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Planning for the future
After Thursday night’s massacre of moderate New York City Democrats who caucused with Republicans to help give them a majority in the State Senate, the chamber will definitely tilt more to the left next year. With the Independent Democratic Conference obliterated, Senate Democrats only have to pick up one Republican seat to take control of the chamber — and it’s increasingly likely that person could come from Long Island.
Long Island Democrats are now trying to figure out how a State Senate filled with younger, progressive members (it’s unlikely any city candidates will lose in the fall) — all of whom made big promises to their constituents — will shake up the dynamics.
They say that if Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic leader, wants to take the gavel and keep it for a long time, she must understand the needs of Nassau and Suffolk counties. As a representative from Westchester, she knows suburban needs don’t always align with those of New York City.
So Stewart-Cousins is getting together with a lot of Democrats in coming days. On Friday morning, she met with local union leaders representing the construction trades, guided by Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), and Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) will take her to an ABLI event on Thursday. And on Sept. 24, she will have dinner with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen and other elected officials at the home of county party chair Jay Jacobs. “I want everyone to know Andrea and start a working relationship,” Jacobs told The Point.
“We need to talk about our tax assessment problems, NIFA and 100 other things,” Kaminsky told The Point. “There are different sensibilities,” he said, stressing that keeping the tax cap, not adding new incomes taxes and maintaining school funding levels are vitally important to suburban members of the Democratic conference.
And in case Stewart-Cousins didn’t know what the important issues are for Long Island, the Senate Republican campaign committee will be sure to remind her, every day, until Nov. 6.
After polls, a time to celebrate
The candidates who toppled Independent Democratic Conference members and the activists who helped them have a lot to celebrate Friday.
From Alessandra Biaggi in Westchester and the Bronx to Zellnor Myrie in Brooklyn, they ran sharp races. They persisted with the primary challenges despite a “unity” deal struck in the spring by state powerbrokers that brought the renegade IDC members back into the fold. But the downfall of the IDC also was helped along by a number of establishment players:
Powerful services union 32BJ SEIU went all in for Biaggi against Bronx State Sen. Jeff Klein. For Biaggi alone, the union knocked on 10,000 doors and gave $250,000, according to a spokeswoman. The union and the Communications Workers of America District 1 endorsed Biaggi. The Hotel Trades Council came out for former city comptroller John Liu who beat Sen. Tony Avella in Queens. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, for what it’s worth, doubled down on this union argument in his post-primary victory lap on Thursday, citing labor’s importance in the IDC races. He also said he chose not to endorse in IDC races, just supporting Democrats.
Liu and fellow IDC challenger, former City Councilman Robert Jackson of Manhattan, were both veteran politicians who had name recognition and history going for them along with the anti-IDC wave.
Sensing a changing of the winds, some popular local politicians like City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Comptroller Scott Stringer stumped for or endorsed IDC challengers (both celebrated with Biaggi Thursday night). Even Mayor Bill de Blasio, who stayed mum in statewide races, did some campaigning and fundraising for challengers.
Despite the supposed unity deal, some mainline Democrats distanced themselves from their now-toxic colleagues, and plenty of groundwork had been laid in years previously by the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee which had long banged on the anti-IDC drum. It’s unlikely that so many IDC members would have been defeated if establishment Dems didn’t want them gone as well. Activists pushed for the primaries but ultimately benefited from help.
Of course, there’s something in it for the establishment: mainline Dems are surely already eyeing the parking spots and preferential offices that IDC members will soon be vacating.
Not Dunn yet
After his trouncing Thursday of Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, talk about Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2020 is revving up.
However, longtime Newsday reader Eugene R. Dunn of Medford, a veteran newspaper letter writer, says he knew decades ago that Donald Trump would be president. And at the end of this item, we reveal his prediction for the Democratic challenger in the next presidential race.
But first, Dunn wanted to let The Point know that Trump’s “battle with biased media and fake news” is nothing new. Twenty years ago, the Newark Star-Ledger printed Dunn’s letter lamenting Trump’s loss in court in his efforts to use eminent domain to seize small properties next to his Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. News reports zeroed in on widow Vera Coking, who steadfastly refused to sell her three-story home to Trump so he could park limousines there.
“I realize the media thrive on these kinds of David and Goliath stories,” Dunn wrote then. His letter called Trump the “Rembrandt” of Atlantic City who had transformed the city skyline and created jobs and tax revenue.
Trump saw the letter and wrote Dunn personally on Aug. 26, 1998.
“While the media was coming to the aid of Vera Coking, we received numerous letters like yours that exemplified the true feelings of many private citizens,” Trump wrote. “People know that much of what is said in the newspaper has a particular slant, often not reflecting the opinions of many.”
Dunn says the letter “shows just how remarkably consistent Trump has been on this subject.”
Dunn met Trump by chance in 1986 at Central Park’s Wollman Rink, which the developer famously renovated.
“As I skated away from him that fateful day, I was overcome by a strange sensation that I was conferring with a future president of the United States,” Dunn wrote in an email. He boasts about challenging Trump to run by sending him money (he thinks it was a $100 check) to start an exploratory committee in 2014.
In the next election, Dunn thinks Trump will be challenged by another boss with a New Jersey connection, Bruce Springsteen. “Don’t laugh,” Dunn writes, “but according to my political analytics, I have Springsteen as Trump’s 2020 Democratic challenger. Keep in mind, I’m the guy who faced wicked ridicule in predicting Trump in 2016.”
Is Springsteen really born to run?