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Playing the odds
Do you think Brett Kavanaugh will be the nation’s next Supreme Court justice?
Lots of people do, on online political market Predictit, where the odds for a wager on Kavanaugh’s future have fluctuated wildly all week, and throughout the day Thursday, as the testimony ebbed and flowed.
Around 9 a.m., before testimony by Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, gamblers could buy the proposition that Kavanaugh would be confirmed for 61 cents. If that comes to pass, that person would be paid $1 for each 61 cents invested. But once Ford began to testify, the price plummeted, and just before 2 p.m., it bottomed out at 36 cents.
As Kavanaugh gave his opening statement, though, his odds began to improve. By 5:50 p.m., as Kavanaugh answered questions, “yes” shares sold for 61 cents.
And for the savvy investor, there are even more specialized plays, including how some senators will vote. The big action was going to Maine’s Susan Collins, whose “yea vote” shares sold for 57 cents at 5:50 p.m., and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, whose “yea vote” shares sold for 52 cents.
Flood of emails
Just hours before Christine Blasey Ford testified Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hit upon a perfectly timed moment to release the latest batch of embarrassing emails between the mayor and his so-called “agents of the city” outside advisers.
While keeping one eye on the events in the U.S. Senate, The Point combed through the emails — which have been released slowly after City Hall lost a lawsuit by NY1 and the New York Post. So far, there’ve been a few nuggets of interest.
- The Rudy-Bill show: The emails reflect the tumultuous relationship between de Blasio and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In an email to staffers and advisers, including scheduler Lindsay Scola, after seeing support Giuliani had thrown his way, de Blasio wrote: “I didn’t think I was likely to write this sentence, but Lindsay: pls sched a call with Rudy Giuliani tmrw so I can thank him.”
How quickly things change. A year and a half later, Patrick Gaspard, a de Blasio friend and then-the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, wrote to de Blasio and aide Emma Wolfe that the mayor should respond forcefully to Giuliani’s accusations that de Blasio was to blame for the homelessness crisis.
“This is the guy we want to pick a fight with,” Gaspard wrote, later saying, “He ought to be ridiculed.”
Sure enough, the next day, gloves off, de Blasio called Giuliani “delusional.” And days after that, Giuliani responded with his own barb, calling de Blasio “ignorant.”
- The Progressive Traveler: Days after being inaugurated in 2014, de Blasio was going over his national travel schedule. “I’m generally going to be VERY modest, local and travel-averse this year. But Ohio is the center of the political universe and I love it there,” referencing an Ohio Democratic Party dinner.
- The Critic: As other emails have revealed, de Blasio doesn’t hold back in criticism of the media. He calls a Capital New York piece “dick-ish” and reminds advisers that “we’re dealing with a biased and ridiculous corporate media.” And sometimes, he’d scold staffers, at one point getting annoyed that he hadn’t been immediately told that a speech for an event should be kept under 20 minutes.
- The Comedian: There are dozens of pages of emails prepping de Blasio for an appearance with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” agonizing over jokes about his pizza-eating habits (fork, knife, controversy).
- Police: De Blasio was forced to scramble when officers turned their backs on him after the killings of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. That even included draft remarks for a 2014 NYPD graduation sent by an adviser. The remarks include what de Blasio should say “(IF BOOED).”
Mark Chiusano and Randi F. Marshall
Making it rain
A grand reveal
For Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro, Friday is the big reveal.
The candidate began laying out points of his “Empire State Freedom Plan” last week. Highlights include promising to cut property taxes 30 percent and creating massive income tax deductions for individuals and small businesses. But the Dutchess County executive hasn’t laid out the whole deal in one place, and he hasn’t explained the nuts and bolts of how to fund it.
On the property tax, for instance, Molinaro hasn’t yet said how he’ll cut school taxes, as much as 70 percent of the total bill for many New Yorkers. He would hack down the county bill by moving the counties’ share of Medicaid costs to the state, but he has not outlined where the state would come up with the $7 billion a year to foot that cost.
Molinaro communications consultant Bill O’Reilly told The Point that the unusual method of releasing the plan in pieces is a way to deal both with the speed and lack of depth of the news cycle. “If we released the whole plan at once, much of it would be overlooked,” O’Reilly said. But it’s also a way to deal with the aggressive tactics of the opponent, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“Andrew Cuomo has a habit of dropping announcements moments before his opponents hold news conferences,” O’Reilly wrote in an email. “He’s famous for it.” O’Reilly also argued that if Molinaro dropped the whole plan at once, Cuomo’s team would find one weak link or detail to nitpick to take away from the substance of “what the plan will do to relieve the gigantic New York tax burden.”
Molinaro and his team also might have learned their lesson about leading with easily digestible policy points. Late last month, they came out with “Back on Track: Revitalizing the MTA for the 21st Century.” The plan was thoughtful, comprehensive and, at 30 dense pages, apparently indigestible for the media and public. Even the abbreviated version included in Molinaro’s news release on the transit plan was 2,461 words long.
The dribs-and-drabs method of releasing the tax plan, at least, does have people wondering.