Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is running for governor of...

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is running for governor of New York. Credit: Bloomberg/Bridget Bennett

Daily Point

A NY State of entropy: Who’s up, who’s down

Suddenly, there are several moving parts to New York’s 2022 elections. Some of what looked destined last week has broken the opposite way in the past three days — all over the map.

Moving Part One: Leaked evidence from the U.S. Supreme Court that Roe v. Wade is about to be struck down means different states’ abortion laws gain immediate relevance. Democrats instantly weaponized statements by Rep. Lee Zeldin, the state GOP’S favored candidate for governor, who told an anti-abortion group, New York Right to Life, in a webinar late last month: “It would be a great benefit for the state of New York to have a health commissioner who respects life as opposed to what we're used to.”

According to a video recording of the remarks, no doubt destined for use in Democratic ads, Zeldin told the group: “Come on into the second floor of the New York State Capitol. It’s been a while, but you come right on in.” 

Will Republican legislative candidates be saying the same?

Moving Part Two: What started out as a bad week for an election-anxious Gov. Kathy Hochul improved, in terms of her ticket. Her Democratic legislative allies pushed through a self-serving law shoving her indicted ex-Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin off the ballot, allowing for Hudson Valley Rep. Antonio Delgado to replace him. That not only promoted a Democratic candidate with a Latino last name on her side to compete against two others for the number-two slot in the primaries, it got Delgado out of a potential House defeat due to the voiding of Albany Democrats’ gerrymander.

Moving Part Three: The Democratic-crafted State Senate maps were also voided by the state Court of Appeals. So individual Republicans as well as Democrats are changing course based on the coming judicial rewrite.

One is State Sen. Ed Rath, in Western New York, who had his 61st District split up under the legislative plan, placing his residence in a largely Democratic 60th. He wasn’t going to run again. Now, in a turnaround, he’s reported ready to file for reelection. "This district has been together for six decades," the Buffalo News quoted Rath as saying, "and there has been a lot of work and issue advocacy and a voice for here that would have been taken away to New York City."

Moving Part Four: On Wednesday, one Suffolk County political operative shared with The Point some stark logistical uncertainties and potential financial concerns — stemming not only from doubt over who’s likely to win what district, but the pushback of the House primary date from June 28 to Aug. 23. Among them: Maps and data that campaigns need to conduct polling have to be tossed and replaced. Mailers already printed now give the wrong primary date. Staff and resources for what was to be a two-month run now will be stretched to a four-month run. On the flip side, it may help to have the extra time to solicit small donations.

“You figure it out as you go,” said the staffer.

Moving Part Five: On one front, the remaining redistricting process looks like it will proceed as expected. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s last-ditch effort to reinstate their desired maps was dismissed by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said in Manhattan: “In the 102 years since my father, then a Ukrainian refugee, came into this country, if there were two things that he drilled into my head, they were … free, open, rational elections [and] respect for the courts.

 “The relief that I’m being asked to give today impinges, to some degree, on the public perception of both. And I’m not going to do that.”

But there could be apple carts left for the judicial branch to upset. Assembly maps, left untouched by the state Court of Appeals in its sweeping decision last week, are still under challenge in Steuben County, where the so-far-successful GOP redistricting challenge originated. 

State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister on Wednesday scheduled a hearing for May 10 to consider whether state Assembly maps should be redrawn with those primaries added to the Aug. 23 ballot. McAllister has allowed two new plaintiffs to intervene in the original case. 

Whether that happens could depend on the ability of the special master to add redrawing 150 districts to his other tasks. However, the judge could allow Assembly races to go on as planned under the current maps but order subsequent Assembly elections to take place using the new maps. “I just don’t see how there is time to turn around so many new maps in just a few days,” said John Faso, the former House member who is shepherding the GOP challenge to the Democratic redistricting.

McAllister’s show-cause order also allows the intervenors to argue that the petitions for statewide races are invalid because the signatures were collected based on rejected House district lines. If the judge were to accept their argument, new candidates could enter the races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller. And that means those primary contests would move from June 28 to Aug. 23 as well. 

Mark it as a rare electoral moment when the players try taking a field whose dimensions are uncertain — along with the date and time of the game.
— Dan Janison @Danjanison

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The buzz in New York 

New York State ranked 11th among honey-producing states in the U.S. in 2021, its roughly 3 million pounds of honey nestled between Washington state and Idaho. 

The industry is growing both statewide and locally, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Revenue from honey production statewide has more than doubled from about $5.8 million in 2012 to $12.5 million in 2021, making up about 4% of the total production in the U.S. 

In Suffolk County, honey sales doubled in the span of five years from $41,000 to $96,000 in 2017. Production more than tripled in the span of a decade from a little more than 7,000 pounds to 24,700 pounds in 2017, contributing 0.8% of the overall state production (up from 0.2%).

But for more than a decade, apiaries in New York were not required to register with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, after the State Legislature repealed the provision in 2010.

Without this requirement, an updated census of beehives in New York had been hard to acquire — USDA provides an annual survey of state-level data, but a county-level census is only conducted every five years. Accurate data can open up more grant money opportunities for local research.

But this changed last year when state lawmakers passed legislation that brought back the requirement and also established a cooperative honey bee health improvement program.

That wasn't the first attempt at bringing back required registrations, with efforts in 2018 and 2019 failing to pass.

— Kai Teoh @jkteoh


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