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Opinion

The race to make the run

Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac).

Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac). Credit: James Escher

Daily Point

Growing war chests in CD1

The Democratic race to take on Rep. Lee Zeldin in New York’s 1st Congressional District remains hot, with Bridget Fleming the latest to announce big fundraising numbers for the primary. 

Fleming tells The Point her campaign raised $239,095 in a little over a month, between the end of November when she launched her candidacy and the filing deadline at the end of 2019. 

The Suffolk County legislator and Noyac Democrat had to show some fundraising prowess given that opponents Perry Gershon and Nancy Goroff had a big head start in time and money. 

She seems to have risen to the challenge. Goroff, a Stony Brook University scientist, self-reported more than $360,000 for the same quarter, but she was running for the whole period and thus had almost triple the amount of time. 

Gershon, the East Hampton businessman who came within 4 percentage points of Zeldin in 2018, hasn’t announced quarterly sums (official filings for all candidates are due at the end of the month) but as a rough benchmark, he logged more than $440,000 in contributions in his own inaugural quarter in 2017. That was about two-and-a-half months after he filed paperwork for his candidacy, so again Fleming’s more compacted period brings her ahead. 

Zeldin has not filed his last quarterly fundraising but logged more than $1 million cash on hand, as of the end of September.

“I think it's a great number," Fleming said of her fundraising. Her campaign provided documentation indicating that she received personal monetary support from influential figures like Suffolk Democratic leader Rich Schaffer and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.

It’s all part of a frenzy of political contributing by Democrats in a district that has been consistently competitive and expensive. This year is shaping up to be no exception, as Zeldin doubles down on support for President Donald Trump and joins the commander in chief’s impeachment defense team — a position that will surely provide more opportunities for fundraising, on both sides.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Down to the wire

One way or another, Huntington Democratic Committee members will be presented with a legal opinion Thursday evening on whether Michael Marcantonio is eligible to seek the 12th Assembly District seat recently vacated by Republican Andrew Raia.

Ever since Raia announced his run for town clerk, Marcantonio and Avrum Rosen, both lawyers, have jockeyed for the Democratic nod to seek the spot. Marcantonio was the nominee in 2018 before Republicans knocked him off the ballot for establishing residency in North Carolina while he attended Duke Law School. When Marcantonio’s run was kiboshed, Rosen stepped in late for what was likely an unwinnable race against Raia, a nine-term incumbent.

Republicans say Marcantonio is still ineligible. Suffolk Democratic Party chair Rich Schaffer, after originally trying to stay out of the fray, decided to get a legal opinion on the issue rather than risk another Marcantonio-to-Rosen relay-style baton handoff in a race Democrats could well win with Raia gone.

The attorneys have repeatedly asked for more time and more information, but Schaffer says he’ll give the Huntington committee an answer Thursday night for sure, if only to stop the full-court press from both candidates. “They are both very enthusiastic and passionate,” Schaffer said, “and they have been pressing their case hard.”

If Marcantonio is eligible, the consensus is that he’ll be the committee’s designee for a seat that is about 60 percent Huntington, 30 percent Babylon and 10 percent Islip. 

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has yet to call a special election for the seat.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

No problem here

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Quick Points

  • Officials from the National Archives have apologized for altering an exhibited photo of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington by blurring signs critical of President Donald Trump, responding to fierce criticism by saying the blurring was an attempt to “keep the focus on the records.” Well, they succeeded, though not in the way they intended.
  • President Donald Trump told donors at a Mar-a-Lago dinner, “Who the hell cares about the budget?” — officially exposing one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington.
  • Houston Astros star Jose Altuve, speaking about the fallout from the team’s sign-stealing scandal: “It’s a tough situation, and as a team we have to stay together and go through this as a team like we’ve been doing, always ... We have to talk about it at our spring training and try not to let things in the past distract us for next year.” News flash for Altuve: It was you and your teammates who cheated and created the distraction. Don’t put this on anyone else.
  • Some Long Island Rail Road riders complain that lights on new M9 train cars are too bright. When you’ve been in the darkness so long ...
  • In President Donald Trump’s legal team’s reply to the House’s impeachment trial memorandum is this passage: “The President’s actions on the July 25, 2019, telephone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine ... were constitutional, perfectly legal, completely appropriate, and taken in furtherance of our national interest.” Well, they got the date right.
  • Australia’s biggest mining company says coal output is down at one of its largest mines because of smoke from the country’s massive wildfires — wildfires intensified by climate change, to which the burning of coal is a major contributor. Now that’s climate justice.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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