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Political tour du jour, Paladino backs Zeldin, Hahn sees both sides now

The New York state section of Total Wine,

The New York state section of Total Wine, which has opened in Westbury. Credit: Newsday/Corin Hirsch

Daily Point

Wine politics

Rep. David Trone of Maryland has a sideline unlike that of most congressmen: he and his brother are owners of Total Wine & More, a vino superstore with more than 200 locations in more than 20 states. The network has only one spot in New York — here in Westbury — and on Friday the congressional Democrat’s place will be the site of a tour for Long Island lawmakers.

"We are hopeful that the tour would give you a better understanding of the operation and the level of commitment the licensee, Congressman David Trone, has to the Westbury community and Nassau County at large," wrote Paul Zuber of government affairs shop Albany Strategic Advisors, according to an email to a local lawmaker shared with The Point.

This is about more than a chance to admire the bottles.

The Total Wine in Westbury has been open since 2017. The company has done tours before the pandemic, but with COVID-19 restrictions loosening, the store "has been inviting folks such as community leaders, elected officials and reporters to our Westbury store to see how we are the largest seller of New York wines and spirits, to learn about our events and wedding planning, and to hear from our experts on wines and spirits," a Total Wine spokesman said.

There is at least one Albany-related issue that could affect the business of this DC denizen — legislation carried by State Sen. Anna Kaplan and Assemb. Judy Griffin that would permit liquor and wine stores to open on Sundays as early as 10 a.m., matching the "Brunch Bill" that in 2016 allowed patrons to order that mimosa a little earlier at a restaurant.

Trone, who was elected to Congress in 2018, has made himself known a bit in New York, in recent years contributing over $140,000 in New York politics, including to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, State Sen. Kevin Thomas, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, plus Kaplan, Griffin, and State Sen. Jim Gaughran, a co-sponsor on that 10 a.m. bill.

Sean Ross Collins, a spokesman for Kaplan, said Trone "recently requested a Zoom meeting to introduce himself and his business, something we do with many local small business owners."

Collins said there was "no agenda to the meeting beyond just meeting and hearing about his business."

As for that Westbury tour, the final guest list is still up in the air but Total Wine aims to include lawmakers and staffers from local, county and state government. Asked about what the Maryland-based Trone’s "level of commitment" is to Westbury and Nassau County, the Total Wine spokesman pointed to contributions to over 1,000 charitable nonprofits in and around Nassau including the Nassau Art Museum and the Reliance Engine Company of the Floral Park Fire Department.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Paladino brings his bluster in backing Zeldin

Of three Republican candidates Andrew M. Cuomo has defeated for governor, businessman Carl Paladino finished with the worst margin, garnering only a third of the statewide vote for the open seat in November 2010.

On Wednesday, the Buffalo real estate honcho, a friend and ally of ex-President Donald Trump, announced he is backing Rep. Lee Zeldin in next year’s GOP primary. Does this help Zeldin? Could it hurt? Who can tell at this point?

The quote attributed to Paladino in Zeldin’s campaign email of the endorsement doesn’t build up the Suffolk congressman so much as bitterly attack Cuomo in the scorched-earth, bloviating style that marked Paladino’s own primary fight 11 years ago against Long Islanders Rick Lazio and Steve Levy.

"The Democrats controlling Albany are doing everything they can to destroy our state. Enough!" fumes Paladino. "They have stripped us of our freedoms and attacked our wallets while Cuomo has gotten rich off the suffering of New Yorkers, lining his pockets with over $5 million in book-deal blood money."

By some published accounts, Trump let new candidate Andrew Giuliani, who was his employee, know several weeks ago that he was leaning toward Zeldin in the New York race. Trump and Paladino, who reportedly had access to the 45th president on matters of state politics, may therefore be on the same page here.

Perhaps a growling Paladino can generate a little internal GOP excitement in parts of western New York on behalf of the better-mannered Zeldin. After all, Paladino’s underdog 2010 performance proved that wrapping up commitments for a majority of the weighted state convention votes, as Zeldin has, does not guarantee the nomination.

"Why are there no prosecutors willing to pursue charges against him for criminally negligent homicide?" Paladino said in apparent reference to COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes under Cuomo. "We have one last chance to save our state and to do so we need to end Andrew Cuomo's reign of terror and send Lee Zeldin to Albany."

That’s his entire mention of Zeldin.

Rob Astorino, who lost to Cuomo in 2014 with 40% of the statewide vote — a healthier share than Paladino’s — also is running next year, suggesting his past wins for county executive in heavily Democratic Westchester make him a better choice than Zeldin. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who got a higher vote total in 2018 than either of his GOP predecessors against Cuomo, also may run.

But past isn’t always prologue, and every election is different.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Final Point

Hahn sees both sides now

Suffolk Legis. Kara Hahn shares recollections of risk from both sides of the policy tug-of-war between cyclists and motorists.

The Port Jefferson Democrat sponsored a county law, enacted last month, authorizing police to fine motorists who fail to allow bicyclists at least three feet of space when passing them.

In support of that measure, Hahn noted that her husband, lawyer and political commentator Chris Hahn, had been hit by a car while cycling on the East End. That was several years ago. The collision occurred outside a MacDonald’s parking lot in Wading River as he was riding from Setauket to East Marion at Easter time, and he wasn’t seriously injured, he said.

Also last month, lawmakers including Hahn did not override County Executive Steve Bellone’s veto of a bill that arose from a different side of Long Island’s traffic-safety debate — aimed at curbing reckless biking in the county. Opponents, heeded by Bellone, objected to certain provisions as too harsh.

Now Hahn, who’s the deputy presiding officer, is pushing a modified version of the reckless-biking bill. Along the way, she relates a different personal incident that rolls in another direction.

"I had a bicyclist popping a ‘wheelie’ coming directly at me on 25A at 11 p.m. one night," she said. "It was extremely frightening and dangerous. So this bill is particularly important to me." That incident occurred about two years ago near the Stony Brook LIRR station, she said.

Hahn said she quickly stopped the car before a collision could occur. "Luckily no one was [driving] behind me or it could have been a real problem."

The public safety committee and then the full legislature are expected to vote on this newly amended reckless-biking bill early next month.

The bill would allow police to seize violators’ bikes but with explanations and record-keeping required. Under its terms a police agency "will not charge for the return of the bicycle nor hold it (when the owner is attempting to retrieve it) for more than 24 hours on the first offense. Fee for bicycle recovery on the second or subsequent offense shall not exceed $100."

Whether this can put the brakes on hazardous stunts will be worth watching.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison