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GOP Contemplates Carlucci Competitiors

by Cliff Weathers,

Rockland County Republican Chair Vincent Reda says the GOP will field a strong State Senate candidate to run against David Carlucci in New York’s 38th State Senate district. Reda recently told City & State that three well-known local figures, Rockland County Legislator Ed Day, Clarkstown Town Councilman Frank Borelli, and recently ousted Orangetown Supervisor Paul Whalen have shown interest in entering the race.

However, a local Republican insider told NYaltnews that the name ultimately on Row B may be none of the above. On condition of anonymity, our source said, ‘€œWe understand that Carlucci is extremely popular, and it’s hard to find issues with his many of his votes. Even his liberal votes’€”like gay marriage’€”might not be battles worth fighting.’€

‘€œEd Day is the future of our party,’€ said our GOP source. ‘€œMany of us think he’ll make an excellent [Rockland County] exec when that time comes, and it may be sooner than you think. And that’s a race we know he can win.’€

Indeed, several other political sources have told NYaltnews that Day covets the Rockland County Executive’s seat, and they claim he’ll even enter a primary against incumbent Republican C. Scott Vanderhoef in 2013 if needed.

The GOP insider we spoke to indicated that a State Senate run in 2012 would be a distraction, if not a small setback for Day when the time comes to run for County Executive. ‘€œPeople think of Ed Day as a winner’€¦personally I’d like it to stay that way. Win or lose, he’d be bloodied in a race with Carlucci.’€

As for Borelli, our source said, ‘€œFrank’s name is well-known throughout the county, he’s got a lot of cash, and he’s one likeable guy. But do I think he’s interested? Well, I think Vinnie is interested for Frank. Again, what issue would Frank challenge Carlucci on? Indian Point? Utility rates? Hydrofracking? Carlucci’s vote on gay marriage? And ruin all the goodwill he’s built up in this town?’€

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While skeptical of a State Senate run, our GOP insider still believes that Borelli has broad appeal that goes beyond partisan lines. Borelli has financially backed past candidacies of Democratic Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack and has contributed to liberal organizations such as Progressive Rockland. He has been the recipient of contributions from labor unions and several local Democratic political figures, notably former Rockland County Democratic Chairman Vincent J. Monte. In his past run for Town Council, Borelli ran on four lines, even getting backing from the Working Families Party. A successful area business person, Borelli is an omnipresent civic figure and sits on the boards of several local non-profits.

Paul Whalen, said our source, is not a viable candidate. ‘€œThis is a guy who just lost in some historically Republican areas,’€ she said, speaking of Whalen’s surprise loss to Andy Stewart for Orangetown Supervisor in November. ‘€œYou’re definitely not going to get a lot of people banging on doors for Paul when they just took him out of office.’€

Our source pointed out that Whalen had a balance of almost $27,000 after he finished his languid and spiritless Supervisor race that had expenses totaling only $7,643.49. Whalen’s balance can only be applied to future political activities and not his personal expenses. And while that’s an insane amount of leftover cash from his failed campaign, it’s not a big enough kitty to begin a State Senate run.

There had been speculation that the New York State Republican Party had struck a deal with Carlucci and other members of the Independent Democratic Conference (the four are not members of the State Senate Democratic Conference). Reportedly, the GOP would not field strong opposition to Sens. Carlucci, Diane Savino, David Valesky, and Jeffery Klein. This rumor angered both Democrats and Republicans alike, but has been denied by both the IDC and Republican leaders.

There may be a wild card or two entering the scene. There is speculation that a Tea Party or ultra-conservative candidate could emerge. Anthony Mele’s name was floated by some last year, but it seems he is running for Congress again. However, Mele’s Tea Party group, Rally for America, had previously indicated that they would like to put up their own slate on the GOP line. A full slate or a tandem run would strengthen Mele’s chances in a likely Congressional primary against a candidate anointed by the Rockland County Republican Committee. Mele defeated the party-favored candidate, York Kleinhandler, in 2010, only to lose to Democratic incumbent Eliot Engel in November.

And what about the Conservative Party?

‘€œ[Conservative Party Chairman Michael] Long has said that his party won’t support anyone that isn’t committed to ending gay marriage,’€ says our source. In fact, Long has been on the warpath with this issue, calling on the Erie County Conservative Party to deny Republican State Senator Mark Grisanti their endorsement. Grisanti had voted in favor of marriage equality.

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‘€œLong still thinks we can close Pandora’s Box,’€ said our source. ‘€œAnd we’ll need that line to win so you might find some arms twisted to get their preferred candidate on the Republican line.’€

Last week, City & State reported that Ramapo Council member Patrick Withers may be considering a run against Carlucci in the Democratic primary, but the rumor was widely dismissed by Rockland County Democratic insiders.

In December, a telephone push poll slammed Carlucci’s legislative record and floated the idea of a primary run against him, but the effort fell flat, angering many recipients of the call.  It is widely believed that call originated from state level Democratic politicians.

Rockland County has a nearly 2-to-1 Democratic over Republican majority, but Republican candidates have been notably successful in the past despite this disadvantage.

Cliff Weathers publishes, where this article originally appeared.

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