Last week Frank Scaturro, a onetime counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, was officially certified as the winner of the Conservative party primary in New York’s Fourth Congressional District. This primary race received coverage in NRO and other conservative media outlets.
Scaturro’s opponent, Fran Becker, a tax-hiking Nassau County legislator backed at the last minute by Nassau County’s Republican political machine, engaged in a vicious smear campaign — calling conservative activist Scaturro “an ultra-liberal” and “an Arlen Specter Democrat.” Becker’s campaign went so far as to doctor a photo to create a fake image of Scaturro “with” Senator Arlen Specter (and without Scaturro’s American-flag lapel pin), which was used in a piece of campaign literature.
These charges were baseless. Scaturro used to serve as president of New Hyde Park Republican Club and was endorsed by both the Eagle Forum and the Rockville Center Tea Party Patriots. When he was on the Senate Judiciary Committee staff, Scaturro worked with a team of conservative attorneys to assist with the confirmation of President Bush’s judicial appointments. They assisted all the Republican members of the committee and answered to Specter solely in his capacity as the committee chairman. Senator Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, even sent a letter vouching for Scaturro’s conservative principles. At any rate, even though Scaturro was unable to win the Republican party’s nomination, he still received enough votes to appear on the Conservative party’s line and will take on Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D., N.Y.) in the fall.
What is especially unique about Scaturro’s primary victory is that he won as a write-in candidate. According to former congressman John LeBoutillier (R., N.Y.), Conservative party leaders who held municipal jobs in Nassau County were intimidated into blocking Scaturro’s name from being printed on that party’s ballot. Enough registered Conservative party members signed petitions to authorize Scaturro to run as a write-in candidate. However, the printed ballot did not make the write-in option particularly clear. Despite these obstacles, Scaturro still received enough write-in votes to prevail.
Scaturro merits conservative support. The Nassau County Republican Party is an old-school political machine. They control a number of patronage jobs and wield considerable control over nominations. Their members, including Fran Becker, have voted to raise taxes, increase fees, and offer unions generous contracts. They are partly responsible for the fiscal mess in Nassau County. Their leadership has never paid much attention to this particular Congressional district. Some even speculate that party chairman Joe Mondello intentionally runs weak candidates because he would like to run someone personally loyal to him when Representative McCarthy retires. Overall, a strong Scaturro candidacy might expose the corruption and pave the way for future conservative leadership in Nassau County.