Brindisi And Stefanik Seek State And Federal Recovery Support

A bipartisan push is underway for flood relief aid from the state and federal governments.

Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi and Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik in a joint letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged state action following last week’s storms that devastated parts of central and northern New York.

Specifically, the lawmakers want to see the state undertake a joint Preliminary Damage Assessment with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We understand the state is currently in an assessment phase in order to get a better understanding of what will be needed to fully recover,” the congressional lawmakers wrote.

“We greatly appreciate all the time and energy you and your staff have put into the recovery effort. However, due to the extensive damage to homes, properties, and critical infrastructure in many of our communities, we believe further steps must be taken to determine if federal assistance may be available to aid in the recovery process.”

Cuomo last week declared a state of emergency in multiple counties affected by the storms and subsequent flooding: Cayuga, Chautauqua, Dutchess, Erie, Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Saratoga and Warren.

Updated: Winning With Only (Two) Ballot Line(s)

From the Morning Memo:

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is an outspoken critic of fusion voting, which allows candidates for elected office to run on multiple party lines.

Bellone dislikes the arrangement so much that he only ran on the Democratic line. And he won.

Updated: Bellone did run on a minor party ballot line, running with the Protect the Taxpayer line. He received 3,626 votes, or about 1.3 percent of his overall total. That’s not enough to have swayed the outcome, but it’s a second line nevertheless.

Bellone’s campaign in a memo released after his victory said it’s an example of how a candidate can run only one ballot line and still be successful in a closely waged race. Bellone secured a third term in a key swing area of the state.

“Outspoken on the corrupting influence fusion voting has on our democracy in New York, the County Executive decided not to accept any established minor party lines this election,” the memo stated.

“The County Executive shared his thoughts in a widely-read op-ed published in Newsday. However, the County Executive’s decision, as principled as it was, meant that he would be at a competitive disadvantage, no longer having the Independence or Working Families Party ballot lines.”

Bellone’s take on his victory with one line comes as a commission considering the details of public financing of political campaigns is contemplating changes to fusion voting in the state — a move that would hobble third party entities like the Working Families Party and the Conservative Party.

A Lost Decade For Republicans In New York’s Suburbs

One does not have to go back that far to recall the Republican domination of New York City’s suburbs.

These were chamber of commerce Republicans, Rockefeller voters who elected people like Andrew O’Rourke Westchester County executive and helped fuel George Pataki’s rise to the governor’s office in 1994.

But in the last decade, Republicans have steadily lost more and more ground in the New York City suburban counties, once considered a key firewall between Republicans in upstate New York and Democratic-dominated New York City.

Republican enrollment in the last three years overall has fallen by more than 18,000 enrolled active voters statewide while Democratic enrollment has surged, according to the latest Board of Elections data.

An even more dramatic story is played out in New York City’s suburban counties to the north and east over a longer time period, between November 2010, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo was first elected and Nov. 1 of this year. The story of New York’s increasingly Democratic suburban counties is not unlike what’s being seen nationwide in the shadow of heavily Democratic cities like Washington.

In Westchester County, Republican enrollment has declined by 9,002 active voters. Democrats during the same time period gained 48,183.

In Rockland County, enrollment Republicans fell by 3,906 voters. Democrats there gained 11,779 voters.

And, in what will eventually be the case statewide, independent or “blank” voters — those who have chosen to not enroll in a party — outnumber Republicans in both of those areas.

In Nassau County, Republicans lost 25,248 voters in the last decade. Democrats gained 31,292 voters.

In Suffolk County, a county President Trump carried three years ago, Republicans were able to gain 4,569 voters. But Democratic enrollment grew at a faster clip, with 44,905 new voters. Democrats now outnumber Republicans in Suffolk County, a switch from the start of the decade.

Republicans are out of power statewide. They have not won a statewide election since 2002, when Pataki won a third term.

Six of the nine Long Island state Senate districts, once a key lever of power for Republicans in New York, are now held by Democrats. Democrats control the county executive offices in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The suburbs have long been considered a bellwether for statewide elections in New York. And, as Republicans seek to rebuild their party, the suburbs will be a key battleground to do so. But the enrollment trends will make clawing back to power a challenge.

Schumer Robocalls For Bellone

From the Morning Memo:

Voters in Suffolk County are receiving a robocall from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer backing the re-election bid of Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone.

In the call, Schumer praises Bellone for working with him on backing the restoration of the deduction of state and local taxes, which has been capped at $10,000 by a two-year-old federal tax measure.

“Steve hasn’t just talked about protecting taxpayers, he’s done it,” Schumer said in the robocall. “He’s frozen the county tax for eight straight years. These days that’s a really tough accomplishment.”

Bellone is seeking a third term on Tuesday in a key suburban swing county. He faces Republican John Kennedy, the county comptroller.

