Two NYC Council members who support Sen. Eric Schneiderman for AG, Brad Lander (Brooklyn) and Melissa Mark-Viverito (East Harlem/Bronx), released a letter slamming Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice for her 18-year lapse in voting.

The Democratic duo, who serve as co-chairs of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, note Rice was living in a swing state (Pennsylvania) during the crucial 2000 presidential election and failed to vote for then-VP Al Gore.

“To explain this decision, you have used the excuse that ‘like a lot of young adults early in their professional lives, I failed to see the political significance of casting a ballot,'” the lawmakers wrote. “However, let us be clear: you were not a young person at this time, but a 35-year-old practicing attorney.”

“In all candor, if you could not see the “political significance” in voting for Al Gore over George Bush, one of the most destructive presidents of all time, then we have serious reason to question your judgment and commitment to core progressive values.”

“What was it that made such a decision so difficult? Did you fail to see the political significance of Bush’s promise to appoint anti-choice judges, his obsession with Iraq, or his commitment to eroding civil liberties?”

The two close by saying that until Rice is able to adqeuately explain her decision, she is, in their eyes, “ill-suited” to represent the Democratic Party as its AG candidate.

Rice enrolled as a Republican when she first registered to vote (she has said that everyone in Nassau County defaulted to GOP, since the party controlled the local government), and then switched that to independent when she became a federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania.

She didn’t enroll in the Democratic Party until one month before she first ran for DA in 2005.

Several of Rice’s Democratic primary opponents have tried to make hay of the fact that she used to be a Republican, and now are jumping on the no-voting bandwagon.

But as several observers have pointed out to me since this story first broke in Newsday over the weekend, this issue is unlikely to resonate with voters – if they’re even paying attention at this point.

In fact, the more disaffected members of the electorate (read: the majority of voters) might very well identify with Rice’s explanation, although we do generally hold elected officials to a higher standard.

BL MMV Ltr to Rice 7-26-10