Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks at a news conference in Riverhead.

Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks at a news conference in Riverhead. Credit: Ed Betz

Daily Point

Union on track behind Zeldin

A key Long Island Rail Road union endorsed Rep. Lee Zeldin in his reelection bid. 

Anthony Simon, the general chairman of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation union, wrote a letter to Zeldin last week, saying Zeldin had a “consistent track record fighting to create jobs and improve the economy.”

“Your pro-worker record speaks for itself,” wrote Simon, whose union represents about half of the LIRR workforce. 

SMART’s endorsement comes before Zeldin’s challenger has been chosen. Stony Brook University professor Nancy Goroff, Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming, and Zeldin’s 2018 opponent, Perry Gershon, are in the mix for the Democratic nod.

Still, Simon pointed to Zeldin’s support of past federal transit funding and big LIRR projects as reasons for the union’s support.

Zeldin told The Point that Simon has “consistently endorsed me through the years.”

But this endorsement comes at a tricky time for the LIRR, as the railroad workers’ contracts are up for negotiation, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has talked about transforming the agency, a process that likely will include layoffs.

If negotiations were to end up at an impasse, the National Mediation Board could become involved. The U.S. Senate, controlled by Republicans, confirms the board’s members. After that, a dispute would go before the Presidential Emergency Board. In 2014, when that happened, federal mediators sided with the LIRR unions in a nonbinding mediation process. Eventually, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo helped to broker a deal, which averted an LIRR strike and gave the unions much of what they sought.

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

Talking Point

Mr. Garbarino goes to Washington

Assemb. Andrew Garbarino spent some time last week in Washington where he met with what he hopes to be his future colleagues. On Monday, he told The Point he expects the state’s GOP congressional delegation to endorse him in his bid to replace Rep. Pete King. 

The Bayport Republican already had the support of King and Rep. Lee Zeldin as well as the Nassau and Suffolk County Republican parties. Now add upstate and Western New York Reps. Elise Stefanik, John Katko, and Tom Reed to the list. 

What does that mean for Garbarino, who could still face a primary via petitioning, which fellow Assemb. Michael LiPetri has vowed to do? 

Garbarino says King and other N.Y. members are hosting a meet-and-greet for him in D.C. in two weeks. In recent D.C. meetings, including meals at the Capitol Hill Club last week, he says they offered him encouragement and their cell numbers to use if he ever has questions. 

Above all, they stressed the difficulty of the job and the campaign. “This is not going to be easy on you,” Garbarino says he was told, “it’s going to be a lot.” 

LiPetri did not return a request for comment about the Garbarino endorsements. 

The district, New York’s 2nd, is a particular focus for national politicos and media given the open race in a relatively swing area, the likes of which could be key to control of the House next year.

The recent Washington swing was a “very productive couple days,” says Garbarino, and he’s planning to be back soon: he has a meeting set in two weeks with Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point


Tom Toles

Tom Toles

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Quick Points

  • Erik Prince — former head of the notorious Blackwater security firm and a man with close contacts to the Trump administration, including being the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — has recruited former U.S. and British spies to infiltrate and get information from groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda, like various Democratic campaign committees and labor organizations. Please, don’t say you’re surprised.
  • New York American Water plans to replace its 126,500 water meters in Nassau County with smart meters. Which doesn’t mean customers will suddenly find their sky-high bills make any more sense.
  • Iran has declared a “sacred jihad” against the coronavirus, a much more preferable target than that of a typical jihad.
  • Air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have plunged in China with factories closed due to the coronavirus — underscoring that the English language needs an alternative phrase for “silver lining” that doesn’t sound quite so cheery.
  • Housing Secretary Ben Carson wants police to have the power to arrest homeless people and relocate them to tent cities like the ones the federal government runs for immigrants at the southern border. Because those have worked out so well.
  • Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. So the whole band is pretty much back together again, if not in the way most of them expected.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz has self-quarantined because of exposure to the coronavirus. Any way to keep him there once the threat has passed?

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie