The battle for the Democratic nod for Nassau County executive is heating up, with Primary Day just a month away. Party-nominated candidate Tom Suozzi, the former two-term county executive, is facing a challenge from Adam Haber, a school board member in Roslyn.
The winner of the primary will face incumbent Edward Mangano in November. Four years ago, Mangano unseated Suozzi in an election that was decided by fewer than 400 votes.
Suozzi has opened several campaign headquarters around the county, including ones in Valley Stream, on July 31, and in East Meadow, on Aug. 3. He said he is taking the primary very seriously. “I have to win on Sept. 10, there’s no question about it,” he said. “I feel pretty good about it.”
Haber said that if Suozzi is really serious, he will agree to a debate. On Aug. 1 in Freeport, Haber held a press conference to address what he described as Suozzi’s debate “ducking.” Volunteers handed out rubber ducks with labels asking, “Why is Tom Suozzi ducking debates?” and Haber announced the launch of SuozziDebateDuck.com.
Haber, who works in property management and owns two restaurants, challenged Suozzi to 18 debates on Feb. 27. He said that Suozzi dodged all of them, and addressed Suozzi’s “debate hypocrisy,” saying that Suozzi criticized his 2001 opponent, Thomas DiNapoli, and his 2006 opponent in the race for governor, Eliot Spitzer, for not debating him. When Spitzer turned down three debates during their race, Suozzi told the press, “New Yorkers deserve better from the candidates.”
Suozzi has said little about Haber, but plenty about the man he is looking to unseat, focusing on Mangano’s handling of Nassau’s finances. He said that the Mangano administration has been combative with the Nassau Interim Finance Agency, a state oversight board that oversees the county’s finances. Suozzi has also pointed out that Nassau’s debt has risen to historic levels in the past four years. “We ran the county better,” Suozzi said. “You have to compare our record versus the current executive’s record.”
Suozzi said that Nassau County had 13 bond upgrades from independent credit rating agencies during his eight years as county executive, and that, if elected, he would bring financial stability back to the county.