Nassau County Legislator Francis Becker and Frank Scaturro, who will vie for the Republican nomination in 4th Congressional District to face incumbent Carolyn McCarthy, D-Mineola, this fall, brought their campaigns to the Long Beach Tea Party last week.
The organizations members packed the Long Beach Library’s auditorium on May 29 to hear both candidates speak and filed some of their questions about local and federal taxes, ObamaCare, the Department of Education, gas prices and drilling for oil, as well as the broader Tea Party movement itself. At one point, the informal forum got personal and raucous.
“We pledged to the residents of Nassau County that we would not raise taxes,” said Becker, a lifelong Lynbrook resident who has represented the 6th Legislative District since 1996. “I am proud to say that over the last two years, we have had a budget where we did not raise taxes.”
But Scaturro, a Hempstead resident who worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee as counsel for the Constitution, contends that Becker has not made the case for why he’s suited for higher office. “We are not going to fix Washington’s fiscal house with someone who cannot even fix Nassau County’s fiscal house,” he said.
In 2010, Becker and Scaturro faced each other in the Republican primary for Congress. Becker emerged victorious, but lost to McCarthy that November by a respectable margin of 12,345 votes, the incumbent’s narrowest victory to date.
The census that year showed a decline in population on Long Island, and as a result that 5th Congressional District (presided over by Congressman Gary Ackerman, D) was eliminated and district lines were redrawn. This year, Long Beach, which was formerly in the 3rd Congressional District and represented by Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, will become part of the 4th Congressional District represented by McCarthy.
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At last Tuesday’s forum, Becker and Scaturro attacked each other’s backgrounds and records, as well as McCarthy’s. “If Becker is the nominee, we can look forward to two more years of a Congresswoman that we rarely see and has not represented the constituents of her district,” said Scaturro, a graduate of Columbia University and University of Pennsylvania Law School who taught legislative process and Constitutional law at Hofstra Law School.
Becker, a certified financial planner, said: “I am hoping with your support, we will beat her [McCarthy] this year and send her into retirement fully and let her go out to the Hamptons, where she really wants to be anyway.”
The evening heated up when, during his speech, Scaturro revisited the 2010 primary. At that time, Becker had accused Scaturro of “being a Democrat” while Scaturro served as Constitutional counsel, and Becker went so far as to distribute flyers saying as much. On Tuesday, Becker's accusations were again brought up by a Long Beach resident during the question and answer period. Becker said he hadn’t changed his opinion on Scaturro's service.
Near the end of the forum, Scaturro wanted to clarify the situation, but moderator Frank McQuade, president of the local Tea Party, reminded him that the forum was not a debate. But with the chant of the crowd to let Scaturro speak, McQuade granted him permission and Becker chose that moment to exit the room and leave for the night.
Scaturro said that Becker accusation referred to his service on the Senate Judiciary Committee in April 2009, when Arlen Specter, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania and the chairman and longest ranking member of the committee, decided to switch political parties and became a Democrat. Scaturro said that he worked on the Republican side.
“My co-workers and I would rather go jobless in the worst economy of our lives than to have crossed over and join Senator Specter on his personal staff.” Scaturro continued. “There are a good number of my co-workers who saw that flyer that would love to give him (Becker) a piece of their mind, if they ever had to chance to combat that sleaze.”
McCarthy’s office declined to comment for this story.