Laura Ladd Bierman, executive director of the League of Women Voters....

Laura Ladd Bierman, executive director of the League of Women Voters.

Credit: AP / Hans Pennink

Daily Point

As the primaries turn - Week 15

The astonishing election disruption in New York may yet see a few more plot lines.

As Democrats continue to backstab each other over House and State Senate contests because a state judge threw out gerrymandered maps, a new federal civil rights lawsuit against the state Board of Elections threatens to upend just about every other aspect of the upcoming elections.

In the case filed Thursday in Manhattan, the League of Women Voters claims Democrats and Republicans put in place an unconstitutional scheme to limit competition in the primaries and obstruct the efforts of independent parties in the general election. The complaint, which details the twists and turns of the redistricting process, begins: “In a debacle of the state’s own making, New York’s 2022 election process has gone off the rails…”

The LWV is asking the federal court to stop the June 28 primary for statewide offices and the Assembly and consolidate it with the Aug. 23 primary for House and State Senate races. In addition, the lawsuit, assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer, asks that the petition process be reopened so new candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller can seek to get on the ballots of the major parties. The LWV also wants the time period extended for groups that want to form new parties for the November general election ballot.

“The State Board of Elections, apparently with the support of the leaders of both major political parties, put in place a deliberately exclusionary electoral regime for statewide offices designed to limit further competition in the primary and from independent candidates in the general election," said Laura Ladd Bierman, the executive director of the LWV.

The LWV filed an amicus brief in the initial state case that Republicans filed in Steuben County, in many ways giving their challenge a nonpartisan frame. And much of their argument was mirrored in the Court of Appeals historic decision to throw out the partisan confections of the Democrats. But the time needed to draw new maps and allow new candidates to petition required postponing the primary to August for some races.

However, when Patrick McAllister, the lower court judge, and the State Legislature refused to consolidate all the primaries, the LWV started their plan to file a federal action, according to a spokeswoman for the group who said two primaries meant higher costs and low turnout. McAllister’s ruling last week rejecting the reopening of the petition process for the statewide races only reinforced the group’s effort to continue its challenges.

So far the LWV is alone in the federal action as it calls out both major parties for being complicit in their effort to limit access to the ballot. A hearing on the complaint filed late Thursday evening will be held Wednesday at 8 a.m.

— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli

Talking Point

MacKays move all over the map

Earlier this week The Point reported that local radio host and former Independence Party chairman Frank MacKay was moving his show and taking a job with WABC 770 and WLIR 107.1 as president of the company’s Long Island division.

Turns out MacKay’s wife, Kristen, has also switched jobs, in a way that also reflects the politics of the moment. Kristen MacKay was at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office for 13 years, mostly under Conservative Party Sheriff Vincent DeMarco. The last four years, she did the job under Democratic Sheriff Errol Toulon, working as the department’s director of public relations, earning about $111,000 in 2020.    

Now MacKay is at the Suffolk County OTB, in a newly created role, director of Government Relations and Business Development, earning about $150,000 a year. The GOP takeover of the legislature brought with it control of the OTB, and a cozy bipartisan reshuffle when then-president Jim LaCarruba, a Democrat, and then-vice president Anthony Pancella III, a Republican,  switched jobs.

MacKay’s old role went to Vicki DiStefano, whose spot with Nassau County as a senior communications adviser to Democratic former County Executive Laura Curran ended with the change of  administrations.  DiStefano was earning about $95,000 with Nassau and will make $113,000 now as Toulon’s public information officer.

MacKay’s role is newly created, and she told The Point she is focusing on developing presentations to educate officials and the public about Suffolk OTB and Islandia slots parlor Jake’s 58, coordinating an effort to raise funds at Jake’s 58 for Ukraine, and doing business development for a print shop the OTB operates.

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

Midterm mud run

Credit: PoliticalCartoons.com/Dave Granlund

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Data Point

Butterflies are free

There are two primary populations of Monarch butterflies in the United States, the eastern and western Monarchs, separated by the Rocky Mountains. And the creatures need some help.

A bill in the state Senate Environmental Conservation committee would provide more protections for the butterflies and the habitats needed to successfully migrate from Canada to Mexico. The legislation would create a Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Rescue program, and provide funding to Monarch conservation projects, a good many of which are on Long Island.

Data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Monarch Conservation Database shows that as of 2020, there were 85 Monarch conservation efforts on Long Island covering 362 acres.

These programs added an estimated 60,000 or more milkweed stems to the island. Milkweeds, a flowering plant, are the host and food source for Monarch caterpillars and critical to their conservation. Unfortunately, four out of the 12 native NY milkweeds are listed as threatened or endangered, and some have not been documented on Long Island in many years.

The Albany lawmakers currently in a state of vertigo haven’t gotten around to protecting the butterflies yet but for Point readers who would like to assist the conservation effort, MonarchWatch.org has all the information to get you started.

— Kai Teoh @jkteoh

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