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On Election Day, Federal Policy & Funding Stakes High for New York City

clinton de blasio inner circle

Clinton & de Blasio (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be in New York City on election night, and one of them will be the next President of the United States. Through the results of the presidential election, which comes down to one native New Yorker and one New York transplant, and with the congressional elections on the ballot, there’s a great deal at stake for New York City.

According to the fiscal year 2017 budget summary released by the mayor’s office in April, in 1978 almost 23 percent of New York City’s budget came from the federal government. During the late 1980s, that number was at roughly 11 percent. In 2015, the federal government provided slightly under 9 percent of the city’s total budget. Despite spikes in funding during catastrophic times like the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks or the Great Recession, decline in federal investment in New York City is nothing new, nor is it purely partisan.

While cuts have been made to federal funding for infrastructure, housing, health care, and other important city programs over the years, New York felt a particular sting when President Barack Obama announced in February a significant cut in anti-terrorism funding in his 2017 budget. Mayor Bill de Blasio, frustrated, traveled to Washington to testify in front of Congress to restore the full amount of federal money granted. In May of this year, Congress passed a Homeland Security bill, which included the original $600 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative, more than the $330 million proposed by the White House.

Federal aid in the form of grants helps fund community development, social service, and education programs -- but who is in the White House and party control in Congress have a great deal of influence over amount of such funding. New York City’s current fiscal year 2017 budget is about $82 billion, less than one-tenth of which comes through federal funds. In 2013, New York City  taxpayers sent $57.3 billion in federal income tax to Washington, according to the Observer, which reported in March on  federal disinvestment in New York.

According to the city’s Independent Budget Office, the top three city agencies that received the most federal aid from 2011-2015 were the Department of Education ($8.4 billion), Human Resources Administration ($7.7 billion) and the Administration for Children’s Services ($6.4 billion).

The fiscal needs of big cities like New York sometimes get short-changed in D.C., explained Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, an independent policy group focused on improving New York City’s economy.

“Because it’s such a big city, because it’s perceived as a liberal city,” Bowles said in an interview. “For whatever reason, it’s struggled to get its fair share of funding.”

Some also point to cities, especially New York, being seen as economic engines not in need of federal support -- saying that leaders in Washington see New York City more as a booster of federal coffers through tax revenue.

Bowles said the next presidential administration has a real opportunity to include urban areas in new budget proposals, after decades of ignoring them.

“Politicians in Washington really didn’t want to talk about urban areas, and they were perceived as the problem,” he said. “But whether it’s public housing, transit funding or so many other things, New York’s needs are clearly not being taken care of by the federal government.”

Over the past year, Mayor de Blasio has campaigned for Hillary Clinton, his fellow Democrat, on numerous occasions and in a variety of states (this, after he delayed his endorsement of Clinton). De Blasio dedicated his time to campaigning for Clinton instead of stumping for Democratic candidates in key New York State Senate races, where control of that chamber will be decided. In 2014, de Blasio and his allies attempted to swing seats to ensure a Democratic takeover of the last Republican stronghold in New York statewide government. The effort failed and “Team de Blasio” is under investigation for some of the fundraising tactics it used.
De Blasio said he is focusing on the federal election this cycle, and in part doing so due to the large stakes at play for New York.

“[This election] will decide the presidency, it will decide the future of the Senate, maybe even the House, but it’s also going to reset the American political dialogue,” de Blasio said at a press conference when Gotham Gazette asked why he was choosing to be involved in the presidential race but not state Senate races. Key pieces of de Blasio’s agenda have been limited or blocked by Senate Republicans in Albany.

“I think it’s some of the time that’s going to be best spent in the next few weeks because if it helps us change the trajectory of the country and the federal government, that’s going to help New York City in a very big and very material way,” de Blasio said of campaigning for Clinton. At other times, de Blasio has acknowledged that he is staying away from the state Senate races because of the “atmosphere” of investigations into his team’s 2014 tactics.

Most federal policies impact New York. According to E.J. McMahon, research director at the Empire Center for Public Policy, the outcome of congressional races may affect New Yorkers more so than who becomes the country’s next president.

“Congress controls the purse strings,” McMahon said by email. “Congress basically wrote the two most important pieces of Obama-era legislation, the [Affordable Care Act] and stimulus. The makeup of Congress will ultimately determine whether there is any significant change in tax or infrastructure policy, both of which have major implications for New York in particular.”

As the city’s economic relationship with Washington continues to decline, city officials seek a presidential administration that would resurrect the stronger partnership it once had. Policy and funding are the two key areas, and they are usually linked. Federal policy on immigration, education, health care, and other key areas greatly affect what New York City does -- and there is a great deal at stake in the presidential race in terms of different policy visions. The same goes for those who might control each house of Congress.

In terms of additional funds from Washington, the city is looking for increased aid for bridges, tunnels, and roads; money toward jobs programs and housing vouchers; and more.

While it is not completely clear how a Clinton or a Trump presidency would differ for New York City -- and control of Congress may come into play significantly -- the two major party candidates have outlined different visions on the overall role of the federal government, as well as on trade, immigration, the minimum wage and a variety of other policies.

Dr. Bruce Berg, a political science professor at Fordham University, said there are three levels on which to assess the candidates’ plans and their potential impact on New York. These include each campaigns’ intended agenda, which party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the candidate’s relationship with the mayor. Berg says the issues most at stake for New Yorkers in this election include infrastructure investment, immigration reform, healthcare, and public housing.

New York City’s Aging Infrastructure
Prioritizing investment in the nation’s infrastructure may be the biggest area of agreement for Clinton and Trump. The aging roads, bridges, and water systems of the United States are deteriorating; government data show in 2014, 32 percent of roads were rated “poor,” up from 16 percent in 2005.

During a recent U.S. Conference of Mayors event in Manhattan, Mayor de Blasio said 160 bridges in New York City were built over 100 or more years ago. The average lifespan for a bridge remains about 40 years. Despite being the tenth largest economy in the world, attracting more and more residents and tourists to the city each year, New York City’s aging infrastructure needs a serious upgrade, according to the mayor, as well as many others. And it’s not just New York, de Blasio explained at the USCM event, but cities nationwide that are losing funding for infrastructure projects.

“In the biggest cities in the country, there are more structurally deficient bridges than there are McDonald’s in the entire country,” de Blasio said. “And if you think about something that unites us all, those golden arches...and then think of a lot of bridges tragically on the verge of falling down.”

Although both Clinton and Trump agree the nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, their plans to pay for related projects differ dramatically. If Hillary Clinton wins the election, her first-100-days plan includes investing $275 billion to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. This includes investing in roads and bridges, but also in water systems, increasing wide-accessibility to internet, and improving the rate of completing these projects.

Former Mayor of Philadelphia and Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, a Clinton surrogate, said Clinton’s investment will be over five years and paid for through business tax reforms, including  a one-time tax for corporations bringing profits held overseas back to the U.S. She hopes to allocate $25 billion over five years to a national infrastructure bank, which would fund projects that become held up due to political inertia in Congress. According to Rendell, Clinton also hopes to reauthorize the Build America Bonds program, which would finance infrastructure projects entirely from the federal government.

“It will bring jobs, growth, improve infrastructure, improve public safety, improve our quality of live and make us more economically competitive,” Governor Rendell said about Clinton’s plan at the Conference of Mayors event.

Calling it “America’s Infrastructure First,” Trump also plans to invest heavily in infrastructure. His plan includes spending $1 trillion over a decade. He says he will pay for this plan not by raising taxes, but instead through private companies by offering a tax credit.  While one-sixth of a project’s cost would be funded privately, government-issued bonds would cover the rest

Trump’s proposal, the details of which were released two weeks before the election, would take advantage of low interest rates and encourage construction companies to spend on road and bridge projects that have revenue attached. These include toll roads, toll bridges and airports. This way, according to Trump and his advisors, the plan will pay for itself.

In June, Trump vowed to create the “greatest infrastructure” in the world with his plan. “When I see the crumbling roads and bridges, or the dilapidated airports or the factories moving overseas to Mexico, or to other countries for that matter, I know these problems can all be fixed, but not by Hillary Clinton,” he said. “Only by me.” 

City of Immigrants
Approximately 37 percent of New York City’s total population is foreign-born. Making up roughly 43 percent of the city’s total workforce, immigrants significantly contribute to the city’s economy. The immigration policies under the next President and Congress will greatly impact the city’s immigrants, half a million of whom are undocumented, as well as prospective immigrants, both documented and undocumented.

Alisa Wellek, the executive director of the Immigration Defense Project, a nonprofit, said New York has long been considered a target for deportation and detention of immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a federal agency.

“After 9/11 in New York, the enforcement apparatus really ramped up those efforts in the city and nationally,” Wellek said. “It’s really an unprecedented scale of mass deportations which affects many New Yorkers who are noncitizens and those who are a part of families that are a mix of citizens and noncitizens.”  

Within her first 100 days as President, Clinton plans to create a pathway to full citizenship, defend President Obama’s executive actions of DACA and DAPA, which extended the amount of time immigrant children and their parents can stay in the country, access to healthcare for all immigrants, and end corporation-owned, private immigration detention centers. During the final presidential debate, Clinton discussed how she would enforce immigration laws.

“I don’t want to rip families apart,” Clinton said. “I don’t want to be sending parents away from children. I don’t want to see the deportation force that Donald has talked about in action in our country,” she said.

Clinton also said she wants to bring undocumented immigrants “out from the shadows” and into the economy in order to protect them from “exploitative” employers and wage theft.

Since the beginning of his campaign, Trump’s top issue has been illegal immigration. His plans include building a wall at the country’s southern border, paid for by Mexico, ending sanctuary cities, and creating a “total and complete shut down of Muslims” from entering the country. He has spoken  unclearly about what a “shut down” actually means, referring to “extreme vetting” of potential migrants and refugees, and saying the ban would not be on Muslims, per se, but on people leaving certain areas of the world where ISIS is most active.

In New York City, the Muslim population continues to grow and estimates range from 600,000 to 1 million individuals. Trump’s plan to create a database of Muslims living in the United States and ban them from entering the U.S. could potentially have significant social and economic effects, though the specifics remain unclear. It is also not clear whether these measures would enhance national security.

During a visit to Phoenix, Arizona this summer, Trump discussed his idea of immigration reform: “We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate,” Trump said. “It is our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish here.”

Wellek said she hopes the next administration will overhaul the immigration system by repealing the 1996 immigration laws, ending mandatory deportation and detention and aligning reforms made in the criminal justice system with the immigration system. According to Wellek, New York has recognized the role immigrants play in the city.

“One thing New York City has done, that’s been very progressive, has been narrowing the collaboration between local police and immigration enforcement,” she said. “I think one big act for the next administration would be to end that collaboration fully.” 

What Wellek is referring to is a decision by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to cooperate less with ICE. Indeed, many elected officials from the city, which is dominated by Democrats, have spoken out against Trump’s immigration agenda and said that it would be especially harmful to New York.

New York Health Care
Since it’s inception, President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped decrease the number of New Yorkers lacking health insurance by 2.5 percent, from 12.6 to 10.1 percent uninsured. Despite data showing this success, uninsured patients still makeup about 70 percent of stays at public New York City hospitals, Health + Hospitals, which is very costly to the city. Some of these patients are undocumented immigrants who were left out of the ACA, but still use public hospitals. This, along with soaring costs and declining revenue, has New York City’s public hospitals in financial crisis. Health + Hospitals is projected to have an operating deficit of $1.8 billion by 2020. The candidates’ two very different healthcare reform plans have the potential to affect the future of healthcare in New York.

Like most Republicans, Donald Trump disparages the ACA, or Obamacare as it is often known, and Trump plans to eliminate and replace the ACA on day one of office, he says. He called Obamacare “a big fat, horrible lie” and a “catastrophe” -- criticism that has received some boost given recent news about rate hikes under ACA exchanges.

Trump has not explained exactly what he would replace it with, but promises something “far better” and cheaper, and has said the country must eliminate “the lines” that restrict how insurers can sell health insurance state by state.

Trump wants to transform Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for the poor, into state block grants. 

If elected, Hillary Clinton plans to preserve the ACA and attempt to expand coverage for those that do not currently qualify for health insurance under the law. This means expanding Medicaid in every state, lowering health care premiums, and providing citizens a public-option insurance plan, which Clinton hopes to push states to offer their residents. A public option could insure over 400,000 people in New York who were left out of the ACA. If Republicans continue to control the House of Representatives, this expansion of the law has little chance of passing Congress.

Clinton also said she wants to double the funding for primary care services at community health centers over the next ten years, which would increase access to health care for many underserved, low-income, and uninsured New Yorkers. According to her campaign website, she also wants to “expand access to affordable health care to families regardless of immigration status by allowing families to buy health insurance on the health Exchanges regardless of their immigration status” - a move that could have drastic effects in New York City given the financial issues at Health + Hospitals.

Funding for NYCHA
As the largest public housing authority in the country, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) currently serves about 600,000 New Yorkers, including Section 8 voucher holders. Based on the July 2015 Census, 4.7 percent of the city’s population lives in public housing. No new public housing buildings are being constructed and New York is one of few places in the country that has committed to keeping its public housing stock. At the same time, federal funding for NYCHA has shrunk considerably, with the federal government moving more toward housing vouchers, which are used at some NYCHA facilities. 

The de Blasio administration has invested considerable additional funds into NYCHA, but the authority is also in serious financial trouble. The mayor launched a 10-year plan titled NextGeneration NYCHA, which includes a variety of initiatives, one of which is a program that leases underutilized land to developers to build both affordable and market-rate housing.

This plan hopes to combat the decline in federal funds dedicated to public housing, especially after NYCHA’s expected deficit jumped from $25 million to $60 million in 2016. NYCHA has struggled to meet basic maintenance and operation costs, though it has instituted several new reforms to improve the situation. Bowles, of Center for an Urban Future, said that Congress has not increased funding for housing projects in New York and other major cities for decades.

“Public housing has been starved at the federal level for years,” Bowles said. “It’s been decades since we’ve seen a real appetite in Washington to support the public housing infrastructure.”

Public housing is one piece of the overall affordable housing picture. Despite being a major issue for most cities nationwide, tackling affordable housing and the cycle of poverty never became a major focus during this presidential election. In September, Clinton wrote an op-ed in the New York Times addressing housing.

“If we want to get serious about poverty, we also need a national commitment to create more affordable housing,” Clinton wrote. “Too many people are putting off saving for their children or retirement just to keep a roof over their families’ heads.”

Clinton calls for expanding Low Income Housing Tax Credits in areas of high-cost to create more affordable housing in viable neighborhoods.

Trump, a real-estate mogul, has released no specific plan to address affordable housing and nothing on his campaign website mentions it. However, the Republican Party’s platform calls for “responsible homeownership” and giving more control over zoning procedures to local authorities, rather than from the federal government.

Congress, the President and Mayor de Blasio
The relationship between the Mayor of New York City and the next president is important, as is the next president’s commitment to urban issues. Additionally, the makeup of Congress and the major funding decisions regarding aid sent to cities remains of utmost importance. If Democrats are able to retake control of the Senate, New York Senator Charles Schumer is likely to be Majority Leader, which could be a boon for New York.

Despite a long relationship with Clinton, including managing her 2000 campaign for U.S. Senate, de Blasio waited months after Clinton announced her presidential candidacy to endorse her, wanting to push her more to the left on issues. In recently hacked emails, the Clinton campaign expressed annoyance with de Blasio, jokingly calling him a “terrorist.” Donald Trump has called de Blasio “incompetent” and the “single worst mayor in the history of New York City,” but has praised the mayor after he was elected.

In part due to obstruction by congressional Republicans who want to see less government, President Obama has issued over 250 executive actions to get around legislative gridlock. Bruce Berg of Fordham University says if Clinton wins the presidency, she may face similar barriers to getting laws passed in Congress, which would affect federal aid granted to New York City and elsewhere. 

“I think the most likely scenario, looking at the election right now, is a Clinton victory, where she comes in as a rather crippled president and we get very little major initiative in the next four years,” Berg said. “I think what that means is that routine federal aid to New York continues to decline slowly as it has for the last several decades.”

by Devin Gannon for Gotham Gazette

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Cuomo and De Blasio Outline Priorities for a Democratic Senate, with A Lot In Common

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Cuomo & de Blasio in Chelsea (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

In typical fashion, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are saying a lot of the same things, but doing so nowhere near each other and without mentioning the other.

In a role reversal from 2014, during the current election season Cuomo is actively pushing for Democrats to win key swing seats and take control of the State Senate, Republicans’ last bastion of power in statewide government, while de Blasio is on the sideline.

But if you listen closely, Cuomo and de Blasio -- two Democrats engaged in a long-running, well-publicized feud -- have pointed to several of the same reasons why they want to see Democratic control of the Senate.

De Blasio, whose unsuccessful 2014 efforts to swing the Senate are under law enforcement investigation because of the campaign financing tactics used, has this year kept his public campaign activity limited to stumping for Hillary Clinton for President. But he has repeatedly said he wants to see Democrats take the state Senate majority here in New York, even predicting it will happen, and during a Monday evening appearance on NY1’s Inside City Hall, he explained his top reasons why.

Asked what is at stake by host Errol Louis, de Blasio listed “public financing of elections – campaign finance reform” and “electoral reform” including same-day registration and early voting; as well as more New York City-focused issues like “proper extension of mayoral control of education” and “the program that supports affordable housing – 421-a...updated and reformed.”

It’s certainly more likely that the items on de Blasio’s wish list will become reality if Democrats control both houses of the state Legislature -- they already hold a sizeable majority in the Assembly. And all are items Cuomo has championed to some degree, whether in his State of the State policy proposals or during public remarks, including, in some cases, on the stump over the last ten days. There have been ongoing questions about Cuomo’s commitment on certain topics: how much he has pushed for campaign finance reform, for example, and whether he has really gone to bat for a longer extension of mayoral control of schools than the one-year given to de Blasio each of the past two Albany sessions.

Cuomo and de Blasio have battled over 421-a, each with his own vision for an updated property tax abatement program for real estate developers who create affordable units in certain projects. In June 2015, it was the first one-year extension of mayoral control and Cuomo’s lack of support for de Blasio’s proposed 421-a reboot that largely prompted the mayor’s now infamous outburst against Cuomo.

During his campaign appearances of late, Cuomo has endorsed several Senate candidates and highlighted why he believes it’s important for Democrats to control the chamber. The governor has largely been on Long Island, where key Senate swing seats will influence which party, mainline Democrats or Republicans, has the advantage in negotiating a power-sharing agreement with the six-member Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). It wouldn’t make sense for him to mention mayoral control or 421-a, and he hasn’t -- though Senate Republicans have openly questioned why Cuomo would want to allow de Blasio’s liberal agenda to flourish in Albany through a Democratic Senate.

What Cuomo pointed to on Long Island and in a Queens appearance are government ethics and campaign finance reform, both of which will only happen, he has said, if Democrats control the Senate. While citing “a government that is working, [with] a lot to be proud of,” the governor also said “there’s more to do” and pointed to the “Dream Act...criminal justice reform, Raise the Age, a campaign finance system that actually works...and probably most important, a real ethics package that cleans up the corruption in Albany once and for all.”

All of the above are policies that de Blasio supports.

“These are all issues that the governor has championed for years and will continue to fight for in the next legislative session,” said Dani Lever, a spokesperson for Gov. Cuomo, in a statement. A spokesperson for de Blasio did not respond to a request for comment on the priorities that the governor has laid out.

