Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) holds a town hall in...

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) holds a town hall in the Uniondale Public Library on Feb 22, 2020. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin/Debbie Egan-Chin

Daily Point

Bandwagon-hopping

The day after Super Tuesday, Long Island officials quickly made like Mike.

Bloomberg supporters Steve Bellone and Todd Kaminsky are joining the former NYC mayor in jumping over to former Vice President Joe Biden. 

“Classy and patriotic of @MikeBloomberg to exit the race and support @JoeBiden,” Kaminsky, the Long Beach state senator, tweeted Wednesday afternoon.  

Bellone, the Suffolk County executive, who proudly accepted the title of the first county executive to support the former NYC mayor, praised Bloomberg in a statement noting that “his commitment and support will be crucial moving forward to help Democrats win back the White House and win down ballot races.” 

Bellone called for unity behind a leader to defeat President Donald Trump: “I’m proud to endorse Joe Biden and will do everything in my power to help him win Suffolk County.”

It’s the political one-two after the votes are counted: Bellone had been slotted to help open a Bloomberg office in Hauppauge Wednesday. Bellone spokesman Jason Elan said the event was cancelled. 

Meanwhile, when former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced Sunday night that he would suspend his campaign just two days before Super Tuesday, the move took many staffers, volunteers and supporters by surprise, and left Rep. Kathleen Rice without a candidate in the race.

Again.

Rice’s first choice was former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rouke, and she was the first member of Congress to hitch her wagon to O’Rourke’s campaign, endorsing him as soon as he announced his candidacy in March 2019. That day she tweeted that the Texan would “build a movement that will rise above the toxic division in our politics and unite this country.”

When O’Rourke’s candidacy fizzled out in November, Rice quickly jumped on the Buttigieg bandwagon. At the time Rice tweeted: “Pete represents the new voice and fresh perspective that we need in Washington. He's focused on bold yet common sense policies that will unite our country. And he has what it takes to beat Donald Trump.”

Rice’s campaign spokesman did not return requests for an update on her preferences going forward.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller and Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Another take on bail reform

The Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank based in New York City, is wading into the bail reform debate roiling Albany. 

The Point got a preview of a report the group is releasing Thursday. It outlines three suggestions for how to improve the 2019 budget measure which eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. 

They include:

  • Allowing judges to take danger to the community into consideration when making pretrial release decisions. Currently, judges can only consider the possibility that a defendant won’t return to court. This was a sticking point in the 2019 legislative process, when even a narrower “danger” standard was abandoned out of fear of reinforcing racially skewed outcomes. 
  • Giving judges more power to revoke release if a defendant is rearrested even for a lower-level crime. This has become a hot-button question with tabloid stories about various reoffenders who went free. The current law allows limited penalties for reoffense, including conditions like electronic monitoring if someone reoffends with a misdemeanor, and potential bail for certain nonviolent felonies that wouldn’t have been bail eligible at first. Report author Rafael A. Mangual, a fellow and deputy director of legal policy at the institute, said limited conditions aren’t enough and don’t fully address public safety.
  • Adding more funding so the criminal justice system can process cases more quickly. This ties into the related discovery reforms passed last year, which prosecutors say have put more time pressures on their offices.

Suggestions like these are similar to the ones floating around Albany this year, as lawmakers ponder potential tweaks to the legislation.

Mangual said the document is meant to put forward a “general framework for addressing some of the holes” in the current regime — particularly what he describes as public safety issues — while maintaining the “spirit of reform.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Bye bye, Bloomberg

Credit: Jimmy Margulies

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

Final Point

AOC's gambit

As she builds her progressive brand and uses her insurgent influence to try to reshape the Democratic Party, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed an all-female slate of seven primary candidates this year through her controversial new political action committee, called Courage to Change. AOC said she picked races in which she thought her support would make a difference.

But returns from Super Tuesday were middling.

In one of the nation’s most-watched races in Texas, 26-year-old immigration and human rights attorney Jessica Cisneros came up short against eight-term Rep. Henry Cuellar, who won 51.8% to 48.2%.

AOC’s other Texas choice, 38-year-old labor and voting rights activist Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, was trying to get into a runoff to take on GOP Sen. John Cornyn. Former Air Force pilot M.J. Hegar, the establishment favorite, won the 12-candidate primary with 22.5% of the vote while Ramirez (13.7%) was narrowly trailing State Sen. Royce West (13.9%) for the other runoff spot, with 99% of precincts reporting.

AOC’s choice in California fared better, and appears to be moving on to the November general election in that state’s jungle primary. San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez finished second, with 18.6%, behind establishment choice and fellow Democrat Sara Jacobs (29.6%), in a 14-candidate contest for an open seat in California’s 53rd CD. All precincts have reported but mail and provisional ballots remain uncounted.

AOC’s other four picks are in states that have not yet held their primaries.

AOC’s most prominent endorsement, of course, was her choice of Sen. Bernie Sanders for the presidency. He, too, had a rough Super Tuesday. More food for thought: Sanders went 5-for-10 in his own House endorsements in 2018.

Making progress is tough, even for progressives.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie