Mayor Reggie Spinello easily defeated his challenger, Councilman Anthony Gallo in the Republican mayoral primary, 572 to 417. As a result, he’ll be that party’s candidate in November.
Team Gallo’s campaign to discredit Spinello with Republican voters was farcical from the beginning. Neither Gallo nor Spagnoletti had any objection when the GOP cross-endorsed Spinello in 2013. Another supposed outrage was that the Democrats have endorsed Spinello. Left out is that Gallo and Spagnoletti began seeking inroads with the Democratic Party as early as 2014. Readers can ask how the latter came to be appointed by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hungtington) to his military academy nominations committee in May of that year.
Later that year, on the eve of the special election Spagnoletti solicited votes for the Democrats’ candidate to replace the late Nick DiLeo, undermining the Republican Joseph Capobianco. The efforts appeared to pay off at a Democratic committee meeting earlier this year, when a prominent member suggested Tony Gallo as their candidate in the mayoral election. That proposal was easily shot down and became a key factor in that party’s decision to endorse Spinello.
But now that Republican voters have told Tony Gallo “no,” he’ll need support from Democrat voters. This is why he’ll probably deny any involvement (What, Me Worry?) in sending the following literature by mail to Conservative Party members:
Gallo’s team apparently sent this out in an attempt to discredit Spinello with Conservative Party voters. That’s because Team Gallo tried to gain endorsements from the Conservative and Independence parties too. To read the score; the campaign sought the endorsement of the four parties that decided to support Spinello.
The Gallo campaign has attacked these endorsements as undemocratic. “The biggest loser in this Boss-brokered, backroom deal of cross-endorsements will be the Glen Cove voting public,” reads a letter cited by the Gallo campaign. Rhetoric like this could be why many voters somehow believed that a Gallo defeat in the primary would mean no mayoral election in November.
In reality the process has been democratic. First, party committees by majority vote can endorse any eligible candidate they please; however, if a committee wants to endorse an outside candidate, the party must give what’s known as the Wilson Pakula, which is permission to enter the primary. An outside candidate cannot run for a party’s endorsement without it. If a member of the party is unhappy with the committee’s pick, they are free to circulate petitions and run in a primary.
For example, earlier this year the Glen Cove Republican committee of about thirty members voted overwhelmingly to endorse Mayor Spinello. Team Gallo then circulated petitions to challenge Spinello in a primary election that was held last Thursday. Voters again picked Spinello.
Our political process allows those unhappy with the parties to circulate petitions and start a new party. Gallo is expected to run alongside his running mates on a new line, the so-called “Glen Cove United,” which is not a soccer team. But voters turned off by “Party Bosses” likely won’t find this party a bastion of choice. The party exists simply so Tony Gallo can run for mayor.
It’s certainly ironic. After campaigning against autocracy, they’ve started a party to endorse Tony Gallo without any debate. The slogan of Glen Cove United, “People Over Politics,” may be correct–that is, those people being Tony Gallo and Efraim Spagnoletti.
Lest readers think we’re singling out the duo, we arrive at an odd outcome of Thursday’s election having to do with the Republican primary for city council. At least four of Spinello’s candidates secured spots on the Republican line: Capobianco, Panzenbeck, Heuser, and DiLeo. One of Gallo’s candidates, Efraim Spagnoletti secured the fifth spot. The last spot is yet to be decided by absentee ballots: Danielle Willis and Roderick Watson are reportedly in contention and absentee ballots will decide the race.
The oddity is in the disparity between some of Gallo’s candidates and others. Gallo received 417 votes for his mayoral campaign. Yet Watson, a newcomer, received 424 and Spagnoletti garnered 426 giving them each a shot at the last two spots on the Republican line. The rest of the Gallo slate didn’t even come close at the polls: Philip Pidot had 378, Nancy Hawkins got 364, and Carlos Shimabukuro received 321.
Watson’s success could be explained by his prime placement on the ballot (he was put first in a left-right row); however, Spagnoletti was placed towards the end and we know the Councilman’s campaign history. In 2013 as a candidate on Spinello’s ticket, he wasn’t seen as a team player. Others saw him working to undermine his own running mates. When it came time to nominate a candidate in the 2014 special election, he “remained silent” when everybody else said “aye” for Joe Capobianco. Then he solicited votes for Capobianco’s Democratic opponent, assuring supporters he swayed “fifty votes” away from the Republican.
Did something similar happen during the primary campaign? The process of voting for six open council seats at once could incentivize such behavior, but it’s up to the less-fortunate candidates of Gallo’s slate to decide. The campaign has been in a bit of a hiatus since the primary. But if they no longer find Gallo or Spagnoletti trustworthy, they’d find plenty of company.
If you haven’t noticed yet, the Gallo campaign has been essentially campaigning against itself. Gallo and Spagnoletti voted for the 2015 budget, every debt issue proposed by the Mayor, and in voting for the budget even appropriated money for the infamous “chief of staff” position, which Spagnoletti initially voted against and Gallo later decided he opposed. This lead Robert Germino to ask, “After reviewing the ‘mistakes’ made by Gallo and Spagnoletti, should we trust them with running anything more than a lemonade stand?”
They certainly appear to lack any kind of direction with their political decisions. Alexander Hamilton wrote about this in Federalist No. I when he asked “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”
Obviously, he wrote in a much different context. This post was meant to explain what the primary election means for Glen Cove. But really, what happened was that Republican Party voters overwhelmingly chose “reflection and choice” over “accident and farce.”