Additional evidence of Cuomo’s priorities can be seen in the survey he’s asked prospective endorsees to fill out. First reported by the Daily News, the full extent of the survey was reported this week by Politico New York: it seeks to help ensure that candidates looking for support from Cuomo are committed to protecting some of the governor’s signature accomplishments of the past several years -- Cuomo took office in 2011 -- like paid family leave, the Buffalo Billion, and a 2 percent property tax cap; and the pursuit of additional goals, like closing the LLC loophole, public campaign financing, and raising the age of adult criminal responsibility.

Even though their years-long power struggle continues, Cuomo and de Blasio have been sounding more and more alike on policy, especially since the governor has tacked left over the past year, pursuing and passing a major minimum wage hike, paid family leave, and other policies more friendly to de Blasio allies in labor, even the teachers unions that the governor has previously warred with.

Still, the two biggest figures in New York politics rarely make public appearances together, including when it would seem to make sense and give them an opportunity to show their shared constituents a united front. While the two did tour the site of the September bombing in Chelsea, they still held separate media briefings. Also in September, Cuomo and de Blasio held separate events in New York City, just days apart, to celebrate the same expansion of pension benefits to injured firefighters. The list goes on.

As Election Day draws nearer, the prospect of a Democratic takeover of the state Senate is again providing opportunity to see how much Cuomo and de Blasio seem to agree on -- and the void between them that persists. What might the Cuomo-de Blasio dynamic look like if Democrats do win control of the chamber? We may soon find out.

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Gotham Gazette-WNYC General Election Guide 2016

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(photo: Michael Appleton/NYC Mayor's Office)


See more of our election coverage through our 2016 Election portal here. Or, jump straight to our Presidential Candidate Issue Platform Comparison.

On the Issues: Presidential Candidate Comparison

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Click here to see the full list

Vice President

Vice President
Tim Kaine of Virginia. U.S. Senator, former Governor of Virginia, former Mayor of Richmond.
Vice President
Mike Pence of Indiana. Governor of Indiana, former member of the United States House of Represenatatives, where he was a leader of the Tea Party movement.
Vice President
William Weld of Massachusetts. Former Republican governor of Massachusetts 1991, former U.S. Senate candidate.
Vice President
Ajamu Baraka of Georgia. Human rights activist, founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network.



Hillary Clinton, born in 1947, is most notable for serving as First Lady of the United States (1993-2001), a United States Senator from New York (2001-2009), and the United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. She's known for, among other things, her push for national health care reform in 1993-1994 as First Lady.
Donald Trump, born in 1946, is a businessman, real estate mogul, and television personality. He has built further on the buisness empire started by his father and made a national name for his real estate and casino businesses, and as the host of The Apprentice.
Gary Johnson, born in 1953, founded what became one of the largest construction companies in New Mexico. Former governor of New Mexico, winning his longshot 1994 bid, serving two terms. Has long-favored small government. Also ran for President as the Libertarian Party nominee in 2012. He got 0.99% of the national vote that year.
Jill Stein, born in 1950, is a physician and activist whose biggest focus has been environmental and health issues. She was the Green Party Candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010, and the Green Party Candidate for President in 2012. She received 0.36% of the national vote that year.


Campaign Websites



Clinton wants to invest in infrastructure to bolster the economy, including in clean energy. She is also focused on modernizing the economy through manufacturing and technology. She advocates for an increase in the minimum wage to $12 an hour nationally, with room for states to go higher, and she wants equal pay for equal work.
Trump believes that lower taxes and less regulation, as a whole, will bolster the economy. He believes the U.S. has agreed to bad trade deals, which he promises to renegotiate, that have led to lost American jobs to countries like Mexico and China. He promised to keep companies in the U.S. and to make American manufacturing great again.
Johnson generally favors less regulation, though any regulation which reigns in harmful actors will stay, he says. He also believes that out-of-control spending has hurt the U.S. economy, and that this spending needs to be reigned in. He believes smaller and less government will allow the economy to flourish.
Stein believes in "living-wage jobs for every American who needs work." Government would be the last resort employer under this plan. She also believes in a $15 minimum wage and the breaking up of banks that are "too big to fail." Key to Stein's, and the Green Party's, platform is a "Green New Deal," which aims to create jobs through the building of clean energy infrastructure, so that America relies on 100% clean energy by 2030.


"Hillary will implement a "fair share surcharge" on multi-millionaires and billionaires." She will also fight for measures like the Buffett Rule, so that wealthier individuals pay their fair share of taxes, she says. She also looks to close up any loopholes which benefit Wall Street, cut taxes for small businesses, and "provide tax relief to working families from the rising costs they face." A Clinton Administration will look to tax high-frequency trading on Wall Street.
Trump believes lower taxes will help the economy. In particular, he believes that business taxes are too high, and that they need to be lowered so that they are competitive with the rest of the world. He believes that a simplified tax system will help. Like many Democrats, Trump believes in closing the carried interest loophole.
Johnson proposes getting rid of tax loopholes, as well as double taxes on small businesses. He favors "the replacement of all income and payroll taxes with a single consumption tax that determines your tax burden by how much you spend, not how much you earn."
Stein wants Wall Street corporations to pay their fair share in taxes. Also believes in a tax on companies that pollute. She believes in higher taxes for the wealthy, and lower taxes for the poor and middle class.


National Debt

National Debt
"From the Democratic Party Platform: ""We believe that by making those at the top and the largest corporations pay their fair share we can pay for ambitious progressive investments that create good-paying jobs and offer security to working families without adding to the debt."""
National Debt
"You never have to default because you print the money," Trump said at one time. He has also suggested at times that borrowing is not a problem and that the U.S. could renegotiate its debt.
National Debt
Johnson plans to veto any bill which results in deficit spending. He also touts his record of vetoing many bills as governor of New Mexico, vetos he said helped balance New Mexico's budget.
National Debt
Stein said on her campaign website in 2012 that she would reduce "the budget deficit by restoring full employment, cutting the bloated military budget, and cutting private health insurance waste."



Clinton has moved in her support for trade deals, and has a new rubric for them, saying they must provide jobs for Americans, not sacrifice U.S. security, and be good for American national and international priorities. She supported NAFTA in the past, but admits to troubling outcomes for American jobs, and after supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership as it was in development, she has come out against the version put forward by the Obama Administration. On trade, she says she's held deals to "the same test. Will they create jobs in America? Will they raise incomes in America? And are they good for our national security?"
Trump has campaigned vocally against NAFTA, other past trade deals, and TPP. His vews on trade and the United States is best reflected in what he said at the Republican National Convention--"Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo."
Johnson generally supports NAFTA, TPP, and any other free trade agreements. He believes that any jobs lost to NAFTA while he was Governor of New Mexico were jobs that New Mexico didn't want anyway.
Stein believes that NAFTA and other similar agreements takes away jobs, hurts wages, and overall has negative economic impacts on Americans. She wants to "enact fair trade laws that benefits local workers and communities."



There are two major facets to Clinton's immigration plan: protect families and provide a pathway to citizenship. She says that comprehensive immigration reform is desperately needed.
Trump promises no amnesty to undocumented immigrants and promises mass deportations, though at times he has appeared to soften some of his stances. His major campaign promise is to end illegal immigration and to institute "extreme vetting" of individuals, especially refugees, seeking entrance into the country. He talks about having a secure border and promises to build a wall along the southern border that he promises Mexico will pay for. He has also questioned birthright citizenship.
Johnson desn't believe that immigration is as simple as building a wall. "We should focus on creating a more efficient system of providing work visas, conducting background checks, and incentivizing non-citizens to pay their taxes, obtain proof of employment, and otherwise assimilate with our diverse society," his website says.
"Create a welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants" is posted on Stein's website. Past policy positions also indicates that she is not in favor of the mass deportation of people which has happened under President Obama and promised to a greater degree by Trump.


Health Care

Health Care
Clinton wants to defend, tweak, and expand, but not repeal, Obamacare. She praises how many more people have become insured, but she wants to get costs down.
Health Care
Trump promises to repeal Obamacare, and replace it with something far better. He says health care companies must be allowed to sell policies across state lines. He also wants transparency with health care costs and providers, and to "allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system." He argues for increased competitive, not government regulation of health care. Trump has also said that everyone deserves health care.
Health Care
Generally speaking, Johnson is in favor of repealing Obamacare. He believes that free market competition will do the best job of covering health care for people.
Health Care
Stein believes in a Medicare for All system.


The Environment

The Environment
Clinton will encourage clean energy: "Launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy, including for low-income families." "Invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development to make the U.S. economy more competitive and create good-paying jobs and careers."
The Environment
Trump does not discuss the environment much. He has called climate change a hoax. And, he believes that the Environmental Protection Agency has too many regulations.
The Environment
Johnson places emphasis on protection of National Parks and wants the Environmental Protection Agency to "focus on its true mission." He also believes in regulations to protect from pollutors, but also believes that the government meddles too much in deciding which companies determine the future of clean energy.
The Environment
Stein and the Green Party are, historically, especially focused on the environment. The Green New Deal looks to have the U.S. be on 100% clean energy by 2030. Stein wants to end use of fossil fuels and any support thereof. She places a special emphasis on protecting ecosystems, and strengthening environmental justice laws.


Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy
Clinton believes that the United States should defend its allies, push for diplomacy whenever possible, and be firm but not overaggressive with rivals such as China, Russia, and Iran. She is known as an interventionist, but has also spent time negotiating peace deals as Secretary of State. Her vote in favor of the Iraq War as a U.S. Senator is one that she has long been criticized for and has herself called a mistake.
Foreign Policy
Trump has an "America First" foreign policy, based on protecting the interests of the United States above all else, not meddling in other countries' affairs, protecting American security and jobs, seemingly no matter what it takes to do so. Trump has promised an aggressive approach with Mexico and illegal immigration, China and currency manipulation, and the Middle East and wars in the region. Trump has been criticized and questioned for an apparent coziness with Vladimir Putin of Russia, which he has denied.
Foreign Policy
Johnson believes that the U.S. meddles too much in foreign affairs and wars, and that needs to stop. He believes in fixing the problems that exist at home, while at the same time building relationships with allies abroad. Johnson has struggled with discussing foreign affairs on the campaign trail.
Foreign Policy
Stein wants to focus on diplomacy whenever possible, but also the punishment of abusers of human rights. Those human rights abusers include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, she says.


