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Sharpening their message

Jackie Gordon, former member of the Babylon Town

Jackie Gordon, former member of the Babylon Town Council, has support from national Democrats seeking to flip the long held GOP seat when Rep. Peter King retires in November. Credit: James Escher

Daily Point

Zeldin, Gordon focus their messages

Both Lee Zeldin and Jackie Gordon have hit the ground running with TV ads to help shape their upcoming congressional races, which are among the most closely-watched in the nation. 

Zeldin has two as part of this week’s TV ad buy, which includes national and local cable news channels and other stations, according to his campaign. 

One focuses on the contentious national issue of policing, with the three-term Shirley Republican noting that he “grew up in a law enforcement household.” His spokeswoman, Katie Vincentz, provided the details to The Point: Zeldin’s  stepmother was a Nassau County probation officer, his stepfather was a state trooper, and his father was a peace officer and welfare fraud investigator.

In the one-minute ad, Zeldin criticizes efforts to “defund” or “abolish” police, which he calls an attack “on the safety and security of every man, woman and child” in CD1.

The incumbent’s other ad focuses on Zeldin’s response to the coronavirus, which is surely going to be another key point of contention during the race. The ad depicts Zeldin working hard to help constituents, including working to supply front-line workers with protective equipment. Unlike the policing ad, this one includes multiple images of Zeldin wearing a mask while interacting with the community. 

Democratic opponent Nancy Goroff, who isn’t out with a general election ad yet, is already trying to paint a different picture of Zeldin’s COVID-19 response, tying it to larger fumbling on the federal level. In a statement to The Point, campaign spokeswoman Hannah Jeffrey pointed to Zeldin having “voted against additional federal resources and against funding for the CDC.” 

He was one among many in his party on that: Zeldin voted against the giant HEROES Act as well as July appropriations legislation, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding. Republicans by and large decried such measures’ lack of focus — though Zeldin’s neighbor Pete King departed from the party on HEROES. 

Gordon, who is running in an open race for King’s to-be-vacated seat in CD2, is running an ad more focused on her biography.

“I’ve been a military police officer and a guidance counselor,” she says. “I’ve been to Basic and I’ve taught yoga. All of us, we’re more than just one thing.”

It’s a canny strategy in a district where King has for years tried to pitch himself as bipartisan and pragmatic. (Gordon’s GOP opponent, Andrew Garbarino, who often took a similar tack during his primary, hasn’t put up a general election TV ad yet.)

Gordon underscored the bipartisan pitch while describing her military service “under Democrats and Republicans” and she added a visual kicker in the background: images of Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Drucker in Jericho group’s sights

The group that opposes the addition of transitional housing in Jericho for up to 80 homeless families is now aiming its ire at one elected official with their campaign: Nassau County Legis. Arnold Drucker.

The first problem with their effort? The group – called Concerned Jericho Parents – seems to think Drucker is a state assemblyman.

An email that went out to the Concerned Jericho Parents’ list contains the subject line “A Sample Letter to Assemblyman Arnie Drucker,” and says the group “urges everyone to send our Assemblyman an email.”

Drucker previously had not taken a public position on the project. But late last week, he emerged as a supporter of the effort to turn a vacant Hampton Inn on Jericho Turnpike into transitional housing. He argues that the Town of Oyster Bay, which has filed a lawsuit to stop the project, had “embarked on a politically motivated campaign notable for its embrace of fearmongering, misinformation, shameless self promotion and wasteful lawsuits — all bankrolled by you, the taxpayer.”

“It is the height of callous, heartless hypocrisy,” Drucker wrote.

Needless to say, that didn’t go over well with Concerned Jericho Parents. 

Hence the sample letter.

“It is quite disturbing and an embarrassment to have our legislator who represents our district, whose sole duty is to work for his constituents to come out now and say the Jericho homeless shelter is laudable,” the letter says.

“Additionally, if Jericho has 50 [homeless] families and you want to add a shelter for 80 more, why does the burden of Nassau’s homeless problem fall upon  the Jericho residents?” the letter added. “How many homeless people can one small district handle?”

A quick fact check: The proposed transitional housing, which would include child care, mental health care and other services for 80 families, would include the 50 families now living in other motels in Jericho — without those services.

One of the group’s leaders, Jennifer Vartanov, told The Point Tuesday afternoon that Drucker’s support of the project is upsetting because, she said, he didn’t consider their concerns in his decision.

“We’re just going to reiterate that there is no argument that there is a homeless problem and the homeless should be helped,” Vartanov said. “But on the taxpayer’s dime a little more thought should have been put in about the location chosen and the effects on the community.

‘“If they can do it in Jericho, they can do it in any other town they would like. Today, it’s a homeless shelter in Jericho they want to do without community input. Tomorrow, it could be something else. There has to be certain laws the government has to abide by and they’ve broken all of those laws at this point,” added Vartanov, who pointed to town zoning laws and how taxpayer dollars were being spent.

Drucker — call him legislator not assemblyman — told The Point Tuesday that the concerns “are misplaced.” And he had a message for those in opposition.

“Have some humanity,” Drucker said. “These people need help. And they’re going to be in a facility that is an opportunity for them to transition and get their lives back on track. I’m looking at the big picture here.”

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

The real conspiracy

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

Final Point

Making sense of the Mueller report

When Peter Rooney looked at the 400-plus page Mueller report he thought: what this thing needs is an index. 

Rooney, of New York City, is a professional indexer who creates the back-of-book material that helps readers search volumes by name, topic, and the like. 

“I thought as a technical problem I would like to make my own index," Rooney told The Point. “But it didn’t turn out to be so quick.” 

The project took approximately two months between other work, and Rooney finished this summer. 

The result can be seen at www.muellerreportindex.net, where politics junkies will find a map to peruse once again through the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

“A little delayed, but maybe this is an ideal time for it to surface,” Rooney says, noting that the country is entering another election in which, according to U.S. intelligence officials,  Russia is once again trying to interfere. 

Other editions of the report have had indexes of a sort, but Rooney maintains that there are benefits to a fuller index. He describes creating one as a “process of sorting out.” The indexer explains what each mention of Julian Assange involves, for example, from “contacts Trump Jr.” to “use of internet.” 

His index includes topics like “willfulness” and “wire fraud” beyond just names.

A long entry for “QUOTES” quickly gathers some of the most important phrases from the report, like “Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions.”

Rooney says he’d liked to improve and update the index if he can. 

Mueller himself, by contrast — to the annoyance of many Democrats who have learned more about Russian interference in the intervening months — hasn’t committed to any updating.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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