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The Asian equation

As he pursues the 2022 gubernatorial race, Rep.

As he pursues the 2022 gubernatorial race, Rep. Lee Zeldin has been meeting and holding fundraisers with Asian American activists and community leaders. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

Daily Point

Rise of Asian American voters

Among the surprises of New York’s Nov. 2 elections was the strength of Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa in some of the NYC neighborhoods with large numbers of Asian American residents.

Sliwa went on to lose handily overall to Democrat Eric Adams, but his vote-getting in places like Flushing, Bayside, and Sunset Park raised eyebrows from high-ranking Democrats like Rep. Grace Meng — and also, Lee Zeldin, one of the state’s highest-profile Republicans right now.

As he pursues the 2022 gubernatorial race, Zeldin has been meeting and holding fundraisers with Asian American activists and community leaders, his campaign told the news outlet The City for a story about the rise of Chinese voters.

"Like so many New Yorkers, they’re concerned about public safety, the quality of their kids’ education, the rising cost of living and how the politicians controlling Albany aren’t fighting for the priorities most important to them," campaign spokeswoman Katie Vincentz told the outlet.

Vincentz expanded on the theme to The Point, adding that Zeldin’s wife is of Thai heritage and the congressman has also done "multiple interviews with a variety of community newspapers, media outlets, etc."

The Asian American portion of the NY electorate has been growing significantly in recent years, Democratic strategist Bruce Gyory told The Point. For most general elections, that means around 7-10% of the total vote in NYC, close to 5% in the suburbs, and somewhere in the 5-6% range statewide.

Demographic trends suggest those numbers will keep increasing.

"For Zeldin or the Republicans, they would be crazy not to fight for these votes," Gyory said.

The Asian American vote, however, is far from a monolith and includes different dynamics among immigrant communities from, say, India to China to the Philippines.

It’s also possible that the Asian American vote will have more sway in nonpresidential, non-statewide legislative races where issues like gifted and talented education and a concern about hate crimes and crime in general can have more pull.

Gyory noted that in 2020, Asian American voters on the whole did not support President Donald Trump, spreader of the phrase "Kung Flu" — a potential problem for Trump-ally Zeldin.

But history suggests that in general, immigrant voting blocs are not guaranteed to remain fully on one side forever. Gyory pointed to the New York Italian American vote which was strongly Democratic from the 1920s to 1940s, but made shifts toward Republicans as Italian Americans moved to the suburbs.

"No one should just presume that they will have a lock on Asian voters because of how they voted in the past," he said.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Let’s Make a Deal

Development at the Ronkonkoma Hub always has included some deal-making between Tritec Real Estate and private property owners.

But as construction for the Hub’s second phase just began earlier this month, that deal-making may be entering a new, more controversial phase, too.

On Tuesday, Brookhaven’s Industrial Development Agency will hold a virtual public hearing on the potential need for Tritec to obtain property through eminent domain. The meeting announcement includes a list of 34 properties, many of which are on Railroad or Carroll Avenues near the Ronkonkoma Long Island Rail Road station.

No vote will be taken at Tuesday’s hearing. And sources told The Point that the effort to negotiate with property owners is still ongoing and will continue after the hearing as well.

Among the properties impacted more immediately by planned upcoming development are Mica D’s Barber Shop owned by Micah Disipio and the offices of the North Fork Express bus company. In both cases, sources say Tritec officials have been in conversation with the property owners but have not yet arrived at final agreements.

"These proceedings are in response to decades of advocacy and support from the local Chamber of Commerce, numerous civic associations, and many local residents," Tritec principal Jim Coughlan said in a statement.

Calling the hearing the "next step in a several-year process," Coughlan said the company previously acquired 14 parcels beyond the 34 on the IDA’s list.

But he added that the full economic impact of the Hub "will not be realized without the full use of the land in the development area."

Perhaps even the possibility of eminent domain could be a way to push negotiations with property owners forward.

Disipio told The Point he’s currently working on a counter-offer to a Tritec proposal. But, he said, he saw the eminent domain issue as "basically giving me an offer with a gun to my head" and worried that he won’t have enough time to find and settle in a new location.

Nonetheless, even Disipio said he’s in favor of the Ronkonkoma Hub development effort.

"Nobody is trying to stop the project. We’re good with it," he said. "Just do the right thing."

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Beg your pardon?

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Quick Points

Choices, choices

  • When it comes to surging gasoline prices, White House economic adviser Brian Deese said that President Joe Biden "has made clear that all options are on the table." He didn’t explain why they haven’t used any of those options.
  • One touted portion of the agreement reached at the climate change summit in Scotland calls for governments to return next year with tougher plans to curb emissions. Which in much of the world is known as punting.
  • Another weaker-than-desired action of the climate summit was watering down language on coal-generated power to "phase down" instead of "phase out." Which left many activists both down and out.
  • A coalition of Conservative and Republican party members spent $3.5 million in a well-orchestrated campaign over two weeks to defeat three Democratic-favored statewide proposals on November’s ballot. Can that be a template for next year’s governor’s race?
  • When you watched the newest video of a woman with a history of taunting Bronx Zoo animals standing in the lion exhibit talking to a lion across the moat, cavorting, and throwing money into the air, did you find yourself wondering who really was on exhibit?
  • Thanks largely to a controversial new Alzheimer’s medication of dubious value, outpatient premiums for Medicare Part B will jump a whopping $21.60 a month — an outcome no Medicare patient is likely to forget.
  • A gun battle between rival drug cartel gangs inside Ecuador’s largest prison left 68 inmates dead, two months after another battle in the same prison killed at least 118 inmates. That might have left some law-and-order types wondering whether this is a problem that needs solving.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris finished a four-day fence-mending trip to France. As for mending fences with a White House that seems to be sidelining her, well, that’s going to take a lot longer than four days.
  • Refusing to criticize former President Donald Trump for saying the Jan. 6 rioters’ chant of "Hang Mike Pence" was "common sense," Wyoming GOP Sen. John Barrasso said that "the more the Democrats and the press become obsessed with President Trump, I think the better it is for the Republican Party." Which underscored his own obsession and that of his party with Trump.
  • Four tornadoes touched down on Long Island during Saturday’s storm. Of course, because on Long Island one of anything is never enough.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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