'Dating a doctor,' then death
A pointed new ad cut for New York’s 3rd Congressional District introduces voters to an Asian couple falling in love. “You finally got your wish, mom — I’m dating a doctor,” the woman texts her mom. Soon the couple are married, expecting a child, and then in trouble.
“The doctor says we need to terminate the pregnancy to save Macy but we can’t under the current law,” writes the husband in a text to family members. The wife dies, and the minute-long spot ends with the tagline, “Your health care should be up to you — not politicians. Vote to defeat anti-choice extremists.”
The piece, paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and announced last week, will run on digital, print and radio platforms in CD3 and seven other relatively suburban, relatively competitive districts in states like New Jersey and California. It’s an example of the messaging efforts Democrats are making to Asian American and Pacific Islander voters, at a time when some of those voters have recently flirted with the Republican Party. GOP mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa benefited from some of that phenomenon in his unsuccessful NYC bid last year, when some Asian American voters voiced dissatisfaction about issues like education under Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Point has previously reported on a prospective state super PAC for Lee Zeldin whose pitch deck proposed messaging about “shared values” in Asian communities.
That outfit hasn’t gotten off the floor yet but its strategy can be seen in the campaigns of Zeldin and other state GOP candidates.
The DCCC’s newlywed ad is also one way Democrats are using the Supreme Court’s bombshell on abortion to rally the troops for the midterms against anti-abortion Republicans — even in states where abortion access is protected or even being expanded, like New York. In CD3, the GOP’s candidate is George Santos, who told The Point that the DCCC is trying to “scare voters with a false narrative,” claiming, “We have never, and would never, advocate for a ban on all abortions, especially legislation that doesn’t include exceptions.”
Yet Santos was quoted as having a different position in September 2020 in The Island Now, concerning the kind of federal bill that pro-abortion rights Democrats fear: “If it is set down for legislation that we’re going to ban abortion in the United States and I’m given an opportunity to vote,” Santos said, “in that case, I will vote to support the ban of abortion in the United States.”
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Crime, inflation … and vaccination?
While crime, bail reform and public safety continue to take center stage in Lee Zeldin’s gubernatorial campaign, another hot button issue has begun to move into the spotlight: “medical freedom.”
The term is a spin on the effort to oppose vaccine mandates — those for COVID-19, and more broadly for many of the commonly accepted ones. The drumbeat began in earnest late last month, when there was talk that Gov. Kathy Hochul had told a group of New York City Department of Education officials that she would mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for schoolchildren after the November election.
While it’s unclear exactly what Hochul said to the group, the governor can’t mandate the vaccine on her own, and has correctly noted that any such shift in vaccine requirements would need legislative approval. But she also has said that she supports the idea of mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for the state’s students.
Zeldin, however, has made it clear he would get rid of any COVID-19-related vaccine mandates if he became governor, and wouldn’t institute any new ones.
In a tweet late last month, Zeldin made his position clear — much to the delight of those who oppose vaccine mandates.
“This is a personal decision and I respect medical freedom,” Zeldin wrote.
He echoed that position during a rally of about 200 people Wednesday night in Brooklyn. The event was promoted by and included anti-mandate groups including Teachers for Choice, an organization founded by Michael Kane, a former New York City teacher who was fired after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Freedom is the opportunity for you to decide whether or not you want to get the COVID vaccine,” Zeldin said. “If you want to get it, get it. If you don’t want to get it, don’t get it. Don’t get it because the governor of the state of New York called on you to be her apostle.”
That position is enough for many advocates.
“The medical freedom movement is getting behind [Zeldin’s] campaign,” Kane told the Point before Wednesday’s event, noting that this year would mark the first time he ever voted Republican. “He’s made a number of really firm stances and promises that are light years away from Gov. Hochul.”
While Zeldin’s remarks didn’t go far beyond a specific focus on the COVID-19 vaccine, anti-mandate advocates are hoping he will take an even broader stance, one that would include support of the concept of “informed consent” — which, in practice, could allow anyone to opt out of any vaccine requirement after being provided information about immunization.
Zeldin hasn’t committed to supporting the idea. But Kane said he’s hopeful a Zeldin administration would be supportive.
“They’re extremely receptive,” Kane said.
During the primary, the “medical freedom” community was divided, as some supported Andrew Giuliani, who was the only candidate who was not vaccinated against COVID-19. But Kane noted that even Giuliani supporters were now galvanizing behind Zeldin — and that Republicans were beginning to realize there was another key issue on which many voters were focused.
“The Republicans are really running on crime and inflation,” Kane said. “But there is another group of single-issue voters … and we are going to be continuing our conversation with Republicans about how they’re doing great with the mandate issue and probably need to do even better.”
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
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The forever shortage
An entry from the where-have-we-seen-this-before files: A brouhaha over rental housing in Nassau County.
This chapter took place in 1969, when then-Hempstead Presiding Supervisor Ralph Caso wrote a letter to the mayor of Rockville Centre supporting rent control there after some landlords committed “unconscionable acts” by hiking rents more than 100%.
“We applaud the supervisor’s concern, but we question his consistency,” Newsday’s editorial board wrote on Aug. 4, 1969, in piece titled “Supply and Demand.”
The board’s ire was spiked by what it said was Caso’s role in forcing the Mitchel Field Development Corporation to abandon plans to construct 1,700 apartment units at Mitchel Field for low, middle and upper-income tenants. Caso was chairman of the Nassau Board of Supervisors, the governing body of the day which would have had to approve every step of that development.
The inconsistency the editorial board referenced was rooted in the fact that demand for apartments on Long Island far exceeded supply and the best way to avoid huge rent hikes, it said, would be to increase that supply not keep it stagnant. The board cited relevant stats: Only 11% of young married people on Long Island could afford to buy a house, increasing the need for apartments. And the Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board estimated that at least 48,500 units of “public low-income and publicly-assisted middle income housing” were needed, with a shortfall of 85,000 additional units by 1985.
Those statistical units, the board told Caso, “represent people — voters — who are rapidly getting fed up with public officials whose inaction is deepening this housing crisis.”
Needless to say, more than a half-century later, the crisis is more like stasis on Long Island. There still is a shortage of rentals. The percentage of housing stock in the region that is apartments (17.8%) trails by a wide margin nearby suburbs Westchester (37.7%) and Bergen (34.9%) counties.
In 1969, the editorial board surmised that Caso had heard from tenants in Rockville Centre but warned, “Their complaints, Mr. Supervisor, are only the beginning.”
The board was right — complaints about a lack of rental housing have continued. But so has opposition to that housing. And so, too, has the third leg of this intractable policy triangle: Taking a stand against rentals has rarely cost an elected official their job.