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The State Senate is pretty much in the governmental version of a rain delay as it wonders whether Republican Tom Croci will show up to vote in the final weeks of the legislative session.
Disgust with wheeling and dealing inherent in the Albany sausage-making is one of the reasons Croci cited earlier this month when he decided not to seek re-election. In an interview, Croci told The Point that he sought a return to active duty in the U.S. Navy — he holds the rank of commander — because he saw the possibility of getting a coveted national security post. While his request to be activated early was voluntary — he was not required to go on active duty until 2020 — Croci said that once his orders came through, he would have to accept the post. He told us that while all the paperwork was done, he would have the time to represent the 3rd Senate District in the final weeks of the legislative session.
“I will be bouncing back and forth in the coming weeks,” he said. But he has yet to show up in Albany.
The result is a 31-31 tie between the two parties. Thursday was a lot like Wednesday in the Senate, not much happened. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan hesitates to bring up legislation. Democrats are claiming that under the state constitution, Lt. Gov Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, would take the gavel to break a tie on procedural votes.
So where is Croci? He did not respond to a text message Thursday. Two state senators told The Point his location is “a complete mystery,” and that the entire legislative session could be derailed if he doesn’t return.
Flanagan told Albany reporters that it was an “open question” whether Croci returns. A spokesman for Flanagan did not respond when asked whether the two senators had been in touch with each other.
On Long Island, two GOP colleagues of Croci, who is a former Islip supervisor, said he has not responded to their outreach. Is Croci embedded with an intelligence unit and cannot reveal his status? Or, is this a final gesture to the Albany process that he said so dismayed him?
Crowley heads to the ramparts
Rep. Joseph Crowley is making sure the ladder doesn’t get pulled out from under him at home as he climbs the leadership rungs in Congress.
Crowley, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a potential successor to Rep. Nancy Pelosi. He’s a member of Congress since 1999 who suddenly is spending heavily to defeat his first primary challenger in at least 10 years, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive backed by New York’s chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and People for Bernie.
Ocasio-Cortez, a community organizer, declared her candidacy in May 2017 and has raised just over $115,000 for her grass-roots campaign, according to her March filing with the Federal Election Commission. Crowley spent nearly 15 times as much: $1.7 million from January 2017 through March 2018. That doesn’t include the full-color, glossy mailers dropped in the last few weeks or a TV commercial (filming was seen by The Point earlier this month in Jackson Heights). Crowley still has more than $1.5 million and has tremendous name recognition in the district.
So what’s going on? It all comes back to Crowley’s leadership position: He is fourth in line to the throne.
Crowley is considered likely to make a move for party leadership in the chamber if and when Pelosi steps down, regardless of whether Democrats take control of the House this fall. To do so, he needs to demonstrate that he can satisfy the party’s progressive wing — running up the score in a primary challenge could help make that case. A good showing by Ocasio-Cortez, who claims that Crowley is just another professional pol who has lost touch with his district, would reveal a vulnerability for a future leader.
Crowley’s prominence is another reason he can rake in so much cash. More than 40 percent of his campaign funds raised this cycle comes from political action committees representing corporations and interest groups. All of Ocasio-Cortez’s funds were from individuals, with almost all the contributions less than $200.
Although he’s facing Ocasio-Cortez in the primary, Crowley’s commercial makes his real enemy clear. It opens, “With Donald Trump in the White House, Americans are worried about our country.” Just like his war chest, the ad is an opening salvo in his campaign to lead Democrats in the battle against Trump.
About those gas prices
Trump’s Staten Island buddy
Hot on the heels of his Kim Kardashian tweet on Wednesday, President Donald Trump thumbed out a message supporting Dan Donovan, who represents Trump-loving Staten Island and some conservative parts of Brooklyn and is the lone Republican member of NYC’s congressional delegation.
Donovan has been embroiled in a primary with felon and former Congressman Michael Grimm, who used to represent the district and hasn’t lost all his support among Republicans despite jail time. The prospect of Grimm winning has energized Democrats, a fact that Trump alluded to in one of two Donovan-related tweets: “We can’t take any chances on losing to a Nancy Pelosi controlled Democrat!”
The endorsement stemmed from time Donovan spent with Trump last week, according to campaign spokeswoman Jessica Proud. Trump came to Bethpage for a roundtable on immigration and MS-13. Donovan traveled with the president and attended the roundtable as well.
A Republican insider tells The Point that White House officials are even considering a rally on Staten Island before the primary. No rally is confirmed.
As an NYC Republican, Donovan has not been a Trump die-hard — he voted against the Republican tax bill, in addition to a bill penalizing sanctuary cities. But recently, he has been displaying closer ties to the president, given Grimm’s attempt to claim the president’s supporters in the district, which Trump won by 10 points in 2016. Grimm received the endorsements of former Trump staffers Steve Bannon and Anthony Scaramucci. A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee survey of Republican primary voters in April found Donovan 10 points behind Grimm, who has unveiled an impressive mail operation.
The Trump endorsement seems to be an attempt to stop all that. Now the question is: Will NYC’s Trump country follow along with the president, or choose the Trumpy anti-establishment fervor that swept the president into office?