Zeldin’s hauling it in
Of the five members of Congress who represent Long Island, Lee Zeldin took in the most in campaign cash this cycle, as per Federal Election Commission filings released Monday night.
The Shirley Republican’s receipts totaled $662,651.45 between April and July. Zeldin also led the way in contributions from political committees such as PACs, with a whopping $305,000 on that front.
Both big numbers are examples of the high-dollar interests that pay attention to Zeldin’s races in the 1st Congressional District. Among the crew are casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a conservative (like Zeldin) on Israel, who along with his wife maxed out their personal contributions. Then there is Kenneth Griffin, the hedge-funder who recently bought America’s most expensive home in NYC.
Zeldin took in thousands in committee donations from ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, defense contractor Raytheon, pro-Israel group NORPAC, plus banks and other businesses -- a contrast with Democratic hopeful Perry Gershon, who didn’t receive PAC donations this cycle while raising more than $400,000.
Zeldin’s spokeswoman, Katie Vincentz, called the congressman’s sum “a massive haul” and batted away questions about chunks of the money coming from large donors and PACs.
She wrote in an email: “The radical socialists will have an unlimited supply of dark money for their lies and nasty attacks targeting Congressman Zeldin next year, but once again that will be money poorly spent by the left on another well deserved loss.”
Asked to provide an example of “dark money,” Vincentz pointed to more than $400,000 spent against Zeldin in 2018 by union-affiliated super PAC United We Can.
Socialist dark dollars, apparently, as opposed to bright capitalist cash.
- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Left, right, 1-2-3
Long Island’s Democratic congressional contingent helped chart the path of moderation on Wednesday in voting to table Texas Rep. Al Green’s measure to impeach President Donald Trump.
They were in the 332-95 majority on that front as Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled her caucus away from the impeachment fight.
On the other side, unsurprisingly, was the “Squad” of new, young congresswomen and other progressives eager to challenge Trump. But also voting “nay” on the motion to table -- and therefore indicating at least a willingness to entertain the idea -- were New York Reps. Jerry Nadler, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, and Yvette Clarke.
All are much longer-serving than AOC and co. and have closer ties to Pelosi. However, they also are concerned about primary challenges, with hopefuls either making noises or declared. That includes progressive challengers like Bronx school principal Jamaal Bowman and former State Senate staffer Erica Vladimer.
Given their liberal constituencies, creeping toward impeachment probably helps more than it hurts and guards against a challenger saying they insufficiently went mano-a-mano with Trump. That might be the modern Democratic version of Republicans in safe red districts fearing a far right challenger.
Rep. Tom Suozzi, however, apparently didn’t fear a prospective Robert Zimmerman challenge enough to go with “nay.”
- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
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The politics of poetry
There is a battle brewing over the post of state poet laureate of New Hampshire, but the focus of the ruckus is a Long Island import, a retired dentist and dental professor who practiced in Shelter Island named Daniel Thomas Moran.
Moran is best known for serving as Suffolk County’s second poet laureate from 2005 to 2007, for launching a wild and vitriolic attempt to suborn his successor’s appointment to the post by facing off against the Suffolk County Legislature, and for having a segment of his poem about wanting to sleep with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, titled “White on Rice,” reprinted in The New York Times.
After that, he moved to Webster, New Hampshire, and in March Gov. Chris Sununu nominated him for the post. Moran recited one of his poems at Sununu’s second inauguration. The problem? Moran is not the nominee recommended by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, nor was he on the society’s short list. That group wanted Jennifer Militello, a 22-year New Hampshire resident with a national reputation. The founder of the New Hampshire Poetry Festival, Militello is highly respected by the New Hampshire poetry community.
Moran actually has plenty of acclaim, too, and has read his poems at the Library of Congress and published several volumes of verse. But he might be better known for being controversial.
In 2007, as his term was ending, Moran attacked the nomination process overseen by then-Suffolk County Legis. Wayne Horsley. Moran cried foul, saying the search committee had too few members and the process was a sham. David B. Axelrod, an English professor at Suffolk Community College, was the nominee and ended up with the post, but not before the process became so contentious that then-Presiding Officer William Lindsay threatened to abolish the position.
As for Moran’s New Hampshire aspirations, it’s not clear how things will shake out after a June 5 meeting between the Society and Sununu got nowhere.
But even if Moran gets the post, it will be a step down in laureating. Suffolk County has 1.48 million people. New Hampshire has just 1.36 million.
- Lane Filler @lanefiller