Zeldin to Mar-a-Lago
We know that Lee Zeldin will be heading to Mar-a-Lago for a fundraiser on Friday. What we don’t know: Will former President Donald Trump make an appearance and bestow his support?
The Long Island GOP political world has been buzzing about the upcoming event. One Republican source tells The Point that at least 40-50 New Yorkers are expected to make the trip, and plenty of other former New Yorkers and snowbirds will be in attendance — it’s Florida, after all.
The shindig will be hosted by Lynda and Anthony Lomangino, the latter a waste mogul who has contributed big to Zeldin in the past, as well as writing checks to many Nassau and Suffolk county candidates from his Long Island and Florida addresses.
An invitation lists contribution levels ranging from $1,000 for poolside reception to $25,000 for the “event chair” level which comes with the reception, two dinner seats, a photo, and “recognition.”
The big recognition of the evening, of course, would be from Trump, who has not released an endorsement in New York’s gubernatorial race yet.
Zeldin is the state party’s preferred nominee, and during Trump’s time in office the Shirley congressman was a fierce defender, including objecting to the Jan. 6 certification of Electoral College votes in Trump’s loss.
But Zeldin has competition in a likely GOP primary, including from Andrew Giuliani, son of Trump's close ally Rudy Giuliani and a longtime golfing buddy and former aide to Trump. The two have apparently golfed together “over 300 times.”
And Giuliani has been eager to insert Trump into the primary, repeatedly boosting the twice-impeached former president on the gubernatorial campaign trail, including in his floor speech in the Garden City Hotel at the party’s state convention earlier this year.
Asked about the possibility of a Trump endorsement, Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz said Zeldin “has remained in contact” with Trump: “As it relates to the New York Governor's race, Congressman Zeldin won't be getting ahead of President Trump in making any news today on the specifics of those conversations.”
Trump’s imprimatur would surely help a candidate in many parts of New York during a primary. In the general, would it rally the faithful and boost a red wave in the Democratic state? Or give Trump haters a reason to vote blue, and Republican moderates a reason to stay home?
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
The battle for NUMC goes another round
The timing and source of legislation that would move more control of the Nassau University Medical Center’s board from the new Republican county executive to the state’s Democratic governor makes a clear political statement.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s swift attempt to alter the board composition by putting in a new chairman has been stalled by court action. But in the long run, Blakeman and the Republican-majority legislature can get control of the board, and Blakeman can name Matthew Bruderman as chairman.
But that, and Blakeman’s control of the board, could be blocked by a bill sponsored by State Sen. Kevin Thomas and Assemb. Taylor Darling that would grow the board by six seats, from 15 to 21. The new board members would be picked by the governor and Assembly and Senate leaders, roles lately dominated by Democrats. Monday, Blakeman and Bruderman held a news conference to fight that expansion of state power, repeatedly calling it a power grab by Democrats and the state. At the event, Blakeman presented Bruderman with a check from the county for almost $13 million, money they said Bruderman already found out the county owed the hospital, and the county swiftly paid, which would be unusual.
Other board members said the county pays the hospital quarterly for services including health care for the county jail.
The rest of the event fixated on promises to fix the hospital, slams on political opponents, and some highly unorthodox statements, particularly from Bruderman, according to an audio tape obtained by The Point.
“I’m not a politician, and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I can sure as s**t fix this hospital!”
“They’re going to shoot me, and twist my words, but I’m going to fight for you. Don’t believe what you read in the papers.”
“I am a smart and powerful guy.”
“It will be so easy … you couldn’t do a worse job [than previous NUMC leaders].”
“I challenge the legislature to not touch the board and to let the county executive let me help these people, and if they do that I’ll give $1.5 million to the hospital.”
“Every other qualified person who has come near this institution has run away.”
“This is an amazing hospital. It’s gotten a bad rap. The problems that plagued the institution were never about the staff, the care or the patients, but political division and fiscal mismanagement.”
“I’ve already put together a solid initial plan to turn the hospital around and it will not only fix the hospital, it will make it the world-class institution it ought to be.”
Blakeman, too, returned again and again to claim that the state and the Democrats “want to close the hospital.”
Former County Executive Laura Curran’s appointment to the chair, nursing home operator Edward Farbenblum, has promoted a plan to keep the hospital open and expansive in the services it provides. That plan does include more state control, including a potential partnership with Stony Brook University Hospital that would help NUMC improve oversight and bill insurance companies more for services.
But Bruderman’s boldest comment at Monday’s event in front of the East Meadow hospital was one suggesting there is much less need for new revenue and expense cuts than others have said, and that operational improvements would fill most of the hole, because he has already found so many untapped sources of money and ways to save. “As far as I can tell, the real operating loss at this hospital is about $20 million,” Bruderman said, “and they have $22 million on the table.”
— Lane Filler @lanefiller
The Trump gap
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Mimic Maryland on maps, GOP urges NY
Opponents of the new congressional and State Senate maps drawn by New York’s Democratic-dominated legislature see a route to revisions they want, and it may run through Maryland.
Action in Albany and Annapolis could become the big parallel of the season. Republicans fighting what they condemn as Democratic gerrymandering in both places marched into court. As in New York, Maryland Republicans deployed an expert, Sean Trende, to dissect the proposed Democratic maps on statistical grounds to show party manipulation. As in New York, GOP lawyers sought to convince the court that it wasn’t too late to push back the primary date.
So far foes of Maryland’s Democratic congressional lines are winning. A Court of Appeals judge there, Lynne Battaglia, ruled late last week that the state’s new congressional map was indeed unconstitutional, the first time this cycle that a Democratic-drawn map was rejected. (Battaglia’s political pedigree is worth noting: She is a former chief of staff to former Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski.)
As a result of the court action, Maryland has pushed back its primaries to Aug. 23, the same date plaintiffs in the New York suit offer as an alternative to the scheduled June 28 primary. And, as the legislative plan’s challengers note, changes can be done quickly; Maryland’s lawmakers came back Monday with a revised map that they hope will pass muster with the court. But Maryland has only eight House seats; New York has 26 at stake this year, so changing the maps here might take more time.
The Republican side, advised by former upstate Rep. John Faso, hopes the parallel with Maryland will help State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister in New York’s deep-red Steuben County see that if he chooses to strike down the current maps, new ones could be authorized in time for this year’s elections.
Results are expected to be known very soon. McAllister has scheduled closing arguments Thursday starting 9:30 a.m. and his decision is due by Monday. In a year when redistricting has served as a hard-fought prelude to a crucial congressional midterm election, the ruling either way will keep the fate of the New York delegation on the national political map.
— Dan Janison @Danjanison