Combatting ISIS

Clinton looks to support counter-terrorism law enformcement with the tools they need, and an increase of the airstrike campaign against ISIS in the Middle East. She has called for an "intelligence surge" to help the U.S. in its efforts against ISIS and other foreign threats.
Generally speaking, Trump calls for a very aggressive military approach to ISIS, at times using expletives to explain his plan to bomb its forces and strongholds. He has repeatedly called for destroying oil fields that ISIS may have access to. But it is unclear to what extent he will pursue these strategies because he has not released as many plans regarding ISIS. Trump says U.S. leaders are foolish in telegraphing their military plans and that he will not divulge his. He has repeatedly insulted both U.S. political and military leaders.
Johnson believes that the "meddling" of past administrations, Republican and Democrat, have created the monster that is ISIS. He has not shown a particular adeptness at discussing foreign affairs or presenting a plan to help eliminate threats from ISIS.
Stein says little about ISIS, but overall she is calling for the U.S. to not be engaged in war and foreign intervention.


Gun Control

Gun Control
Clinton has made gun control a focus of her campaign; calling for expanding background checks, and keeping "guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill." Clinton has said she believes in the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership, but that she wants to do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Gun Control
Trump is pro-gun ownership and has promised to defend the Second Amendment. He believes that current gun regulations are a failure, and that background checks need to be fixed because it seems like criminals don't go through background checks.
Gun Control
Johnson does not believe in increasing gun regulations. He is of the mind that if you take guns away only outlaws and criminals will have guns.
Gun Control
Stein believes that the ownership of guns should be regulated for the sake of public safety.


Justice Reform

Justice Reform
Clinton supports legislation to end any form of racial profiling. She wants law enforcement to focus on violent crimes and not petty ones like possession of marijuana. National guidelines should be brought in on use of force, she says, and body cameras should be provided to every police department in the United States. She has regularly spoken about the need to improve community-police relationships and about incidents of police brutality against people of color. And, she believes in ending the use of private prisons.
Justice Reform
Trump calls himself the "Law and Order candidate," though as to what that means in terms of policy is unclear, though he has advocated for a robust stop-and-frisk policy nationwide based on what he sees as its success in New York City. Trump often talks about the need to support and respect police.
Justice Reform
Johnson believes that all unnecessary laws should be taken out so that not as many things are criminalized. He also believes that there should be an end to the "War on Drugs."
Justice Reform
Stein wants to end police brutality and de-militarize the police. She, like Johnson, wants to end the War on Drugs. She also proposes that drug addictions are treated like a health problem, not a criminal one.



Clinton supports the Common Core learning standards. She also believes in universal pre-kindergarten, college education that is debt free, and free tuition at all community colleges. She also looks to end overly punitive policies against students at schools and has discussed doing more for English Language Learners.
Trump rejects Common Core and believes that education decisions, as a whole, should be left up to states. He therefore wants to completely abolish the Department of Education.
Johnson rejects Common Core and believes that education decisions should be left to the states. He also wants to abolish the Department of Education because he believes that the federal government has no right to be involved with education decisions.
Stein is not supportive of Common Core or standardized testing (and thinks curricula should be designed by educators). She prefers evaluation of teachers done by fellow professionals. She supports tuition-free, and debt-free, education through all four years of college.


LGBTQ Rights

LGBTQ Rights
Clinton pushes for full rights for LGBTQ people, in the United States and around the world. Clinton has 'evolved' fairly quickly on related issues, like marriage equality.
LGBTQ Rights
Trump vows to protect LGBTQ citizens and has had several particularly significant moments, including at the Republican National Convention, around promoting and protecting LGBTQ rights. He has not stated personal support for same-sex marriage, but says that it is the law of the land and that it should be protected as such.
LGBTQ Rights
Johnson believes that the government should not be in the business of telling people who to marry. He therefore does not look to restrict same-sex marriage, and in fact he cites this non-government interference idea as a major reason why he supported same-sex marriage before many liberals did the same.
LGBTQ Rights
Stein says that she will seek to end all forms of discrimination against the LGBTQ community.



Clinton looks to protect the reproductive rights of all women and protecting a woman's right to choose to have an abortion. She is also proud of her endorsement from Planned Parenthood.
Trump calls himself "pro-life" and at times has called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. However he has at times touted a number of services that Planned Parenthood provides, and earlier in his life he considered himself "pro-choice." He has explained an 'evolution' on the issue. Trump has said that if he appoints several Supreme Court justices it is likely that Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Johnson believes that abortion is a deeply personal choice, and that as such the governnment should not be in the business of deciding who does or does not get abortions.
Stein views reproductive freedom as a key facet of tackling women's rights issues. She also wants to expand access to the "morning after" pill.


Supreme Court Vacancies

Supreme Court Vacancies
The Supreme Court, in Clinton's eyes, should help protect women's rights and LGBTQ rights, and overturn the Citizens United case. She has not committed to renominate President Obama's SCOTUS pick, Merrick Garland, for the currently vacant seat.
Supreme Court Vacancies
Trump has stressed that the Supreme Court must protect the Second Amendment in particular, as it would be under threat, he says, if Clinton is elected President. Trump's SCOTUS nominees would be pro-life and more conservative in nature, he has said, pointing to recently-deceased Justice Antonin Scalia as a model.
Supreme Court Vacancies
Johnson would use potential nominees' positions on cases such as Kelo v. City of New London (a 2005 case on the issue of eminent domain) and others related to key issues for Libertarians to determine who he might nominate to the SCOTUS.
Supreme Court Vacancies
Stein would nominate justices to the SCOTUS who would overturn Citizens United and help restrict the flow of corporate money into politics.


Campaign Finance Reform

Campaign Finance Reform
Clinton supports an overturn of Citizens United to limit the impact of money in politics. She also wants legislation which will "require outside groups to publicly disclose significant political spending." Her other piece of suggested reform is to start a "small-donor matching system for presidential and congressional elections to give small donors greater influence."
Campaign Finance Reform
Trump has described Political Action Committees (PACs) as a "horrible thing" because he feels that PACs lack transparency. Trump has also claimed that politicians do favors for donors, citing his own experience as a donor. He does not promote, though, public financing of campaigns.
Campaign Finance Reform
Johnson believes that spending in campaigns, including from unions and corporations, is perfectly allowable. Any restrictions on campaign finance would be a limit to free speech, in Johnson's opinion.
Campaign Finance Reform
Stein wants an overturn of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court case. She believes that corporations should not be allowed to fund political campaigns, but believes that there should instead be public funding of campaigns.
by Brendan Birth and Ben Max
Feedback? Email Ben at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, October 31

New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

While there's a lot happening in city politics, we're also on the verge of one week until Election Day. The presidential race continues to be turbulent and New York-centric in many ways. Watch as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaign across key battleground states leading up to Election Day, at which point both will hold election night events in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, there are a variety of other races in New York -- one Senate race, in which Senator Charles Schumer is expected to cruise to re-election; many House races -- some of which will help determine if the Democrats can pick up seats and near or take the majority; and all of the state Legislature: 150 Assembly seats, 63 state Senate seats. Read our rundown of key New York races to watch in both the House and the state Senate, where Democrats are also hoping to pick up seats that will give them a chance at the majority.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made additional endorsements of Democratic candidates in New York over the weekend, including for George Latimer for State Senate and Tom Suozzi for Congress.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has stayed out of New York races, only campaigning for Hillary Clinton for President -- he did so again on Sunday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Before that, on Saturday, de Blasio marked the four year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy on Staten Island. De Blasio begins his week with four public events, including a morning radio appearance and an evening TV appearance -- see below for details (the TV appearance, on NY1, is de Blasio's first of a new weekly segment, "Mondays with the Mayor,").

There are a number of interesting events to be aware of this week, from panel discussion to City Council hearings. See below for the day-by-day rundown.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday is Halloween. 

Mayor de Blasio has four public events on his Monday schedule:

  • At 8:05 a.m., Mayor de Blasio will appear live on 710 WOR.
  • At 4 p.m., “the Mayor will hold public hearings for, and sign, ten pieces of legislation - Intros. 251-A, 551-A, 552-A, requiring the creation of an additional City form to include voluntary and anonymous questions around gender, sexuality, language spoken, ancestry and ethnic origin; Intro 1011-A, in relation to mandating that whenever a food service worker is displaced due to a change in ownership or a transfer of contract, the new owner or contractor must retain the worker for 90 days; Intros. 1160-A, 1163-A and 1165-A, in relation to energy benchmarking, lighting retrofitting, and sub-metering requirements for mid-size buildings; Intros. 728-B and 959-B, in relation to reporting on the NYPD Patrol Guide and hate crime statistics; and Intro. 1282, in relation to authorizing an increase to annual assessment and spending in eight business improvement districts and two special assessment districts.”
  • At 6 p.m., “the Mayor and First Lady Chirlane McCray will march in the Park Slope Halloween Parade.”
  • And, during the 7 p.m. hour, Mayor de Blasio will appear on NY1’s Inside City Hall in a taped appearance.

At the City Council on Monday:

  • The Committee on General Welfare will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss oversight on “child abuse cases and the various city touchpoints for families.” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will deliver opening remarks, per her public schedule.
  • The Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss several proposed laws. Ahead of this hearing, City Council Members Dan Garodnick, Jumaane Williams, Ben Kallos, and possibly others, will be participating in a press conference on the steps of City Hall with members of Stabilizing NYC, Stand for Tenant Safety, and the Coalition Against Predatory Equity in support of the bills being heard, which are aimed at reducing tenant harassment and stopping predatory equity.

