Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! The editorial board spent Monday morning reflecting on this weekend’s #MarchForOurLives and the latest Russia developments.
No Cuomo Monday night. Nassau Dems will go to bat nationally
The Nassau County Democratic Committee is celebrating its landmark November county and Hempstead Town race wins Monday night at its annual spring dinner, but Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will be a no-show.
That November momentum and this year’s gubernatorial race sold out the event at the Crest Hollow Country Club, which Cuomo was supposed to headline. Regular tables cost $6,500 each, or $7,500 for the VIP perk of a private reception with Cuomo afterward.
Tables cost $1,500 less last year. The purchasers of 25 VIP tables this year (compared with none last year) will get their extra $1,000 refunded — with the promise of a future meet-and-greet with the governor.
Cuomo, who is deep in the state budget negotiations in Albany, canceled early Monday afternoon. Knowing that the negotiations were ongoing, the county party had planned to pick up the tab to fly him down and back to minimize his time away from the capital.
There’s still the possibility of a video feed from the governor, but party chairman Jay Jacobs will now have to rally the troops for the state and local races, which Cuomo was supposed to do, in addition to previewing the Democrats’ national agenda to take back the House and Senate. The Nassau Democrats will be raising funds to seek the Long Island seats of Republican Reps. Peter King and Lee Zeldin, as well as for pivotal congressional races around the country.
With more than 1,200 expected to attend from across New York, the NCDC could become a heavy hitter in the big leagues.
Rita Ciolli and Amanda Fiscina
Why King was MIA at march
For weeks, Republican Rep. Peter King and Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi publicized their plans to hold a bipartisan rally at Farmingdale State College to coincide with the national March for Our Lives.
About 1,500 protestors showed up on Saturday.
Suozzi was there, King was not.
Instead, King told The Point, he was in Florida celebrating his uncle’s 90th birthday.
King said the birthday weekend included giving his uncle and 13-year-old grandson the chance to meet members of the New York Mets and attend a spring training game in Port St. Lucie on Friday, with a large family dinner that night.
He said the family weekend was planned back in February. But when Suozzi suggested the rally, King agreed, thinking he’d probably have to remain in Washington for a down-to-the-wire budget vote and miss the festivities in Florida. King said he had told Suozzi from the beginning he was uncertain whether he’d be able to go to Farmingdale. Nonetheless, in a CNN interview in early March, King was the one who brought up the plans for a “massive rally” on March 24.
Even as of Wednesday, King thought the budget discussion would last through Friday or Saturday, and he’d be attending the rally. But once the budget vote occurred on Thursday, King decided to pack his bags and head south.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” King said of his family’s plans. “It was a family moment.”
King, who represents the 2nd District, sent a staff member to the event, which drew many high school students. He said his absence had nothing to do with politics, noting that his support of gun control legislation, and his “F” grade with the National Rifle Association, make his position on guns clear. His representative was booed roundly, requiring Suozzi to step up to the microphone to ask the crowd to let him speak.
“Politically, it would have been better to be there,” King said of the rally. He said his daughter, Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, made that point to him in Florida. “If anything, I lost politically. All I could do was gain votes by going there.”
Randi F. Marshall
Up in Albany
Cuomo’s other chaos
Timing is everything, particularly in New York State politics, and The Point wonders whether Cynthia Nixon’s entry into the Democratic gubernatorial primary at the tail end of budget season is making that chaotic period even more so.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is spending Monday huddled with leaders to make a deal for an on-time budget, dragging legislation major and minor along with it. But rather than simply dealing with advocates, Democrats, Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference, he also faces a media-darling primary opponent.
On Monday, Nixon drew flocks of reporters to her first Albany campaign appearance, railing from the outside about education funding and other budget priorities. Post-budget, she will surely seek to elevate the voices of whoever is unhappy about the result of the negotiations.
The pressure is certainly on as priorities from MTA funding to tax policy swirl around unresolved. On another contested issue — the Child Victims Act, which would make it easier for child sex-abuse victims to sue — Cuomo came out vocally in support last week. He has supported the legislation in the past, but this time his comments came just after a meeting with influential Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who opposes the full legislation.
Enter Assemb. Rodneyse Bichotte, a Brooklyn Democrat. Last week, she pulled Nixon directly into a dispute with the governor, Twitter-asking the actress and education activist her opinion of a complex bill regarding minority and women-owned business enterprises that Cuomo vetoed this session. Bichotte wants to bring the issue back.
Bichotte tells The Point that though she has already endorsed fellow Brooklynite Jumaane Williams, a New York City Council member, for lieutenant governor, she likely wouldn’t make a gubernatorial endorsement ahead of the budget.
’Tis the season for everyone looking for leverage, on the main primary stage and off.
Case of the Mondays
- Former Sen. Rick Santorum said the teens who marched for gun control Saturday would better spend their time learning CPR. Guess he’s never seen a body ripped up by an AR-15.
- President Donald Trump’s friend Christopher Ruddy said Trump told him the White House is operating like a “smooth machine.” You know the one he means — it’s tall and dangles a huge metal ball that wrecks everything in its path.
- A host of the online video channel NRATV said the only reason anyone knows the names of the Parkland, Florida, survivors who led Saturday’s march is that “the guns didn’t come soon enough” to help them. Actually, the reason everyone knows them is because of the one gun that was there.
- President Donald Trump said he is “very happy” with his legal team. Now, would that be the lawyers who actually are working for him, the ones who have left, the ones who were hired but left before starting work, or the ones who have rejected his entreaties?
- It’s so good to hear Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin say Congress should pass a law giving the president a line-item veto. It means that when it comes to not understanding that Congress can’t pass a law the Supreme Court has found to be unconstitutional, President Donald Trump has company.
- And a heartfelt thanks to Emma Gonzalez, the 18-year-old from Parkland, Florida, who reminded everyone on Saturday that sometimes the most powerful sound is silence.