Trump Leaves New York, Democrats Say ‘Good Riddance’

From the Morning Memo:

It didn’t take long on Thursday evening for Democratic critics of President Donald Trump in New York to celebrate the news he and First Lady Melania Trump had filed paperwork to declare themselves Florida residents.

“GOOD RIDDANCE!!” tweeted New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

The Twitter account of Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who Trump in a previous White House meeting referred to as “my governor” — was also in a buoyant mood over the news, and even cryptically suggested the president hadn’t been paying his taxes in New York.

“Good riddance,” the governor’s account tweeted. “It’s not like @realDonaldTrump paid taxes here anyway…”

It added, “He’s all yours, Florida.”

Trump was the first New York resident elected to the presidency since Franklin Roosevelt, ending a presidential dry spell for a large and otherwise politically influential state.

His decision to make Florida his official resident — he has properties in the state — likely won’t change much when it comes to the security around his building on 5th Avenue in New York City or, for that matter, he’s still very much of the New York tabloid and celebrity culture that has fueled his rise, personality and approach to the office.

But the move will undoubtedly call into question whether Trump moved because of the state’s high tax burden or, perhaps ironically, due to the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions that was part of the 2017 federal tax law he cheered.

There’s a partial irony, too, in Cuomo celebrating the departure of a wealthy New Yorker to another state. In blasting the deduction cap, Cuomo has decried how easy it is for rich people to pull up stakes and leave New York for lower-tax states like Florida.

After all, he notes, a sizable chunk of the main driver of state budget revenue, the personal income tax, comes from the very wealthy.

Trump statewide is deeply unpopular in heavily Democratic New York even as he draws support in upstate areas. But he also made for good fodder for Democratic lawmakers and elected officials.

Attorney General Letitia James has investigated Trump’s personal finances and his effort to buy the Buffalo Bills. Her office’s probes led to the winding down of the Trump Foundation charity after it was found money was used to promote the president.

In the Legislature, lawmakers have passed legislation that included a bill enabling Congress to gain access to Trump’s New York tax filings, a measure that so far has not been taken advantage of by congressional committee chairmen.

It’s being challenged in court.

Lawmakers also want to remove Trump’s name from the signs of a defunct state park seen from the Taconic Parkway.

Trump will still loom large, of course, given the nature of his office. And he could still play a role in key House races in New York next year. Some of his biggest supports remain New Yorkers in Congress, like Rep. Lee Zeldin, or are seeking a comeback, like former Rep. Claudia Tenney.

Trump may be a Florida man, but this probably is not him truly leaving New York.

How The Latest Impeachment Turn Affect NY House Races

The politics of impeachment for the state’s House battleground races clarified themselves on Thursday as lawmakers running for re-election next year in swing seats voted on a resolution to move forward with an impeachment inquiry.

The mostly party-line resolution in large part is meant to open up to the public what has so far been a process largely conducted behind closed doors between witnesses and House impeachment investigators discussing the efforts of President Donald Trump’s administration and Rudy Giuliani to have Ukrainian officials investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The vote is the first public indication, therefore, of where lawmakers stand on the impeachment question, which could have wide-reaching ramifications for the contours of the 2020 congressional campaign in New York.

Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi, elected last year to a central New York House district that Trump carried by 15 percentage points in 2016, backed the resolution after remaining one of the half dozen hold outs in the majority conference on the issue.

Brindisi cast the decision to vote in favor of it as the result of a failure of bipartisanship and the need for public testimony.

“The bottom-line here is that the already-in-process investigation is moving along and delivering more questions than answers on both sides of the aisle. Since the investigation began, Democrats and Republicans in charge have failed to effectively come together in a constructive way that delivers what the public deserves: straight facts,” he said in a statement.

“My constituents want to judge things for themselves, and I support them. They want more information and public testimony. The only way to ensure this actually happens is to take the investigation into the public arena and shine a much-needed bright light. Doing so will allow both parties to finally call witnesses, the White House to rightfully be involved, and others to publicly respond to testimony heard in the wide open. Fair and open hearings will finally let Americans judge for themselves and –right now—I could not agree more. I want to judge for myself. We all do.”

Republicans called it a straight-up vote in favor of extending the impeachment inquiry.

“It may be Halloween, but it’s clear Anthony Brindisi has been tricking voters on his impeachment plans for nearly two years,” said New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy, who added the Democrats from districts the president carried “duped” their constituents.

Still, the impeachment question could cut the other way for Republicans, depending on the outcome of the public portion of the investigation, which GOP lawmakers have strongly pushed for in recent weeks.

Republican Rep. John Katko, who represents a Syracuse-area House district that has been in play virtual every even-numbered year for the last decade, voted against the resolution.

Democrat Dana Balter, who is challenging him for the second time, said Katko’s position should matter.

“Over the past month, it has become increasingly clear to the American people that the President of the United States abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure a foreign government to interfere in our elections,” Balter said.