At 11 a.m. Monday City Council Members Margaret Chin and Daniel Dromm, with “Arab American, Asian Pacific Islander, Indo-Carribean, Latino, and LGBTQ community leaders will gather at the steps of City Hall...to celebrate the data equity legislation that Mayor de Blasio will sign into law later that day.  The three bills, Intros 251-A (Dromm), 551-A (Chin), 552-A (Dromm), allow New Yorkers to accurately identify their race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation on many important city forms...these bills will help ensure that city agencies are equipped to meet the needs of all New Yorkers...ensuring that everyone is counted and that City services reach people who need them the most.”

At 11 a.m. Monday, Gov. Cuomo and many others will attend the funeral of New York State Trooper Timothy Pratt, in South Glens Falls.

At 1 p.m. on Monday, the NYC Department of City Planning will hold a review session.

At 1:15 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will make an announcement on minority and women-owned businesses.

At 4 p.m., Mark-Viverito will attend the La Marqueta Halloween event.

At 4:30 p.m. Monday at the Claremont Neighborhood Center in the Bronx, “Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will host youth of all ages as they enjoy an evening of fun, music, candy and haunted festivities at his annual Pumpkinfest & Halloween Spooktacular!” 

Tuesday is one week until Election Day.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, “City & State’s Borough 50 Series will recognize top 50 community leaders from Queens at a breakfast.”

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, Crain’s New York will hold “Crain’s 2016 New York City Summit: Getting Ready for 9 Million New Yorkers.” Mayor de Blasio will deliver keynote remarks. The summit will include several panels: on housing, moderated by Kathryn Wylde of Partnership for New York City; on jobs, including Gregg Bishop, commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services; and on transportation, including MTA Chair Thomas Prendergast and city Department of Transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg and moderated by Richard Ravitch.

At noon Tuesday at 1 Police Plaza, "the Mayor and Police Commissioner O’Neill will host a press conference to discuss crime statistics...After, the Mayor will join the NYPD for a coordination group tabletop exercise for the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon."

At the City Council on Tuesday:

  • The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 9:30 a.m.
  • The Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses will meet at 11 a.m.
  • The Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet at 1 p.m.
  • The Committee on Small Business will meet at 2 p.m. for a tour of The Pfizer Building in Brooklyn.

On Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., Comptroller Scott Stringer will host a roundtable with minority and women-owned business leaders, at Compulink Technologies Inc. on West 39th Street.

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Elections will hold its Commissioners’ Meeting.

At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, "Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams will unveil more than half a million dollars in new investments from Brooklyn Borough Hall’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget to advance public safety and community-police relations in the borough. He will make the announcement at the New York City Police Department (NYPD)’s 90th Precinct Station House in Williamsburg, home to an innovative partnership that offers an alternative to suspension for local students facing school disciplinary action through mentorship and tutoring from police officers; this program, NYC Together, is receiving funding from Borough President Adams to outfit a multimedia learning center for use inside the precinct."

At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC) will hold a public meeting.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, there will be a hearing on the de Blasio administration’s proposed changes to the deed restriction removal process, as announced: to “add a new Chapter 16 to Title 43 of the Rules of the City of New York, setting forth review procedures for the modification or removal of certain deed restrictions.” The hearing will take place at 125 Worth Street. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is among those who will testify.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, ABNY Young Professionals and Tech:NYC will co-host “New Approaches Towards Public Safety: A Conversation on Community Policing.” Deborah Archer (New York Law School Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Impact Center for Public Interest Law), City Council Member Jumaane Williams, Elizabeth Glazer (Director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice), and Jose Lopez (Organizing Director at Make the Road New York) will participate.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will attend a town hall meeting of District 23’s Community Education Council, at Brooklyn Collegiate.

On Tuesday at 6:45 p.m., Public Advocate Letitia James will attend the "5th Avenue Key Food Community Meeting" in Brooklyn.

At the City Council on Wednesday: The Committee on Public Safety will meet at 10 a.m. discuss several proposed laws which would modify the Nuisance Abatement Law.

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, the NYC Planning Commission will hold a public meeting.

At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy will hold “The Future of Charter Schools on their 25th Anniversary.” On the anniversary of the first charter school law being passed in Minnesota, the speakers will discuss the future of charters. Expert panelists will speak with Dr. David Steiner, executive director, Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) will hold “Domestic Policy in the 2016 Presidential Election: What's at Stake?” Discussion will “reflect on the stakes of the election from the perspectives of criminal justice, energy, education, social welfare and urban policy, and what Clinton and Trump administrations might do differently in each of these domains.” Panelists will include Professor Patricia Culligan; Professor Jeffrey Fagan; Professor Ester R. Fuchs; Professor Jeffrey Henig; Michael A. Nutter, former Mayor of Philadelphia; and David N. Dinkins, SIPA professor and former Mayor of New York City. The event will be moderated by Professor Alexander Hertel-Fernandez.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will hold “Breaking the Segregated Schools Cycle.”

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, there will be “A Public Summit for The Future of Penn Station,” hosted at The Museum of the City of New York, co-hosted as well by The Transit Museum and Untapped Cities. This discussion “will seek to move beyond criticizing the current station and focus on identifying elements of a successful long-term vision.”

At the City Council on Thursday: The Committee on Land Use will meet at 11 a.m.

On Thursday, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony “to mark the opening of a legal clinic for pro se litigants that is being staffed by the New York Legal Assistance Group.” 

At 8 a.m. Thursday, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce will have its “Best in the Business Awards Breakfast.” This event “celebrates the business leaders in New York City, who have built outstanding businesses - contributing to the economy and community as well.” This event “celebrates the business leaders in New York City, who have built outstanding businesses - contributing to the economy and community as well.” Kathryn Wylde of Partnership for New York City; Hank Williams of Platform; Maisha Walker of Message Medium; Infor; and Uber are the honorees.

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will host a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Town Hall to discuss a variety of NYCHA-related issues.

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance and the Gray Panthers of NYC will hold a forum on “Ageism and Why it Matters.” There will be a “conversation about the pervasive effects of “ageism” in our personal AND work lives.”

Friday and the weekend
At 8:30 a.m. on Friday, the New York City Food Policy Center will host a discussion of “The Power of Community Gardens in New York City.” This event is meant for participants to “learn about community gardens and their role in community and economic development; discuss the intersection between race, food, and social justice; and gain an increased understanding of the state of community gardens in NYC.” The panelists include Bill Losasso (Director of GreenThumb), Aziz Dehkan (Executive Director of the New York City Community Garden Coalition), Steve Frillmann (Executive Director of Green Guerillas), and Lenny Librizzi (Director of Green Infrastructure at GrowNYC).

This is GOTV - get out the vote - weekend for Tuesday's elections. People across New York and the rest of the country will be knocking on doors, making calls, handing out flyers, and more in order to see their preferred candidate(s) win on Election Day. 

Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Brendan Birth and Ben Max

Key Congressional & State Senate Races in New York Will Shape Chamber Control

Teachout Faso

Zephyr Teachout (D), left, & John Faso (R), debate in NY19

As Election Day draws near, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have debated three times and are in the home stretch of the campaign -- as are Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. This election has shaped up to be like none other. When another round of revelations about Trump’s past recently emerged, in the forms of a tape of Trump bragging about unwanted sexual touching and new sexual assault allegations against him, which he has denied, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was re-focusing efforts toward winning Congressional elections, and away from the presidential race.

As Ryan and many others have indicated, there is in fact a great deal more on the line November 8 than the Presidency -- Republicans currently hold majorities in both houses of Congress, and many state houses. Democrats are hoping that not only does Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls translate to victory for her, but that they are able to pick up enough seats to at least swing the U.S. Senate, if not the House of Representatives, too. Even President Barack Obama, enjoying high popularity as an outgoing president, is escalating his efforts to flip or hold swing districts by taping television ads and robocalls for several Democratic candidates and endorsing 30 more House candidates this week. Republicans are trying to hold on to their majorities in similar fashion.

There are currently 46 Democrats in the Senate -- including two independents who caucus with Democrats -- and 54 Republicans. Thirty-four of the 100 Senate seats on the ballot this year across the country (Senators serve staggered six-year terms). There are six Senate contests considered toss-ups where Democrats are likely to gain seats, while Republicans will likely win one currently Democratic seat, according to entities like Cook Political Report and Rothenberg Political Report, among others.

All of the House of Representatives’ 435 seats are up for election, as they are every two years. Democrats currently hold 188 seats to Republicans’ 247. There are dozens of swing districts, including several in New York, and Democrats are poised to pick up a number of seats, though few think it will be enough to take the majority.

In New York, there are several swing House districts that will factor into the final equation. Also in New York, Republican leadership of the state Senate is at stake, and there are a handful of swing districts where the votes will determine whether Republicans or mainline Democrats have the upper hand in negotiating a coalition government with the Senate’s Independent Democratic Caucus. 

While the entire New York State Legislature -- all 63 Senate and 150 Assembly seats -- and every House seat is up for election, one of the state’s two U.S. Senate seats is also on the ballot: Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat, is seeking reelection, facing Republican Wendy Long. The state Senate is New York Republicans’ only stronghold in statewide government, as all six statewide elected positions (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, and two U.S. Senators) are all held by Democrats. The state Assembly is overwhelmingly Democratic.

GOP candidates, including New Yorkers running for the House and state Senate, are largely on the defensive this cycle as many struggle to stay out of the shadow of Trump, whose candidacy has been marred by scandals, a lack of message discipline, and infighting with Republican establishment leaders. Many Republicans are conflicted over how they should associate themselves with Trump: whether to condemn some of his remarks and behavior and revoke any endorsement, but risk losing support from their voting base, or to support party nominee for President and risk losing some moderate Republicans, swing voters, and independents.

