Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! Do you forward this newsletter to friends, family, co-workers? Please tell email@example.com.
Rising Democrat’s Republican opponent
NRA TV and conservative media have predictably gone into overdrive to emphasize the Democratic Socialists of America affiliation of 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, using phrases like “the socialist movement in America is real, it’s dangerous.”
The upstart candidate took out Rep. Joe Crowley in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District, making national headlines and setting her up as a hero and villain for political partisans overnight.
That out-of-district noise might mean more if there were a prominent, battle-ready Republican waiting to face Ocasio-Cortez in November. But her opponent on the Republican line is not exactly channeling Breitbart or plugged into the Republican National Committee. He is 72-year-old Anthony Pappas, an associate professor of economics and finance at St. John’s University and a little-known first-time candidate.
“I think you can criticize things, and you should do it in a reasonable, constructive way,” he told The Point Thursday when asked about the right-wing ardor that Ocasio-Cortez has aroused.
Pappas cares about issues like too-high taxation and a too-activist judicial branch. He says he did not vote for President Donald Trump and supports some liberal issues like strong unions. When asked about the federal jobs guarantee his opponent supports, Pappas did not shout bloody socialism, but noted some practical and philosophical difficulties with implementation.
He says he does not have campaign staff but hopes to launch a website next week. He says he received the GOP’s endorsement, but then was kind of left on his own.
He did, however, say that “somebody,” not a person of political authority, had gotten in touch with him informally concerning the newly hot 14th CD, talking about how the party might want someone more prominent.
But Pappas is working on new strategies to confront his opponent. He hopes to debate her before the election.
“I’m inexperienced,” he says, “just like Alexandria.”
Tension on the IDC deal?
With New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s endorsement Thursday of four State Senate candidates challenging former members of the Independent Democratic Conference, some of the thin threads of the deal to dissolve the IDC might be unraveling.
Queens party chairman Joe Crowley played a significant role, along with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in that deal in April, making it appear mainline Democrats and those with the IDC would support one another. Crowley also played a big role in Johnson’s ascension to the speaker spot.
But then came Tuesday night. Crowley, a member of Congress, lost the Democratic primary to newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a historic political upset.
And two days later, Johnson backed Jessica Ramos, who is challenging Sen. Jose Peralta in Queens; Alessandra Biaggi, who is running against former IDC leader Jeff Klein; Zellnor Myrie, who is up against Sen. Jesse Hamilton in Brooklyn; and Robert Jackson, who is running against Sen. Marisol Alcantara. All four incumbents were members of the IDC.
Johnson said Thursday that his plans to endorse the challengers came long before Crowley’s defeat, and he noted that he wasn’t part of the IDC deal.
He said the four candidates symbolize a “real deep desire and hunger for transformational change.”
Klein, meanwhile, dismissed Johnson’s move, noting that the City Council speaker also endorsed Crowley.
“Frankly, we are surprised that our opponent would accept the endorsement of such a radioactive figure coming on the heels of his endorsement of Joe Crowley,” Klein told The Point. “We are sure that Johnson will do for this challenger exactly what he did for Joe Crowley.”
A source told The Point that Johnson’s decision won’t lead the IDC to back away from its part of the unity deal.
But perhaps Johnson is playing a bit of catch-up to boost his own political success.
After all, long before Ocasio-Cortez defeated Crowley, many of her Queens backers had been linking support of Ocasio-Cortez to that of Ramos. The State Senate district Ramos is fighting to represent overlaps with part of the district Crowley just lost.
And as soon as Ocasio-Cortez declared victory, Ramos declared that Queens voters were saying, “It’s time to clean house.”
But Crowley’s district also spans part of the Bronx. If those voters similarly want to “clean house,” they might look toward the September primary.
Their incumbent state senator?
Randi F. Marshall
From the archive: Deja duck
Trolling old Newsday editorial pages is always illuminating — but sometimes in a Yogi Berra sort of way (déjà vu all over again).
Take the edition printed on June 21, 1950, which included an editorial cartoon called “Pleasingly Plump,” with two ducks on scales demonstrating the increase in the population of Long Island as recorded on the 1950 census.
The editorial board pronounced the total of 938,105 “disappointing” in falling short of 1 million; the board noted that “various mayors here and there felt cheated.” And it quoted Nassau County Executive J. Russel Sprague on the “monumental task” of providing public services for the region’s mushrooming population.
Then the board wrote about the danger of excessive layers of government in holding back progress.
“We have long needed unification here,” the board wrote. “Nassau and Suffolk will lag if they don’t start now to unify such services as police and fire protection, school districts, ambulances, etc., etc., same as they have begun to do with sewage disposal.”
And here we are, 68 years later, not much the wiser.