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Narrowing the field

Rick Lazio poses at Chelsea Market in the

Rick Lazio poses at Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking district of Manhattan on Sept. 28, 2010. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Daily Point

Open Congressional Seat: Day 65

Check one off the list: former Long Island House member Rick Lazio says he’s out of the running to replace Pete King in New York’s 2nd Congressional District. 

Lazio told The Point that he had been “thinking through a number of different personal and political considerations which include a family health issue” and “the political dynamic.”

“I decided that my first responsibility was to my family, and that it was a time for a different candidate,” he said.

Lazio pulled off comfortable wins in his Suffolk district during his congressional career before he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and dropped out of the 2010 gubernatorial race. He has not been a major force in local politics since. And the district’s support for President Donald Trump may not be a perfect fit for Lazio, given his lack of support for Trump in 2016. A November poll from the conservative Club for Growth PAC importuning the president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump to run in CD2 tested the newcomer against Lazio, finding that the Trump family member would finish far ahead. 

Now both of those brand-name candidates are out, and party leaders are looking at other options, including Assembs. Mike LiPetri and Andrew Garbarino, Suffolk GOP Board of Elections Commissioner Nicholas LaLota, and veteran Thomas Kehoe. A Republican screening last week took place at the Islip Republican headquarters, the domain of Islip leader William Garbarino, father of the assemblyman.

Subjects mentioned included the question of military background given Democratic hopeful Jackie Gordon’s Army Reserve service, the ability to fundraise, and whether candidates would pledge not to primary the candidate chosen by party leaders. 

An endorsement decision isn’t expected for a couple weeks and the Conservative Party is set to have a say, too, but there may be a cross-county tug of war coming. CD2 spans parts of both Nassau and Suffolk. (Lazio, who covered similar areas before the districts were shuffled, only had parts of Suffolk.)

King’s base was in the Nassau part of the district. There was a “gentleman’s agreement” between former Nassau and Suffolk GOP leaders Joe Mondello and John Jay LaValle that after King left Congress the seat’s powerbase would shift east: either there’d be a Suffolk candidate or the nominee would be Suffolk’s call, according to LaValle.

Both he and Mondello, though, are on to new gigs, and which party leader and candidate win out is still unclear. 

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Backing Bloomberg

Must be something in the water. 

Staten Island Rep. Max Rose this week became the first member of Congress to endorse former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for president. 

That follows fellow New Yorker Rep. Kathleen Rice becoming the first House denizen to support Beto O’Rourke last spring. And Chris Collins, also an Empire State resident, was the first member of Congress to support Donald Trump in 2016. 

It didn’t end great for the New Yorker delegation members: Rice’s choice is now out of the 2020 race (she’s on to Pete Buttigieg), and Collins is now awaiting some serious prison time after pleading guilty to insider trading charges. 

Rose’s pick is a little bit of an eye opener given that Bloomberg donated to Rose’s 2018 opponent.

But his support is not all that surprising. Bloomberg handily carried Staten Island, which forms the majority of Rose’s district, during his mayoral runs. In his endorsement statement, Rose praised Bloomberg’s work after 9/11, which may resonate with his veteran background and the district’s first-responder residents. 

There was little chance that Rose would pick any of the left-leaning candidates given his district and center-left vibe. He even ran campaign ads in 2018 differentiating himself from self-described progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio. Going with a guy who used to be a Republican bolsters Rose’s image of himself as a bipartisan straight-shooter — not unlike another early New York Bloomberg endorser, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. 

And even if Rose has to jump over to another moderate like Joe Biden before the 2020 election, he’ll have won some goodwill from Team Bloomberg — whose members and alumni are and will for decades be operators and donors across the city that Rose calls home. 

This time, it could pay to be No.1.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Goodbye Booker

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

Final Point

Who said it? Day 5

2020 Democratic contender books series Part 5: Which candidate had which view of capitalism?

As a reminder, see here for previous answers and questions. 

You might even see some of the candidates pilfer their old quotes on the debate stage Tuesday night. The editorial board will be watching along and evaluating each candidate’s performance — see the postgame results at www.newsday.com/opinion

The quotes:

  1. “As a true capitalist, I’ve always believed in the markets’ (rather than the central planners’) ability to make efficient selections.”
  2. This candidate remembers telling audiences about his father having to make a terrible announcement. “[T]he longest walk a parent ever had to make was up a short flight of stairs to tell their son or daughter they were going to have to move because they couldn't find work or the bank was taking the house.”
  3. The candidate gets angry upon hearing the story of a 58-year-old longtime Disneyland worker who says she goes hungry most days on one meal a day and would be fired if she ate the “gourmet” leftovers that customers trash. “[S]omeone who has worked for an enormously successful and profitable corporation for thirty years should not be going hungry,” the candidate says.
  4. “I love capitalism — anyone who has a smartphone in their pocket has to appreciate the power of markets to drive value and innovation.That said, capitalism, with the assistance of technology, is about to turn on normal people.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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