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Behind Croci’s exit

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Tom Croci will not seek re-election in the

Tom Croci will not seek re-election in the fall. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!

Breaking Point

Croci returns to the Navy

Long Island Republican State Sen. Tom Croci planned to tell colleagues of his decision not to seek re-election in November at Thursday morning’s GOP conference. But the meeting was postponed until after the legislative session ends in June, so he decided to approach senators individually with the news.

Croci, who represents the 3rd District in south and central Suffolk, where Democrats have a registration advantage, will return to active duty in the Naval Reserve. He told The Point that a key factor in his decision is the assignment he was offered in naval intelligence.

Croci has the rank of commander but said he couldn’t provide specifics yet on whether he will be deployed overseas or stationed in Washington. As for the rest of the session, he said, “I will be bouncing back and forth in the coming weeks.”

Suffolk County GOP leader John Jay LaValle said he asked Croci to stay on for one more term, which the senator could do before he was required to return to active duty. “This is a critical time for the GOP State Senate,” LaValle said he told Croci a few weeks ago, when he asked the senator to think it over before making his decision public.

But no argument would change Croci’s mind.

“Being a senator has been an amazing experience, but part of my life has always been the Navy. I will begin serving on another team,” Croci said. He said his “amazing staff” will continue constituent work, and he will serve his full current term.

Croci wanted to return to active duty (he would have been required to by 2020), and said he began discussions with the Navy early this year. He said he was not motivated by the possibility that the GOP would lose its State Senate majority this fall. “I don’t fear that,” he said.

However, he said that if Democrats represented Long Island in Albany, history shows their party’s agenda is dominated by urban concerns. “Real leadership occurs when you can listen to divergent views and ask, ‘How do we get to yes?’ ” he said, noting that doesn’t happen much in Albany.

GOP Senate sources confirmed that Croci wanted to leave because he was disillusioned with dealmaking that led raw politics to trump policy. One source said Croci believed the GOP “caved” too often to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo during budget negotiations, and that the party was losing its way on social and fiscal issues.

It was also suggested to Croci that he run for re-election and resign afterward. The GOP thought that strategy, which would have resulted in a special election in early 2019, offered a stronger possibility that the party would keep the seat.

“That’s not best for the community and people I represent,” Croci said about the plan to have him run and then leave. He said Republicans have a good chance of holding the seat. “If they pick a good candidate, they will be fine,” he said.

Rita Ciolli

Talking Point

Clash of the calendars

The political squabbles of Albany hit even a most seemingly simple bipartisan effort Tuesday — a bill to keep guns away from domestic abusers.

Flanked by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor Aalayah Eastmond, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed such legislation Tuesday afternoon. It will require anyone convicted of domestic violence to surrender his or her firearm.

Missing from the gathering was State Sen. Elaine Phillips, a Republican from Flower Hill who sponsored the legislation in that chamber. She was in Albany because the legislature was in session. But Phillips didn’t miss out from commenting on Tuesday’s gathering in Manhattan.

“Later today, Governor Cuomo will hold a ceremonial bill signing for my legislation requiring the removal of firearms from individuals convicted of domestic violence,” Phillips said in a statement. “While I am unable to attend the event due to legislative session in Albany, I am confident this common-sense legislation, which closes the gap in federal law, will protect women, men and children from their abusers and prevent further tragedies.”

According to the governor’s spokeswoman, Phillips was invited to the event. Its timing was based in part on the availability of Pelosi and Eastmond.

“The governor signed his own program bill, which was the first proposal of his State of the State rollout,” the spokeswoman said. “This is an incredibly important issue that New York leads on, and we wanted to shine as bright of a spotlight on it as possible.”

While Cuomo first discussed the issue in mid-December, and Phillips sponsored the bill as the budget was being finalized at the end of March, it is State Assemb. Daniel O’Donnell, a Democrat from Manhattan, who has had a far longer track record on the issue. O’Donnell, who sponsored the bill in the Assembly this year, said a similar bill was the first he wrote after he was elected in 2003.

Since then, O’Donnell has sponsored similar bills, including a year ago, when it didn’t pass the State Senate, and this year, when it did.

“I really wish the governor would have chosen a time when the legislative sponsors would have been included,” O’Donnell told The Point Wednesday. “Clearly, he knew our legislative schedule and chose to do it when we couldn’t come.”

Randi F. Marshall

Pencil Point

In jeopardy

Pointing Out

De Blasio looks at an LI book

Mayor Bill de Blasio probably has a few things occupying his time this week — including multibillion-dollar budget negotiations with the City Council, as well as a much-awaited study on supervised injection facilities, where illegal drug use might take place under medical supervision. But there was only one event on his original public schedule for Wednesday: a reception celebrating a second novel by former U.S. Rep. Steve Israel of Long Island.

Israel, who spent 16 years in Congress, is in mid-book tour for “Big Guns,” a satire about a Long Island town, firearms lobbyists and general political mayhem.

The reception is at the NYC home of a friend who did not want his address to be public, Israel tells The Point. It will take place before Israel’s conversation at the Upper East Side Barnes & Noble with veteran author Nelson DeMille. The reception will include political guests such as Staten Island District Attorney (and former Congressman) Michael McMahon and Manhattan Rep. Jerrold Nadler, plus other former government colleagues.

De Blasio, the proud progressive, is not exactly politically identical to Israel, who carved out a career as an often-centrist Democrat. But perhaps the crowd toasting the former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chief was too enticing for the mayor to pass up. Or, he needs a good book.

Mark Chiusano

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