Good afternoon. Today’s points:
- Money is flowing to downstate Senate races
- Senate politics upends Nassau County budget
- Senate majority leaders past and present star in TV ad
It’s always about Long Island
Whoever thought that John Brooks, a Seaford Democrat who has wandered the political desert for decades with a plan to lower taxes, would be on the tip of the tongue of New York’s politicos? Democrats pushing to win control of the State Senate are now putting their chips on four Long Island races — and especially on Brooks, who might steal what had been considered a safe Republican seat. The 8th SD is awash in mailings that attack incumbent Michael Venditto for the alleged sins of his father, John Venditto, the indicted Town of Oyster Bay supervisor.
To have the firepower to scorch the earth on Long Island, the state Democratic Senate campaign committee has stopped spending on an open seat in Buffalo, pretty much conceding a district that had been held by a Democrat. And in Orange County, Democrats are no longer optimistic about ousting Republican incumbent Bill Larkin. Still, Democrats could pick up a seat in the Hudson Valley, making upstate a wash.
Not only are Dems spending on Brooks, but they also are banking on challenger James Gaughran to upset incumbent Carl Marcellino in the 5th Senate District. And money is still flowing to Democrat Adam Haber, who is in a tight race with Elaine Phillips for the 7th District seat vacated by Republican Jack Martins.
Meanwhile, Dems are also supporting freshman Democrat Todd Kaminsky in the 9th District, but the charter schools lobby is still betting that GOP challenger Chris McGrath can take out Kaminsky. GOP incumbent Kemp Hannon appears to be more than holding his own in the 6th District against Democrat Ryan Cronin, and most insiders no longer think that seat is in play.
Nassau County Leg. move had a clear motivation
So can the Nassau County Legislature and Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves get away with passing a budget that includes all the spending for 2017, but waiting until after the Nov. 8 State Senate elections to vote on the more than $80 million in despised fees needed to pay for those expenses?
So far, the answer is yes: Opponents are bringing heat, but seem unable to start a fire.
Those in the know say Gonsalves, who had said she supported a new $105 fee on parking and traffic tickets to raise $66 million, postponed the approval Monday because county GOP chairman Joseph Mondello feared the move could further taint an already seriously tainted Republican brand and cost the party control of the State Senate.
But the politics aren’t sitting well with the county’s fiscal baby sitter. Nassau Interim Finance Authority chairman Adam Barsky immediately sent out this statement: “The actions taken by the County Legislature today are deeply troubling. Leaving the situation in its current form and unaddressed would be irresponsible. Should the County fail to provide a balanced budget, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) will have no other choice but to reject it and send it back to be amended.”
NIFA doesn’t have an official meeting scheduled until Nov. 29, long after the election. It has, however, hastily scheduled a conference call for board members and staff at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
NY has ‘acid reflux’ in the United States of Anxiety
Dems add a Senate bogeyman
Democrats vying for downstate State Senate seats have been using the image of Dean Skelos, convicted on federal official corruption charges, to tie every Republican incumbent to the former majority leader. Almost all of James Gaughran’s black-and-white mailers depict Republican opponent Carl Marcellino with Skelos in a play for guilt by association.
But here’s a twist. An Albany-area Democratic challenger slams his opponent with Skelos photos because he was the GOP majority leader who allowed a despised gun-control bill to come to the floor for a vote in 2013. For good measure, a second Republican boogeyman, current GOP Majority Leader John Flanagan, was included in the TV ad released on Monday.
Shaun Francis, who is trying to unseat Sen. Kathy Marchione, cites the votes of Skelos and Flanagan in favor of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act. Restricting access to guns is probably the one and only issue Democrats won’t use against Republicans downstate.