Monday, May 01, 2006

A Lesson In Reading Between The Lines

This was a fairly innocuous story, as stories go:
Suozzi pushes gay bill revote

Newsday Staff Writer

April 30, 2006

Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who did not offer support for a domestic partnership registry bill narrowly defeated last week in the county legislature, promised he will try to get another vote on the measure.

"No I didn't lobby for it," he admitted on TV yesterday. "I thought it was going to pass." Suozzi, who is seeking the Democrat Party nomination for governor, told viewers of the WCBS-TV interview show "Kirtzman and Company" that he would urge lawmakers to bring the measure up again for a vote.

In the past, Suozzi has said he opposes gay marriage, but supports giving gay couples some legal rights, such as access to their partner in a medical crisis, something the registry would have provided.

Suozzi spokesman Bruce Nyman said yesterday that Suozzi's position was clear. "He always was in favor of the registry," Nyman said. "The only reason he didn't intervene was that he had assurances from the Democratic leadership that the bill was going to pass."

The nine members of the legislature's Republican minority voted against the bill. Of the 10 Democrats, one voted against it and one abstained.

Legis. Joseph Scannell (D-Baldwin) voted for the bill in committee in April, but against it last Monday. He has said he cast the "no" vote because he is Catholic and his district is heavily Catholic.
OK, so the County Executive screwed up, and now he's got the embarassing task of re-voting a bill that he wanted passed in the first place.


Well, not so fast now. Let's take a look at the context: first, note that he is a candidate, albeit a dark horse, for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Next, look at the fact that this is a political machine that he has engineered over the past several years to dominate Nassau County politics, which because of its suburban demographic, has tended to skew more conservative than New York City, to the point that several moderate Republicans have been County Exec in the past. This machine of his is (or maybe I should say, was) poised to bring down Congressman Peter King, a hard-line, hard-nose Republican and strong Bush backer.

His struggling candidacy for governor is far oversahdowed by Eliot Spitzer, who should win the nomination and the general election in a walk. Suozzi's best bet in this campaign would be to run hard, run a little right of Spitzer (hard, because while Eliot is clearly liberal, he's also got some chops as a prosecutor, which automatically makes him attractive to more conservative elements), and don't screw up, so that in the unlikely event of a Spitzer stumble this year, he could run in four years as the nominee-apparent, or even challenge for Chuck Schumer's Senate seat in 2008.

The one thing Suozzi cannot afford is to be seen as ineffective, or worse, managing a bunch of rebellious little children, an impression the Republicans have managed to raise with this stunt (right....Scannell changed his vote for his district...) and past stunts regarding the leadership of the county board.

The clue to all this?
During the show, Suozzi also predicted that despite poor poll numbers and weak intraparty support, he would win the party's nomination for governor. Later in the show, in a separate interview, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a supporter of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer -- the Democratic party's front-runner for the nomination for governor -- dismissed Suozzi's efforts to petition his way onto the primary ballot.

"There will be more powerful Democrats in office after November's election," Silver said. "Fortunately Tom Suozzi will not be among them."
Emphasis added, but hardly needed.

Talk about being slapped down!