Friday, February 09, 2007

They Eat Their Own Mondello-Style

One-time Nassau Congressman and full-time Clinton Hater John Leboutillier lets loose in Newsday on the lack of leadership by Joe Mondello....

"Eight days before the special election for State Senate in Nassau this week, an upstate New York GOP county leader drove for hours to Nassau Republican headquarters in Westbury. He had been summoned to an urgent meeting by state GOP chairman - and long-time Nassau GOP "boss" - Joseph Mondello. Before the meeting was to start, this leader spoke to me over lunch about the upcoming Senate race, keeping in mind that a Democrat hadn't won a state Senate seat on Long Island in more than 20 years.

"We ought to be able to win this race. . . . We're sending down 50 workers for the final weekend, and the counties that don't send foot soldiers are sending money. . . . Mondello knows what he is doing . . . the Nassau GOP machine is the best in the country," he said.

The man was stunned when he finally went in for his meeting and was shuffled off to one of Mondello's assistants - denied face time with a fellow county chairman. "Arrogance," he later called it, shaking his head. And he was just as stunned when the Republicans lost the election.

His big mistake was to assume that Mondello knows what he is doing. County Clerk Maureen O'Connell's campaign was run by Mondello - and she lost to Legis. Craig Johnson by a humiliating 54 percent to 46 percent.....

"The Nassau GOP once was the preeminent Republican political machine in the country. The day Mondello took over in late 1982, Nassau Republicans held virtually every countywide office, plus all four congressional seats. A local Republican, Alfonse D'Amato, held a U.S. Senate seat. The party controlled all three towns and dozens of judgeships. Today, after 24 years of iron-fisted rule by Mondello, we have become a minority party - holding just one countywide office - despite a registration advantage.

How did someone with such a miserable track record get to be state party chairman? Last November, after the Democrats had won an overwhelming statewide victory, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno - the last remaining elected Republican leader - feared a possible coup and hand-picked Mondello so he could maintain control. With no other candidates coming forward, a shell-shocked and desperate Republican State Committee unanimously rubber-stamped this selection....

" The loss this week of a safe Republican seat exemplifies Mondello's political malpractice and arrogance over the past 24 years. And it highlights why the Nassau Republican Party must remove him when his term ends, about seven months from now, and start over.

The party needs to get back to block-by-block, district-by-district organizing - combining online technology with old-fashioned shoe leather. It needs a younger, dynamic leader who is open to new ideas and dissent and - most of all - views the Republican Party as a vehicle to change government, not as a tool to enhance his or her own career."

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