The late William F. Buckley Jr. declared in 1962, “I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”
Buckley had more faith in the instincts and good sense of the common folks than in academic, government and political elites. I have always agreed with his position that if one gives ordinary people facts, they will more often than not adopt the reasonable position and act accordingly.
And that’s exactly what happened in the Nassau District Attorney’s race.
When DA Kathleen Rice announced she would seek election to the 4th Congressional District being vacated by nine-term Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy in November 2014, Republican bosses were delighted.
They wanted Democrat Rice to go to Washington because they believed one of their hacks could easily win a 2015 special election to fill the DA vacancy.
Also, with the stench of corruption emanating from GOP-controlled county and town governments, having a friendly face in the DA’s office couldn’t hurt.
To ensure a Rice victory, the GOP nominated Nassau’s No. 1 political narcissist, Bruce Blakeman.
Having lost races for county Legislature, state Comptroller and U.S. Senator, he was the perfect patsy.
In the biggest Republican wave election since the 1920s, Rice easily beat the hapless Blakeman.
To take back the DA’s office this year, Republicans chose Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray as their candidate despite the fact she had no prosecutorial experience.
They figured her popularity in Hempstead and their machine’s proven ability to get out the vote in off-year low turnout elections would catapult her to victory over the unknown acting DA, Madeline Singas.
But events did not go according to the GOP’s playbook.
The indictment of GOP Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos; revelations of corrupt contract procedures in Oyster Bay Township and Nassau County; bribery charges; and allegations the County Executive accepted free meals and a free vacation from a politically-connected vendor angered voters.
A Newsday poll released two days before the election revealed that the No. 1 issue in Nassau was government corruption.
Meanwhile, Madeline Singas devoted her campaign to promoting her credentials as a non-political career prosecutor.
Before coming out to Nassau as top Deputy DA, she was trained by one of the most respected District Attorneys in the state, Judge Richard Brown of Queens County.
In late October Murray’s lack of experience caught up with her.
A series of devastating N.Y. Daily News editorials accused her of being unfit for the post.
The paper stated that in an interview Murray revealed she was “clueless about basics of criminal law and procedures;” showed no concern about her “federal indictment of her friend” Sen. Skelos; was “comfortable that her elected pals using taxpayer funds for promotional mailings before elections;” and “unconcerned about the federal investigation swirling around another friend, County Executive Edward Mangano.”
Assuming voters were dopes, the GOP ignored Murray’s thin legal resume and promoted her as a “tax cutter.”
On Election Day, however, the voters refused to be duped. They were appalled by her lack of credentials and voted accordingly.
The results: Singas beat Murray by 15 points, 58 percent-43 percent. Twenty percent of Republicans and Conservatives crossed party lines to vote for Singas.
Most telling: in Hempstead, Murray’s home turf, people who supported her in past elections for Town Supervisor deserted in droves. Murray received only 45 percent of the Hempstead vote.
Tired of municipalities awash in scandal, common sense voters overwhelmingly rejected the scheme hatched by GOP bosses to put a political lightweight in the DA’s chair.
The Singas election was a victory for the common folks.
They refused to be manipulated by political elites and insisted on a DA who pledged to root out corruption, wherever it is and whoever is responsible.
Marlin’s latest book is “Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy.”