It must be cold comfort to former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran that a recent media analysis reports that Nassau County Republican voter registration is down.
She must also be disturbed that defeated Democratic district attorney candidate Todd Kaminsky won’t stand for re-election as a state senator, after he was a contributing cause of the Democrats’ loss in the last county election due to his support for state Democrats’ dangerous “no bail” law.
And that news probably doesn’t resonate well with North Hempstead’s Wayne Wink, who lost the supervisor’s race to a Republican, Jennifer DeSena, a challenger who didn’t have anywhere near Wink’s name recognition in what has been a Democratic stronghold for generations. More astounding was the election of Mazi Melesa Pilip in Nassau’s 10th Legislative District, in Great Neck. This was the first time since the County Legislature was created that a Republican won a seat in the Great Neck peninsula.
What this all means is that political labels, affiliations and registrations are less important than what candidates actually stand for on the issues most important to the electorate. The Nassau Republican Party stood firm on its common-sense principles during the last election cycle and spoke to voters in clear declarative language. Crime, taxes, reassessment, government lockdowns and personal choice were among the principles that most appealed to Nassau voters across the political spectrum.
Nassau Republican Chairman Joseph Cairo oversaw extremely successful campaigns that focused on those issues rather than poring over spreadsheets and computer analytics tracking past voter trends. The unprecedented results speak for themselves.
What does that mean for this year’s gubernatorial race? Polls suggest that Gov. Kathy Hochul may not be the sure winner that Democratic operatives are claiming she is. One recent poll should give her considerable pause, because it found that 65 percent of New York’s electorate believes the state is headed in the wrong direction. Her reception at a recent Rangers game, where the boos overpowered the public address announcer, may have been one of the more dramatic impromptu focus group responses in recent memory.
Hochul has harnessed herself to a progressive movement that continues to celebrate cashless bail at a time when violent crime has surged — when staff are being attacked with knives at the Museum of Modern Art, commuters are being pushed in front of subways and retail stores are closing because they can’t withstand the repeat shoplifters.
What this means is that U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin could win the governor’s mansion in the very blue state of New York.
In the poll that found so many New Yorkers pessimistic about the state’s direction, over half of the respondents also said they want a return of checks and balances in Albany, where progressives control the political agenda. Hochul, fearful of a primary challenge from an empowered left, believes she needs to cater to that revolutionary force if she is to survive beyond November.
But New York Post columnist Bob McManus opines that the governor’s problem is more institutional. He draws comparisons of her accidental ascent to power to that of Gov. David Paterson, who took over for the disgraced Eliot Spitzer. McManus writes that Paterson “never caught traction” with either voters or legislative leaders.
Hochul recently discovered just how politically malignant the progressive agenda can be when she endorsed “auxiliary housing units.” The proposal would have allowed multi-family dwellings in single-family neighborhoods, which would destroy suburbs across the state. Even her normally Democratic loyalists on Long Island quickly separated themselves from this destructive idea, and Hochul ruefully retreated — but like a tin can attached to a puppy’s tail, it will follow her into the autumn election cycle.
Which is one more reason Zeldin is a challenger with a genuine chance to win. He comes from Long Island, which is must-win geography for any statewide candidate. It’s a voter-rich environment, and Zeldin not only knows it well, but, just as important, has the support of two savvy GOP chairmen, Joe Cairo in Nassau and Jesse Garcia in Suffolk County.
Zeldin is looking to leverage strong pockets of support to energize his campaign on the Island while introducing himself to upstate Republican primary voters. He will also look to connect with disaffected voters in the five boroughs who have seen progressives enfranchise non-citizens with the right to vote.
Zeldin’s advisers say he is following Alfonse D’Amato’s successful 1980s playbook by creating political building blocks one endorsement at a time. Zeldin has conservatives’ endorsement and is now heading for the GOP nomination. He is doing it at a time when taxes, crime and that progressive agenda, which is at odds with Republicans and the vast majority of non-affiliated voters, are creating a demand for change and balance.
Ronald J. Rosenberg has been an attorney for 42 years, concentrating in commercial litigation and transactions, and real estate, municipal, zoning and land use law. He founded the Garden City law firm Rosenberg Calica & Birney in 1999.