They are the Statler and Waldorf of Long Island politics: Former Democratic State Sen. Craig Johnson (@HonCraigJohnson) and Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino (@Senator98), former adversaries who have found common ground teasing each other on Twitter.
One day a few years ago in the Senate Chamber, Johnson learned Marcellino’s Twitter handle during a session lull in, and “immediately friended him,” he said.
“He started leaving messages on Twitter,” Marcellino recalled. “I wasn’t into it all that much then.”
Marcellino has since picked up the habit. Like Johnson, he writes his own tweets. He likes the feedback.
“You get an email, or someone retweets you. Sometimes someone stops you in the street, and says ‘I saw your picture. You look younger in your picture,’ ” Marcellino said.
And while Johnson’s 1,160 followers number almost twice as many as Marcellino’s 513, the two regularly engage in a spirited back-and-forth on Twitter—over politics, sports or even just to wish each other a happy holiday.
After Johnson was defeated in a narrow race in 2010, Marcellino began to miss his former colleague’s willingness to engage in a little postpartisan banter.
“When [Johnson] left the Senate, I was pleased that Jack Martins coming on board put us in the majority,” Marcellino said, with a hint of dolor. “But I was sorry to see a person of quality leave.”
They take aim at any number of targets on Twitter, but their pointed criticisms of each other are never ad hominem. They both say they yearn for the bygone days when a Republican and a Democrat could have a fun conversation.
“We had some good debates,” Marcellino said. “I found his arguments intelligent, on point. It was never nasty.”
Apropos of nothing, Johnson ventured, “Would I vote for Carl?”
“Now I’m out of office, I would think long and hard about voting for him as a member of the Senate,” he went on. “Our relationship based on mutual respect has grown since I’ve been out of office.”
Marcellino guffawed. “He’s not in my district! He’d have to move!”
He paused a second and decided, “I have to tweet him that I have a house for sale in my district. That would make Jack Martins very happy.”
Trackback from your site.