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2020’s main event
Even President Donald Trump wanted a piece of the action: speculating whether Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants to run for higher office.
During his Monday visit upstate, Trump said Cuomo once told him he wouldn’t run against him. A Cuomo spokesman on Tuesday threw cold water on the idea that such a conversation ever happened, but Queens natives Cuomo and Trump have certainly had interactions in the past; Trump has said their mothers used the same beauty salons in Queens.
But back to the main event: Is Cuomo running for president? People who think he is might point to his creation of a federal political action committee, often the first refuge of a politician looking to be nationally relevant. But with such a PAC, he has the cover of saying it will be used for locally relevant issues, donating to New York congressional and state Senate candidates for the Democrats’ blue wave push this year, according to his campaign.
Another way to pull back the curtain is to look at the campaign’s Facebook ads. A review of 100-plus Cuomo ads from July and August shows that they were seen only in New York. A handful of the ads, which are saved in Facebook’s political ad archive, show less than 1 percent of impressions in other states, which does not appear to indicate national targeting.
Compare that with recent Facebook ads from presumed 2020 contenders Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. All of those U.S. senators have recent ads that show significant percentages of views in non-home states — particularly California, a Democratic fundraising haven.
Cuomo has a well-publicized primary challenge next month and a gubernatorial re-election in November, so it makes sense he’d focus on New York. Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t see Cuomo in Iowa soon.
Tizzy over Collins’ seat
Erie County Republican chairman Nick Langworthy is facing some tricky dance moves to get indicted GOP incumbent Rep. Chris Collins off November’s ballot while stopping the incendiary Carl Paladino from getting on as his replacement.
GOP chairs in the eight counties embraced by the 27th Congressional District are meeting Tuesday night in Batavia to plot a strategy, but the Erie leader has the most voting power. That means any replacement would be from the Buffalo environs.
Collins, who was charged in a federal insider-trading case last week, at first said he would continue his re-election bid, but soon changed his mind, throwing the race for the state’s most solid red congressional district into a tizzy. It has a 22-percentage-point GOP registration edge. Getting Collins, an attorney, off the ticket isn’t simple because he cannot be slipped onto a third-party line for a minor judgeship, the standard procedure by political leaders to erase nomination faux pas.
Since death is not an option, another choice would be for Collins to plead guilty to the federal charges, which automatically would disqualify him, but that’s considered unlikely. Collins could establish residency in another state or get nominated in another local race, such as coroner.
Erie County Democratic chair Jeremy Zellner says both of those choices would expose the GOP to a claim of fraud by Democrats, and there is case law on this point. It’s also unclear whether establishing an out-of-state residence applies to candidates for federal office. At the very least, it would tie up the nomination in litigation for a while, allowing the Democratic nominee for the seat, Nate McMurray, to gain traction.
But what if Collins is removed? The loudest candidate, and the one with the most muscle, is Paladino. He is perhaps best known downstate for his 2010 GOP primary victory for governor over Rick Lazio (a Trumpian move before there was Trumpian move) and then for his campaign antics against Andrew M. Cuomo in the general election.
Paladino was removed from the Buffalo school board by the state Education Department in 2017. While serving as Donald Trump’s campaign co-chair in New York, he made racist remarks about President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. There are quiet rumblings about a more recent racist outburst by Paladino in May during the GOP’s nominating convention in Manhattan.
As one state chair told The Point: “He’s the only Republican who could lose the seat.”
Fast and furious NYC-style
For New York City public schools students, there are three more weeks of summer to savor.
But for Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials, that doesn’t leave much time to prepare to start the school year without speed cameras in 140 school zones.
As of July 25, 120 of those speed cameras couldn’t legally be used to fine violators because state lawmakers failed to enact renewal legislation. Twenty additional mobile cameras lose authorization at the end of August.
De Blasio announced Monday that the cameras, which are still recording data even though tickets can’t be issued, observed 132,253 motorists driving more than 10 mph over the speed limit in the two weeks since the camera legislation expired. The Assembly passed a bill to reauthorize the cameras, but the measure died in the Senate. Now there seems to be no significant momentum for the Senate to return to Albany to reauthorize the program before schools open on Sept. 5.
City officials are working on a backup plan, but options are limited, sources told The Point. Federal law doesn’t allow speed bumps to be placed on major commercial roadways that carry trucks and city buses — and many schools are located on such major thoroughfares. So, the city is discussing how to deploy additional NYPD officers and cars, but they can’t issue tickets at the same pace as the cameras can.
“We’re going to strategically deploy our NYPD personnel for maximum impact, but recognize it is no replacement [for the cameras],” a City Hall source told The Point.
Randi F. Marshall