The following appears in the December 5-11, 2014 issue of the Long Island Business News:
Here’s my take on those who gained and those who lost ground in this year’s game of Long Island politics.
Tom DiNapoli: The state comptroller from Great Neck is this year’s biggest winner. Re-elected with 60 percent of the vote, he topped Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vote total by 180,000. In the unlikely event Cuomo seeks a third term, he may have to rely on DiNapoli’s coattails to get over the electoral finish line.
Lee Zeldin: He had the guts to give up a safe state Senate seat to take on Tim Bishop, who easily beat him in their first faceoff in 2008. Zeldin proved his mettle in the Republican primary, handily fending off challenger George Demos, a political ne’er-do-well whose family spent a fortune on his campaign. In the fall, Zeldin ran an impressive campaign against the ethically challenged incumbent and shocked political wags when he won by 16 percentage points. Expect Zeldin to be a rising star in the GOP.
Kathleen Rice: Despite a lackluster campaign, the Nassau DA managed to squeak by on Election Day, winning her race in the 4th Congressional District with 52 percent of the vote. She’s fortunate her Republican opponent was a political knucklehead.
Dean Skelos: Thanks to Cuomo sitting on the sideline, the GOP picked up just enough seats to make Skelos majority leader of the state Senate. But will he blow it again and condemn the GOP to permanent minority status? He will, if he supports a Democratic-lite agenda and continues to be Cuomo’s political knave.
John M. Kennedy Jr.: Shunned by most of Suffolk’s political establishment, Kennedy was elected county comptroller solely on the Republican line with 53 percent of the vote. As fiscal watchdog, he’ll give the county executive plenty of heartburn – and might be the guy to take down Bellone in the next election.
Bruce Blakeman: His loss in the 4th Congressional District qualifies him as the Harold Stassen of the New York Republican Party. The voters have rejected him for state comptroller in 1998, for county legislator in 1999, for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and in November for the U.S. House of Representatives. Hopefully, Nassau’s top political narcissist has finally realized the voters are not enamored of him.
Jon Kaiman: The NIFA chairman’s boast that the deal he negotiated to lift the Nassau public employee wage freeze was cost-neutral was, as predicted, wrong. It will cost taxpayers an extra $70 million a year. Kaiman, the governor’s top political lackey on Long Island, has turned NIFA from a fiscal watchdog to a lapdog.
Ed Mangano: The Nassau County executive’s lies about the county’s fiscal condition have caught up with him. His 2015 budget, which he promised would be GAAP-balanced, is out of whack to the tune of $210 million. In the out years, projected deficits are $259 million in 2016, $295 million in 2017 and $325 million in 2018. Re-elected a year ago on the platform that he didn’t raise taxes, Mangano was exposed this year as the fiscal emperor with no clothes when he raised taxes for next year by 3.2 percent. Mangano should spend less time playing poker at Oheka Castle and more time reading Municipal Finance 101 textbooks.
David Denenberg: That Denenberg thought he could be elected to the state Senate when his former law partners were about to file a lawsuit accusing him of defrauding a client of more than $2 million (and of forging the signatures of two judges on court orders) is beyond my comprehension. He’s either incredibly delusional or dumb or both.
Ed Walsh: The Suffolk Conservative Party chairman is being investigated by the FBI over allegations he collected his salary as a county Corrections Department lieutenant for hours he didn’t work. His boss, the county sheriff, is attempting to fire him. For the sake of the Conservative Party, which was founded on the notion that principles matter more than financial gain, Walsh should resign.