Bloomberg staffs up
With moderates dropping like flies, Mike Bloomberg is forging ahead in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. Super Tuesday is a make-or-break day, and the former NYC mayor is blanketing states that go to the polls Tuesday with hundreds of well-paid campaign staffers and carefully honed ads about drug prices and President Donald Trump’s record on the national debt.
And in what may be a signal that he’s planning for the long haul, he’s expanding quickly in his home state of New York, where the primary doesn’t come until April 28. Two offices are opening this week for a total of 15 across the state, according to campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Blatus, plus more than 100 staff are coming onboard statewide.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, the first county executive in the state to endorse Bloomberg, will participate in the official opening of one of those campaign offices in Hauppauge on Wednesday. Actress Lorraine Bracco of “Goodfellas” and “The Sopranos” fame will be there as well as Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre, who told The Point she is endorsing Bloomberg.
The Wheatley Heights Democrat cites the billionaire's gun violence and economic development work, and says she supports him despite the policing tactic of stop-and-frisk. “He made a big mistake,” said Jean-Pierre, who is black and lived in Brooklyn during Bloomberg’s mayoralty.
Offices like the one Jean-Pierre is helping to open can be stakes in the ground before other candidates arrive. A myNBC5.com report notes that Bloomberg has rented space in upstate Plattsburgh, “the first campaign office to take root in Plattsburgh during the current election cycle.”
Bloomberg’s strategy of paid staff and storefronts in New York is in contrast to opponent Bernie Sanders, who also is running a well-funded campaign but doesn’t have full-time paid staff in New York, according to the Vermont senator’s team.
Sanders is relying on volunteers in New York, with 2,600 volunteer-led events in the Empire State this cycle. Those have included canvassing and phone-banking, according to the campaign. Investment in offices and staff here are expected to come later.
Meanwhile, all political eyes are waiting to see how Bloomberg fares with the big delegate haul from Tuesday’s 14 states. That includes Trump, who tweeted on Monday, “The only people in favor of Mini Mike continuing with his hapless campaign are me and his political consultants, who are getting richer and richer by the day!”
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
On the road to repairs
A bill sponsored by State Sen. Anna Kaplan would require the state Department of Transportation to prepare an annual report evaluating the conditions of the state’s roads and bridges, and submit it to the State Legislature.
A Newsday editorial last month asked for such legislation, because the DOT hasn’t issued such a report since 2016, despite a memo from the department’s last capital plan that required it.
Tim Kennedy, chair of the State Senate Transportation Committee, is co-sponsoring the legislation, which was introduced Friday. The bill doesn’t yet have an Assembly version.
Kaplan’s measure would require that the report contain a “detailed analysis of the condition of highway pavement and bridges throughout the state,” and list the projects the state DOT worked on in the last year, and a status update on each.
No doubt some of Long Island’s long-standing road issues, like the Northern State Parkway and the Oakdale Merge, might pop up on such a list. Newsday readers have contributed a to-do list, which can be seen here.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
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- A peace deal is signed, ending a long and unwinnable war on behalf of a weak and corrupt ally against a seemingly outgunned foe and calling for the return of American troops from a faraway land. That was Vietnam in 1973, and within two years North Vietnam, the foe, had overrun South Vietnam, the ally. What awaits Afghanistan?
- Billionaire Tom Steyer spent almost $200 million of his own money on his presidential run, vastly outspent everyone in South Carolina, underperformed his polling numbers, and is now out of the race. A harbinger for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg?
- While former Vice President Joe Biden is crowing that he’s back in the race, Sen. Bernie Sanders had 46 million reasons not to be worried. That’s the colossal amount of money he raised in February alone.
- With former Vice President Joe Biden polling around 35% of the black vote before the South Carolina primary and at 61% in exit polling, can we all finally agree that perhaps we should just stop paying so much attention to polls?
- State education officials and parent-advocates worried about what they say is New York State’s too-low high school graduation rate are proposing changes like reductions in required Regents exams and more reliance on classroom projects. If the goal simply is to goose the numbers, perhaps they should take a page from youth sports and make the diploma a participation trophy for showing up.
- At least five dead in Washington state from the coronavirus; new cases in Texas, Florida, New York, New Hampshire, Illinois and Rhode Island; two health care workers in California stricken with the virus after exposure to an infected patient and 124 health care workers in another hospital in self-quarantine after being exposed to the same patient — is this what a hoax looks like?
- Danish designer Jens Nygaard Knudsen — who invented the Lego minifigure, of which there are now about as many, 7.8 billion, as there are people on Earth — has died. In bringing his tiny doses of humanity to the world of bricks, Knudsen stood tall. RIP.
—Michael Dobie @mwdobie