The power of the personal
When the State Senate took a vote Wednesday on State Sen. Anna Kaplan’s bill that would criminalize the sale of a part of a gun that’s often unregulated and could be converted or built into an assault weapon, observers might not have been surprised if the vote went along straight party lines.
But it didn’t.
A single Democrat — Jabari Brisport, who represents parts of Brooklyn — voted no.
And a single Republican — newly elected State Sen. Mario Mattera, who represents Long Island’s Second Senate District — voted yes.
Mattera’s vote on the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act was particularly interesting, as it stood in contrast to his fellow freshman Long Island Republican, Anthony Palumbo, who spent a fair amount of time in public debate with Kaplan, criticizing the bill as "incredibly vague" and filled with "unintended consequences."
Mattera said his support of the bill, which is named for teacher Scott Beigel, who died in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, came after a pair of constituents reached out to him a couple of weeks ago.
The constituents? Linda Beigel Schulman and Michael Schulman— Beigel’s parents, who live in Dix Hills and are residents in Mattera’s State Senate district.
Mattera told The Point that the Schulmans talked to him about the bill, and he promised to look into it. Mattera said he supports the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, but believed unfinished receivers and frames — partially completed firearms that don’t include serial numbers and can’t be tracked, but can be formed into a working gun — are problematic. Matter said any firearm should have a serial number and be sold through proper channels.
In the end, he voted for Kaplan’s bill, and said he thought about Scott Beigel when he did.
"I couldn’t sleep at night thinking if that happens again and I didn’t vote for something … like this," Mattera said. "We need to have a reasonable law to protect our residents. This is a law that’s going to, I feel, save another life."
Mattera said he had had the opportunity to discuss his decision, as well as his conversation with the Schulmans, with the rest of the Republican conference, and that his fellow Republicans supported his decision, even though the rest of them voted against the bill.
And after the vote, Mattera called the Schulmans to tell them of his decision.
Among the nay votes was Palumbo, who suggested that the bill was open enough that it could consider any "hunk of metal" as an unfinished receiver or frame, adding that the bill could include a "barbecue tool" if it possibly could become converted into a part of a gun in the future.
Kaplan responded, saying that the bill is "very clear" and more specific than Palumbo implied.
"This is a very dangerous loophole that we are trying to correct or fix today," she said.
Despite Palumbo’s concerns over the legislation, he and Mattera took the same side later Wednesday when they, along with all seven of their Long Island State Senate colleagues, voted for another gun-related bill, the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, which would criminalize the sale of ghost guns.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Can Yang hang onto his NYC mayoral race lead?
It was not exactly a surprise that a poll released this week found Andrew Yang leading the very wide NYC mayoral field, including being up by double digits over veteran officeholders and runners-up Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Yang has often made outsize splashes, from his endurance in the Democratic presidential primary to the big success of his 2018 book about the future "The War on Normal People," which was contracted before he became truly famous and later became a bestseller.
That knack for overperformance is one reason Yang’s latest political opponents are aggressively combating the newcomer. Yang honed a fairly effective high-energy campaign style in the community colleges of New Hampshire and Iowa. Now, he is in the process of weathering a big piece of opposition research, that he fled NYC during the pandemic.
The Core Decision Analytics poll that found him in the lead suggests some New Yorkers may sympathize: 47% of respondents indicated that if they had the ability, they would consider moving out of NYC permanently.
Until he got sidelined by testing positive for COVID-19, Yang has gotten lots of coverage and attention for in-person campaigning through a pandemic that has Zoomified other candidates. And his focus on some issues that garnered support in his presidential quest like universal basic income could cut through the noise of other candidates’ white papers. That’s not uncommon in New York, where current Mayor Bill de Blasio won with a hammered-home Tale of Two Cities and universal pre-K message.
However, caveats abound. Yang’s unorthodoxies and greenness could catch up, from his paltry local voting record to his learning curve on municipal issues. The June 22 primary is extremely far in the future considering it's a potentially low-turnout race where voters often wait to tune in. The TV ad deluge is still to come, as are truly televised debates. Now-trailing candidates like Citigroup’s Ray McGuire have lots of money to spend.
Among the unknowns are the new system of ranked choice voting, the degree to which different constituencies such as those on the progressive left might consolidate to narrow the field, and even whether voters might want a government pro. The CDA poll found that voters were looking for a candidate who has plans on issues they care about, along with "proven experience in government/public sector."
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
The pied piper of mayhem
"One of many outtake sketches from former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial."
— Matt Davies @MatttDavies
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