Zooming for dollars
Two weeks before Election Day, the State Senate action is turning to Long Island.
The New York City Police Benevolent Association is reportedly sinking $1 million into ads specifically going after State Sen. Kevin Thomas. More broadly, billionaire Ronald Lauder has now sunk $4 million into the Safe Together committee, which is targeting nine Senate races statewide, including three on Long Island — Thomas, Jim Gaughran and Monica Martinez.
"They obviously feel like I’m a threat to them, to their existence," Thomas told The Point about the groups pushing against his reelection.
To help, enter Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who is participating in virtual fundraisers for all of the Island’s six State Senate Democrats except Sen. John Brooks, who is running unopposed.
"The governor is pretty popular here on the Island," Thomas said. "Having him host something and help me with raising money goes a long way."
State Sen. Anna Kaplan told The Point that Cuomo spoke for about 15 minutes during her virtual fundraiser Monday, after which she did a Q&A session with supporters. She noted that she has also held virtual events with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. Fundraising totals for the Cuomo event weren’t immediately available, but a Kaplan spokesman said it likely would be "one of our best events this cycle."
Cuomo is even fundraising for State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who sources said is expected to win reelection easily, and who isn’t a current target of the Safe Together committee or the PBA.
"I think that overwhelmingly, Long Islanders approve of the governor’s leadership," Kaminsky told The Point. "The fact that he wants to work with us and help us on some of our goals to move New York forward is a testament to the good work we’ve done in the Senate and the work we’ll continue to do."
Brooks, meanwhile, doesn’t have an official opponent — but Massapequa activist Carol A. Gordon is trying her hand at a write-in campaign. Her efforts to get on the primary ballot failed when many of the signatures she had gathered were ruled invalid.
Nonetheless, Brooks is turning to help his fellow Democrats, giving $25,000 from his war chest to the Democrats’ campaign committee, and giving $5,000 each to Martinez and Gaughran.
"I have an obligation to help the others," Brooks told The Point.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Endorsement season highlights
Here at the editorial board we’re sad to see that our busiest time of year — full of back-to-back endorsement interviews — couldn’t come with the usual benefit of being done in person, allowing us to meet or check in with so many new or veteran Long Island civic leaders.
Still, we’ve had plenty of great Zoom moments when a candidate told us something new or intriguing. Such as:
- Assemb. Doug Smith’s reminder that a Ford dealership in Bay Shore is used as an Election Day polling place. No deals on a new Fiesta, but it’s a good use of space without disrupting a school.
- Complete bipartisan agreement between Jarett Gandolfo and Francis Genco in AD7 that the Oakdale Merge is an enduring problem that will require a necessary "monster of a project" to fix, as Genco put it.
- Hempstead Town Councilman Dennis Dunne Sr.’s encouragement to voters to vote absentee for the interesting and valid rationale that during the pandemic, "you may be quarantined on Election Day" and unable to cast your ballot.
- Glen Cove Assemb. Chuck Lavine’s biographical refresher that he is in fact originally from Marinette, Wisconsin, and he came to New York because he fell in love with a New Yorker in a Spanish class at the University of Wisconsin.
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Spreading the message
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Pulling for Pellegrino
The progressive wagons have circled around SD4 candidate Christine Pellegrino. Immigrant advocacy group Make the Road Action has endorsed the former assemblywoman, the only Long Island State Senate endorsement the group has made.
Pellegrino is also the only Nassau or Suffolk candidate for State Senate with the endorsement of the Working Families Party this cycle, and she also has the support of left-leaning groups such as True Blue NY, No IDC, and Our Revolution, the group that came out of Vermont Sen Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign. Sanders himself has also endorsed, the campaign says.
It’s an interesting bookend to Pellegrino’s earlier appearance on the Albany stage, when the onetime Sanders delegate won a surprise victory in a special election in the deeply Republican 9th Assembly District in spring 2017, backed by progressive and union support. That was not long after President Donald Trump took office and her win was seen as a potential precursor to the blue wave to come in ensuing midterm elections.
Pellegrino lost the Assembly seat to Michael LiPetri a year later, and is now trying her luck against Republican Phil Boyle in a race that once again has larger implications. He’s the last Long Island GOP incumbent in the State Senate running for reelection.
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano