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Daily Point

NY at the center of everything

It’s a New York State of Mind on the national sphere these days. 

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is just the latest New Yorker to try to replace New Yorker Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Bloomberg joins Brooklyn native Sen. Bernie Sanders in a race that New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Mayor Bill de Blasio have already abandoned. 

Only David Dinkins, a 92-year-old man who led New York when there were more than 2,000 homicides a year and someone could afford to live in SoHo, is the most recent occupant of Gracie Mansion who hasn’t pursued the White House. And every now and then there is a speculative story about whether the occupant of the governor’s mansion will jump in the race, too, and how actively Andrew M. Cuomo will support his announced favorite, former Vice President Joe Biden.

There are other candidates with more tenuous but still existing threads to New York or the presidency. Businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang were both born in New York, and Chappaquan Hillary Clinton is still never saying “never” to another run. California Sen. Kamala Harris used to visit her uncle Freddy in New York — "Harlem was always a magical place for me,” she writes in her book. And among the minor hopefuls who have filed with the Federal Election Commission are New York Green Party gubernatorial regular Howie Hawkins and erstwhile mayoral candidate Rocky De La Fuente.

Then there’s impeachment. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan was recently elevated to chair the House Oversight and Reform Committee that is part of the impeachment investigation. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani is central to the Ukraine saga at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, along with two associates. Shirley Rep. Lee Zeldin is one of the president’s chief defenders during the process, and Manhattan Rep. Jerry Nadler heads the Judiciary Committee, which is the next stop when the Intelligence Committee wraps up its work. 

If the House votes to impeach Trump, the matter goes to the Senate, and Brooklyn’s Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, will play the role of impeachment foil now occupied in the House by Republican Devin Nunes. 

And who will preside over the proceedings? Chief Justice John Roberts — born in Buffalo, New York. 

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Onward and … sideways?

In its final scheduled meeting Monday, the controversial New York Public Campaign Finance Commission took a series of public votes that would shift how elections work in the state, perhaps dramatically.

If they go into effect.

In theory, the meeting held in Westchester County supplied the decisions the commission must use to create a report by Sunday’s deadline. The votes taken Monday should be binding unless political pressure between now and then builds so much that changes are demanded, which commission member Jay Jacobs told The Point Monday would not happen.

The recommendations would become law unless the State Legislature comes together in a special session to modify or reject the changes within 20 days and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also would have to throw out the findings to kill the plan. 

Starting over is at least a possibility as attacks on the commission’s current stands were flying within minutes after the meeting ended, from points all along the political spectrum.

Stirring the most vitriol is a hike in the number of votes a party needs to qualify for automatic ballot access from 50,000 in a gubernatorial election every four years to 130,000 or 2% of votes cast, whichever is larger, in gubernatorial and presidential elections every two years.

This would have meant, in the 2016 election, a threshold of 154,429 votes, 2% of the 7,721,453 cast, which would have barred the Working Families, Women’s Equality, Libertarian, Green and Independence parties from automatic access.

Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive and 2018 GOP gubernatorial candidate, tweeted, “The Campaign Finance Commission is a cowardly abdication of legislative responsibility and that the Chair of a major party is given such control to act in an orchestrated vindictive manner is obscene. Minor parties don’t hurt democracy, they amplify it. So, predictable.” Molinaro was referring to Jacobs, who got special status to sit on the commission. 

And Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo’s 2018 Democratic opponent, tweeted, “The 9 appointees on the jury-rigged Public Campaign Finance Commission, tapped by the gov and leg leaders, are doing their job as expected, crafting a scheme full of incumbent-friendly booby traps, loopholes, poison pills and trap doors.”

But many progressives angered by the new ballot thresholds do very much want the public financing plan the commission supports — candidates would receive $2,300 in state-money matches for $250 donations. They would have to choose whether to fight against this plan or battle for it.

Further complicating calculations is timing: while the parties would have to meet ballot-access thresholds starting in 2020, the 2024 races would be the first ones in which public financing would come into play. 

Of course, the legislature and governor will be able to modify or repeal these laws after this year. But they’ve always had the right to change the state’s election laws, with no commission needed. 

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

A new holiday classic

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

Quick Points

  • After Liberty Utilities bought New York American Water, criticized vehemently by customers for having the highest water rates on Long Island, Liberty executives assured that rates “are not expected to be affected” by the purchase. Um, Liberty, that’s not what customers wanted to hear.
  • Vice President Mike Pence flew to the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan over the weekend to reassure Kurdish allies abandoned by President Donald Trump’s pullout of U.S. forces from Syria in September. Then Pence left, too.
  • After weeks of Republican complaints that the House impeachment inquiry process was biased and unfair to President Donald Trump, a group of Senate Republicans met last week with the White House to talk about strategy in a likely Senate impeachment trial — the equivalent of the jury meeting with the defense team. 
  • In a letter to President Donald Trump acknowledging his termination as Navy secretary, Richard Spencer, who balked at Trump restoring Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher’s rank after his demotion by the military justice system for posing with the corpse of an Islamic State prisoner, echoed former Defense Secretary James Mattis by saying that Trump deserves someone whose views are better aligned with his own. But the nation deserves someone whose views are better aligned with Mattis and Spencer.
  • President Donald Trump reportedly is using Camp David as an “adult playground” with s’mores, hiking and shooting clay pigeons to woo Republican lawmakers ahead of impeachment votes. Which is kinda perfect, since the first phase of the inquiry left the GOP with a hot mess after they often got lost in the woods of testimony and missed most of their targets.
  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized over the weekend with chills and fever — the same maladies that immediately swept through her supporters nationwide.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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