Like anything else in life, politics is complicated.
Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy, a life-long Republican, was selected as his party’s choice to challenge long-time Assemb. Charles Levine (D-Glen Cove) in November and even attended the Republican’s state convention.
“I wanted to move up—it seemed like the next logical step,” he said of running against Levine.
On Thursday, Kennedy stood side-by-side with his one-time rival and about 50 other Democrats as he announced his New York State Senate bid—now as a registered Democrat. His challenger: State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset). A lot has changed since Republicans tapped him as their choice to unseat Levine.
“This past month has been crazy,” Kennedy said, standing outside “Liberty Plaza,” which is attached to The Metropolitan Bistro and is adorned with a quote from Abraham Lincoln which reads: “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”
And in Sea Cliff, they are.
Kennedy dropped his state Assembly bid after Nassau Republicans withdrew their support for him when he admitted to Conservative party bosses that he officiated two same-sex weddings since gay marriage became legal in New York State in 2011.
Kennedy, standing at a podium with his wife by his side, said he was “shocked” when in a meeting with the Conservative party they asked: “How many gay sex marriages I had officiated?” he recalled. Kennedy said he told them the truth. As a result, according to Kennedy, the party declined to endorse him.
That’s when, according to Kennedy’s account, Nassau Republicans told him to go back and “say it was a mistake.” Kennedy told the crowd of supporters that he refused to go back on his word.
Now the mayor of Sea Cliff, a quaint, cozy village on the North Shore, is all-in as a Democrat, he said.
He has already been endorsed by Working Families Party and has the backing of both Nassau and Suffolk Democrats, who swooped in when his former party dropped their support and asked him to be their candidate for the 5th Senate District, which includes a large chunk of the North Shore from Glen Cove in Nassau to Northport in Suffolk, plus communities just north of the Long Island Expressway in both counties.
Kennedy, who changed his party affiliation last week, said “I vowed to stay strong.”
In a brief interview afterward, Kennedy said he first registered as a Republican when he was 18, adding, “I’m a middle of the road guy, [I] never saw a reason to change [parties].”
Levine, who has served in the Assembly since 2004, said the Republican’s change of heart with respect to Kennedy was a “sad indictment” on the party because a “pro human rights” candidate no longer passes the party’s “litmus test.”
Nassau Republican’s didn’t return a call for comment. A call to the Nassau Conservative party headquarters in Plainview went unanswered.
Daniel Donovan Jr., chairman of the Nassau County Conservative Party, told CBS New York: “I don’t care what the law is. The law doesn’t mean anything to the Conservative Party. We believe in the law of God. That’s it.”
Democrats who attended Kennedy’s announcement Thursday characterized the event as a sort of reunion, but until now Kennedy has never identified as a Democrat.
But there was one hiccup.
While addressing the crowd, Levine said Kennedy is home “where he belongs, to the Repub—, the Democratic party,” he said to laughs as he corrected himself.