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by Jay Gallagher

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stirrings among the GOP

The race for governor, which appeared to be likely to pit huge underdog Republican Rick Lazio against Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, was shaken up today when Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy announced he is also running for the Republican nomination.

What makes the development doubly interesting is that, until today, Levy was a Democrat.

But in front of a smiling state GOP chairman Ed Cox and other party officials, Levy signed an application changing his enrolment (it won’t actually take effect until after the election, however.)

Levy, a former member of the Assembly, has headed the state’s largest county (about 1.5 million people) outside New York City since 2003, and was cross-endorsed by Republicans in 2007 when he was re-elected with more than 95 percent of the vote.

He said today he switched parties because “reckless spending that hurts people more than anything else,’’ and he blames Dems more than Repubs for that.

The Republicans also offer him a far easier route to the general election, since any Democratic governor-wannabe would have to tangle with Cuomo in a primary. Cuomo is expected to announce his candidacy next month. Gov. David Paterson has already said he won’t run.

Levy is more liberal than most Republicans on many social issues - he’s pro-choice on abortion, for example, but is fiscally conservative. He’s also known for his fierce opposition to illegal immigration.

“This year the issues will almost be totally fiscal,’’ he said.

To get on the September primary ballot, he has to get more than half of the weighted vote at the party’s June convention (rather than 25 percent, since he is not yet officially a Republican)

And in another twist to the race, friends say Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino plans to enter the GOP race for governor. He has the support of some Tea Party members and is reportedly ready to spend $10 million of his own money on the campaign.

So while a few weeks ago Cuomo and his $16 million campaign fund seemed to be scaring off potential GOP challengers, now it appears that there will be no shortage of candidates hoping to have a chance to run against him.


Anonymous said...

Another interesting twist re Mr Levy as I understand it he won't be able to vote for himself in the primary since he changed his party. He has to wait for the next election to vote in the primary.

Ann M. Gardner, Northport, NY said...

Poor Mr Lazio cannot seem to get a break. Perhaps he will be heartened by the fact that Mr. Levy cannot vote (for himself, or anyone else) in the Republican primary (his registration change will not have become effective yet). And Mr. Lazio can console himself that upstate businessmen recently seeking to become Governor do not have a winning track record.