Levy Holds Firm on Driver’s Licenses

Eliot Spitzer is not an easy guy to disagree with (just ask James Tedisco, Joe Bruno and Michael Bloomberg). But it must be even harder when you’re a Democrat who disagrees with Spitzer, especially when you differ with him over his major initiative to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

Yesterday, I chatted with one such Democrat, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who said, “From Mayor Bloomberg to a number of people around the state and the nation feel that the sanctity of a license should not be watered down. There's a feeling that's what this might do. This is one issue where we disagree. I would say on 99 of 100, we're together trying to reform this state.”

I asked him about that press conference of a group of the plan’s supporters at which one official called Levy a “little Bull Connor.”

Levy corrected me, saying it wasn‘t a group of elected official who invoked that name. “No. It was one guy. Adriano Espaillat.”

“The only one injecting race into the question is Adriano,” he said. “You know, that's unfortunate because that type of hate speech creates divineness within our party. And we should be able, as a party, to disagree within our own ranks without name calling."

And is he ready to withstand a Spitzer-like barrage?

"I've withstood worse than that from a lot of people," Levy said. "When you take a position based upon what you think is right, you have to stick with it. And I think it would be helpful if we tamed the rhetoric and had an honest discussion on the merits itself.”