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Monica Martinez, the Democrat considered a wild card in the party’s effort to take control of the New York State Senate, has a message for those worried about her enthusiasm for the race: chill.
Martinez, whose nominating petitions are under challenge by Republicans, has underwhelmed key Democrats with her efforts so far to contend for the 3rd District seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Tom Croci. Only 1,497 signatures were filed by the Suffolk County party on her behalf, giving Martinez a small margin for error to meet the 1,000-signature threshold to get on the ballot. Her degree of jeopardy will be clearer later Thursday after Suffolk election commissioners review GOP challenges to 948 of her signatures.
For an incumbent county legislator in a Democratic district, submitting so few signatures is surprising. By contrast, Kathleen Cleary, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Senate leader John Flanagan, got about 2,600 signatures. Louis D’Amaro, is challenging GOP incumbent Sen. Phil Boyle, got about 2,500.
Cleary, a political newcomer with no staff, raised $10,000 in the last campaign filing period. D’Amaro was on fire with about $93,000 in donations. But Martinez, who is using the staff of the county organization, came in below $15,000.
“I am completely 100 percent into it,” Martinez told The Point. “Anyone who says my heart isn’t into it doesn’t know me.”
During her lunchtime interview Thursday, Martinez said she was at party headquarters dialing for dollars and had just gotten a $5,000 pledge.
But New York Democrats aren’t worried about Martinez’s heart as much as they are about that of Suffolk County Democratic leader Rich Schaffer, who has openly questioned whether a Democratic-led Senate is good for Long Island.
“It reeks of Schaffer; he’s controlling her campaign infrastructure,” said one Democrat deeply involved in the Senate takeover effort. “It’s not just getting so few signatures, it’s not raising the money. She is not returning phone calls. She doesn’t seem to care.”
Schaffer’s critics say his lackluster effort on behalf of State Senate Democrats is part of his bargain with Conservative and Independence party leaders to get their minor-party ballot lines for local offices. Schaffer discouraged Robert Calarco, a county legislator who insiders believe would have made a stronger effort than Martinez, because Schaffer was concerned the GOP could capture his seat in a special election. Martinez’s seat in Hauppauge, however, is more than likely to stay in Democratic control.
Republicans are running Dean Murray, a member of the Assembly. He will have a cakewalk if Martinez is kicked off the ballot in a race that most Democrats felt was one of the easier Senate seats to flip. And if Martinez stays on the ballot, she will have to convince Senate Democrats that the money they raise will be well spent on her, instead of on someone like Anna Kaplan, the North Hempstead Town Board member who is running hard against GOP incumbent Sen. Elaine Phillips in Nassau County.
2nd Circuit moves
Long Island may soon get one of its own on the prestigious 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Richard Sullivan, who grew up in Manhasset and went to Chaminade High School, is in the final stages of an FBI background check. Sullivan, who was a prosecutor in the Southern District of New York and chief of its International Narcotics Trafficking Unit, was nominated in 2007 by President George W. Bush to the bench in the Southern District, where he quickly established a reputation for giving tough sentences to criminal defendants.
He is President Donald Trump’s first nominee to the 2nd Circuit, where three judges handle appeals from New York, Connecticut and Vermont.
Sullivan, 54, who teaches at the law schools of Fordham and Columbia universities, is considered more moderate and less controversial than some of Trump’s more ideological nominees. While U.S. Senate Democrats have fought Trump appointees tooth and nail — 20 appeals court nominees have been confirmed so far — Sullivan’s hearing and confirmation vote won’t be delayed.
“It looks like Long Island’s Sullivan will have a clear-path confirmation sooner rather than later,” a source close to the Senate Judiciary Committee told The Point.
Mr. de Blasio goes to . . . a PAC
Maybe it was inevitable. Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to set up a “federal leadership” PAC to support candidates and pay for his and his wife’s travel as they support progressive causes from sea to shining sea, according to Politico.
Check it out at billdeblasio.com.
The PAC itself has been rumored at least since last year, and de Blasio’s aspirations to be a national figure are well documented. He tried it during the lead-up to the 2016 election, planning a presidential candidate forum in Iowa that went nowhere. And de Blasio is sometimes mentioned as a potential presidential contender. He has pooh-poohed this. His mayoral term goes to 2021, but he has expressed a general interest in a future life in politics.
The current progressive mood certainly vibes with his own, so maybe he’ll make waves, but there are brighter stars preaching a “tale of two cities” these days, including former New Yorker Sen. Bernie Sanders and Bronx-born upstart and congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ocasio-Cortez, by the way, has received a much warmer national welcome than de Blasio did in 2016.
His ambition, however, is typical mayoral behavior. Mayors from John Lindsay to Michael Bloomberg flirted with the White House, but it has always been an uphill battle. Mayors make a lot of tough decisions and enemies, get caught in political nonprofit fundraising scandals and horse-carriage debates, and might have a tough time pivoting to the center.
“The Mayor embodies New York City (the good, the bad and the ugly) in the imaginations of all voters,” writes presidential historian and former public advocate candidate David Eisenbach in an email. “This becomes an issue when trying to appeal to rural and suburban voters whether they’re in upstate NY, Long Island or Iowa.”