Suffolk County’s top Republican weighed in Wednesday on the 18th Legislative District race, calling recent Democratic campaign mailings condescending and sexist.
The Democrats, meanwhile, took their arguments online, creating several websites devoted to attacking their Republican opponents.
At issue are flyers sent out against, a member of the Huntington school board who is seeking to replace county legislative leader Jon Cooper, who is term limited. She is running against Democrat Dr. William R. Spencer for the seat, which covers a large swath of the Town of Huntington.
The flyers refer back to a comment Black made to Patch in February. When asked about her experiences in public office, she replied, “When you run for a position like that, you know it isn’t going to be easy. It’s not going to be all cupcakes and lollipops.”
One flyer showed a photo of Black appearing to pop out of a cupcake and noted her quote to Patch. “If Elizabeth Black’s tax increases weren’t enough, her out-of-control spending the school board takes the cake," the mailer reads.
Another flyer superimposed Black’s photo over colorful lollipops, added a line, “suck it up and pay more taxes,” and targets Black’s votes on school budgets.
Suffolk County GOP chairman John LaValle said Wednesday that the mailers showed that Spencer “is exactly the kind of person we need to keep out of government.
“To depict a woman popping out of cakes with a money is a disgrace. It’s very distasteful to all society," he said. "I think women should be outraged. Is Spencer that desperate that he’s going to drag a very thoughtful, articulate, nice person thorugh the mud? He’s running his campaign in the mud. He is nothing more than a sexist.
“It’s so condescending, it’s disgraceful. This alone is a reason not to vote for Spencer,” LaValle said. “If I ever put out a piece with a Democrat woman popping out of a cake, I would be asked to resign.”
Democrats took their criticism to a website focused on Black, raising questions about her voting record on the Huntington school board. The site refers to her as a bureaucrat and presents a short quiz about raising taxes, such as "Who voted to raise your taxes?" The only possible answer on the quiz is "A. Elizabeth Black."
And Rich Schaffer, Democratic chairman, said on a conference call Tuesday that Black had “spent her time raising taxes; she was the only board member to vote against decreasing the salary when the former superintendent left. She had the opportunity to get a new one at $80,000 less. She was the only person to vote against that, and one of four to vote to close down Abrams,” and said the district would have to spend millions if it chose to reopen the school that was closed in response to the fears of some residents about neighborhood crime.
“She’s demonstrated an unawareness of what people are going through,” Schaffer said. “People are paying attention to it (the campaign), and it’s been an overreaction on Liz’s part. She’s been a public official. She knows when you make statements like that, it’s going to be used. The mailers have highlighted her record and that’s what she’s really annoyed at. She’s looking to create a diversion.”
LaValle, too, sees the mailers as a diversion. “We should be talking about the issues, the taxes, the spending, and the debt, and how we’re going to get out of these circumstances, get people back to work, to stay in their homes, rather than dragging a woman through the mud,” he said.
The general election is set for Nov. 8.