“John Katko made clear with his vote today that he’s not interested in knowing the truth about President Trump’s egregious abuses of power. Nor is he interested in upholding his own oath to protect and defend the Constitution despite the fact that the very foundation of our democracy is at stake. In a stunning betrayal of the people he’s supposed to represent, Congressman Kakto chooses, yet again, to put partisanship ahead of the national security.”

Still, it’s almost impossible to determine what will motivate voters next year in what will likely be red-hot election season. Issues that congressional members face a full 12 months before Election Day have a tendency to either melt away or morph into something entirely different.

In TV Ad, Bellone Knocks Opponent Kennedy

As he seeks a third term as Suffolk County executive, Democrat Steve Bellone this week released a TV knocking his Republican opponent John Kennedy’s use of taxpayer dollars.

The ad accuses Kennedy, the Suffolk County comptroller, of taking pay raises and backing policies that have led to tax increases.

“I was tired of seeing politicians forget that taxes are your money,” Bellone says in the ad. “So I’ve led by example. I refused a county car, cut my own pay. I’ll keep fighting wasteful spending because taxes are your money.”

The ad comes as Bellone is running for re-election in a county that only three years ago voted to elect Republican Donald Trump to the presidency.

Suffolk County, however, has long been something of a purple-ish region politically in New York, and a potential bellwether for how either party will do in the following even-numbered election year.

NY-17: The Collective PAC Endorses Jones

The largest political action committee backing the election of black candidates to elected office on Tuesday endorsed Mondaire Jones’s bid for the Democratic nomination in the 17th congressional district.

Jones was endorsed by The Collective PAC, part of the group’s “Next Black Wave” plan. The initiative is backing a group of 20 black candidates nationwide who are deemed to be uniquely qualified, inspired and running competitive races.

The PAC so far in its history has aided 53 candidates win local, state and federal elections. It has previously launched a campaign school training candidates and campaign operatives around the country.

Jones is former Obama administration official in the Department of Justice running for the seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey. He faces state Sen. David Carlucci and Assemblyman David Buchwald for the Democratic nomination.

“As a black man who grew up in Rockland, it is a particular privilege to be endorsed by the Collective PAC today,” Jones said.

“People like me don’t usually get the opportunity to lead our communities. We have to fight for it—and we can’t do it alone. I first understood this when I revived my local NAACP youth council in high school—and that high school kid could not be more honored to be among the Collective PAC’s Next Black Wave Class of 2020. I know this fight is bigger than me, and I look forward to working with the Collective PAC to fight for bold, progressive change in Congress.”

New York Lawmakers Plan Federal Shutdown Hearing

New York state lawmakers will hold a public hearing later this month to assess the effect another federal government shutdown will have on New York.

The hearing, to be held on Oct. 29 in New York City, comes amid another looming federal budget deadline.

The hearing will be held by the Legislative Commission on Government Administration, a joint Senate and Assembly panel that reviews government administration and efficiency.

“The last federal government shutdown lasted over a month, resulted in many federal workers having to work without pay, crucial government services not being performed, and residents needs not being met,” said Assemblyman David Buchwald, a Democratic candidate for Congress who chairs the commission.

“New York State responded in some ways, but can be better prepared for these shutdowns, which have occurred more and more often and for extended durations in recent years.”

Lawmakers earlier this year introduced legislation that legislation meant to improve the state’s ability to respond to a future government shutdown on the federal level, allowing state agencies to create pre-planned actions to soften the blow.

“With Washington continually burying its head in the sand, a proactive review of the impact of federal government shutdowns on New York State is essential,” said Sen. James Skoufis, a Democrat from the Hudson Valley.

NY-17: Carlucci Launches Congressional Bid

State Sen. David Carlucci on Monday became the latest Democratic candidate to run for the seat being vacated in the House of Representatives by Rep. Nita Lowey.

Carlucci’s candidacy will test just how much of a political drag his longtime association with the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference will be after serving the majority of his time in the Senate aligned with Republicans.

One of his primary opponents, Mondaire Jones, has already sought to make the IDC link an issue for Democratic voters.

Yet, Carlucci was one of two former IDC lawmakers to win re-election last year, surviving a challenge from his left flank to win another two-year term in a district that had previously been held by a Republican lawmaker.

Carlucci’s announcement focused on the successes for Democrats in the state Legislature over the last two years, including voting law changes, the Child Victims Act, a measure meant to strengthen abortion laws and a permanent property tax cap — issues that could resonate in a suburban House race.

“Since being reelected to the State Senate last year, I’ve been able to pass more legislation to make it to the Governor’s desk than any other lawmaker in the State of New York,” he said.

Lowey is retiring next year after more than 30 years in office. In addition to Jones, Carlucci is also vying for the nomination with Assemblyman David Buchwald.