Nassau’s turn to wrestle over districts
Partisan tension has commenced over redistricting for the Nassau County Legislature, which must take effect in time for next year’s elections when all 19 seats come open.
While Suffolk County’s charter-mandated redistricting panel has divided over a new map, Nassau’s bipartisan commission is officially in business but has yet to take key public actions.
This led attorney David Mejias, a former legislator and Democratic co-chairman of the county’s Temporary District Advisory Commission, to start raising a fuss Wednesday over delays.
Mejias said he and the other Democratic commissioners have asked the Republicans, who have a majority in the legislature, to schedule an initial meeting but that TDAC’s GOP chair Frank Moroney, appointed by County Executive Bruce Blakeman, “has ignored these requests.”
“The Republicans are clearly attempting to run out the clock on the redistricting process, so there will be no time to challenge the illegal, gerrymandered maps they will no doubt foist on the voters,” Mejias charged. “We have been waiting for months, the Republicans are blatantly obstructing the redistricting process.”
Moroney replied to The Point: “We are confident we will do a good job,” including timely legislative hearings, all “in accordance with the law.” He said that in the last cycle in 2012, Democrats ultimately voted for the plan, and that this time he expects the proposed map will be “so good they have to vote for it.”
As for the tighter scheduling due to June primaries, Moroney said “there’s plenty of time left” and plans for full public input will be worked out.
For this 10-year cycle, Nassau and other jurisdictions must meet different state legal standards for the new districts, signaling a more intensive mapping process than before.
Mejias has proposed resolutions to set guidelines for the meetings to come, assure posting of agendas, limit consideration of partisan enrollments in drawing districts, and assure access to information and public input.
His side of the commission also calls for at least a half-dozen locations for hearings before the map drawing to include: Valley Stream/Elmont, Village of Hempstead, Baldwin/Freeport, New Cassel/Westbury, Inwood, Great Neck and Farmingdale, plus a virtual hearing, all by Sept. 8.
— Dan Janison @Danjanison
Gillen’s new CD4 poll
A new internal poll from the Laura Gillen campaign finds the former Hempstead supervisor with a comfortable 37% lead in her CD4 primary bid.
The poll of likely Democratic primary voters, conducted by Impact Research from Aug. 2 to 8, logged Gillen at 47%, Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages at 10%, and Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett at 5%.
Those wide margins were similar to ones in the Impact poll results Gillen’s campaign released back in April, which had Gillen at 40%, Solages and fellow Legis. Siela Bynoe at 11% and 9%, and Corbett at 4%.
Bynoe has since dropped out of the delayed primary for the redistricted seat, but the new poll doesn’t give much indication that her supporters will go to Solages or Corbett. Crosstabs of the survey were not available, but the big distance between Gillen and the field also doesn’t suggest that either Solages or Corbett would be pulling enough from Gillen to push the other over the edge. Of course, that’s assuming this snapshot of the race is accurate and will endure for the next weeks of TV ads, mailers and campaigning.
The poll consisted of 244 mobile, landline, and SMS text-to-web interviews, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 6.3 percentage points.
Gillen, whose favorability ratings also dwarf those of her opponents in this poll, certainly seems to be benefiting from the name recognition she earned representing most of the district for two years as Town of Hempstead supervisor.
Some uncertainty remains, not surprising after the sudden departure of the district’s incumbent, Kathleen Rice, as well as all the redistricting changes this year. This poll found a slightly higher percentage of undecided voters for the new field: 39% vs. 36% in the spring.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Can't make this up
For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons
Predicting August turnout
One question on the minds of Long Island’s congressional campaign staffers is how to model turnout for this highly unusual Aug. 23 primary.
It’s not the first time New York’s primaries have been newly split or shifted on the calendar. In 2014, for example, a long run of September primaries was interrupted by court action, moving the date for the congressional primary to June in order to leave more time for overseas military personnel to vote absentee. But the state-level primaries were still held in the fall.
That year — also a midterm — featured pretty low interest in some of the June congressional primaries. In CD1, where George Demos lost to Lee Zeldin en route to Zeldin’s first congressional victory, turnout was only 11%.
But if we’re gauging what date draws more voters, August might be even worse than June as it comes during prime vacation time. And in 2014, the congressional primaries came before the state ones, meaning voters wouldn’t be confused about having voted already. Another past election to look at for a loose comparison might be the August 2011 single-issue referendum on a plan “to borrow up to $400 million for a new Nassau Coliseum and minor league baseball park,” as Newsday reported at the time.
That, too, was a sleepy summer affair many residents knew little about. Those that did — including Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, who had rallied opposition to the referendum — mostly were unenthused. Nearly 163,000 votes were cast, and the proposal was handily defeated.
To get a sense of voter preparedness then and now, we asked the Nassau Board of Elections for the county’s absentee ballot numbers in 2011 and 2022. There were 4,731 absentee ballots cast in the referendum, which is more than the 3,918 absentee ballots that had been requested as of Tuesday for this month’s primary.
There are different ways to think of those figures. Nassau voters can still request an absentee ballot in person, so the current number could tick up. Alternatively, use of absentee ballots is much more normalized in these pandemic days, so it’s interesting that fewer might be cast this time around.
Questions abound. Should we expect extremely low turnout later this month? How low could that turnout go? And finally, the money question — what kind of campaign or which candidates would benefit from voter apathy?
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano