Suffolk County Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle is bullish about GOP’s prospects in the coming election. After years of setbacks nationally, on a state level and in Suffolk—once Republican-dominated—he sees the GOP as “on our way back.”
The GOP “lost its way,” acknowledges Mr. LaValle who took over as Suffolk leader in September. “We became like Democrats. We left the concept of smaller government and less taxes. We started to buy into a concept of all these programs—and government grew and grew.”
This has been true under a series of recent Republican presidents and the last GOP New York governor, George Pataki, said Mr. LaValle, a 42-year-old attorney who was Brookhaven Town supervisor from 2000 to 2005. But the Democratic Party has “betrayed the trust” of voters and people “have very quickly become angry and upset” and are starting to translate that politically, said Mr. LaValle last week. “It’s a very exciting time for us.”
The Democratic administration of Barack Obama has been a “disgrace.” The president’s “words sound good but there’s not been a whole lot of substance behind the words,” he said.
He speaks of Obama having “broken more campaign promises than any president of the United States.”
He regards the Democratic losses of the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia in November and, last month, of Democrat Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat, as the reflecting a negative view a majority of voters now have of the Obama administration.
The situation is “even more pathetic” in New York State with Democratic Governor David Paterson. Even if Mr. Paterson decides to drop out and not run in November or is dumped, Mr. LaValle doesn’t see his likely replacement, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, as salvaging the situation for Democrats.“Cuomo is extremely overrated,” commented Mr. LaValle. “He and David Paterson operate from the same playbook.”
Mr. LaValle is supporting former U.S. Representative Rick Lazio of Brightwaters as the GOP nominee for governor in November. “I am certain he will be the Republican candidate. He is a fiscal conservative who knows the reality of our situation.”
As to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, a Democrat who is seeking to run for governor—and, said Mr. LaValle, has “reached out” to him about GOP support—Mr. LaValle said Mr. Levy could “make a great comptroller or attorney general” candidate on the Republican ticket “but we’re behind Rick Lazio.”
On a county level, he cites East Hampton as a “perfect example” of Democrats self-destructing locally. In East Hampton “the Democrats came into power and ran up deficits and tried to cover up the deficits with inappropriate fiscal behavior.” Thus in a town where there are more enrolled Democrats than Republicans, the GOP won big in East Hampton in November, he points out.
A key target of Mr. LaValle is Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Bishop of Southampton who Mr. LaValle describes as the “poster child of betrayal” for supporting the Democratic plan for health care reform. “Virtually two-thirds of his constituents were opposed,” claims Mr. LaValle. Mr. Bishop should have reflected this, he maintains “This arrogance Tim Bishop possesses is exactly the Washington mentality that got us into trouble.”
He speaks of “extraordinary” potential candidates seeking to run against Mr. Bishop including: Christopher Cox of Westhampton Beach, a grandson, he notes, of former President Richard Nixon; George Demos, originally of Shelter Island now of Holbrook, a former SEC enforcement attorney; and Gary Berntsen, a retired CIA operative and author of Port Jefferson.
Another major LaValle target: Brian Foley of Blue Point who in 2008 ended a near-century GOP hold on all Suffolk seats in the State Senate. Mr. LaValle scores Democrat Foley’s vote on imposing a payroll tax to help finance the MTA.
It is vital, meanwhile, says Mr. LaValle, that the GOP not just criticize Democrats but “espouse the principles and ideals of our party. The party has to stand for something: fighting to make government smaller and that will lead to lower taxes for residents. People are standing up and wanting to see something new. This is the reason for these tea parties. People are gravitating back to slightly right of center. It’s a process.”
Is Mr. LaValle correct? There are many months between now and the November election. But, for sure, in Mr. LaValle of Mt. Sinai (the cousin of State Senator Kenneth LaValle) the party now has a hard-charging leader.