Long Island radio personality Cindy Grosz has launched a new series of conversations with political candidates since "2021 is the year of local elections."
Grosz ran in the Republican primary for CD4 last cycle, and has been an avowed supporter of former President Donald Trump to the point that back in December 2020 she encouraged Twitter users to reach out to her if interested in "Making Arrangements To Attend The Washington DC Events On January 6, 2021" — a date readers might recognize. The tweet asked who is joining "@realDonaldTrump and @jewishvotegop to fight for fair and honest elections and #AmericaFirst #4MoreYears #TRUMP2020ToSaveAmerica."
That background might make it a little surprising that Grosz’s first political guests last week were candidates on the Democratic slate in Hempstead — supervisor hopeful Jason Abelove and 4th Council District challenger Aaron Eitan Meyer.
But bipartisanship was a big subject for the show, which runs on 620 and 1640 AM as well as several podcast providers.
"I like bipartisan talk," Grosz said. At one point she praised Nassau County Executive Laura Curran for getting "rave reviews" for her work during the pandemic, betting she’ll be reelected. "And this is coming from a Republican," Grosz said.
Meyer himself is a registered Republican who said that the Democratic Party asked him to run against Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D'Esposito, and both party nominees tried to stay away from the farther left or right during the show. Abelove, for example, focused on his pitch for transparency in town government and criticism of the way Hempstead distributed federal funds during the pandemic, and Meyer said at one point that "nobody’s saying defund the police from our platform, nothing ridiculous like that."
In a Monday interview with The Point, Abelove said the radio show was "a great opportunity" given the challenges his campaign could have getting attention against incumbent Don Clavin. "Any opportunity I get to talk directly to voters is something that I want to do," he said.
Nassau and state Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs agreed, saying he often advised candidates: "If you can get on Fox, get on Fox" to get their messages to wider audiences.
For her part, Grosz told The Point that given her position on radio she has to have on candidates "from any party." She notes that she was on Long Island on Jan. 6 and the tweet ahead of the D.C. event was just supporting free speech and peaceful protest.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Greece looks closer than Norway for LI’s Tsunis
Naturally the mention of George Tsunis’ possible nomination for ambassador to Greece brings up the confirmation fiasco seven years ago that derailed his previous bid to become ambassador to Norway.
Before the Senate, the Long Island real estate and hotel executive bungled key questions on that country and the two Democratic senators from Minnesota, home to many Norwegian-Americans, began voicing the opposition that led to Tsunis’ withdrawal.
This time the chances and the circumstances appear very different.
Tsunis, 53, a son of Greek immigrants, would be well-versed in the terrain, insiders say. He reportedly has the backing for this post of prominent Democrats including Dennis Mehiel, the wealthy Westchester-based manufacturer of cardboard boxes and paper cups and a longtime friend and supporter of President Joe Biden.
Tsunis was formerly a partner at Rivkin Radler LLP, and served for a year as chairman of NuHealth which runs Nassau University Medical Center. He’s founder, chairman and CEO of Chartwell Hotels, and a resident of Matinecock.
Unlike dozens of other ambassadorships seven months into the Biden administration, the posting for Greece is not currently vacant. Geoffrey R. Pyatt, a career member of the Foreign Service, has held the post since 2016, an Obama administration appointee who was held over through the Trump administration.
According to the Axios news site, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) asked Biden to nominate Tsunis. As Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Menendez has clout over these foreign-service confirmations. Over many years both Menendez and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have received campaign contributions from Tsunis, as have numerous state and national Democrats, as well as Republicans from the late Sen. John McCain to Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).
Schumer in January 2014 formally introduced Tsunis to the Senate for the hearings on his ill-fated Norway nomination. He tweeted at the time that he expected him to "make LI, NY & the Greek community very proud." This time, pending a Biden nomination, Schumer is expected to support Tsunis again — with the rationale that he’d be a much better choice for Greece in part because he’s from the ethnic community.
— Dan Janison @Danjanison
Jan. 6 panel
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The 'Zeldin Research Team' wants you
Those on the "Zeldin for Governor" email list received a missive Monday from a name with an unfamiliar ring: the "Zeldin Research Team."
The email states that "New Yorkers are having their security attacked" and "citizens are now at their breaking point" over "lawless policies like cashless bail." It asks recipients who agree to "sign on to the petition of concerned patriots who back the Blue and want to keep our communities safe."
But clicking on either of the links on the email brings up a page that allows you to submit your contact info and email address, and no organization, government or politician is actually being petitioned, Zeldin conceded.
The Point Monday asked the Republican candidate for governor if there really is a "Zeldin Research Team. His reply by text: "We have a team that researches many things related to policy issues."
Asked what this "Research" could tell the campaign, other than identifying potential supporters, Zeldin said there are different purposes such info could be used for, like letting respondents know when a "Back the Blue" rally is taking place in their neighborhood.
And asked what person or group was actually being petitioned, Zeldin could not name one, but said his team could also use the results of the email in campaign messages like "X amount of people have signed our petition." Rather than disputing the purpose of the email, Zeldin wrote "Every campaign I run is successful at ID’ing what issues people care about for various campaign activities. That’s one reason we have now won seven consecutive races in purple NYC-suburban districts."
The outside-the-box email headers and messaging are no surprise from Zeldin. They were pioneered by former President Donald Trump’s campaign team, and Zeldin is close to Trump and at least partially inhabits the same fundraising and campaigning ecosystem.
— Lane Filler @lanefiller