MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — It's a rematch of a race decided four years ago by fewer than 400 votes: Republican Edward Mangano, who swept into office amid growing tea party sentiment, is trumpeting his record of not raising taxes against Thomas Suozzi, a former rising star in state Democratic politics seeking to regain his old job as Nassau County executive.
The contest in the suburbs east of New York City is seen as a barometer of the national political mood, according to one expert.
"People from all over the country will be watching the results for hints about 2014," said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the Hofstra University National Center for Suburban Studies. He noted Nassau County is viewed as a typical suburban swing county by political observers.
"Will dissatisfaction over the rollout of Obamacare hurt Democrat Suozzi? Will the anger at conservatives over the government shutdown damage Republican Mangano?" Levy said.
Suozzi, who was beaten by Eliot Spitzer in the 2006 Democratic primary for governor and had been widely viewed as a politician with aspirations beyond Long Island, concedes he was chastened by Mangano's victory in 2009 and admits he took his opponent too lightly. Suozzi left more than $1 million unspent in his losing re-election bid for county executive.
This time, Suozzi is promising voters that if he is returned to the county executive's office, he will not run for higher office.
"If I actually help to turn the county around, lay out an agenda for the long-term future, that will be a great life accomplishment," he told a gathering of media professionals last week.
Suozzi has claimed Mangano has mismanaged the county's finances, which have been under the supervision of a state-appointed fiscal watchdog since 1999 — predating both officials' elections.
Mangano has blitzed the airwaves with commercials touting his record of not raising taxes, as well as his experience handling the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. He also is credited with brokering a deal for private developers to rebuild the crumbling Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and surrounding property in the heart of the county.
"Our vision is to have accomplishment, have a strong economy, keep taxes low, keep Nassau County affordable, provide more opportunity than ever before," Mangano said at the same gathering of media professionals.
A Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll released this month showed Mangano with a 17 percentage point lead, 53-35, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.