Steve Bellone, a strong advocate against fusion voting, will not accept the nomination of any existing minor party in his bid this fall for a third term as Suffolk County executive, The Point has learned. Bellone became a crusader for one-party/one-candidate to thwart his own Democratic Party chair, Rich Schaffer, who has made many cross-endorsement deals with the Conservative Party in local races.
If a newly created state elections commission bans what is called fusion voting, the earliest it would take place is 2021 and the latest would be 2023. So Bellone could have accepted a third-party nod, assuming he was offered any, but the optics would have opened him to criticism.
In 2015, Bellone ran with the customary Democratic side dishes: Working Families, Independence and Women’s Equality. All three lines combined brought him an extra 12,547 votes. He won the race by 26,932 votes against James O’Connor, a relative unknown.
But this year’s race is tougher for Bellone. His Republican opponent is John Kennedy, the Suffolk comptroller and an experienced campaigner with a considerable political base. Why toss away some votes in what could be a tight race?
Bellone is considering putting out petitions to create a “Protect The Taxpayer” minor party to give him another line on November’s ballot. The name was first used last year by Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman in his unsuccessful race against Kennedy for comptroller. The thinking is that “Protect the Taxpayer” would be a catch-all for independents and other voters who can’t bear to mark the box for a Democrat. After all, four years ago Bellone got 6,150 votes on the line of the Independence Party, which is a sham. Its name fools most voters into thinking it’s a neutral zone.
Ironically, Bellone would still run on two lines, but pragmatism does tend to trump principle in politics.
Capital plans for Farmingdale
New York State’s budget didn’t include one important Long Island item -- but supporters aren’t giving up.
Officials at Farmingdale State College had hoped the budget would include $53 million for the school’s 40,000-square-foot new academic building, which is necessary so the school can continue to grow. But funding for the building, along with other SUNY capital needs, didn’t make it into the budget.
But State Sen. John Brooks, an alumnus and enormous champion of the school, already is planning his next steps. He told The Point that the legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will have to approve a capital budget for the state university system during the legislative session. So, Brooks plans to push for state funding for the Farmingdale building to be included in that budget, calling it “one of my top priorities.”
Brooks said he’ll start with a conversation with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins next week. And he’ll need to get Cuomo on board. But so far, Brooks said, he hasn’t gotten any pushback from anyone on the request.
But Brooks is also a realist.
“The availability of money is not as great as we would like it to be,” Brooks said. “But we’re going to do everything we can.”
If Brooks touts the new building as an economic win for Long Island and the state, it may be tough for anyone to disagree.
Randi F. Marshall
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Vaping on the rise in NY
The number of young people smoking e-cigarettes across New York increased by a whopping 160 percent between 2014 and 2018, according to the state health department. Want to know how the number of young Long Islanders smoking e-cigs compares with statewide averages? Click here.
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