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Zimmerman puts out feelers on Suozzi's turf

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Daily Point

May we ask a few questions?

A poll has been making the rounds in the field in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, according to sources. 

The poll asked opinions about Rep. Tom Suozzi and public relations consultant Robert Zimmerman, according to a Democratic activist. It included questions about potential negatives for Zimmerman, like his cable news punditry and lucrative PR contracts.

Suozzi won nearly 60 percent of the general election vote in 2018, and didn’t face a primary challenger. However, his membership in the moderate Problem Solvers Caucus has gotten him on some lists of relatively middle-of-the-road representatives who could face a challenge from the left. Just last week, the Problem Solvers drew progressive ire for helping to push along a compromise border-aid package without some of the restrictions wanted by new progressive members. The Point asked Zimmerman whether he was testing the waters with this poll. 

“Didn’t Claude Rains say in Casablanca ‘I am shocked that there is polling happening in a political season,’” he wrote in an email. “Suozzi has been so supportive of Trump and the right wing that the only group not polling in the 3rd C.D. is the Republican Party.”

The Federal Election Commission’s website doesn’t show a statement of candidacy for Zimmerman more recent than 1982.

The longtime Long Island politico and Democratic National Committee member might be a strange fit for left-leaning activists looking to push or dethrone Suozzi (Zimmerman also once supported Republican State Sen. Jack Martins’ campaign). The primary challengers who capture headlines these days tend not to hail from the  bipartisan establishment. But Long Island isn’t Long Island City, and many people seem to be on their toes or eyeing moves in this political climate.

- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

A long and winding road

Anyone who expected the vaccination debate would end with the State Legislature repealing the religious exemption for those who oppose inoculation should think again.

First, vaccination opponents are planning legal action. Children’s Health Defense, a group led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., says it is working with “a team of lawyers” to file lawsuits challenging the religious-exemption ban. The goal: to stop the law from going into effect on July 14.

Those who oppose the exemption repeal also are continuing to mobilize. They’re targeting Long Island state senators on social media, and showing up to unrelated community events.

Last week, more than a dozen advocates gathered at a town hall held by state Sen. James Gaughran and turned a meeting meant to be about taxes and economic development into one about vaccination.

Some speakers still emphasized that they saw the exemption ban as an attack on their religious freedom. But others took a different tack, arguing that the ban hurt disabled children and those with special needs, as they require certain services that they are entitled to by law, and, those advocates say, only can get in the school building. By getting rid of the religious exemption, advocates argued, lawmakers are denying those children their legal right to a free and appropriate education. There are, one advocate said at Gaughran’s meeting, “thousands of kids in need of services who can’t go back to school.”

When one resident, seeking to discuss other subjects, like the “green light” bill that will provide driver’s licenses to those in the country illegally, started out by saying that vaccination did not cause autism and noted that she is on the autism spectrum, she got shouted down.

“Oh shut up. Sit down. You have no idea what you’re talking about,” one person yelled.

Last month, school districts began to send out letters telling parents that their children must be vaccinated if they previously held a religious exemption. The first vaccine had to be administered by June 28, with follow-up appointments scheduled for later dates. A medical exemption on vaccination remains in place.

While some residents are starting to consider homeschooling as an alternative, advocates are clear that that’s not enough: They want the religious exemption back in place.

“We’re not going away, Jim,” one said at Gaughran’s town hall. “Help us, or we will never leave you alone.”

- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Not those aliens!

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/opinion

Final Point

Controlling the conversation

After debates with huge ratings and continuing story lines, it may seem that Democrats command the nation’s attention at this point in the 2020 cycle. 

But on Facebook, it’s a different story. 

President Donald Trump is blowing Democrats out of the water in Facebook ad spending, garnering what appear to be millions of impressions. With Trump’s 2016 digital strategist, Brad Parscale, now at the helm as re-election campaign manager, the big Facebook spending is having a pronounced influence on what prospective voters see. 

Trump’s page spent $14,723,569 on ads from May 2018 to this past Saturday, according to Facebook’s ad archive. For contrast, top Democrats each have spent between $1 million and $2 million in the same period. And Trump’s expenditures over that period are greater than those of Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O’Rourke and Amy Klobuchar combined. 

In the seven days ending June 29, Trump’s page spent $338,718 alone.  

Trump’s spending buys a ton of fundraising appeals to help the president add to his already hefty campaign coffers. And he can guide the conversation about Democrats, who his ads relentlessly say “have embraced full-blown SOCIALISM.”

The ads also focus on “FAKE NEWS” and claim that Trump’s policies have “created a BOOMING economy and rampant job creation.” 

Then there are surveys with questions like, “Which group should our government put first?” The choices are “American Citizens” or “Illegal Aliens.”

There are leading questions like, “Do you believe that the colossal surge of illegal aliens is overwhelming our immigration system to the point that our country is FULL?”

At the end, the viewer is asked to enter personal contact information -- meaning that person could be in for more Trump contact -- not  just on social media. 

- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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