Angered by Democratic State Sen. David Carlucci’s refusal to introduce a bill allowing a sales tax increase for Rockland County, a local Democratic legislator is strongly considering running a primary against the freshman lawmaker.
A Rockland County source tipped me off the fact that Rockland County Legislator Alden Wolfe is considering a Carlucci challenge – and in an interview this afternoon, Wolfe did not deny making phone calls to local Democrats about a possible run.
“I’ll do a’ no comment’ on that — but I’m not going to deny that I’m dissatisfied with the way the whole process was handled [by Carlucci],” said Wolfe, who is vice-chairman of the Rockland County Legislature.
Wolfe’s primary objection with Carlucci’s handling of the sales tax issue is that Carlucci did not outright reject in the idea when it was first broached in January, according to Wolfe. Instead, Wolfe alleged that Carlucci had done a “tap dance” on the issue for months before “suddenly tearing it apart in the press in May.” That allowed the county Legislature few options besides layoffs and cuts in dealing with its deficit, according to Wolfe.
Wolfe says he has not discussed a possible run with Albany Democrats – but did not deny discussing it with local Democratic leaders. Wolfe alleged that there’s also been unhappiness among local Democrats about Carlucci’s decision to caucus with the four-member Independent Democratic Conference, rather than with the main Senate Democratic conference.
“I can tell you, it’s my sense that that there are many true Democrats that are unhappy with the Independent Democratic Conference concept,” Wolfe said.
Members of CSEA recently protested Carlucci’s position on the tax hike outside his district office, and would likely be receptive to a Wolfe candidacy.
In a statement, Carlucci defended his record on the sales tax issue, and his record in Albany.
“I’m proud of my record of opposing regressive tax increases on Rockland County residents,” Carlucci said. “Alongside Governor Cuomo, I’ve worked to eliminate the burdensome MTA payroll tax and have supported a progressive and lower tax code for working families. While doing this, I’m proud to say that we’ve balanced the state budget for two consecutive years, even with a $13.5 billion budget gap.”
Carlucci has also been facing fire from Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef, a Republican who was Carlucci’s Senate opponent in 2010. But Carlucci maintains the .375 sales tax increase, which could prevent some short-term layoffs, would not solve Rockland County’s long-term fiscal crisis – created in large part during Vanderhoef’s long tenure as executive.
Raising taxes during a campaign year would also be a dicey proposition for Carlucci or any other member of the Legislature.
It’s unclear whether Senate Republicans will back strong candidates against members of the IDC – with whom the GOP has had a good working relationship – though the Rockland GOP chairman has insisted that Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos wants a Republican to hold Carlucci’s seat.
In other IDC news, the four-member conference just held a press conference in Albany, in which State Sens. Jeff Klein and Diane Savino reportedly panned their former colleagues and offered supportive words for Democratic State Sen. Neil Breslin’s primary opponent, Shawn Morse.
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