Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! While Mayor Bill de Blasio is in D.C. and snubbing President Donald Trump over immigration policy, we’re wondering whether his boycott has anything to do with the stunning revelations in the secret guilty plea of Long Island’s most newsworthy restaurateur. As that saga unfolds, we offer some other political tidbits.
As Croci turns
As Tom Croci seriously contemplates not running for a third term in New York’s 3rd Senate District, the scrum is on for potential successors. This solid GOP area was previously represented by Lee Zeldin, but could be claimed by a strong Democratic candidate this fall.
That’s why this weekend’s Facebook folly by Islip Town Board member Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, a Republican, still resonates. She initially defended her post, which made light of President Donald Trump’s immigration remarks denigrating Haiti and African nations, as a joke. She then apologized after mounting criticism not only from Democrats but also from GOP town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, with whom she tends to feud.
Weichbrodt was considered a marquee candidate to replace Croci if he leaves the State Senate, but the Facebook post could have cost her the party’s nod. Except that Weichbrodt is taking herself out of the running, according to GOP sources who say she isn’t interested in traveling to Albany because it would force her to sacrifice family time.
So even though Suffolk Republican leaders got the message earlier this week that women candidates now are the rage, without Weichbrodt, potential successors to Croci are men: Neil Foley, a member of the Brookhaven Town Board, and Andrew Garbarino, who represents part of the Senate district in the Assembly.
The only woman on the horizon is Democrat Kate Browning, who was term-limited out of the Suffolk County Legislature and is focused on getting the nomination to challenge Zeldin in the 1st Congressional District.
Another seeker of the throne
Add another name to the list of Democrats stepping up to challenge Rep. Peter King for Congress: John Rennhack of North Massapequa.
Rennhack ran four times unsuccessfully against the late Nassau County Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt, the last time in 2011. An acerbic critic of Nassau Republicans, Rennhack may get more clicks on his two websites, Nassau GOP Watch and Peter King Watch, than he does votes. Curiously, the last posting on the King website is from Aug. 22, 2010, labeled, “Peter King Watch Returns.” It valiantly promises to put “King under the microscope.”
With two Democrats making strong pitches in the 2nd District — activist Liuba Grechen Shirley of Amityville and Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory of Copiague — Rennhack’s strategy for the seat that straddles both counties will have to be good.
Asked about that by The Point, Rennhack emailed, “I am running on the issues that affect the 2nd CD residents. Issues that aren’t being discussed. And proposing real solutions.”
In the long list of positions on his Facebook page, John Rennhack for a Better America, he advocates for stronger protections for union organizing, better flood remediation, modern rail and mass transit infrastructure, and access to affordable fresh produce, as well as hydroponic or aeroponic farming.
The primary for congressional seats is June 26.
Deery still running the show
Just before Democrat Laura Gillen took over as Hempstead supervisor, the Anthony Santino- and GOP-controlled town board approved almost 200 job changes for party loyalists.
At the top of that pyramid was Michael Deery, who went from communications director to the position of confidential assistant to the receiver of taxes. His $205,000 salary went with him to the newly minted job that no one, even in a town stuffed with jobs that were more anchored in politics than governing, had ever said was critical to the town. Or even to the receiver of taxes.
However, the receiver of taxes is Don Clavin, who has long awaited his turn to move up the GOP ladder. Now, that opportunity might come sooner than he expected. Clavin is considered a strong candidate to seize back the supervisor title for the party after Santino spit the bit two years into his reign.
Deery knows politics, and he knows communications, and as many have said over the years, there were times when he seemed to actually run the town. Two days after the transfer was approved, Clavin’s official Twitter account issued its first tweet. Since then, it’s averaging about two a day, and has followed more than 700 people. And with Deery’s help, Clavin got media coverage he never dreamed possible last month as residents tried to pay 2018 taxes before New Year’s Day to beat new federal limits on property-tax deductibility.
Deery knew the story he had, and he delivered for his boss.