It is farewell time for Carolyn McCarthy who for almost two decades has held the 4th Congressional District seat that represents parts of Long Island, NY. Therefore for the first time in twenty years, the Fourth Congressional Election will not feature an incumbent running. With the current enthusiasm of four Long Island newcomers as federal political contenders, will we be in time to learn enough about their agendas to make the right choice when we cast our votes both in June’s primary and in November’s election?
What might November bring in the Fourth Congressional Election?
The four main primary contenders are two Democrats, Kathleen Rice and Kevan Abrahams. The two Republicans are Bruce Blakeman and Frank Scaturro. That race will be narrowed down to one from each party on June 24th, primary day.
At this point, I would like to quote from an article written by Frank McQuade for the longbeach.patch.com that provides the following sketches of each of the four candidates.
“Kathleen Rice: Kathleen Rice is the Nassau County District Attorney. She unseated 32-year incumbent Denis Dillon in 2005. Rice has sought higher office before along, unsuccessfully seeking Democrat Party nomination for New York State Attorney General in 2010, the year after her first re-election as D.A. Critics say Rice has been a mediocre D.A., presiding over a department that has lost convictions due to ongoing blunders by the police lab and for embarking on “social crusades” (such as her “flush-the-johns program”) instead of taking on violent crime head-on. She served on the Governor’s Moreland Commission investigating corruption, although she has taken campaign gifts from companies actually under investigation by the commission, and the recent, sudden disbanding of Moreland may lessen the pop on that resume line. Her personal life is often under scrutiny, especially since her admission of having “dabbled” with cocaine. However, the Democrat Party finds her an attractive candidate and a proven vote-getter. She seems a lock to win the primary.
Kevan Abrahams: Kevan Abrahams is the Nassau County Legislature’s Minority Leader. His announcement to seek the 4th CD nomination listed an aggressive set of goals that included “reducing property taxes” (I am unsure how the U.S. House could do this), immigration reform and pay inequality of women” among others. He pledges to represent “the middle class and the socially vulnerable” (I am unsure if this is contradictory or redundant these days.) An African American, supporters in his Party hope that he can organize into an effective voting bloc the growing Black and Hispanic constituency in his district. Abrahams is an affable and talented legislator who has earned respect of his colleagues, but seems to be taking a jump he cannot traverse in his seeking Congress at this time.
Bruce Blakeman: Bruce Blakeman served as Majority Leader of the Nassau County legislature for its inaugural first four years, 1996-2000. He was voted out of office in 1999 during the so-called “Gulotta debacle,” when the Republicans lost majority of the Nassau Legislature. Although he made bid for New York State Comptroller and ran a campaign for the U.S. Senate against Kirsten Gillebrand, Blakeman has been generally absent from local politics since leaving the legislature. Bruce has knock-out good looks and a lot of money…not a bad start for a candidate. He is well-liked and well-regarded by Party members who recall his years in the county legislature. Blakeman’s early campaign pitches speak of his being ready to be an opposition to the national Democrat agenda, but his record and positions have in the past appeared as a moderate, rather than as a conservative crusader. Whether this will be enough to stop Kathy Rice remains to be proven on the campaign battleground. Bruce Blakeman now lives in Long Beach.
Frank Scaturro: This will be Frank Scaturro’s third bid for the Republican nomination. Scaturro lost his prior two primaries, but won a write-in nomination in the Conservative Party primary in 2012 and was on the ballot. Frank Scaturro is a soft-spoken, scholarly attorney, a Law School professor who formerly worked in a U.S. Senate office. Scaturro represents the conservative wing of the 4th CD constituency and has an extremely dedicated, albeit electorally-limited following. He well-articulates a consistent conservative message and promises to oppose in Congress many of the trends of the Obama era. He is taken seriously by the Nassau GOP organization, as evidenced by the volume and degree of contempt expressed for his races by local GOP leaders, whose bridges he has long burned.”Alison D. Gilbert‘s insight:
I think it is important to note that this article was written by a very conservative Republican, a decent person, but someone who himself has never been able to gain a place in public office.
None the less, Frank McQuade has done the public a service by presenting a bio for each of the four running in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. Although I admit to not being a Carolyn McCarthy insider, I have heard her speak several times. She was thrown into the political arena on a one issue tragedy. She was a nurse, not a politician.
I take some offense to McQuades’ comment about her. "For eighteen years, Carolyn McCarthy has been a nearly invisible, ineffective representative. She has been a one-issue harpy on gun control, and has not even been effective in promoting legislation to address that issue. With limited professional credentials and as a rubber-stamp for her Party’s agenda, she was never meant to be in the same league as national politics." If she was so ineffective, why was she re-elected eight times?
Anyway, as I mentioned, the writer is a Republican, as I believe McCarthy was too before switching to run for the 4th CD seat. Either way, it will be interesting to see what happens on June 24th and then in November. I think that at this time both Rice and Blakeman have the advantage of notoriety and will be shoe-ins for the primaries. (But one never knows what a grasp of social media marketing can do to change the direction of things). Either way, the election is not so easy to predict.