September 13, 2006
Snappers grow up to be bluefish. That was just one of myriad fishing factoids Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer learned Friday at the Shinnecock Fishing Village.
As part of his pre-primary tour of the state, Spitzer, an acknowledged favorite in the race, visited the commercial docks on Dune Road in Hampton Bays last week. "I want to see things I've never seen before," he told The Independent. "I know fishing is an important part of the economy here and I thought it was important to come by and listen."
Arriving in a huge campaign tour bus, with Lieutenant Governor candidate David Paterson joining the entourage, Spitzer spoke to farmers of the sea, toured a dragger and appeared eager to learn every aspect of the business.
"They cut our quotas," Dan Dymond said as discussion of governmental issues commenced. "Who's they?" Spitzer queried. Dymond, along with Sima Freierman of the Inlet Seafood co-op in Montauk were only too happy to explain the federal government's role in the industry's operation.
With aides checking their watches, Spitzer engaged most of the fishermen present, asking questions that ran the gamut from the quota issue to "what does a scallop look like?" To the bemused faces that met the latter query he said, "Hey, I grew up in the Bronx."
The visit included a lengthy tour of the dragger "Patriot." Spitzer viewed the vessel from stem to stern, spending nearly 10 minutes in the ship's wheelhouse. Climbing off the dragger and onto the dock, Spitzer next stopped to see the packing out process. Business attire forgotten, he handled bluefish and weakfish, plucking them from the ice to examine them closely. He dubbed the bluefish the more attractive of the two species.
"We've got to do what we can to keep you alive," he said to Bob Soleau. "Let us know what we can do at the state level." Expressing appreciation for the visit, Soleau said, "You're the first one who's come out and taken an interest."
As The Independent went to press Tuesday, the primary was underway. Spitzer was expected to rout his opponent, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, in the fight to win the slot on the Democratic ticket in the race for governor.