County Executive Ed Mangano’s victory over Tom Suozzi was not a surprise, say some local political experts, but the decisiveness of his win was. Mangano, who upset then two-term incumbent Suozzi four years ago in a race decided by fewer than 400 votes, this year won by more than 48,000 votes.
With 59 percent of the vote for Mangano, and 41 percent for Suozzi, the gap shocked many. “It was a margin of victory that I don’t think even the most optimistic Republican could have predicted,” said Larry Levy, executive dean for the National Center of Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.
John DeGrace was the Republican commissioner of the Nassau County Board of Elections in 2009 when ballots were counted and recounted in an effort to determine a winner in the last county executive race. Now retired, DeGrace said he expected a Mangano win in a close contest this year, but that there would be a clear winner.
But he didn’t expect a double-digit win. “Everybody thought it was going to be a much tighter race,” DeGrace said. “I’m surprised that the spread was as much as it was.”
The right message
Levy said that messages of the two candidates were very different. Mangano had a simple and powerful message — that he didn’t raise taxes. “Mangano ran a pitch perfect race,” Levy said. “Suozzi was never able to counter it.”
Mangano said he believes property taxes were the big issue that impacted voters. He also said the fact that the county’s unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest in the region resonated with people. “We’re making Nassau County more affordable while creating more jobs and opportunities,” he said.
Levy explained that Mangano and the Republican party were able to point out that Suozzi raised taxes, which he did twice during his eight years. Levy said Suozzi’s response was too complicated for the 30-second sound bites that appeal to the average voter.