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The Empire State Stakes Springtime in New York is feeling like winter in Iowa, with candidates from both parties blowing through here over the next two weeks. That’s because what New York voters think is going to matter much more than usual, writes Newsday’s Yancey Roy.

One key reason: New York is the solo contest on April 19, unlike in many past election years. (Example: on Feb. 5, 2008, more than 20 other states held primaries the same day.)

Donald Trump has to win big to get on pace for locking down a majority of Republican delegates and avoiding a floor fight at the Cleveland convention that could undo him.

Hillary Clinton is undefeated in New York — she handily won her 2000 and 2006 Senate contests and the 2008 primary. If she beats Bernie Sanders here, she’s a big step closer to sealing the nomination. But Sanders will be going all out to stop her.

The Takeaway Newsday columnist Dan Janison has suggestions for Hillary Clinton to make sure she doesn’t blow her lead over Bernie Sanders for the April 19 New York primary. Among them: don’t get into a who’s-the-more-genuine-New Yorker food fight against Vermonter Sanders and his legacy Brooklyn accent. 

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Debate debated Clinton and Sanders both say they want to have a debate before the New York primary. But the two campaigns have been bickering for days over fundamental details: Where? When? Sponsored by who?

Newsday, News 12, and amNew York offered Sunday to sponsor a debate jointly with Hofstra University. Rita Ciolli, the editor of the editorial pages for Newsday, said such a forum before a live audience at Hofstra would allow the airing of issues “important to New Yorkers” that “have gotten lost in other national debates.” The date range of April 11-14 was proposed.

CNN, NBC and ABC are among the networks seeking to host another faceoff. Their last debate was March 9.

Up close and Kasich Kasich becomes the first of the remaining candidates to do retail politicking on Long Island Monday. The Ohio Republican has two town halls — 11 a.m. at Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Student Center and 6 p.m. at The Paramount in Huntington. Doors open for each event one hour earlier.

Trump plans a rally 6 p.m. Wednesday at Grumman Studio in Bethpage. No word whether he’ll resurrect an ancient Alan King joke Trump has told audiences elsewhere about the Long Island Expressway as the world’s “longest parking lot.” No worries. He owns helicopters.

Road map for Kasich Newsday columnist Dan Janison has five ideas for Kasich to gain ground in the presidential race. They include being the “anti-Trump” and shaping an appeal to New Yorkers on their specific regional concerns, such as Superstorm Sandy relief.

Clinton’s coming to L.I. too But there are admission prices for the events that are known so far. As first reported by Newsday’s Rick Brand, Clinton will headline Suffolk Democrats’ $300-a-head spring dinner on April 11 at Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook. She’ll have an earlier fundraiser for her own campaign, hosted by Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs at his Glen Cove day camp.

On Sunday, Clinton spoke to 3,000 people at an African-American church in Brooklyn about curbing gun violence and needing to “increase trust” between police and communities. Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports.

Cheesehead vote sliced Wisconsin has the biggest tests for both parties before New York, and the races there are close enough — within the margin of error — to be suspenseful, according to a CBS News Battleground Tracker poll.

Ted Cruz leads Trump 43% to 37%, with Kasich third at 18%. Sanders has a thin 49%-47% edge over Clinton. Trump predicted an upset to reporters at a Milwaukee diner. But in a nod to his travails this past week, he regretted his retweet of an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz.

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Cruz, in Green Bay, paid tribute to the hometown Packers and joked that if retired defensive lineman Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila rushed Trump, “Donald’s hair would stand on end.”

I pledge a grievance GOP national chairman Reince Priebus said by threatening to run as an independent, Trump would have a harder time winning the nomination. Abandoning the pledge to back the party’s nominee could have “consequences,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” Trump again complained he’s being treated “unfairly” and said Kasich should be forced to quit because “he’s taking my votes.”

What else is happening:

  • Clinton joins Gov. Andrew Cuomo and labor groups in Manhattan Monday when he signs the state’s $15-an-hour minimum wage bill.
  • North Dakota Republicans gave a majority of Ted Cruz delegates, or 18 of 25 slots, for the Texas senator.
  • Trump took five different positions on abortion in three days and now wishes he “answered in a different manner”..
  • Who’s the income tax expert in the Sanders household? He says his wife does their returns ...
  • Trump’s first wife, Ivana, says Americans need immigrants — the legal kind — to “clean up after us.” ...
  • Will Trump’s prediction of a “very massive recession” influence Wall Street? Chew on this: He once warned of $25-a-loaf bread ...
  • A famous serial killer’s old Ohio home is for rent during the GOP convention in Cleveland ...
 

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