Gordon Tepper of Long Beach is Gov. Kathy Hochul's regional...

Gordon Tepper of Long Beach is Gov. Kathy Hochul's regional press secretary on Long Island. Credit: Bob Giglione

Daily Point

New staffer for Hochul’s Long Island office

Showing that she’s certainly not staying out of Long Island, Gov. Kathy Hochul has added a new position to her Long Island office — a regional press secretary.

Hochul has hired Gordon Tepper, who previously handled communications for the Town of North Hempstead until the town board’s majority switched into Republican hands last year, to fill the job.

Before that, Tepper, a Long Beach resident, had served as public relations director for the City of Long Beach and, before that, worked for Long Island University.

“Long Island is a diverse and dynamic region, and I am excited to work toward amplifying the governor’s message and fostering engagement across Nassau and Suffolk,” Tepper told The Point.

With a month to go before the state budget is due, Tepper likely will be hitting the ground running, as the Long Island to-do list already could include everything from housing to school funding to the future of the Nassau University Medical Center.

And he’ll likely also be the one to dash off any future responses to Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who in January famously told a Long Island Association breakfast that he wanted the state to “stay out of Long Island.”

Hochul at the time retorted that “Nothing will keep me away from Long Island.” With Tepper’s appointment, she seems to be doubling down on that plan.

— Randi F. Marshall randi.marshall@newsday.com

Pencil Point

Optical illusions ahead

Credit: Creators.com/Steve Breen

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Final Point

Sapraicone carries on his Senate odyssey

Earlier this week, conflicting opinions circulated in GOP circles as to the precise deadline for when Michael Sapraicone, who was designated last week by the Conservative and Republican parties as their preferred candidate for U.S. Senate, could withdraw his candidacy.

Everyone agreed, however, that the last chance for that change would be before Thursday at midnight, so the parsing is moot. And Sapraicone, who reportedly campaigned upstate this week, is moving forward as planned, despite last-ditch urging from ex-Rep. Peter King and others that he step aside after drawing overwhelming GOP organization support at the state party convention Feb. 22 for the nomination against Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Sapraicone’s sin, or irreversible error, in the eyes of certain vocal Donald Trump adherents, is that in 2022 he contributed $1,000 to state Attorney General Letitia James, who last month won a $450 million-plus ruling against Trump and his business entities in her civil fraud suit against them. It may be common for businessmen, as Sapraicone was, to contribute to candidates of both parties but as one Long Island Republican put it his week, James “is considered the anti-Christ” in the Trump-controlled national party.

Sapraicone, of Glen Head, is a retired NYPD detective and founder and former owner of the Squad Security business. His rivals, celebrity boxer Cara Castronuova and entrepreneur Josh Eisen, who each got 8% in the GOP’s weighted state vote, aren’t quitting the GOP scrum, either. Castronuova, of Elmont, is due to address the Rockaway Republican Club in Queens next Wednesday, the organization announced. Eisen got an early nod from ex-Gov. George Pataki.

Seasoned observers note that those designated as the preferred candidate of a party’s convention don’t always win the primary.

During this week’s unusual Sapraicone media storm, past analytic thoughts he shared regarding the GOP’s chances under Trump were recirculated in the political ecosphere.

For example, Sapraicone said of the 45th president in a podcast last March: “It just seems so many people are — I don’t know if afraid is the right word — that they’re following him, how do we break apart that? I don’t care if it’s DeSantis, if it’s Scott, if it’s Nikki Haley. How do you get away?

“It seems like you can’t get away from him, he’s just there. And why would we even be considering him? He’s about to get indicted, he’s about to do this, he’s about to do that, the whole January 6th thing. You know, how do we as a country embrace him at all? When you call people names and be it Clinton or whoever he’s going to start calling ‘Sleepy Joe,’ how do you teach your kids that that’s okay when they’re watching on TV?”

That was last year, which is a long time ago in these matters. Against the dust-up over his modest James contribution, Sapraicone has been reasserting his electoral support for Trump, who’s expected to be at the top of the November ticket.

For now, the rival party’s tensions seem only to amuse those on Gillibrand’s side. She could benefit should the Republican and Conservative parties somehow end up splitting the opposition by nominating different candidates. Active Conservatives so far show no flinching from their Sapraicone support.

Gillibrand is looking to win her fourth statewide election since Gov. David Paterson chose her to succeed Hillary Clinton in 2009. Of this week’s GOP frenzy, one Democratic ally of Gillibrand’s said: “It’s all good with us. We’re getting out the popcorn.”

— Dan Janison dan.janison@newsday.com

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