Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! It’s federal primary day in New York – but we’re looking at what comes next.
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The rallies heard across Long Island
Federal primary day is underway and the campaign rallies won’t be far behind.
On Thursday, Republican Lee Zeldin holds a 6 p.m. fundraiser at the Smithtown Elks Lodge featuring some surprising faces, such as former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who’s selling a book and trying to get a backer for a reality TV show; and Sebastian Gorka, the former national security aide to President Donald Trump who was purged by Chief of Staff John Kelly.
But what Suffolk County Democrats are doing just a half-mile away might be even more unusual. County Democratic chair Rich Schaffer, who isn’t known for agitprop in the streets, decided to call his troops to Smithtown town hall to protest Zeldin’s “rallying with liars and hatemongers.”
Despite the sharply critical wording of his news release, Schaffer said the rally wasn’t taking place because of Zeldin’s guests, nor was it a sign of a change in the party’s strategy to focus primarily on town and county races. As he has done in the past, Schaffer will let the national party take the lead in trying to oust Zeldin.
Instead, he told the Point, the Zeldin fundraiser presented an opportunity to unite the party behind the winner of Tuesday’s CD1 primary, which has five candidates on the Democratic ballot although the race has come down to a fight between Perry Gershon and Kate Browning. Schaffer did not pick a favorite in that contest.
“Using the Zeldin Rally as a counter back drop,” wrote Schaffer. He expects about 200 people at the anti-Zeldin event. No word yet on whether there will be another rally with the winner of the Democratic primary in CD2 between Duwayne Gregory, whom Schaffer supports, and outsider Liuba Grechen Shirley. Grechen Shirley and her resistance movement have made Schaffer, and his coziness with Republicans, as much of a target as Pete King, the GOP incumbent.
A hypothetical for after Tuesday’s primary
What if Congressional hopeful DuWayne Gregory loses his Democratic primary against aggressive campaigner Liuba Grechen Shirley? Gregory, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, already has secured three lines for the general election from the Independence, Women’s Equality and Working Families Parties.
A Gregory campaign spokeswoman says this is a “moot point” as Gregory “plans to be the Democratic nominee after Tuesday.” But he also has vowed not to campaign if he misses out on the Democratic nod and has said he’d be “open” to getting off minor party lines for the general election against Republican Rep. Pete King of Seaford.
How might that actually happen, given the arcane requirements and prohibitions of New York election apparati? A source familiar with election law tells The Point that a potential workaround could go like this: The minor party could nominate Gregory to an alternate, minor office. The original nominee, often a placeholder, would already have vacated the spot to run for a judgeship. This only works if the placeholder is an attorney. The two-step process is needed because Gregory is not a lawyer and not eligible for a judicial post himself.
The alternatives are that Gregory stay on the ballot for CD2 on three minor lines with little consequence, because people know not to vote for him. Or, given his name recognition in his home area, he gets just enough votes to cost Democrats a blue wave shot at the King.
Just a friendly reminder of the other moves Suffolk Democratic Party boss Rich Schaffer might still have on the board.
A trip through the Facebook archive
In another edition of Long Island is the center of everything, we noticed something interesting about the recent ads on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s political Facebook page. In a fusillade of ads from the page in mid-June, Cuomo called upon social media users to tell their state senators to vote yes on his ill-fated Red Flag bill, an attempt to get guns away from students believed to be dangerous.
Of the eight state senators mentioned by name, six were Long Island Republicans: Elaine Phillips, Ken LaValle, Carl Marcellino, Phil Boyle, Kemp Hannon, and John Flanagan. (Tom Croci, missing at the end of session, was also missing from his peers here.)
Cuomo has recently made Democratic control of the chamber a priority, a fight that will be won or lost in the NYC suburbs.
Facebook ads that have political content are now collected in an archive hosted by the social media company, which has been under fire for its role in helping to spread misinformation during the 2016 election. The archive includes ads launched on or after May 7, 2018, and the six LI Republicans plus two other downstate Republicans (Sens. Marty Golden and Terrence Murphy) appear to be the only ones mentioned by name in Cuomo-page ads — perhaps an acknowledgment of the region’s potential for moderation on the gun issue, even among Republican voters.
Cuomo’s campaign says the ads were geo-targeted and dovetailed with Cuomo’s campaign efforts for Democrats facing GOP incumbents. After the State Senate refused to take up his bill before the end of the legislative session, a new digital ad was released Tuesday.
The LI contingent getting called out on Cuomo’s page is just one of many interesting tidbits to be gleaned from mining the data in the new Facebook archive. If you see something interesting there, say something to The Point.