Steve Levy, Suffolk County's executive, announced this morning that he'll change parties and battle Rick Lazio for the Republican nomination for governor. And though he's quickly picking up the support of GOP leaders, and is a stronger candidate against Andrew Cuomo in many ways a healthy $4 million war chest, for one he doesn't come without baggage. Most obvious is the credibility of someone who was a Democrat his whole life up until he decided to run for governor and realized that he had a much better shot in the Republican primary than in the Democratic primary. The Lazio campaign has already begun to take shots at Levy's political opportunism. "The people of New York are looking for somebody that they can depend on,” Lazio said yesterday. “Not somebody that’s going to put their finger up to the wind and decide which way things are going." The Democrats look like they're ready to help Lazio their preferred opponent hammer home this line of attack.
Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, unleashed a scathing press release this morning, even referring to Levy with the P word:
“Steve Levy’s Republican conversion reeks of the worst kind of political opportunism. Levy’s cynical political ploy is no different than when Senator Pedro Espada abandoned his Democratic colleagues last summer in a blatant power grab. I have news for Mr. Levy: feel free to sell out your convictions for a chance at the GOP line, but don’t expect the Democratic Party to take you back when it doesn’t work out.”
Lazio's campaign is hoping to besmirch Levy's character in other ways as well. Earlier today it sent out a transcript of a 2004 conversation Levy had with Stephen Baranello, his campaign adviser who was eventually convicted on bribery charges. The Lazio campaign highlights Levy's use of "crass language":
Steve Levy- I understand he's taking major calls from fucking Judy Pascale every week. Judy Pascale's that fucking prick who worked with Romaine.
Stephen Baranello - I know who you are talking about.
Meanwhile, NARAL is worried that someone with a 100 percent pro-choice voting record is seeking the Conservative Party endorsement.
"Either the Conservative party has come to NARAL Pro-Choice New York's position that a candidate for statewide office in New York must be 100 percent pro-choice in order to win, or there are serious concerns that Steve Levy is backtracking on his stated commitment to women’s health and reproductive rights."
So Levy has been in the race for 30 seconds and he's already been accused of political opportunism, backtracking, and a dirty mouth. Welcome to the race, Steve Levy!
Lazio Campaign: Levy's A Crass Talker » [Daily Politics/NYDN]
NARAL 'Alarmed' By Levy Courting Conservatives » [Daily Politics/NYDN]
Jacobs: We won’t take you back [Capitol Confidential/Times Union]
Lazio Goes After New Challenger in Governor’s Race [NYT]