LI’s political winners and losers in 2010 – By George J. Marlin
The following appears in the December 17-23 issue of the Long Island Business News:
This year, voter rage was the major factor changing Long Island’s political landscape. Here’s my take on the winners and losers:
Peter King – The nine-term congressman was re-elected handily and is slated to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. This fearless and outspoken conservative, who wisely chose not to give up his seat to seek statewide office, will be New York’s senior Republican officeholder. Look for King to play a major role in rebuilding his comatose party.
Steve Israel – In the year New York Republicans took back at least six of their traditional congressional seats, the Huntington Democrat easily beat back his GOP challenger. Going against his party and endorsing an extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts and voting to censure Charlie Rangel were smart moves. As the newly appointed chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Israel has the opportunity to enhance his political stature and to be a major player nationally should Democrats return to power.
Tom DiNapoli – In winning the state comptroller’s race, the former Nassau assemblyman beat the odds, beat the pundits and beat the elites. DiNapoli proved it is still possible for a small-town David to beat a multimillionaire Goliath. Look for him to increase his profile and influence in a state government that is broke.
Dean Skelos – The Rockville Centre senator won, by the skin of his teeth, a GOP majority in the state Senate and the right to have a seat at Albany’s legislative re-districting table. Skelos must now prove that his slim majority can run the Senate better than the multifactioned Democrats did in the 2009-2010 sessions. Hopefully, Skelos and his GOP colleagues have learned that being Democratic-lite on fiscal and public employee issues does not sit well with the voters. Look for him to cozy up to the new governor as a foil against NYC-based Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Vince Polimeni – He navigated a treacherous real estate market by successfully switching his Mineola apartment project to rentals. His appointment to Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo’s transition team can only help his Cross-Sound Tunnel project.
Shinnecock Indian Nation – Long-awaited federal recognition should make the tribe the belle of the ball on Long Island in 2011.
Rick Lazio – The former Suffolk County congressman suffered a humiliating defeat in the Republican primary to political buffoon Carl Paladino. Lazio proved that he still has a political tin ear and learned nothing from his loss to Hillary Clinton in the 2000 U.S. Senate race. Lazio is over.
Bruce Blakeman – The former presiding officer of the Nassau Legislature, who lost the state comptroller race in 1998 and was booted out of the county Legislature in 1999, chalked up yet another loss in 2010. Even though Blakeman was the state Republican Party’s designee to face off against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, he came in dead last in the GOP primary, receiving only 20 percent of the vote. Blakeman should find a better way to meet girls.
Chris Cox – Coming in third place in the 1st Congressional District’s Republican primary proved that “summering” at the family mansion in the Hamptons does not guarantee victory at the polls. This Manhattan Upper East Side child of privilege did not inherit Grandpa Richard Nixon’s disciplined, hard-nosed political skills.
Charles Wang – His Islanders are dreadful. Attendance will soon be measured with an abacus and there is talk of the NHL taking control of this sorry team. His minor-league-quality team won’t help his effort to grab a new coliseum.
Vision Long Island – Its loose cannon director alienated both county executives, many town supervisors, the real estate community and Long Island contractors. Due to its bizarre actions, its list of friends is short and shrinking.