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A win for the resistance? Hard to tell
Democrat Christine Pellegrino’s victory in Tuesday’s special election for the 9th District State Assembly seat is being hailed by progressives as a harbinger of a wave of anti-Donald Trump protest that could spell trouble for Republicans in the 2018 midterm election.
There certainly are numbers to support the theory. Trump won the district with 60 percent of the vote in November, the GOP holds a 13-point registration advantage, and Pellegrino beat Conservative Tom Gargiulo, 58 percent to 42 percent.
Other facts make a different case. The state teachers union poured $200,000 into a committee that backed Pellegrino, a fellow teacher, and she was accompanied in door-to-door campaigning by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who is popular especially in the Babylon Town part of the U-shaped district.
Now combine that with the turnout — 9,641 voters went to the polls. More than 66,000 people voted in the district in November, when incumbent Joseph Saladino held on to his seat before becoming Oyster Bay Town supervisor, and more than 32,000 ballots were cast in the off-year race in 2014.
Strong turnout operations tend to have their biggest impact when interest is minimal and turnout is lowest. That won’t be the case in 2018, when the dance card will include the governor’s race and a much-anticipated national referendum on Trump’s presidency.
Eyes on Suffolk race
If there were going to be a cross-endorsement deal between the major parties in the races for district attorney and sheriff in Suffolk County, John Jay LaValle has made it clear he’s not interested.
The Suffolk County Republican Committee chairman said Tuesday that he is committed to running Republicans in both races. “Any assertion that the Suffolk County Democrat party is delaying its choice of candidates based on a possibility of a Republican cross-endorsement is incorrect,” LaValle wrote in a statement.
Political insiders have been buzzing with the news of a possible Republican-Democratic deal since Suffolk Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer told Newsday last week that he wouldn’t have candidates for DA and sheriff by Monday’s party convention. Schaffer said LaValle had raised the prospect of a cross-endorsement deal when they ran into each other at the gym.
Democrats have a couple of strong contenders for district attorney, but what about sheriff?
On Friday, Newsday’s editorial board warned against nominating “a placeholder” and essentially giving voters no real choice. Will LaValle’s Tuesday announcement stir ambition among some Democrats?
Fidget spinners hit D.C.
Water to-do list
The latest installment in what’s become an annual Long Island environmental tradition will take place Thursday when the Long Island Clean Water Partnership holds its sixth annual water conference.
This time, the part of the agenda that focuses on progress made over the past year will be longer than usual.
“There have been a lot of very meaningful changes,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, whose group formed the partnership with the Group for the East End, Long Island Pine Barrens Society and The Nature Conservancy.
Successes include Suffolk County’s plan to reduce nitrogen coming from septic systems, ongoing work to map nitrogen levels in every Long Island watershed, and $2.5 billion in the recently approved state budget for water quality.
On the to-do list: exploring the possibility of creating a countywide sewer district in Suffolk. Supporters say such a move could make it easier to upgrade sewers throughout the county and to tap into federal infrastructure dollars should President Donald Trump succeed in his proposal for a $1 trillion plan.
Pulling that off would give the partnership plenty to talk about at next year’s conference.
Be back Tuesday
We’re preparing for a long Memorial Day weekend, so The Point returns Tuesday. Remember those who have served as you enjoy your barbeques.