Shaking and remaking the ‘Long Island 9’
Now that New York’s State Senate and House maps are final, Long Island’s more competitive candidacies take shape. The 11th-hour alterations by the court master who took over redistricting from the State Legislature will affect Long Island’s Senate delegation. Insiders are now assured that Democrats will hang on to at least two of nine seats that encompass Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The master’s weekend changes provide largely-minority districts for ex-Sen. Monica Martinez and Sen. Kevin Thomas. Beyond that, Democratic players concede that they could go from a current 5-4 edge to something far worse for them. GOP operatives even talk up the chance for a dominant 7-2, restoring most of the party’s old “Long Island 9” bloc.
On that front Monday, Sen. John Brooks announced, “I’m going to call it a day” — a sharp turnaround from early Friday when he was going full steam ahead for reelection. His district was sliced up in a way that would detach him from communities he’s long represented, including Freeport, Roosevelt, Wyandanch and Wheatley Heights — and tilts it more toward a Republican. The choice for Brooks’ underdog successor on the Democratic line is expected to fall to an assigned committee on vacancies — which essentially means the party picks the candidate for the new CD8. That process could also occur if Sen. James Gaughran does not seek reelection in the GOP-friendly 2nd SD where he’d face incumbent GOP Sen. Mario Mattera.
Jay Jacobs, the state and Nassau Democratic chairman, told The Point he believes Gaughran is “the only one that can” keep the seat Democratic in what’s now a “tough, tough” district.
And, Sen. Alexis Weik (R-Sayville) and former GOP Assemb. Dean Murray of East Patchogue will have strongly favorable districts for their planned Senate runs.
In Nassau, the last-minute map changes better solidify Elmont — as called for by community activists in Nassau County — and that could cost Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) a crop of Democratic-leaning voters as she faces ex-Sen. Jack Martins. While Kaplan lost Democratic precincts, Martins benefits from the addition of GOP-friendly voters in Garden City.
The most surprising Long Island news out of the redrawn State Senate, meanwhile, had nothing to do with a Senate seat but everything to do with the House.
One of the upper chamber’s majority, Sen. Alessandra Biaggi of Westchester, will no longer run in CD3, a district once again more heavily based in Long Island, leaving several local candidates vying in the primary. Biaggi let it be known Monday she’d compete instead against the Democratic Congressional Committee’s New York leader, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, in CD17, north of the city.
Many are the edges to Biaggi’s choice. The much-rewritten 17th was recently vacated by Antonio Delgado to become Gov. Kathy Hochul’s lieutenant governor after a corruption indictment forced ex-Sen. Brian Benjamin out of the post. And Rep. Mondaire Jones backed away from the challenge Biaggi is now taking up in the 17th. Jones plans to primary ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio and other Democrats in a Manhattan-Brooklyn district.
Ironically, it was Maloney who masterminded the Democrats’ ill-fated bid to center CD3 in the middle of Long Island Sound — which had led Biaggi to enter the primary for that seat from her Westchester base. That musical-chairs music is speeding up.
— Dan Janison @Danjanison
Congressional twists out east
With the final maps in place on the congressional front, Democrats have cleared the field in CD1 for Suffolk Legis. Bridget Fleming, who lost a 2020 primary for the nomination, while the GOP is still trying to sort out its business among several contenders.
After the special master dropped the maps early Saturday morning, Jackie Gordon made a U-turn from seeking a shot in CD1 and instead will try again in CD2 where she lost the general election to Andrew Garbarino in 2020. By Sunday, Fleming’s fellow legislator Kara Hahn exited the Democratic field amid talk that losing this year could hurt her chances for Suffolk county executive if she decides to run for that post next year.
The Republicans appear to be having a harder time. Early on when the Democratic maps made CD1 a bright red district, there was some talk that Garbarino might seek the safer seat. But he had filed petitions for CD2 and clearly is staying put.
Former Suffolk elections commissioner Nick LaLota, who has the party’s nod, told The Point he is definitely staying in the hunt to succeed Lee Zeldin in CD1.
The odd man out is Robert Cornicelli who announced in February that he, too, would run in CD1 but by April had switched to CD2. The Suffolk GOP has made it clear they are sticking with the well-funded incumbent, and the effort is on to persuade Cornicelli to switch back to CD1.
But he told the Point, adamantly, that the fight is on with Garbarino. “They are nervous because they know I can beat him,” said Cornicelli, who added he has long fought for the causes of conservative groups that will carry him “to a very big win” in a primary.
— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli
This item was updated after The Point was sent.
The monkey wrench
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Ramos, Liu offer some Mack attacks
At Metropolitan Transportation Authority committee meetings Monday, several board seats — including Nassau’s and Suffolk’s — were empty, as multiple nominations await confirmation by the State Senate.
Three were participating in online hearings with the State Senate’s Transportation and Corporations committees, including Nassau County’s David Mack.
“You’re kind of like an MTA institution, right?” State Sen. John Liu asked. “How long have you been on the board now?”
“I think that I’ll be the longest serving member in history,” Mack said.
But Mack’s current board membership only began in 2019, after former County Executive Laura Curran nominated him. Mack likely was referring to his previous stint, from 1993 until 2009, when he resigned under pressure after refusing to cooperate with an investigation of the State Police conducted by then-Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo. In 2013, former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano submitted Mack’s name for reappointment, but Cuomo rejected it.
Liu asked Mack what he could “offer the board as perhaps the longest-serving MTA board member” to address the authority’s pandemic-related challenges. “Just give me one idea of how you would get people back to the subways,” Liu said.
“I’ll give you two ideas: Have them feel safe and give them incentives to ride subways, buses and commuter railroads,” Mack said.
Said Liu: “Mr. Mack, I really truly do appreciate your many, many years of service as a board member but we need ideas and we need, you know, new energy, new blood.”
“I don’t know about new blood,” Mack said. “Even the smartest guy without experience can be a zero.”
Replied Liu: “And a guy with a lot of experience but nothing to offer for the future, some would say that might be a zero also.”
“I don’t think so,” said Mack. “With my combined knowledge and experience, I’m an asset to the MTA and I always have been. Just look at my attendance record.”
State Sen. Jessica Ramos took a similar tack. But she seemed unsure of Mack’s role, referring to him as the MTA board chair. (Janno Lieber chairs the MTA board.)
“Quite frankly, I want to see the chair of the board be someone who’s hands on, rides the subway, doesn’t need to be asked to ride the subway, rides the LIRR, rides Metro-North, and is hands on and active in knowing what’s happening,” Ramos said. “Quite frankly, Mr. Mack, you’ve now been at the head of the board for way too long and we haven’t seen drastic improvements, not even before the pandemic …”
Ramos added that she didn’t want “an all white, all male board of the MTA any longer.”
“I thank you for your years of service, but your time has come,” Ramos said.
Toward the end of the hearing, State Sens. Anna Kaplan and Todd Kaminsky threw their support to Mack.
“I do think he’s bringing a world of expertise here,” Kaplan said.
Kaminsky gave Mack credit for working “together to turn the system around” from previous reliability and service issues and the so-called “summer of hell.”
“I appreciate Mr. Mack’s willingness to step up again and again.” Kaminsky said.
Mack, however, didn’t rejoin the board until a year and a half after the “summer of hell.”
Ramos and Liu voted against Mack’s appointment, but he won enough support — including from Kaplan and Kaminsky — to move toward a full confirmation. If that comes Tuesday, it could mean fewer empty seats by Wednesday’s full MTA board meeting.
As for Suffolk, County Executive Steve Bellone’s pick, Samuel Chu, was officially nominated by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday. His name now moves on to the State Senate, too.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
- Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says redistricting in New York was “hijacked” by the courts. Which is true only in the sense that police who stopped a stolen car leaving the scene of a bank robbery “hijacked” the vehicle.
- Russia banned 963 people for life from entering the country, including President Joe Biden. Here’s a guess he’s not going to view that as much of a punishment.
- Donald Trump’s love letters with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un are out and expanded joint military activities with South Korea are in, per an agreement between President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. Not that that’s going to change the relationship with North Korea, either.
- The Southern Baptist Convention released a major third-party investigation filled with details of sexual abuse by church leaders and staff, and the minimization and vilification of survivors reporting abuse. Sound familiar?
- A diplomat at Russia’s mission to the UN in Geneva resigned over the Ukraine war, saying “never have I been so ashamed of my country” and labeling the war “not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia …” Could be the longed-for tipping point when Russians turn against the war. Or not.
- Early Voting was a winner — in the Preakness Stakes and in the 2020 presidential election. In only one of them did anyone try to overturn the result.
— Michael Dobie @mwdobie