Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Daily Point

Another headstone in the political graveyard

Marking 20 years after the centrist Liberal Party fell out of relevance, an attempt to revive the Independence Party in its more-recent role as a third-party broker has failed — at the hands of Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin’s campaign for governor.

The New York State Board of Elections last week rejected as void nearly 13,000 signatures submitted to nominate Zeldin for the extra ballot line, leaving him about 7,000 shy of the necessary 45,000. The board had followed up on an allegation that thousands of signatures were just photocopies.

“These petitions were not pretty,” went an understatement from a longtime Long Island consultant. “The opposition had very good objections.”

Ironically, Zeldin was trying to recreate the top of a party line that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo occupied in 2018 — on which the Suffolk congressman also appeared. In 2020 — under new and more difficult state standards shaped by then-incumbent Cuomo and Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs — the Independence Party lost its standing ballot status.

Automatic ballot status used to last four years after a party’s candidate for governor got 50,000 votes. Now, the state defines a standing political party as any organization whose candidate for governor or president at the last preceding election got at least 130,000 votes, or 2% of all votes cast for the office, whichever is greater.

The Independence Party two years ago ran businessman and one-time child actor Brock Pierce for president. Pierce got only about 22,000 votes, far short of the new qualification. Longtime chairman Frank MacKay said he is no longer involved with the party.

This season another minor party organization, the Libertarians, successfully challenged Zeldin’s Independence petitions. The Libertarians oppose cross-endorsing major party candidates to gain power. But they, too, failed this year to petition a candidate onto the ballot. Neither Libertarian Larry Sharpe nor the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins, who ran last time, will appear in November.

Back in 2002, Cuomo quit his failed primary campaign for governor, but too late to withdraw from the Liberal line. Cuomo got far too few votes in the election to keep the party on the ballot for another four years. The Liberals never returned to state prominence.

For the first time in recent memory, voters will see only two choices — Gov. Kathy Hochul on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines, and Zeldin, on the Republican and Conservative Party lines.

Fight as they might, the major parties rule.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Talking Point

First TV ad in CD3 Democratic primary

Nassau County Legis. Josh Lafazan is out with the first TV ad in the hot Democratic primary to replace Rep. Tom Suozzi in the 3rd Congressional District.

The 30-second spot starts with Lafazan dismissing the ideas of a bunch of suit-wearing ad executives pitching him on elaborate visual concepts.

“We don’t need all that,” the Woodbury Democrat says. “Just set up the camera and I’ll tell people who I am and what I’ll do.” He then lists subjects like banning “assault weapons,” protecting a woman’s right to choose, “and never defund the police. Because it’s common sense.”

The ad started running Monday morning and is part of a cable buy across Nassau County that includes almost a dozen networks such as News 12, CNN and MSNBC, says senior campaign strategist Max Kramer. It’s the beginning of a sustained TV buy through the Aug. 23 primary that will total “in the high six figures,” said Kramer.

The ad sheds a little insight into the issues that Lafazan appears to consider crucial for the race: gun control and reproductive rights, given recent mass shootings and the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, as well as policing, an issue Lafazan has been vocal on in the past, including sponsoring a controversial bill that sought to enhance legal protections for law enforcement under the county Human Rights Law.

The spot also marks the start of a looming airwaves war as the rescheduled primary approaches.

Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic National Committee member and communications executive, will be up on TV this week, says spokesman Jason Kaplan.

Melanie D’Arrigo, who unsuccessfully challenged Suozzi from the left last cycle, and businesswoman Reema Rasool have not launched a TV presence yet, their campaigns tell The Point, though D’Arrigo will be promoting a digital ad shortly and Rasool is “prioritizing ground mobilization and getting mail to people’s doors.”

Asked about his TV ad plans, former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, who trails Lafazan and Zimmerman in fundraising, did not elaborate but instead asked The Point in a text, “Are you asking for yourself or on behalf of the other monied candidates”?

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Dead in the water

Credit: Granlund

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Quick Points

He did it again, Charlie Brown

  • To Democrats wailing at Sen. Joe Manchin for pulling the plug on the party’s climate, energy and tax package, you’ve seen this movie before: You are Charlie Brown, Manchin is Lucy, and he’s always going to pull the football away at the last minute.
  • House Jan. 6 committee member Adam Kinzinger said he sees little value in trying to get former President Donald Trump to testify because Trump likely wouldn’t tell the truth even under oath. Anyone disagree?
  • The most detailed investigation yet of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting blamed every law enforcement agency responding to the attack. Given that for 77 minutes none of the 376 officers on the scene entered the classroom where 21 people were killed, widespread blame sounds right.
  • A nationwide Associated Press survey of state elections officials found no cases where expanded drop box use led to fraud, vandalism or theft that could have affected the 2020 results. Another nail in the election conspiracy theory coffin.
  • After recent mass shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois, why not one at a mall in Indianapolis, Indiana? It’s as random an example of Americana as anywhere else.
  • With Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and his administration clamoring for an end to NIFA’s control period over county financing, NIFA chairman Adam Barsky said, “I also question how the county will fare in the absence of NIFA.” Fair enough, but we’ll never know until the county once again tries to go it alone.
  • For all the Democratic rage over what they view as Sen. Joe Manchin’s betrayal on legislation that would have made significant progress against climate change, it could be worse. In the 50-50 Senate, at least Manchin is the only Democrat to consistently exercise that swing-vote power.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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