It was not supposed to be like this for Team Suozzi. Not now, not ever. But eight years after taking office, Long Island’s favorite political son seems to have fallen into the shadows as his bid for a third term is still undecided, almost 24 hours after the polls closed on Nov. 3, 2009.
Suozzi is still estimated to be edging out GOP challenger Ed Mangano by less than 250 votes, with about 12,000 absentee ballots expected to be counted on Tuesday. A clear victory by Mangano was probably eradicated by Conservative candidate Steve Hansen, who stole enough votes to keep Suozzi ahead. Hansen works for the Department of Nassau County Consumer Affairs, along with Nassau County Conservative Chairman Roger Bogsted.
The Dems moved quickly to court when the party’s attorney Steven Schlesinger requested a court order to set up a recount of the race.
“The re-canvass of the November 3, 2009 General Election has begun at the Nassau
County Board of Elections,” said the Nassau County Board of Elections (BOE) in a statement on Wednesday.
Mangano says he would have done the same thing.
“We would have moved to ask for a recount,” says Mangano. “You have to when the vote is this close.”
The fact that the race is even close is a blow to the Dems, who paid dearly for growing fear and disillusionment of voters across the U.S.
It’s a grueling process, in which more than 1,000 voting machines are brought to the BOE, reopened and the more than 200,000 votes will be examined by officials from both parties. The machines are secreted away each night during the review process, which can take up to 25 days, with two keys to the room given to the Nassau County Police Department.
Mangano thinks he will prevail when the absentee ballots are counted.
“There were more than 13,000 requests for absentee ballots, and 12,331 were mailed. To date almost 7,100 voted ballots have been returned to the Board. All voted ballots post marked by Nov. 2, 2009 and received by Nov. 10, 2009 are counted,” said the BOE. “There is no count of how many affidavit ballots have been cast because at this writing the suitcases and supplies have not been returned to the Board.”
Suozzi acknowledged that the electorate is not dissatisfied over high property taxes in one of the most affluent counties in the country.
“It’s a big surprise, but it’s not surprising the public’s in a bad mood,” said Suozzi, who ran a losing primary race for governor against Eliot Spitzer in 2006. “They’re very concerned about their futures and here on Long Island they’re concerned about property taxes.
“Now I’ve tried to make it clear that the property tax problem is a school tax problem, but the public wants change and that’s a message they’re saying very, very clearly.”
In the 14th Legislative District, incumbent David Mejias (D-Farmingdale) was behind GOP candidate Joe Belesi by 28 votes, with about 450 absentee ballots to be counted. Mejias beat Belesi by a 200-plus vote margin in 2007.
The Nassau Dems are reeling from the loss of the Legislative Majority. Although Mejias’ race is still undecided, incumbent Jeff Toback lost to Howard Kopel, flipping the 10-9 majority to the GOP. Sources said that while current Minority Leader Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), who handily beat his opponent, may not take the leadership reigns when the power shifts.
The BOE expects to have the recanvass completed by Nov. 27.