Consistent readers of the Corner will remember my post this summer about NY-4 House candidate Frank Scaturro’s surprise write-in victory in the Conservative party’s primary.
Scaturro, a former law professor and a onetime counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, has decided to actively campaign for this seat in Congress. He and Republican nominee Fran Becker are both running against incumbent Democrat Carolyn McCarthy.
Winners of Conservative-party primaries in New York frequently support the Republican candidate. However, the circumstances in this election are unique. Fran Becker, a Nassau County legislator, is the handpicked nominee of the Nassau County Republican Party’s political machine, an old-school political machine which controls a number of patronage jobs and wields considerable control over nominations. Their members, including Becker, have voted to raise taxes, increase fees, and offer unions generous contracts; they’re partly responsible for the fiscal mess in Nassau County.
Furthermore, Becker’s conduct this election cycle should give conservatives who are considering supporting him pause. First during this year’s Republican primary, Becker called 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. However, these charges were baseless: Scaturro is a longtime conservative activist, has served as president of the New Hyde Park Republican Club, and was endorsed by both the Eagle Forum and the Rockville Center Tea Party Patriots.
Second, Becker generated controversy in August when he honored El Salvador’s vice president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, in a ceremony in Freeport, N.Y., to mark Salvadoran-American Day. Cerén has led El Salvador’s Marxist-Leninist FMLN party and is a supporter of terrorism. Days after September 11, Cerén led an anti-American march in the Salvadoran capital which celebrated the attacks and featured the burning of an American flag. According to congressional testimony submitted by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.), the FMLN has been an ally of terrorist-supporting nations including Cuba and Iran. The Washington Times reports that as FMLN’s commanding general, Cerén approved over 1,200 assassinations during the late 1980s. While other New York public officials distanced themselves from Cerén, Becker was the exception. He stated that criticism of Cerén was overblown, adding, “Everybody’s going to have political adversaries.”
Finally, last month, Becker’s campaign distributed flyers at a largely African-American Baptist church in Hempstead, N.Y. The flyer is deliberately deceptive as it encouraged people to vote “Obama on Row A” and “Becker on Row B.” The flyer also offered a free scratch ticket in exchange for a voter’s name and contact information. Becker’s willingness to bribe voters should raise serious questions about his judgment, in addition to the possibility that offering free lottery tickets in this fashion violates New York state-lottery rules.