Our Views: ‘It gets late early around here’

Our Views: ‘It gets late early around here’

On Nov. 8, Tom Suozzi was elected Congressman for the 3rd District, defeating then Republican state Sen. Jack Martins.

On Jan. 3, Suozzi was sworn in as a member of the 115th Congress.

On Jan. 26, Suozzi held a fundraiser celebrating his election — and unofficially kicking off his 2018 re-election campaign. A ticket to attend cost a “suggested” $250. You could be a “chair” for a mere $5,400.

Some might say Suozzi was realistic. Some might say he was being paranoid. But as they say, even paranoids have real enemies.

On Feb. 7 — a little more than a month after Suozzi was sworn in — the National Republican Congressional Committee listed the Glen Cove Democrat as among 36 Democrats they plan to target in the 2018 election.

As Yogi Berra said, “It gets late early around here.”

And if  anyone wants to know what’s wrong with Congress, Suozzi’s first days in office are a good place to start.

Actually, you could even start before Suozzi’s election when his predecessor, Steve Israel, announced he would not seek re-election.

Among his primary reasons?  The constant need for members of Congress, even those in leadership positions such as Israel, to raise money to run for re-election.

“I don’t think I can spend another day in another call room making another call begging for money,” Israel said in an interview with the New York Times. “I always knew the system was dysfunctional. Now it is beyond broken.”

The money raised by members of Congress is most often provided by an army of lobbyists and special interests willing to assist members reach their fundraising goals.  Not exactly conducive to good government.

A quick look at our tax laws and gun laws will show you how well this system has worked so far.

In the case of Israel and Suozzi at least they were concerned with running general election campaigns against a Republican.

Thanks to gerrymandered Congressional districts approved by state legislatures — at the moment overwhelmingly controlled by Republicans — most members or Congress are more concerned with challenges within their own party.

The fear of many Democrats being challenged to their left and Republicans to their right goes a long way in explaining how Congress got so polarized Congress.

So what attracted the National Republican Congressional Committee to focus on Suozzi?

Well,  Suozzi did not have time to cast any votes or commit any ethical lapses that would engender the Republicans’ antipathy.

Heck, Suozzi would be lucky to have learned his way to the bathroom.

No. Republican spokesperson Chris Pack explained, “Suozzi is Suozzi,” pointing to a video of Suozzi saying he raised property taxes and cut Nassau’s workforce during his tenure as county executive from 2002 to 2009.

Never mind that Nassau County was on the brink of bankruptcy when Suozzi took office in 2002 after decades of Republican rule and that the county received 13 bond upgrades during his tenure.

Apparently, the National Republican Congressional Committee expects all members of Congress to subscribe to the pledge demanded by tax activist Grover Norquist that they never raises taxes, no matter the circumstances.

It should be noted that in the eight years since Suozzi left, Republican County Executive Ed Mangano and the Republican-controlled county Legislature haven’t cut the property taxes Suozzi raised — and have still struggled to balance the county budget.

Martins made the same case about Suozzi raising taxes as county executive during his unsuccessful race for Congress against Suozzi in the general election.

But apparently the national party believes Martins spent too much time fighting to prevent a primary race against lightly regarded challenger Phillip Pidot and too little attacking Suozzi.

They also note the small edge enjoyed by Democrats in the 3rd District and the large number of independents who could help swing the district to a Republican.

Now despite the election of Donald Trump as president, and all that has followed, the National Republican Congressional Committee believes Suozzi’s tax hikes as county executive could be the basis for victory in 2018.

We endorsed Suozzi in his bid against Martins, but like any reasonable person believe it is way too early to make a judgment about his performance

If only that was how modern Congressional elections worked.

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