Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! We woke up on #NationalWalkoutDay to news of Stephen Hawking’s death. We’re working on an editorial celebrating his life -- click here for an early look.
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The politics of #NationalWalkoutDay
It was a tricky morning for local elected officials on Wednesday as they navigated boisterous student-led walkouts against gun violence.
Neither Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone or Nassau County Executive Laura Curran protested at a local school Wednesday morning. A spokesman for Bellone said he will meet with local school district superintendents Thursday to talk about campus safety while Curran told us she plans to attend the national march outside the White House on March 24.
Prominent elected officials in New York City, where backing of more gun control is a given, showed support for the students in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
The officials spread around the city. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took part in a “die-in” with students in Zuccotti Park, Manhattan, flanked by teachers union heads Michael Mulgrew and Randi Weingarten.
Mayor Bill de Blasio opted for a high school in his beloved Brooklyn: Edward R. Murrow, known for its strength in the arts and its winning chess team.
“I am very proud of you today,” de Blasio told students in a short speech sandwiched between the words of student activists. He said he appreciated the activists and their counterparts across the country who are “standing up for change.” Then he passed back the mic.
Politicians, pollsters and pundits are gorging themselves on the many take-aways from Tuesday’s special election results in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, where a Democrat is the apparent victor by a few hundred votes. It’s a district President Donald Trump took by almost 20 percentage points. But there may be a unique takeaway for Long Island in the midterm elections.
Apparent winner Conor Lamb positioned himself as a center-right Democrat who took on many of the views of his very conservative Republican opponent, Rick Saccone. This type of localization is the current view of the Democratic National Committee, which is pushing the message that the candidate must be customized to the district rather than the district subscribe to party orthodoxy.
Lamb ignored Trump and ran this type of campaign. Saccone wore Trump — who visited the area twice to campaign for him — as a badge of honor.
There are many reasons for Lamb’s success, including the DNC’s “conform to the district” mantra. But more than local appeal is delivering for Democrats in red areas.
After all, PA18 trended to the GOP for years. In 2008, it went for John McCain by more than 11 points. Mitt Romney increased the margin to more than 17 points in 2012. And the district went even bigger for Trump in 2016.
What’s changed is that moderate suburban women in this district, which includes the more affluent counties outside Pittsburgh and struggling Rust Belt areas of closed mills and coal mines to the south, crossed over to the Democratic column.
That political muscle is swelling, bolstered by national movements against sexual harassment and pay inequality embraced by women of all ages and parties.
College-educated suburban women have been moving away from Trump and those who staunchly defend him. That trend was evident in December’s Alabama Senate race, when Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore, and in November’s gubernatorial race in Virginia, when Democrat nominee Ralph Northam got 54 percent of the vote against Republican Ed Gillespie.
Tuesday’s results in Pennsylvania could spell trouble in New York’s CD1 for Rep. Lee Zeldin, one of Trump’s biggest boosters in a blue state.
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Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto are defending themselves in federal court against charges that they abused their official positions for personal gain.
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Progress on drug fight
As federal and state officials debate about how to respond further to the opioid crisis, one drug-related bill might see smooth sailing in the State Legislature this spring.
A measure sponsored by Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) would require drug manufacturers to pay for a statewide program for the safe disposal of prescription drugs. Early indications are that it has strong bipartisan support in Albany.
It also has a nice piece of real-world evidence to demonstrate its potential impact.
A voluntary prescription drug take-back program put together by Citizens Campaign for the Environment, paid for with a state grant and run by King Kullen stores on Long Island, has collected well more than 8,000 pounds of drugs for safe disposal in an incinerator in 3 ½ years.
That’s a lot of drugs out of the hands of potential abusers and out of landfills and local waters.