Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
New York’s loud voice of reason
One consequence of Hillary Clinton’s unexpected election loss was a leadership vacuum in the Democratic Party. Other than Chuck Schumer’s ascendancy to minority leader in the U.S. Senate, there is a struggle over the path forward — from policy goals to a new generation of leaders.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is facing a challenge to her position. The Democratic National Committee job is up for grabs. Sen. Elizabeth Warren already has staked out the job of lead Donald Trump bomb thrower, but she is unlikely to make a national run. So who could the party turn to in 2020?
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has wasted little time becoming a booming voice for Democratic values. His fiery speech against oozing bigotry Sunday at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem mentioned New York State more than a dozen times — its laws, its welcome mat for immigrants, its culture of assimilation. Then, he went national in his closing: “We are going to keep that dream alive and we are going to fight to make it a reality for every American.”
The DNC sent Cuomo’s speech to its members, and the Alabama (nine electoral votes) Democratic Party passed it along to its rank and file. And we’re off.
The count goes on and on
As a count of absentee ballots progresses, there seems to be little chance that Democrat James Gaughran will overcome the roughly 2,200 vote lead that Sen. Carl Marcellino commanded after Election Day.
Of the 10,000 ballots to count, about 5,400 were turned in by Democrats. That doesn’t seem like enough of a margin to give Gaughran a win — unless a number of Republicans went against the Trump surge in this North Shore district and checked off Gaughran’s name.
Assuming Republicans hold onto this 5th SD seat, the party will have 31 elected senators in the 63-member State Senate. What’s more, over the weekend, Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn placed his bet on a Republican majority. A multiline Democrat who says he will caucus with whichever side can offer the best outcome for his constituents, Felder announced his choice to again caucus with Senate Republicans.
That gives Republicans 32, even as the count of absentee ballots continues in the too-close-to-call 8th District race between Republican Sen. Michael Venditto and Democratic nominee John Brooks. Whatever the outcome there, Republicans seem likely to control the chamber without needing to recreate power-sharing with the Independent Democratic Conference.
The beat goes on
— Nassau County’s contracting process has been under fire for being corrupt and opaque and County Executive Edward Mangano was charged with receiving bribes and kickbacks from a campaign contributor in exchange for contracts. Now Mangano’s administration wants to give a $1.4 million engineering contract to another campaign contributor being investigated in NYC for its political contributions — a company Nassau turned to after its first choice was found to be involved in a criminal case. You really can’t make this up.
— Declaring the end of an emergency is a good thing, right? Not when you’re the World Health Organization and you lift your emergency declaration on the Zika virus — because it’s now considered an ongoing threat that requires a long-term strategy to defeat it.
— The surest sign Donald Trump hears things the rest of us don’t: He says he hears “Hamilton” is “highly overrated.”
— Mike Pence says Mitt Romney is under “active consideration” as Donald Trump’s secretary of state. Which sure beats Rudy Giuliani as being under less-than-active consideration.
— Math teachers are complaining that changes in scoring standards on the Regents Algebra 1 exam mean students can pass by getting just 14 of 37 answers correct. Sounds like state education officials are the ones flunking the test.
— Suffolk Conservative Party insiders say the intent expressed by the party’s executive committee not to back 12-year sheriff Vincent DeMarco for re-election next November had nothing to do with his role in the investigation that led to the conviction of former party boss Ed Walsh. Of course, it didn’t.