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2020 visions

Congressman Peter King in Melville on Friday, Nov.

Congressman Peter King in Melville on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Fathers and daughters

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released its first battle map for the 2020 election, and it has a familiar Long Island flavor. First District Rep. Lee Zeldin and 2nd District Rep. Peter King’s seats are both on the list once again.

Zeldin’s appearance is unsurprising, and likely to be perennial, since the 1st District has traditionally been a swing one. Adding fuel to that fire, Zeldin’s predecessor was six-term Democrat Tim Bishop and Zeldin beat an unknown challenger, Perry Gershon, by just 4 points last year.

King’s reappearance on the list so early in the process (he was not listed as any kind of DCCC target in its 2018 strategy until November 2017) and the DCCC’s specific reason for including him are likely to garner more attention. The DCCC strategy memo put King “at the top of the retirement watch list.”

So, what happens if King, who beat Democratic challenger Liuba Grechen Shirley by 6 points in his closest House race since his initial win in 1992, doesn’t answer the bell for another round? The speculation has long been that King’s daughter, Hempstead Town Council member Erin King Sweeney might want to fight off opponents and claim her father’s title.

In a radio interview with Joe Piscopo on AM 970 last week, King Sweeney did not mention a run for her father’s seat, but she said of Grechen Shirley’s campaign “this last election was atrocious” and “this last election was disgraceful in many ways.”

Grechen Shirley has made it known she’d like to run again and King Sweeney’s comments, in an interview that largely focused on her recent breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, set a tone for how she might take on the Democrat. She argued that “Republicans need to own that mantle of fighting for women’s rights.”

King Sweeney also claimed attacks against her father on that issue in 2018 were unfair, but with a less-than-ideal argument to prove King stands for the rights of all women: “These baseless attacks against my dad for not standing up for women, whether he’s been … the biggest advocate for me, being one, either me or my 10-year-old daughter.”

When asked by The Point Monday whether she would consider a run for her father’s seat, she emailed: “I don’t live in his district -- two blocks out!” But we persisted, noting in our reply that residency does not bar a run and that if she won, she would have a year to move a few blocks over.

Her response, “I just got new zebra and red curtains.”

Lane Filler and Rita Ciolli

Talking Point

2020 race gets frothy with New Yorkers

Toss another New Yorker into the presidential hopeful ring.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made waves over the weekend by telling “60 Minutes” that he is “seriously thinking of running for president” as a centrist independent.

By Monday, President Donald Trump had tweeted that Schultz doesn’t have the “guts” to run; Mike Bloomberg, another billionaire potential candidate, released a statement criticizing an independent run -- and pundits debated which party would be hurt more by a Schultz run.

That escalated quickly. You might only know of Schultz as the fancy coffee maven, but he has been edging toward the public sphere for a while. His 2014 book, “For Love of Country,” was an attempt to “address the civilian-military disconnect,” he wrote.

The introduction describes Schultz’s 2013 experience being “transfixed and humbled” hearing from a Medal of Honor winner who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a meeting with vets soon after, he wrote, “My visit revealed to me just how disconnected I had been from these fellow citizens who have dedicated years of their lives to defending the freedom I hold dear,” a good position for a future commander in chief.

He committed to hiring 10,000 veterans and active military spouses, and worked on the book to spread their stories along with former Washington Post Baghdad bureau chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

Chandrasekaran’s previous book, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” described the folly of America’s efforts in Iraq. He left the Post to go work with Schultz and Starbucks on the company’s “social-impact media initiatives.”

How real is Schultz’s possible presidential bid? While considering a run, he’s also touring the country for a new book, “From the Ground Up.” Speculation certainly doesn’t hurt sales: his Manhattan Barnes & Noble appearance on Monday is sold out.

But if he follows through, he’ll be another outer borough candidate, albeit one with true working-class roots. Schultz grew up in public housing in Canarsie, Brooklyn, where he played quarterback for Canarsie High School--a team to which he committed $50,000 back in 1998, according to former head coach Mike Camardese. Schultz was less flush as a youth. According to his book, “Pour Your Heart Into It,” he spent time as a 16-year-old working as a furrier in the Garment District.

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

Keep-away

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Quick Points

Differing viewpoints

  • Jared Kushner, filled with confidence after helping shepherd a popular criminal justice reform bill through Congress, told Democrats he was the one who could “land the plane” during shutdown talks. And discovered that it’s a lot easier to land a plane when your co-pilot also wants it landed.
  • President Donald Trump reportedly has been wondering about using military force in Venezuela, even as he wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Turns out a foolish inconsistency also is the hobgoblin of little minds.
  • Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum says President Donald Trump’s agreement to reopen the government without wall funding was a “concession” but not a “cave.” Someone please give the man a thesaurus.
  • President Donald Trump says another shutdown is “certainly an option.” Which makes him a party of one at that table.
  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he is thinking of running for president as an independent because Democrats and Republicans are engaging in “revenge politics.” That’s nothing compared to what Democrats will engage in if his campaign takes enough votes from Democrats to let President Donald Trump win again.
  • The Blue Point Brewing company has a new lager called “What the L?” that it will sell in bars, bodegas and grocery stores along the L subway line which might soon face service disruptions due to repairs. Long Island commuters immediately felt aggrieved, never having had a “What the L----IRR?” with which to toast their woes.

Michael Dobie

Columns