The U.S. House has been under Republican majority 18 of the last 22 years, and in order to flip it, Democrats need to win 30 additional seats while holding on to the ones they currently control. The New York state Senate has a somewhat similar story: Republicans have controlled the chamber for most of several decades. It is not completely clear how many added seats mainline Democrats need to win because of the six-member IDC and Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with Republicans. The margin is only one or two seats at this time.

As Gotham Gazette recently reported, mainline Democrats and the IDC have improved their relationship and may soon be discussing a partnership -- much will depend on the power offered to IDC leader Jeff Klein.

As they attempt to swing seats, Democrats have their eyes particularly trained on Long Island, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, campaigned for Senate candidates this week; the Capital Region, and the Hudson Valley. In several cases, sitting Republicans are vacating their seats or Republican incumbents are uniquely vulnerable. When it comes to House races in New York, it is a similar story: regions closest to Democrat-heavy New York City are home to swing districts, while many Upstate communities are Republican strongholds. 

Within New York City, there were quite a few competitive party primaries as Democrats faced off, but the general election features largely non-contests -- in many instances, there is no or only a token Republican on the ballot. The same goes for congressional seats representing New York City.

But, there are major New York City interests at stake in races outside the city: both for the state Senate and the U.S. House, not to mention the Presidency. New York City effort and money is flowing into races across the state, while some New Yorkers also make calls and knock on doors in swing states for their favorite presidential candidate.

Below, a list of key swing races for the House and the state Senate in New York, with additional resources for more information: 

Congressional District 19 - Zephyr Teachout (D), John Faso (R)
The race for the mid-Hudson Valley’s 19th congressional district is arguably the most high-profile congressional race in New York this election cycle. In a race to replace retiring Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican, the contest is between former gubernatorial candidate, campaign finance reform advocate, and Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, a Democrat, and former minority leader of the state Assembly and also a former candidate for governor, John Faso, a Republican.

Teachout, who challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary, is among other progressive congressional candidates endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders. She has recently gained the support of President Obama as well. Faso boasts the support of Rep. Gibson, a major endorsement due to Gibson’s popularity. 

Outside money has been flowing into this race, like others, with much of it attacking Teachout. Faso has sought to portray her as a carpetbagger with ultra-liberal New York City values while Teachout attaches Faso to trickle-down economics and a broken campaign finance system. A final televised debate on Monday night displayed sharp disagreements over trade agreements (though they both reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership), large financial institutions, property taxes, water contamination, Hudson River anchorages, and rebuilding infrastructure covering local, state, and national issues.

The race is neck-and-neck, according to a Siena poll released September 27, which showed Faso at 43 percent to Teachout’s 42 percent, with a margin of error of +/- 3.8%, and many voters still undecided. 

For more on the race in Congressional District 19:
John Faso and Zephyr Teachout air differences in congressional race - The Troy Record
Candidates debate on Time Warner Cable - Monday October 24, TWC
Upstate, a ‘Classic Boxers’ Match’ That Is Virtually Tied - The New York Times
National House profile rises as Faso, Teachout vie - Albany Times Union
Spending in Faso-Teachout House race tops $8.5 million - Poughkeepsie Journal 

Congressional District 24 - John Katko (R), Colleen Deacon (D)
Colleen Deacon, a Democrat and former regional director for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, is challenging incumbent Rep. John Katko, a first-term Republican, in New York’s 24th congressional district representing all of Cayuga, Onondaga, and Wayne counties, and the western part of Oswego County. While Katko had a seemingly insurmountable lead of 19 points heading into the last few weeks of the election, the district, which includes Syracuse, is relatively Democratic, and opposition to Trump could push Deacon to a come-from-behind victory, according to The New York Times

Katko positions himself as a “strong and independent leader” championing national security, job growth, and an end to Common Core in public schools, according to his campaign website. Deacon appeals to voters as someone who “understands the struggles of Central New Yorkers,” advocating for ending the gender wage gap, pushing for comprehensive family leave, and addressing the opioid crisis, according to her site.

Deacon is among other House candidates whose received an endorsement from President Obama this week. Emily’s List and other progressive political action groups are emailing their supporters to solicit donations for Deacon’s campaign as well. According to Politico, the Democratic Party is also taking advantage of a legal loophole to direct millions of extra dollars to congressional candidates, including Deacon, bypassing usual limits on coordinated spending between parties and candidates.

For more on the race in Congressional District 24:
Live Q&A today with Rep. John Katko on race for Congress - Syracuse.com
Dems use loophole to pump millions into fight for the House - Politico
Poll: John Katko opens 19-point lead over Colleen Deacon in race for Congress - Syracuse.com
Katko Leads Deacon 53-34% Five Weeks Out - Siena College Poll

Congressional District 3 - Jack Martins (R),  Tom Suozzi (D)
Republican State Senator Jack Martins has been a rising star in the state Legislature. He’s been expected to move up in GOP leadership, though he has gone against the wishes of his party by running to replace retiring Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat, in District 3 on Long Island. The move by Martins creates a void in the state Senate, where Republicans are desperately trying to maintain their majority. New York’s 3rd Congressional District is also seen as a swing district, as with most of Long Island.

Roll Call reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee has revoked funding for Martins’ campaign amid public polling numbers showing the Republican candidate losing big: Siena College has Martins’ down by 16 points in a poll released on October 8. Democratic nominee Tom Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, appears headed toward victory -- and he has just received an endorsement from President Barack Obama -- but anything can happen.

The candidates have agreed on the need to combat political gridlock in Washington through bipartisanship, with both candidates touting their records for doing so. While the candidates have also agreed on a need for more gun control and support for the state of Israel, they’ve differed over healthcare and immigration reform.

For more on the race in Congressional District 3:
Suozzi battles Martin in final stretch for Israel’s seat - Times Ledger
GOP Poll Shows Tight Race in New York District NRCC Has Abandoned - Roll Call
NY Senate GOP wants Martins to bypass congressional run - New York Daily News
Tom Suozzi leads Jack Martins by 16: Newsday poll - The Island Now
Trump Could Tip Key Races for State Senate Control - Gotham Gazette
Senate Republicans Face Departures with Battle for Control Looming - Gotham Gazette 

Congressional District 1 - Lee Zeldin (R), Anna Throne-Holst (D)
Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican, is facing Democratic challenger Anna Throne-Holst in the race for New York’s 1st Congressional District seat. Zeldin, who is in his first two-year term, holds a sizeable lead, 53 to 38 percent, according to a Newsday/Siena College poll released October 8.

Environmental concerns over protecting the vulnerable East End of Long Island from rising sea levels and storms like Hurricane Sandy have become topics of debate for the two candidates. Throne-Holst wants to make gun control an issue as well, having hosted a separate forum specifically focusing on the topic and releasing a related television ad. The candidates have also differentiated themselves over the Affordable Care Act and creating a path to citizenship for immigrants. The two candidates held a heated forum answering questions about environmental protection, gun violence, and Donald Trump, whom Zeldin supports. 

Emily’s List and other progressive political action groups are emailing their supporters to solicit donations for Throne-Holst’s campaign, having identified the district as a place where Democrats can flip a seat. Though Throne-Holst is not included in the list of House candidates whom President Obama has endorsed.

For more on the race in Congressional District 1:
Zeldin leads Throne-Holst in 1st District, Newsday poll shows - Newsday
Congressional Candidates Show Their Environmental Stripes - East End Beacon
Congressional candidate hosts forum on gun violence - News 12 Long Island
Not Hillary and Donald, It’s Anna and Lee - East Hampton Star

Congressional District 21 - Elise Stefanik (R), Mike Derrick (D), Matt Funiciello (G)
A partisan poll conducted earlier this month on behalf of the National Republican Congressional Committee shows first-term Rep. Elise Stefanik leading her Democratic challenger Mike Derrick 54 to 29 percent in the race for New York’s 21st Congressional District. Still, the top House Republican Super PAC and other conservative groups have continued to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into Stefanik’s campaign, according to Politico, suggesting concern about the race and the need to keep the seat Red.

Stefanik, Derrick, and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello shared a debate stage in early October. Key issues in the district include improving the economy and services for veterans, along with how to protect the district and the nation from the threats of terrorism. The candidates have also contrasted over trade, specifically Stefanik's support of the Trade Promotion Authority bill, which gives the president “fast-track” authority to negotiate trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and which Stefanik supported with her vote in Congress.

For more on the race in Congressional District 21:
New York's Elise Stefanik Holds Wide Lead in GOP Poll - Roll Call
NY-21: TWC News North Country Debate Showdown - NY-21 TWC News
Republicans rush to build firewall to save the House - Politico
GOP territory may lift Stefanik - Albany Times Union

Congressional District 22 - Kim Myers (D), Claudia Tenney (R), Martin Babinec (Reform)
Republican Rep. Richard Hanna is retiring in central New York’s 22nd Congressional District, opening the seat for three candidates to compete: Republican State Assemblymember Claudia Tenney, Democrat and minority leader of the Broome County Legislature Kim Myers, and a wealthy business entrepreneur, Martin Babinec, who won the Reform Party primary as a write-in candidate and has successfully petitioned to run as the Upstate Jobs Party candidate. 

The race for District 22 has been deemed one of the most competitive congressional elections in the nation by Cook Political Report. 

Progressive groups are buoying Myers’ campaign, having identified the district as a place where Democrats can flip a seat. According to a Time Warner Cable/Siena College poll released September 29, Tenney sits on a modest lead in the three-way race, with 35 percent to Myers’ 30 percent. Tenney is fighting a significant fundraising deficit, having raised $606,902 through September 30, compared with $1.4 million raised by Myers, and Babinec has put in $2.2 million of his own wealth. Still, the Upstate seat is in Republican hands and voters may keep it that way.

