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Everyone's talking about the election

Rep. Peter King speaks outside his home after

Rep. Peter King speaks outside his home after announcing he won't seek re-election on Nov. 11, 2019, in Seaford. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

Kingly musings

Rep. Pete King, who is counting down the days until he leaves Congress, says President Donald Trump shouldn’t be using terms like "rigged" or "stolen" to describe the election.

But King thinks Trump has the right to continue his legal challenges and consistently couched his assessment of the election results with cautious phrases like "so far" and "all the indicators are" and "right now." King, like many other Republicans nationwide, refuses to say straight out that Joe Biden won the election and will be the next president.

"All the indicators are it’s over, but the president has the right to pursue it in court. But it can be done without name calling or saying it’s been stolen or robbed," King told The Point. "All the indicators are Joe Biden is going to be the next president … So far, I see no evidence at all that there was any widespread fraud or statewide conspiracies."

King said letting the court cases play out might help to convince and reassure those who believe the election was stolen. But he also said that Trump’s language choices undermine confidence in the electoral system, adding that it’s especially problematic with two Georgia Senate runoffs still to come.

As for Long Island’s other GOP House member, Rep. Lee Zeldin says Trump has a right to use this small window of time to press court challenges alleging voting irregularities or frauds that he can prove. Challenged on the tenuous connection between Trump’s unsuccessful court challenges and his broad and constant assertions that the election was a massive con job in which the president’s own FBI and Justice Department may be complicit, Zeldin redirected the focus toward Democrats who "falsely claim there are no irregularities" and "delegitimized Trump from the day he was elected in 2016."

Zeldin pointed out that Biden is now getting his intelligence briefings and the transition has begun, and that both are appropriate, but he would not concede in any way the point that Trump’s statements are out of line, or that he and other Republicans have a duty to speak out against the president’s false statements.

As for what the party needs to become in the wake of Trump’s loss, in New York and elsewhere, the Shirley Republican said, "Donald Trump is not fading away into the sunset. Trump and his family will continue to occupy a central place, with Donald Trump seeking the presidency in 2024 a clear possibility and other family members staying active. We are a long long way from a post-Trump party."

For King, that doesn’t necessarily mean Trump’s actions now are good for the party. King was especially concerned about Trump’s treatment of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, and noted that if Trump continued those attacks during an upcoming rally in Georgia this weekend, it would hurt Republicans’ chances of holding on to the Senate seats. Instead, he said, the better strategy would be for Trump to turn his ire on the Democrats, instead of a fellow Republican.

"His job will be to firm up the base and try to unite the party," King said, "I don’t know if he’s capable of that."

—Randi F. Marshall and Lane Filler @RandiMarshall and @lanefiller

Talking Point

And the winner is …

The news out of the Suffolk Board of Elections Monday was that Republican Lee Zeldin won his reelection bid against Democrat Nancy Goroff.

"While it was evident to most people a few weeks ago, after counting many absentee ballots, today it became mathematically certain that Lee Zeldin won re-election to Congress," said Republican elections commissioner Nick LaLota. "I expect to certify the race in about a week — with the results showing Congressman Zeldin won by almost 50,000 votes."

Suffolk is still working its way through absentee ballots, and the contests between Monica Martinez and Alexis Weik in SD3 and Laura Ahearn and Anthony Palumbo in SD1 are still outstanding.

Elections employees were not called in for the holiday weekend, said LaLota, who said that the overwhelming majority of them worked 38 of the 40 days prior to Thanksgiving. And counting was disrupted by a "single-digit number of the Board’s 123 employees" testing positive for COVID-19, plus quarantine orders for those in "close contact."

But "those unaffected Board employees remain dedicated to their work of counting the remainder of Suffolk’s 170,000 absentee ballots," LaLota said.

LaLota expects absentee counting to conclude in a few days.

In Nassau, everything is counted, according to Democratic elections commissioner Jim Scheuerman, who said the board sent its preliminary certification to the state Wednesday.

For now the board is proofreading its numbers, and results are set to be updated on its website by close of business Monday, Scheuerman said.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

A fine line

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Quick Points

  • As LIPA consider four options for its contract with PSEG after its abysmal failure handling Tropical Storm Isaias – converting to a municipal utility, dividing PSEG’s work among several companies, renegotiating the contract, or privatization – perhaps it should look at a fifth: Hire some road construction crews to dig trenches and bury the power lines.
  • Santa Con organizers announced they cancelled the 2020 celebration because of COVID-19, failing to note that COVID-related restrictions had already pretty much guaranteed the event would not be held.
  • President-elect Joe Biden suffered hairline fractures in his foot while playing with one of his dogs. OK, this kind of thing happens all the time and represents the longed-for return to normalcy, right? But Biden is 78. Perhaps he could shoot for a little less normal.
  • President Donald Trump, hoping one of his campaign’s hapless election lawsuits will get to the Supreme Court, said in an interview, "Something has to get up there. What else is the Supreme Court for?" With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let us count the ways.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio abruptly shifted gears and said he would reopen elementary schools and phase out hybrid learning, leading to criticism that de Blasio is an inconsistent manager. This was not a revelation.
  • Ties that some Biden Cabinet nominees have with consulting and investment firms with deep rosters of politically connected officials and access to the halls of power provide an ethics and transparency test for the Biden administration. That’s a test many a presidential administration, both Republican and Democrat, has had trouble passing.
  • Context for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio expressing reservations about Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken: Rubio also had reservations about former Exxon chief executive Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump’s first nominee for the position – and voted to confirm Tillerson. On what grounds then could Rubio reject the far more-qualified Blinken?
  • National lawmakers in Taiwan arguing over policies on importing American meat ended up throwing pig guts at each other, astounding American lawmakers who only wrestle over how much pork they can get.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie