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Challenges and opportunities

Suffolk County legislator Robert Trotta at the Suffolk

Suffolk County legislator Robert Trotta at the Suffolk County Legislature building in Hauppauge on Feb. 4, 2019. Credit: James Carbone

Daily Point

Trotta to enter the ring

Suffolk County Legis. Rob Trotta will make it official Tuesday: He’s entering the race for county executive.

“We need to end the culture of corruption and pay to play,” Trotta told The Point, his oft-stated contention about two-term Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone.

Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) has been a persistent critic of Bellone on topics like the police contract (too generous) and campaign contributions (too big and too many from people with county business). He admits that it’s going to be tough to compete with Bellone’s war chest of more than $2 million. Trotta has $38,272 in his account, according to state records.

One of Trotta’s biggest concerns is taxes.

“I looked at my wedding picture the other day, everyone in my wedding party is gone from Long Island,” said Trotta, who was married 25 years ago. “I represent some pretty wealthy areas. Head of the Harbor and Nissequogue. Every house is for sale ... You can’t afford the taxes.”

Trotta’s legislative seat also is up in November and he would have to give it up to make a run — but if he loses in a GOP primary in June, he said, “there’s always a way” to get back on his legislative ballot line.

Asked what he would do if anyone else enters the race — such as likely GOP candidate John Kennedy, the county comptroller — Trotta coyly responded, “Tomorrow, you’ll hear that answer.”

Michael Dobie

Talking Point

Throwing down the gauntlet

In the insurgent era of one Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the appetite for primaries seems to be growing among some Democratic activists on Long Island. Fired up by big Democratic wins in the New York State Senate and that big blue wave in the House, they are looking to cull  relatively moderate Democrats in the suburbs.

“We are interested in primary challenges to corporate Democrats and Democrats who vote with the Republican Party,” says Nikhil Goyal of the Young Progressives of Nassau County.

“In 2018, we came for the Republicans; in 2020, we come for Democrats,” says Jaime Jordan, co-founder of Indivisible of Rockville Centre. “Not all of them,” she adds.

On the groups’ list potentially are Reps. Kathleen Rice and Tom Suozzi. The Young Progressives have urged Nassau County Legis. Siela Bynoe to make a primary run against Rice.

Suozzi is also a target because of his involvement with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group Goyal likens to the Independent Democratic Conference, the now-defeated group of renegade Democrats in the State Senate who aided the Republican majority.

The activist groups started making more noise about Suozzi and Rice during the fight about Nancy Pelosi’s speakership. Suozzi came out of that negotiation having walked a tightrope between challenging Pelosi and falling in line, whereas Rice was all-in against the California Democrat. That angered progressives who say they disliked the rebellion against Pelosi, particularly when a more progressive replacement wasn’t in the offing.

So Rice is facing dissatisfaction from both Pelosi and some of the activists, who also complain that she isn’t vocally supportive on progressive priorities like Medicare for All.   

Now these groups have a new battleground, as they push for a town hall with Rice, which they say is overdue. A spokesman said Rice has hosted more than a dozen issue-specific events in the last 12 months, but didn’t point to a town hall in that time.

Rice has scheduled the first town hall of this term for the last week of February, the spokesman says. Expect that to be an interesting event.

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

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Quick Points

In their own words

  • Great to see Gladys Knight knock out the national anthem at the Super Bowl. But in a venue known for on-field moves, the Pips were missed. Still, after all these years.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he can tell he’s not in that racist medical school yearbook photo “by looking at it.”  He had to look at it to determine it wasn’t him in blackface or wearing Ku Klux Klan robes?
  • President Donald Trump in an interview Sunday declined to say whether he wants special counsel Robert Mueller’s report released. Did you need to hear a definitive answer to glean what it is?
  • Pope Francis is visiting Abu Dhabi, becoming the first pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam. He’s also making his first visit in a while to a place that won’t be asking him about his handling of the church’s sex-abuse scandal.
  • White House sources say President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address will tell Congress that “together we can break decades of political stalemate.” This from someone who just provoked the shutdown of the federal government and has called bipartisan negotiations to avoid another shutdown “a waste of time.”
  • PSEG Long Island is ramping up its installation of smart meters that can report service outages without customers having to call them in. A really smart meter would be able to tell you not to plug the vacuum into an outlet on the same circuit as the hair dryer before you trip the breaker.

Michael Dobie


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