The Roslyn school board member called the ex-county executive a hypocrite for ignoring Haber’s repeated debate challenges—he now wants five, or one per week until the Sept. 10 primary—when Suozzi made the same calls as the underdog years ago.
“The Democratic voters deserve to hear from the candidates,” Haber told reporters Thursday at a news conference in his Freeport campaign headquarters. “Does Tom think he’s too good to debate?”
A campaign spokesman for Suozzi declined to respond. The Glen Cove native has been focused on attacking County Executive Ed Mangano, the Bethpage Republican who unseated him in 2009, as Suozzi aims for a rematch in the November general election.
Suozzi had called for debates with Tom DiNapoli in 2001 when Suozzi, then the Glen Cove city mayor, challenged DiNapoli on the Democratic line for county exec, which Suozzi went on to win that year. He had also called for debates with then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer while challenging Spitzer to a Democratic primary in the 2005 gubernatorial campaign.
Haber, fighting for media attention seemingly monopolized by the salacious New York City mayoral race, unleashed a new weapon in his fight against the party establishment: yellow rubber duckies he dubbed the “Suozzi Debate Duck.”
Aside from handing out the symbolic toys at political events, he also launched a new website, www.suozzidebateduck.com. When the businessman launched his campaign in February, he had originally called for 18 debates with Suozzi.
Haber’s campaign spokesman said Haber accepted three invitations for debates with Suozzi from the League of Women Voters, the Grand Council of Guardians and a Rockville Centre civic group, but Suozzi hasn’t committed to any of them.
“Let’s have a discussion anywhere you like,” Haber said. “I’ll even come to Glen Cove.”