For more on the race in Congressional District 22:
22nd Congressional Debate in Hamilton - Oneida Daily Dispatch
Poll: Claudia Tenney leads in 3-way congressional race - Democrat & Chronicle
Money flows into 3-way race for Congress - Pressconnects
Oneida County Leaders Endorse Kim Myers - Madison County Courier
State’s top leaders endorse Kim Myers for Congress - Madison County Courier


State Senate District 7 - Elaine Phillips (R), Adam Haber (D)
Republican State Senator Jack Martins decided to run for a seat in Congress despite the advice of fellow Senate Republicans, who asked Martins to stay in the state Legislature to protect their narrow majority. Now, Republican Elaine Phillips and Democrat Adam Haber are in a tight race for the open Long Island seat. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district and Haber has out-raised Phillips, though Republicans hope Martins’ popularity will help carry the election in their favor -- he previously defeated Haber in the 2014 election by roughly 13 percent of the vote.

Wall Street and the financial crisis has become a hot item of debate, with both candidates attempting to connect the other to major financial institutions in a negative light. Anti-semitism has also come up, with Haber depicted in Fiddler on the Roof garb in an attack ad from an outside group. For his part, Haber released an ad in late September campaigning for environmental protection, improving local education, and bringing down property taxes.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo endorsed Haber and campaigned for him on Long Island on Monday. Phillips, meanwhile, has received several important endorsements including from nonpartisan environmental group League of Conservation Voters. As is the case with other Republican candidates on Long Island, which is naturally vulnerable to sea level rise, storms, and flooding, Phillips departs from party lines about the environment since a far majority of voters on Long Island believe in climate change and its threats.

For more on the race in State Senate District 7:
Trump Could Tip Key Races for State Senate Control - Gotham Gazette
Candidates challenge each other’s ties to Wall Street, financial crisis - New York Daily News
Phillips says race could determine control of Senate, influence of suburbs - The Island Now
Candidates clashed on their respective records in service at forum - The Island Now
Haber Decries Ad Depicting Him As Fiddler On The Roof - Talking Points Memo
Adam Haber releases new ad; Elaine Phillips touts endorsements - Newsday
Senate Republicans Face Departures with Battle for Control Looming - Gotham Gazette

State Senate District 49 – Jim Tedisco (R), Chad Putman (D)
Republican State Senator Hugh Farley decided to retire from the state Senate after serving voters in Schenectady and Saratoga counties since 1977 -- nearly 40 years. Farley tapped veteran GOP Assemblymember Jim Tedisco to replace him, while Democratic nominee Chad Putman declared his candidacy prior to the news of Farley stepping down. Putman has his work cut out for him: he’s never held public office, Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district, and Tedisco has major advantages of name recognition as an outspoken Assembly member and the support of a well-liked incumbent. Both candidates have focused on fighting corruption in Albany and been critical of Common Core education standards.

For more on the race in State Senate District 49:
Capital Region Republicans reject Trump comments, but not candidacy - The Daily Gazette
GOP, Democrats eye key races for control of New York Senate - The Saratogian
SD49 candidates weigh in on the Albany corruption case - The Daily Gazette
SD49 candidates criticise common core standards  - The Daily Gazette
Trump Could Tip Key Races for State Senate Control - Gotham Gazette
Senate Republicans Face Departures with Battle for Control Looming - Gotham Gazette

State Senate District 39 – Bill Larkin (R), Chris Eachus (D)
Democrat Chris Eachus overcame a spending deficit to come within three percentage points of defeating incumbent Republican State Senator Bill Larkin in 2012, though much has changed since then. Larkin has been under attack for taking two state pensions; writing a letter of support for former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos during his trial (Skelos was convicted on corruption changes); and controversy over a criminal investigation into the treasurer of his campaign committee. With Democratic voter enrollment in Orange County on the rise, Democrats are hoping this is the year to unseat Larkin, who has served 13 terms, but it won’t be easy.

Larkin appears to be in hiding -- he has skipped three joint appearances in just the last two weeks, according to the Times-Herald Record, including two debates and a candidates' forum held by a local law enforcement group. Eachus hasn’t been able to readily differentiate his own ethics standards, as the New York Daily News reports that the Democratic candidate failed to disclose $200,000 of outside income last year.

For more on the race in State Senate District 39:
Orange Co. Legislator Eachus again seeks to unseat state Sen. Larkin - Times Herald-Record
State Senate candidate calls for government reforms - Times Herald-Record
Trump Could Tip Key Races for State Senate Control - Gotham Gazette
Senate Republicans Face Departures with Battle for Control Looming - Gotham Gazette

State Senate District 9 - Todd Kaminsky (D), Chris McGrath (R)
Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky won his seat in the state Senate in a special election to replace Skelos in April, securing the only Democratically-held seat on Long Island. Now Kaminsky must again face Republican candidate Chris McGrath. Democrats are hoping the higher turnout for a presidential election cycle and Kaminsky’s popularity as a former federal prosecutor and Assembly member will be enough to again carry the election. Gov. Cuomo also campaigned with Kaminsky on Monday, praising his work to root out corruption.

For more on the race in State Senate District 9:
Cuomo endorses Kaminsky, Haber in state Senate runs - Newsday
Sen. Todd Kaminsky to run first TV ad in re-election campaign - Newsday
Trump Could Tip Key Races for State Senate Control - Gotham Gazette 

State Senate District 46 – George Amedore (R), Sara Niccoli (D)
Incumbent Republican State Senator George Amedore lost his seat in the state senate in 2012 by a margin of only 18 votes to Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk. Amedore won the seat back in 2014 by a wider margin. Now, he faces another tough re-election bid against Democratic nominee Sara Niccoli, a local government official, political activist, and sheep farmer with significant name recognition around the Capital Region, for a challenger.

At a debate this week, the two candidates agreed on the need for ethics reform in state government, but differed in how to address the issue. While Amedore called for term limits and a forfeiture of public pensions for officials convicted in corruption cases, Niccoli said campaign contributions are the root of the issue, calling out her competitor's ties to real estate developers, according to the Daily Freeman.

For more on the race in State Senate District 46:
Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, faces a challenge from Sara Niccoli - The Saratogian
SD46 included in another rundown of races to watch - City & State New York
Trump Could Tip Key Races for State Senate Control - Gotham Gazette

State Senate District 43 – Kathy Marchione (R), Shaun Francis (D)
Incumbent Republican State Senator and proud National Rifle Association member Kathy Marchione faces a general election contest from retired professional baseball umpire and labor organizer Shaun Francis. Francis has won support from notable Democrats like U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, who is also up for re-election, and fellow Democratic candidate for Congress Zephyr Teachout who is sharing office space with Francis in Hudson. Marchione is an embattled incumbent who has taken a lot of heat over her handling of the water quality crisis in Hoosick Falls, but she does hold the significant advantage of name recognition.

For more on the race in State Senate District 43:
Trump Could Tip Key Races for State Senate Control - Gotham Gazette
GOP, Democrats eye key races for control of New York Senate - The Saratogian
State Senate hopeful Francis earns Schumer endorsement - The Troy Record
Teachout, Francis open new Hudson campaign office - The Register-Star
Francis presses Marchione on Trump at candidate forum - Albany Times Union

State Senate District 37 – George Latimer (D), Julie Killian (R)
Incumbent Democratic State Senator George Latimer fended off a Republican challenger in 2014, winning that general election by 5 percent of the vote. Now he is facing Republican challenger Julie Killian in the contest for the lower Hudson Valley’s 37th District which encompases parts of Sound Shore, Eastchester, Yonkers and Bedford. Independents and minor party voters could play a role in deciding the contest, as they make up a significant number of voters in the district. Democrats have an enrollment advantage over Republicans in the district and Latimer’s campaign has substantially outraised Killian, though Killian is actually outspending Latimer.

Despite the Democratic advantage, the race has been characterized by accusations, such as a television ad for Killian that blames Latimer for ignoring women who’ve been sexually abused in Albany. The two candidates have made multiple appearances to debate one another, most recently on October 21, at which the candidates differentiated themselves over items like the state’s tax cap, which limits the amount local property taxes can be raised each year.

For more on the race in State Senate District 37:
37th NYS Senate district seat hotly contested race in Westchester - News 12 Westchester
Latimer, Killian face off in heated Senate race - The Journal News
Cuomo fundraises for Senate Dems, including Sen. George Latimer - PressConnects (Gannett)
SD37 included in a races to watch article - City & State New York

State Senate District 40 – Terrence Murphy (R), Ali Boak (D)
First-term State Senator Terrence Murphy, a Republican, faces Democratic nominee Ali Boak in the Hudson Valley’s District 40. Democrats benefit from a slight enrollment advantage in the district, though that hasn’t stopped Republicans from winning the seat in the last two election cycles. Republicans are spending big campaign dollars to keep Murphy securely in his seat. The Lower Hudson Valley Journal News identified five key issues where the candidates differentiate themselves: ethics reform, term limits for state legislators, control over the state senate, the opioid crisis, and the expansion of the Spectra pipeline.

For more on the race in State Senate District 40:
Ali Boak Calls On Terrence Murphy To 'Dump Trump' - Yorktown Daily Voice
40th state Senate race: Murphy vs. Boak - The Journal News
Senate GOP transferred $142,000 to Terrence Murphy’s campaign - PressConnects (Gannett)
Sen. Terrence Murphy of Yorktown is running for a second term - Poughkeepsie Journal

State Senate District 41 – Sue Serino (R), Terry Gipson (D)
The Hudson Valley has become a battleground for state Senate elections as well as congressional races and State Senate District 41 in Putnam and Dutchess counties is no exception. Republican State Senator Sue Serino, who is serving her first term in office, will face a re-match of the 2014 election against Democratic challenger Terry Gipson -- Serino won that election by less than 5 percent of the vote. Though the last time around Gipson had the incumbency advantage, having won the seat in 2012 through a three-candidate field with the Conservative Party abandoning veteran state Senator Steve Saland, a Republican, over his support for same-sex marriage. Serino and Gipson have had their fair share of disagreements over issues including ethics in campaign finance and Common Core. 

