Steve Levy, the Democratic county executive of Suffolk, will announce tomorrow that he is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, upsetting an otherwise sleepy election cycle. And he will begin by striking a moral and strategic blow against his rival, former Rep. Rick Lazio, by wresting the support of their home county–and a trove of votes at the Republican nominating convention–from Lazio’s grasp.
More on that from my story today:
John Jay LaValle, the chairman of the Suffolk Republican Party and the first GOP leader to endorse Rick Lazio’s campaign for governor last year, will announce on Friday that he is switching his support to Steve Levy, according to three people told of his plans.
LaValle has worked quietly behind the scenes for Levy in recent weeks, but has until now maintained his public support for Lazio. With LaValle’s endorsement, Levy will strike a moral and strategic blow against Lazio, by wresting the support of their home county—and a trove of votes at the Republican nominating convention—from the former congressman’s grasp.
LaValle, who was said to be driving up to Albany with local Republican town chairs on Thursday afternoon, did not return calls to his office and cell phone seeking comment. But a source close to Levy’s campaign confirmed that LaValle was scheduled to attend a Friday morning press conference in Albany where Levy will officially declare his candidacy.
The support of the Suffolk Republican Party provides Levy with a much-needed boost at the outset of his campaign, and makes it more likely that many other Republican chairs from the across the state who have already endorsed Lazio will begin to switch their allegiances to Levy.
Levy will be joined on Friday by several of the party’s nine regional vice chairs, many of whom have so far remained uncommitted. Jay Dutcher of Ontario, John Graziano of Albany, Jim Ellis of Franklin, Vincent Reda of Rockland and Jay Savino of the Bronx will all endorse Levy tomorrow.
One vice-chair, who did not want to be named discussing details of private conversations, said most of those chairs had at one point expressed support for Lazio, but were offended by his failure to show up at a candidate screening in Albany last week.
“The meeting started with most of the regional vice chairs in Rick Lazio’s corner. Then he never showed up,” the vice-chair said. “I felt like I was in a street fight, and the guy I’m fighting for was running away.”
Of Levy’s candidacy, the chair added: “This happened because of Lazio’s campaign. This happened because Lazio has been M.I.A.”