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Taking back the House

Chele Farley on October 17, 2018 in Cedarhurst.

Chele Farley on October 17, 2018 in Cedarhurst. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Daily Point

NY GOP effort to take back the House

The National Republican Congressional Committee has said since February that it’s targeting the 18th District seat of Sean Patrick Maloney, along with three other Democratic House seats in New York districts President Donald Trump carried in 2016.

Now Republican Chele Farley, who ran a losing and quixotic race against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand last year, has set her sights on the 18th District seat, too.

Farley announced her run Tuesday, but she’s been working on this plan for a little while. In February, she had announced a change in residency to upstate Tuxedo from Manhattan, where she had served as the NY GOP county finance chair.

Maloney won his third term in 2018 by 10 points after losing a primary bid for the New York attorney general spot a few months earlier. But his congressional races in 2012, when he defeated Republican incumbent Nan Hayworth by four points, and in 2014, when he again beat Hayworth by two points, suggest the district could be competitive.

So what does Farley’s entrance in the race mean? That probably depends on whether any other Republicans jump in to try to wrest the nomination from the Stanford-educated engineer and investment banker. But  Republican insiders say a primary battle for this seat is highly unlikely, and Farley, who is close to state chairman Ed Cox, has the party’s blessing to seek the spot.

It’s likely no Republican could have come close to beating Gillibrand in 2018, but Farley’s 34-point walloping and the fact that she seems to have moved north largely for this campaign, make her candidacy look very challenging at the outset. But she doesn’t have much to lose.

The NYGOP, if it shows it cannot mount competitive attempts to take over districts where voters are clearly willing to opt Republican for president, has everything to lose.

The always well-financed Maloney, who has deep connections to top Democratic donors nationally, has not officially announced he will run in 2020. He responded to Farley’s announcement with a statement that said he is going to focus on solving problems this year because “There will be plenty of time to worry about politics next year.”

Lane Filler

Talking Point

Staying in the House

Lee Zeldin, one of two Jewish Republicans in the House of Representatives, is making national waves again this week by tweeting about anti-Semitism.

It started Monday, when Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee who now represents Minnesota, described White House adviser Stephen Miller as a “white nationalist,” noting an article about Miller’s hardline immigration views. (The article attributes this quote to Miller, as reported in White House tell-all “Team of Vipers”: “I would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched America’s soil.”)

Zeldin saw Omar's description as targeting Jewish people, because Miller is Jewish. His response was retweeted more than 7,000 times and resulted in news articles and the usual Twitter furor.

On Tuesday, the Shirley Republican resurfaced a tweet from Rep. Rashida Tlaib and used it to defend Morton Klein, the controversial head of the Zionist Organization of America, and talk about Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

It’s unclear how much Zeldin’s focus on Israel and guarding against perceived Democratic anti-Semitism resonates in his Suffolk County district, where Jews and Muslims make up a small minority of the population, according to an analysis by the liberal website Daily Kos, which shows that some 60 percent of the district is Catholic.

But Zeldin has long been a strong voice supporting Israel. This has helped endear him to like-minded voices like mega-donor and Israel-defender Sheldon Adelson. And his choice of Twitter foes -- Omar and Tlaib, two outspoken Muslim Democrats elected to the House last year -- matches up with President Donald Trump’s.

By Tuesday, Trump was following Zeldin’s lead on the issue, tweeting a Fox News guest’s quote claiming that Omar was “assaulting Jews.”

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

Too roomy

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Final Point

Tish James taking questions

Attorney General Tish James is touring the state to get a firsthand look at how the opioid epidemic is playing out in local communities. On Wednesday, she visits one of the Island’s largest providers of services to deal with addiction, Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services, and takes a look at its new mobile recovery unit.  

James recently sued major opioid manufacturers as well as four national distributors of the drug that she claims continued to ship opioids in large quantities to pharmacies that were really drug mills. James wants the defendants to repay the money New York has spent responding to the crisis and to fund more treatment services.

She also will stop by the Newsday editorial board in the afternoon. If you have a question for her, please send it to thepoint@newsday.com

Rita Ciolli

Data Point

Many shades of gray on Long Island

Long Island’s birth rates are down 20 percent between 2000 and 2016, while the number of people age 55 and older continues to grow. Find out more here.

nextLI is a platform for participating in civic life on Long Island. It features data analysis and independent research. It is a project of the Newsday Opinion department funded by a charitable grant from The Rauch Foundation.

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