Levy tests state exec waters

Saying he aims to find out if his “reformagenda will resonate statewide, Suffolk CountyExecutive Steve Levy announced this week that he plans to test thewaters on a possible run for governor.
Mr. Levy said he has created an exploratory committee to weigh agubernatorial run, making him the first New York Democrat toformally announce a potential primary challenge to incumbentGovernor David Paterson.
“I want to see if my reform agenda will resonatethroughout the state, Mr. Levy said in an interviewTuesday with the Times/Review newspapers. “Ithink the state could certainly use a fiscal conservative at a timewhen the state budget is at near collapse.
While Mr. Levy, 50, of Bayport, is the first Democrat to formallysay he would consider taking a shot at moving Mr. Paterson out ofthe governor’s mansion,he’s not the only candidate expected to enterthe race. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has long been rumored as apossible replacement for Mr. Paterson, who has ignored PresidentBarack Obama’s urging that he not seek a newterm.
Mr. Levy said his biggest challenge entering the race would becoming up with the kind of money it would take to mount a seriousgubernatorial campaign. The county executive, who currently boastsa war chest of about $4 million in campaign funds, estimated itwould take “a minimum of $20million to win the job.
“If people see you as a viable candidate, themoney comes very quickly, Mr. Levy said.”Right now it’s aboutshowing people what I’ve accomplished andgetting my name out there.
Mr. Levy said fiscal conservatism would be the primary focus of hiscampaign, should he earn the nomination. He said thecounty’s tight spending and six-year generalfund tax freeze would be key talking points.
“At a time when the state has increased spendingby 23 percent we’ve increased spending just 2percent in Suffolk, the county executive said.
Mr. Levy, whose current term expires in 2011, said he would notrule out the possibility of a run for attorney general should Mr.Cuomo secure the nomination. But he said right now his focus is onthe possibility of becoming governor.
“Of course you want to be the executive, becausethat’s how you can get the mostdone, he said.
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