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Suffolk Dems, GOP break ties

Suffolk County Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer on Nov.

Suffolk County Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer on Nov. 8, 2018. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Daily Point

Breaking ties

Looks like Suffolk County Conservative Party voters blew up the latest deal in the odd-bedfellows alliance between Democrats and Conservatives in party primaries on Tuesday.

Democratic head Rich Schaffer engineered joint endorsements with Conservatives in three county legislative races — for Democratic incumbent William Lindsay III in the 8th District, Conservative challenger Rick Lanese in the 13th and Conservative challenger Tom Gargiulo in the 14th.

Republicans were annoyed because their candidates usually get the Conservative line, which often is instrumental in their victories, and because Lanese and Gargiulo were running against GOP incumbents Rob Trotta and Kevin McCaffrey, respectively.

So McCaffrey and Trotta, along with fellow GOPer Anthony Piccirillo, who nearly defeated Lindsay two years ago, went door-to-door in their districts to convince Conservative Party voters they were better choices philosophically and were not part of what McCaffrey told Newsday was “an unholy alliance.”

The trick: Voters would have to write them in because their names did not appear on the ballot.

And the three Republicans appear to have won. 

In unofficial results, the tally for write-ins was 140-92 against Lindsay, 115-77 against Lanese, and 165-87 against Gargiulo. In addition, registered Conservative Joan Manahan defeated Democrat Joseph McDermott, 69-38, for the Conservative nod in the 11th District. Both will run in the general election against GOP incumbent Steve Flotteron.

Nick LaLota, Republican commissioner at the Board of Elections, noted on Facebook Wednesday that former GOP county chair John Jay LaValle had criticized vehemently the spate of cross-endorsement deals engineered by Schaffer.

“Shout out to former Suffolk Chairman John Jay LaValle,” LaLota posted. “When many others would have chosen to play it safe, he was the first big voice to publicly expose the uni-party for their fraud upon the voters. Voters last night understood some of the complexities that go into these rotten deals in Suffolk — and they likely heard it first from JJL.”

The Board of Elections will begin the process of reading the write-ins and opening absentee and affidavit ballots on July 8. But in the meantime, LaValle, too, is happy with the results.

“I’m pleased to have helped lay the foundation to show how Suffolk’s uni-party denies voters a choice in November,” LaValle said in an email to The Point. “I’m very happy for the winners and proud of them for standing up against the dirty backroom deals.”

- Michael Dobie and Rita Ciolli @mwdobie and @RitaCiolli

Talking Point

It's not over yet

There’s been plenty of buzz Wednesday with the outcome of the Queens DA primary still up in the air although public defender Tiffany Cabán declared victory. 

Borough President Melinda Katz is expected to want every vote counted, a drawn-out process, political insiders say. She’s down 1,090 votes with 98.58 percent of scanners reporting. The uncounted include roughly 3,560 absentee ballots and about 2,800 affidavit ballots (though that’s boroughwide and could include votes for a different race), according to the city Board of Elections, plus more from the scanners (approximately 1,230 votes if proportional). That would be a possible total around 7,600, and more absentee ballots can come in this week. Ballot opening won’t even begin until July 3. 

There isn’t a lot of leeway for Katz to catch up, despite the number of outstanding ballots because some of those votes will be spread among seven candidates. The Queens County party operation behind Katz ran an absentee-collection campaign from establishment voters, but even in an optimistic scenario, Cabán’s lead would only be cut in half. 

Regardless, Cabán’s strong showing prompts second-guessing. Voting calendar changes in Albany shifted the old September state primary to June. This year, a lot of progressive energy coming out of Albany’s end of session landed at the worst time for Katz. The new calendar also closed Katz out from an avenue to the general if she loses the primary: the old deadline to file petitions for an independent candidacy was in August, by which point the momentum might have become apparent and Katz might have filed. But this year the deadline was May. 

There are some clear takeaways: Western Queens, full of amped-up young progressives, is where Cabán ran up the score and demonstrated a solid non-machine Democratic stronghold. Good luck to primary challengers to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez there. 

The race is already emboldening activists to look elsewhere: the No IDC NY group, which recruited dozens of canvassers for Cabán, is considering primarying NYC Assembly Democrats. Congressional challengers to Reps. Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney, among others, also may get a boost.

Then there is the possibility for excitement in New York’s April presidential primary. Even if Joe Biden performs like Hillary Clinton in 2016, the concentrated pockets of progressivism could decrease his count of delegates, some of which are distributed proportionally in each district. 

There’s plenty of potential for internecine squabbling. The city chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America already began working for Sen. Bernie Sanders this spring. And we haven’t even watched a debate. 

- Mark Chiusano and Rita Ciolli @mjchiusano and @RitaCiolli

Pencil Point

Something funny

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Final Point

All aboard the complaint train

It’s easy to beat up the Long Island Rail Road. But it’s not particularly original.

On June 26, 1942, Newsday’s editorial board piled on a Public Service Commission report that criticized the then-privately owned railroad for “the dirty condition of its passenger cars and a consistently poor on-time record for some of its trains.”

The PSC report cited two investigations that year that found that 1 percent of LIRR cars were clean in January, and that by May, 56 percent of its cars were still “dirty.”

Outrage was prompted by the LIRR’s request for a 10 percent rate hike, which the board dubbed “strange” in light of the fact that the railroad was taking in more money in fares thanks to more passengers who weren’t driving their cars because of World War II shortages of rubber and gasoline.

“On one hand, the PSC says in plain language that the commuter’s [sic] aren’t getting even now what they are entitled to — i.e. clean cars and good service. We’ll go further and say they should have luggage racks and more trains to relieve overcrowding,” the board wrote. “On the other hand, right in the face of this report, the LIRR — with steadily increasing revenue — wants still more.

“It looks like another attempt to get more pay for service that still isn’t up to standard.

“In other words, the Long Island Rail Road wants too much for too little.”

Today’s commuter might offer a slight rewording:

Riders get too little for too much.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Debate Point

Tune in tonight

We’re judging the first night of the Democratic presidential debate. Each editorial board member will be grading the candidates throughout the night on their ideas, the strength of their arguments, and their appeal. At the end of the debate, a winner will be tallied based on each board member’s scores. And of course, you can join the conversation by letting us know what you thought of each of the candidates as well. 

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