Speaking to Newsday, Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) noted the shame “when a candidate like Mayor Kennedy who happens to be fiscally cautious but socially progressive cannot get the nomination”.
Lavine was referring to Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy, 49, a life-long Republican who submitted papers this month to change his voter registration to Democrat after Nassau GOP leadership rescinded their endorsement of his run for Assemblyman of the 13th District.
The decision came after the Conservative Party dropped their endorsement during an interview in which they’d asked “how many gay sex marriages” the Mayor had performed, as he is legally required to. The Mayor answered that he had performed two marriages. The Conservative Party refused to endorse Kennedy’s candidacy, and soon after, GOP leadership dropped their endorsement after he refused their requests to apologize and meet Conservative demands.
Kennedy initially decided to primary the GOP leadership’s chosen candidate in September, but was soon persuaded by Democrats to pursue a Senate run against incumbent Carl Marcellino, a Republican.
The Nassau GOP leadership has effectively handed over the Assembly election to the incumbent Lavine by opting for a candidate who was defeated last time by almost 30 points.
The abandonment of Kennedy also brought Democrats another chance to attack the honorable, storied Republican Party in the vile manner seen on the national stage. Speaking at Kennedy’s campaign announcement, Lavine channeled “Republican War on Women” propaganda, charging that Republicans must “be against human rights” and be against women’s “reproductive freedom”.
What’s most damaging to a Republican Party that has historically embraced free enterprise and individual liberty is the loss of candidates who identify as fiscally conservative and socially tolerant, or “classical liberal”. County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, who spoke at Kennedy’s announcement, was another life-long Republican until switching sides when she ran for office. At least a couple of Glen Cove city councilmen who have served as Democrats were registered Republicans as well.
Meanwhile, Lavine and the Democrats are ahead of themselves when they say they’re welcoming Kennedy “home”. In the case of Lavine, he’s simply dodged a worthy challenge to a seat he’s held since 2005. And marriage equality is but one issue on which many rank-and-file Republicans sympathize and agree with Kennedy.
While Kennedy was still endorsed by the Nassau GOP he addressed the Glen Cove Republican Club and spoke of his firm Republican values. He spoke of New York’s crushing tax and regulatory burden. He says he believes in free enterprise, and has backed it up with running a successful window treatment business. He’s succeeded as a Republican in Sea Cliff. He could’ve beaten Lavine.
The Republican Party cannot be an effective vehicle for advancing its own ideals if its leaders believe that a small party’s opposition to marriage equality is more important than ousting one of Sheldon Silver’s closest allies.