clear that Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) has cemented his role as a rising leader by chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That position has given him valuable access.

When Israel, 54, enters the Oval Office, President Barack Obama notes his arrival by saying: "Here comes Mr. $250,000 Doesn't Make You Rich." That long nickname is about a vital issue: The threshold above which people will be deemed rich enough to pay increased taxes. As a Long Islander, he says it's too low; it should be $500,000 to $1 million.

Obama does agree with Israel's idea for a Wilderness Warriors Initiative, to give veterans jobs like the Civilian Conservation Corps. The president has made it part of his own pending proposal. Israel's areas of expertise include foreign policy, energy and help for homeless veterans.

His Republican opponent is Stephen Labate, 44, of Deer Park. He's a 24-year Army veteran who served in Iraq, holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and works monthly at the Pentagon. He is a financial planner, but devoting full time to this race.

Labate is a Ronald Reagan Republican, with a treasure trove of books and letters from the late president. Unfortunately, he is also a Grover Norquist Republican. Even as many in his party are backing away from Norquist's extreme no-new-taxes-ever pledge, Labate signed it this year. He is deeply suspicious of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms that Israel voted for, and his anti-marriage-equality rhetoric is over the top.

It makes no sense to throw out a pragmatic, on-the-rise member of Congress in favor of someone who has taken a discredited ideological pledge and would be starting from scratch. Newsday endorses Israel.