Republican Party leaders most likely view Tony Gallo’s primary challenge as unbecoming a “good party soldier.” A good party soldier clicks his heels and snaps to attention on cue–not someone who bucks the party’s leadership. The one word that does not drip from the party leader’s mouth is “dissent.” The unctuous machine, which is headquartered in Westbury, succeeded in undermining primary challengers such as Steve Labate and Frank Scaturro in their Congressional races. Should we assume that Gallo will not face the same resistance in a local race?
Here is something to consider about the unseen sludge of machine politics: the person who crosses the establishment threatens its grip on patronage and power. Reggie Spinello’s potential loss of Republican Party support could result in a loss of Independence Party endorsements for Republican candidates. The ripples of a political shakeup could touch future countywide races–i.e., if the Independence Party does not get the Republicans to back its guy, it could pull its endorsement of a Republican candidate in another tight race. Spinello’s loss would also put uncertainty on who receives lucrative government contracts from the city or which party hack gains city employment.
The reader should not assume that this is an endorsement of Gallo for mayor. As his campaign matures, he should be able to articulate a complete platform that includes his positions on issues from economic development to the city’s charter reform–this has not happened yet.
Gallo should be prepared to defend his record. The voters should ask if his administration would include Bloomberg-esque nanny state policies of which the government knows best. For example, did Gallo vote to ban hookkah bars, which is a lawful business, for the same reason former N.Y.C. Mayor Mike Bloomberg declared his war on large soft drinks? Voters should also know why Gallo voted for city budgets in non-election years (when few pay attention) whereas he voted against them when in the spotlight of an election year. Was this a mere coincidence or does he only showboat as a fiscal conservative when he needs to rally the Republican base for an election?
Despite the concerns about Gallo, his decision to challenge the machine’s anointed candidate is laudable. His campaign may encourage other Republicans to challenge the rest of Spinello’s cohorts such as Councilman Joe Capobianco and Councilwoman Pam Panzenbeck. Republicans will see democracy in action as they choose their candidate on Primary Day. Although a primary is anathema to the Republican machine’s rusty cogs, it is good for the political process.