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CD1 heats up ahead of 2020 election

Candidate for U.S. Congressman, Perry Gershon, right, speaks

Candidate for U.S. Congressman, Perry Gershon, right, speaks with voters while waiting in line to vote at the East Hampton Fire Department in East Hampton on Nov. 6, 2018. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Daily Point

Gershon v. Goroff in CD1?

Perry Gershon kicked off the Democratic primary for New York’s 1st Congressional District with his campaign announcement on Saturday. He tells The Point that he has assembled a consultant team for a second chance at Rep. Lee Zeldin, including BerlinRosen for mail, GBAO for polling and progressive favorite WIN for media.

This show of force may put pressure on other candidates currently considering a run.

One is Stony Brook chemistry professor Nancy Goroff, who expects to announce her decision in July after she wraps up some of her academic professional obligations.

Goroff is being courted by 314 Action, a relatively new group that recruits and trains scientists to run for office (314 as in pi). Goroff is one of the candidates the group is looking at potentially endorsing and investing in if she does announce, according to a spokesman.

Emily’s List, the influential group that helps women get elected, also has been in touch with Goroff about a congressional run, according to an Emily’s List spokeswoman.

Goroff calls conversations with these groups “very encouraging” and notes that she has also spoken to people from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has shown interest in Long Island by including it last month in the list of areas where its “March Forward” early field operation will be present.

Gershon says he has been in “frequent contact” with the DCCC as well.

His announcement means he can be raising money and using his own as he did in the last primary, another way that challengers will have to catch up.

Groups like 314 Action could help on that front for Goroff, and some political insiders have wondered whether she would be able to use at least some of her own money for a run as well. She has given thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes on Long Island and beyond over the years, as per FEC filings, and was cited in this J Street roundup for her investment commitment. Her recently ex-husband Glen Whitney formerly worked at lucrative quantitative hedge fund Renaissance Technologies (he reportedly left in 2008) and went on to help found the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City, which opened in 2012.

Mark Chiusano

Talking Point

Legalizing pot is a slow burn

Coming into 2019 the race was on to legalize recreational marijuana in New York and several states that border it, and it looked like the pace was getting very heady, very fast. But a funny thing happened on the way to the pot shop in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania: the legalization progress slowed to a crawl. And that gave New York’s politicians leeway to move more slowly, too.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has been a strong proponent of full legalization and pushed hard for a bill that paired recreational sales with expungement of records for many past pot convictions, but on March 25 he and legislative leaders pulled the bill when it became clear it did not have enough votes to pass.

In Connecticut, legalization legislation is winding slowly through a series of committee votes. Gov. Ned Lamont’s support of legalization once he succeeded pot-skeptic Dannel Malloy was expected to be the key to easy passage, and Lamont predicts the law will change this year but on the last day of session, June 5. However, a growing number of legislators are voicing concerns about impaired driving and other impacts and it is not clear the change will happen anytime soon.

And in Pennsylvania, a legalization bill introduced with much fanfare in mid-March has faltered and the lieutenant governor has been dispatched on a statewide “listening tour” to hear voters out before any action is taken.

Recreational marijuana use in New York was expected to be legalized as part of the state budget passed last week. Here, too, concerns are cropping up and opponents are finding their footing. Nassau and Suffolk leaders, for example, said they would opt out of approving local sales.

In Massachusetts, where recreational sales are now allowed, store openings began very slowly toward the end of last year but have now speeded up. The state’s 13th store open to all adult customers just kicked off sales in Brookline.

But Massachusetts has something going for it that all 10 states with full commercial legalization share: they all passed their laws following voter referendums in support.

New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut are four of the 24 states that do not allow for binding voter referendums, so don’t look to voters to get the pot legalization rolling forward.

Lane Filler

Pencil Point

Not quite accurate

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Quick Points

Missing the mark

  • President Donald Trump’s decision to seek Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation and to drop veteran border official Ron Vitiello from consideration to head U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were done because Trump wants to get tougher on the border. You mean separating children from their families and still needing up to two more years to identify them wasn’t tough enough?
  • So Joe Biden didn’t want to declare his candidacy for president early to avoid having a target on his back. How’s that working out?
  • FEMA is preparing to change the federal government’s national flood insurance program to weight premiums based on proximity to the coast and the cost to rebuild homes. And the problem with that is, what exactly?
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg explained his qualifications to be president by saying he hasn’t been “marinating” for years in Washington. Best explanation yet for Mitch McConnell.
  • President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, dismissing House Democrats’ demands for Trump’s tax returns as using the IRS for political purposes, asked: “What stops another party from doing the same thing?” Answer: Other presidents release their tax returns.
  • Rumor has it that President Donald Trump recently threatened to issue a threat he would follow through on.
  • A would-be rhino poacher in South Africa was attacked and killed by an elephant and then devoured by lions. There are all kinds of justice.

Michael Dobie