Months after a famously close and crucial election, Nassau’s Seventh Senate District re-emerges as a key battleground in state politics.
Rookie Sen. Jack Martins and several new upstate GOP incumbents are drawing fire in radio ads aired by the Communications Workers of America for backing the expiration of a tax surcharge on high-income residents. “We think the Republicans need to understand who the constituents are — not millionaires but people who need public services,” Arthur Cheliotes, president of CWA Local 1180, said Friday.
Martins, of Mineola, is also targeted by the New Roosevelt Initiative group — headed by reform Democrat Bill Samuels, former finance chair for the state Senate Democratic campaign committee — concerning the independent-redistricting measure for which Martins signed a pledge pushed by ex-NYC Mayor Ed Koch. The group charges Martins with lying about his commitment to reforming Albany. Flyers ask what else Martins might lie about. A rally outside his district office is scheduled for next Saturday.
Of the CWA hits, Martins said he sides with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his GOP Senate colleagues to “resist calls by special interests to impose taxes” -- when, he says, spending and not revenue is the problem.
On redistricting reform and the pledge, Martins replies in part: “I was elected to represent the people of Long Island, not Ed Koch or Bill Samuels or any special interest group.”
He says the legislation pushed by some Democrats was not as "independent" as it was cracked up to be. Martins did vote for the GOP redistricting bill last week -- which wouldn’t take effect for 10 years. This same promise-breaking shift in position after the election was the reason Koch recently charged Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) with having "weaseled out."
As was the case through the tenure of the Democrat he unseated, Democrat Craig Johnson, Martins' district is a pressure point because the major parties have very competitive enrollment and participation numbers. Same goes for a few upstate districts targeted, for example, by the CWA ads -- where Republicans edged Democrats at the polls in November.