A screen shot from the YouTube video that shows Steve...

A screen shot from the YouTube video that shows Steve Van Zandt endorsing Laura Gillen for Congress.

Daily Point

Steve Van Zandt: Axe Republican in CD4

Steve Van Zandt, lead guitarist for the Bruce Springsteen-backing E Street Band and a star of “The Sopranos,” is endorsing Democrat Laura Gillen for Congress in one of the nation’s most closely watched contests, The Point has learned. Watch the video here

Gillen, the former Town of Hempstead supervisor, lost to Republican Anthony D’Esposito in 2022 and the rematch is now rated a tossup. Gillen thinks the endorsement will help with voters and fundraising. “Everybody in my district loves Springsteen and the Sopranos, it crosses all political divides,” she told The Point.

In the video, Van Zandt says he has an “important message about a subject you are already tired of hearing about, the 2024 election. Yeah, it feels a little bleak but do not despair, I have found a ray of light, Laura Gillen.”

In a very Sopranos-like delivery, Van Zandt goes on to say that Gillen is running against a “MAGA yutz ­— an incumbent Republican whose votes in Congress have been dictated by Donald Trump. Let’s face it, all those schmucks have got to go.” He does not mention D’Esposito by name.

Gillen said Van Zandt wrote the script and used an iPhone to record the video while in California. Asked about the “MAGA yutz” phrase, Gillen said, “It’s his script but I like it.”

Neither the guitarist, nor his press representative, could be reached for comment. His feed on X, formerly Twitter, includes many political posts and has supported political and environmental causes over the decades but The Point was unable to find any candidate endorsements.

Gillen’s connection to Van Zandt was happenstance, she told The Point. In January 2023, two months after her defeat, she was invited to a Manhattan event for The Cure Alliance focused on new research for pancreatic cancer. Van Zandt was there and she introduced herself. “He said if you ever run for Congress again, let me know,” recalled Gillen. Recently, Gillen reached out to the musician’s manager who put the two in touch and she asked him for an endorsement.

Asked to comment on the endorsement video, of which the campaign was unaware, D’Esposito spokesman Matthew Capp provided this statement to The Point: “While Laura Gillen is courting out-of-touch leftists on Hollywood Boulevard to support her unpopular progressive agenda, Congressman Anthony D’Esposito is working with local neighbors on Main Street to reduce inflation, curb reckless federal spending, and secure our streets in the midst of Biden’s border crisis.”

President Joe Biden carried the district, which had been represented in the past by Democrats Carolyn McCarthy and Kathleen Rice, by 15 points in 2020. D’Esposito won it by 4 points in 2022 when Republican Lee Zeldin made a strong run for governor against incumbent Kathy Hochul.

As endorsements go, the YouTube pitch by a high-profile celebrity does stand out in contrast to praise from village mayors and water commissioners that candidates cite on their websites and in glossy mailers. But will having Miami Steve as a wingman translate into a Bada Bing moment for Gillen?

— Rita Ciolli rita.ciolli@newsday.com

Pencil Point

Unhappy meal

Credit: CagleCartoons.com/Daryl Cagle

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

Quick Points

School daze

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  • Heavier than usual snowfall the past two winters has boosted the water level in the Great Salt Lake by six feet, raising it from a record low but still below the minimal level considered healthy, prompting the director of the Great Salt Lake Institute to say, “We need to really be cautious about being optimistic.” Wise words for the entire climate movement.
  • Democratic senators from a variety of swing states say polls showing President Joe Biden trailing former President Donald Trump in those states are wrong. GOP Sen. Ron Johnson from Wisconsin says he doesn’t trust polls in that swing state that show Trump trailing Biden. Is this a case of senators really knowing their states, or human nature to complain about not being first?
  • Former President Donald Trump asked a rally crowd Saturday whether he would be considered a two-term or three-term president if he wins in November. Well, let’s see, a victory this fall would mean he would have won two elections so do the math.
  • After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized him for being critical of the Jerry Springer-style, insult-strewn chaos that engulfed a House Oversight Committee hearing last week, fellow Democrat Sen. John Fetterman said that “if they feel that this is the kind of a video that you want to send to a classroom of eighth grade civics kind of students across America, again, that’s their choice.” That’s a mic drop.
  • Pushing back on a Fox News anchor who questioned the consistency of her support for former President Donald Trump, New York GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik said the report was not true — despite the fact the anchor was citing anti-Trump remarks made by Stefanik herself in 2015. Why is this an issue now? Perhaps because Stefanik is angling to be Trump’s running mate this fall?
  • Ed Dwight, 90, an Air Force pilot when then-President John F. Kennedy recommended him to be America’s first Black astronaut before he was rejected by NASA, became the oldest person in space some 60 years later when he completed a flight in a Blue Origin capsule Sunday. With all sincere due respect, Dwight seems a more worthy record-holder than the previous oldest “astronaut” — Star Trek actor William Shatner.

— Michael Dobie michael.dobie@newsday.com

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