The guy calls.
A morning in May. You tell him, no, can’t talk now. In the car filled with people. He says let’s talk. You say no. He starts chatting. You say listen, I’m heading to New Jersey. He continues. You can’t stop this guy. Then you tell him you’re on the way to a funeral. Nope, that doesn’t work either.
He doesn’t take no for an answer. He says I’m running. You say save your money and buy a house. He says I can win. You say so can eight-time loser Harold Stassen. He says I’m not running for president. I’m running for New York State Governor. You say Eliot Spitzer will beat you black and blue. It’s 2006 and Spitzer is funded, popular and has no scars from a soulectomy.
He doesn’t listen. You stop listening. He runs, gets killed. Runs for re-election as Nassau County executive, gets killed. Runs for Congress, wins. Says he’ll restore state and local tax deductions to help over-taxed middle-income New Yorkers. That’s the tip-off.
Guess who’s back trying to get the only job he ever really wanted? Yup. The guy on the phone on the way to the funeral. It’s fifteen years later and either his hearing hasn’t improved or he’s as stubborn as he always was.
Tom Suozzi is running for governor. Profilers would tell you that he sees himself as the candidate of the struggling middle class, the people who really don’t think the Garden of Eden has relocated to South Florida. He’ll tell you New York needs lower taxes, lower crime, better environment. Improved schools. Homelessness solved. He’ll tell you he can fix all of it. Not much different than what some of the others who see themselves in the governor’s mansion might say.
Can he win? Tough. Suozzi thinks he’s the candidate of the suburbs and will shear off large enough parts of Nassau, Suffolk and maybe even a piece of Westchester. He figures that’ll stop Governor Hochul while the man this column calls Million Dollar Jumaane Williams–also known as Mr. All Right so I live in a below-market-rate rental apartment located in a sealed heavily policed military base and everyone but me must have more public safety service cuts–deals a Brooklyn and progressive voter split death blow to Cuomo remover Attorney General James gubernatorial express.
Suozzi who really should be renamed Tom-Ever-the-Optimist also believes they will love him more than he thinks they already do in Queens.
Crowded candidate primary elections were invented to deflate egos of prognosticators. And incumbent Governors are generally impossible to defeat. But that will not stop Tom-Ever-the-Optimist.
When told on that Spring day that a funeral was the day’s agenda, he grew neither deaf. No arthritis of the tongue set in even momentarily, nor did he shed a tear. His dream was supposed to be the dream of the day even on the way to the cemetery. Nothing new here. Same dream. New decade. Same Suozzi.
Hank Sheinkopf worked as a meat cutter and a police officer before being introduced to political consulting as a union organizer. Sheinkopf founded Sheinkopf Communications Ltd., a political-strategic communications firm, in 1981. Over the course of his career, Sheinkopf has contributed to more than 700 political campaigns across the United States including presidents, governors, mayors, and numerous elected officials.