For more on the race in State Senate District 41:
Serino, Gipson disagree on Presidential race, ethics and Common Core - Poughkeepsie Journal
Gipson Seeks To Tie Serino With Trump In State Senate Race - Daily Voice
Senate Reps pump $180,000 into Sen. Sue Serino’s re-election bid - PressConnects (Gannett)
Dutchess County will see a replay of the 2014 race for the 41st District - Poughkeepsie Journal
Serino, Gipson debate SD41 issues at Dutchess Chamber breakfast - Daily Freeman 

State Senate District 5 – Carl Marcellino (R), James Gaughran (D)
Incumbent Republican state Senator Carl Marcellino has been representing Long Island residents in the state Senate since 1995. This year he faces a notable Democratic challenger, James Gaughran, a Suffolk County water commissioner who lost a race for Nassau County Comptroller in 2014. It’s been rumored by Politico, Newsday and others that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sent $11,000 to Gaughran and will endorse the candidate in the District 5 race later this week as he is campaigning for other candidates on Long Island. 

Gaughran has gone after Marcellino over his record in the state Senate, specifically his vote against the Child Victims Act, which would eliminate the statute of limitations for cases of child sexual abuse and allow a one-year window for victims to revive old civil cases, according to the New York Daily News. More recently, Marcellino and other Long Island Republicans are coming under fire from their opponents for their association with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, who were recently arrested on federal corruption charges.

For more on the race in State Senate District 5:
Cuomo endorses Kaminsky, Haber in state Senate runs - Newsday
State Sen. Reps hold up child-sex abuse victims bill slammed by Dems - New York Daily News
Ed Mangano’s corruption case is bad news for Republicans - New York Post

State Senate District 6 – Kemp Hannon (R), Ryan Cronin (D)
The race in Long Island’s District 6 is a rematch of the 2012 contest, in which state Senator Kemp Hannon, incumbent Republican first elected in 1989, defeated Democrat Ryan Cronin by fewer than 5,000 votes. Conservative interest groups are spending a lot of money to protect the seat. The New York Daily News reported that the Greater New York Hospital Association has formed a Super PAC that has spent nearly $200,000 on mail, digital ads, phone calls and campaign management supporting Hannon, who is the chair of the Senate Health Committee. As the case with other races on Long Island, Cronin has been critical of Hannon for being associated with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, recently arrested on corruption charges.

Though Republicans are using another politician to bash their opponents: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat. According to the New York Post, Hannon produced a mailer using Cronin’s face and a stack of $100 bills peeking out of a suit coat’s breast pocket that paints the Democratic challenger as a crony for de Blasio. Though connecting Cronin to de Blasio hasn’t kept the mayor’s political rival, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, from contributing money to help Cronin, and the governor is expected to endorse the Democratic candidate as he campaigns throughout Long Island this week.

For more on the race in State Senate District 6:
Cuomo endorses Kaminsky, Haber in state Senate runs - Newsday
Ed Mangano’s corruption case is bad news for Republicans - New York Post
GOP campaigns on unpopular de Blasio in battle for state Senate - New York Post
Group that fought Lavern's Law spends big on GOP senator who helped - New York Daily News

by William Fowler for Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, October 24

New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

We're in the home stretch of the Presidential race -- and all the other races that are on the ballot November 8 -- with Tuesday marking two weeks until Election Day. As Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and other presidential candidates fight for votes, there are also a variety of races happening in New York. Some will determine party control of the State Senate; others will help decide control of the U.S. House of Representatives -- there are several swing districts in New York. In New York City, there's few, if any, competitive races for local Senate, Assembly, or House seats. [Read: Limited Down Ballot Choices for New Yorkers Come November 8]

Mayor Bill de Blasio spent time this weekend again campaigning for Clinton, this time in Virginia. Back in the city, de Blasio starts his week with no public events. De Blasio will hold a town hall meeting in the Bronx on Thursday evening and will appear at a live event on WNYC radio on Friday morning from the station's The Greene Space.

Governor Andrew Cuomo begins his week on Long Island, campaigning for Democratic state Senate candidates.

This week will see the four-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy hitting New York.

And, along with a variety of committee hearings this week -- details of which are below -- this week the City Council holds its second of two October full-body Stated Meetings, at which new bills are introduced and bills that have passed through committee are voted on by the full Council.  

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - see our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.***

The run of the week in detail:

At 10 a.m. on Monday, the State Assembly’s Ethics and Guidance Committee will meet.

On Monday at 11 a.m. in Corona, Queens, ""First Lady Chirlane McCray and American Psychiatric Association President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D will be joined by elected officials, advocates and health leaders to announce a major investment in the health of NYC’s communities."

At 11 a.m. Monday, Public Advocate Letitia James will attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the NYPD Candidate Assessment Center.

At 1 p.m. on Monday, “Council Member Rory I. Lancman and the New York Democratic Lawyers Council (NYDLC) are rallying New York lawyers to protect the right to vote against suppression and intimidation efforts in this fall’s election in New York and in swing states.” Council Member Lancman, Council Member Costa Constantinides, and Representative Hakeem Jeffries will be among those who participate.

"On Monday evening, Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will host a reception at Gracie Mansion with business, non-profit and philanthropic leaders who participated in the Ladders For Leaders program. They will celebrate a record-breaking year for the City's Summer Youth Employment Program. This event is closed press."

Tuesday marks two weeks until Election Day.

Starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Crain’s New York will hold its 2016 Family Business Summit. This event will “explore how New York family-owned businesses have managed to survive in the city while growing their businesses through the generations.”

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, “City & State’s Borough 50 Series will recognize top 50 community leaders from Queens at a breakfast.”

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, there will be a “New York Building Congress Breakfast Forum with Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen.” The event will “feature the release of the latest Building Congress research report, New York City Construction Outlook 2016-2018.”

On Tuesday at 10 a.m. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will participate in a Women and Girls and Civic Engagement panel at The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, an event being hosted by Generation Citizen.

On Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. in Manhattan, "Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman will announce a first-of-its-kind gun trafficking report...The report analyzes tens of thousands of crime guns recovered by law enforcement, illustrating gun trafficking trends that undermine New York’s strong laws."

At 11 a.m. Tuesday outside the David Dinkins Municipal Building, "Public Advocate Letitia James will call on New York City and New York State to expand access to 3-D digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) technology, a new breast cancer screening technology proven to increase early detection of breast cancer."

At 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Police Commissioner James O'Neill will attend Team Up! at The Hunts Point School in the Bronx. At 6:30 p.m. Fariña will attend a District 20 Town Hall at P.S. 204 in Brooklyn.

At 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Vera Institute of Justice will hold an event on the question of what drives jail growth.

On Tuesday at 1 p.m., "lawmakers and immigrant advocates from around the country will host a call to discuss the significant progress that has been made and to describe what more states and cities can do. The call is coordinated with the release of a new Center for Popular Democracy report, Promoting Equality, that highlights innovative policies that cities and states have passed to promote community safety, inclusion and equality, such as language access initiatives, municipal IDs (NYC has issued almost one million), access to counsel programs for people facing deportation, and policies to prevent co-optation of city and state police for federal immigration enforcement." Participants on the call will include Cristina Jimenez, Co-Founder, United We Dream; Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner, New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs; Natalia Aristizabal, Lead Organizer, Make The Road New York; John Avalos, Member, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, District 11; and Shena Elrington, Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice, Center for Popular Democracy.

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Elections will hold a Commissioners Meeting.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Bar Association will hold its “Barbara Paul Robinson Series: Profiles of Leaders in the Law, with U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg & Sonia Sotomayor.” Charlie Rose of CBS News will moderate the discussion with the two justices.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, there will be a fundraiser for State Senate Democrats, hosted by Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Michael Gianaris, with Governor Andrew Cuomo the special guest, according to Politico New York.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will hold “Criminalizing Poverty: A Dirty Truth.” This event will explore the question of whether being poor really is a “crime.” A panel discussion will be moderated by Alysia Santo of The Marshall Project and Peter Goldberg, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, will give opening remarks. Public Advocate Letitia James is scheduled to speak as well.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Urban Democracy Lab will hold a discussion on “The Politics of Documenting Neighborhood Change.” Zaheer Ali (Oral Historian, Brooklyn Historical Society), Heather Dalmage (Professor of Sociology and Director of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice at Roosevelt University), Max Holleran (PhD candidate, Sociology, New York University), and Rebecca Amato (Historian and Associate Director of the Urban Democracy Lab at New York University) will speak at this event. Jack Tchen (Associate Professor and Director of the A/P/A Institute at New York University) will be the moderator.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday at Gracie Mansion, "Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will host the third annual UpStander Awards at Gracie Mansion."

At the City Council on Wednesday:

  • The Committee on Aging will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss “a Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to providing legal counsel for senior citizens subject to eviction, ejectment or foreclosure proceedings.”
  • The Committee on Juvenile Justice will meet at 10 a.m. for a tour of The Ryer Limited Secure Placement in The Bronx.
  • The Committee on Governmental Operations will meet at 10 a.m. for oversight of the New York City Board of Elections.
  • The Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss several proposed laws on food vendors.
  • The Committee on Higher Education will meet at 1 p.m. for oversight of CUNY Pathways.
  • The Committee on Courts and Legal Services will meet at 1 p.m. for oversight: “Evaluating the Progression of Justice Reboot.”
  • The Committee on General Welfare will meet at 3 p.m. to discuss several proposed laws.

The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics will hold a meeting on Wednesday.

At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will speak at a Citizens Budget Commission breakfast. Vance will “discuss the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative and his office's efforts to invest in public safety, crime prevention, and the justice system.”

At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Center on Media Crime and Justice at John Jay College will hold a briefing on domestic violence in New York City. Deputy Chief Martin Morales, the Commander of the NYPD Domestic Violence Unit, will be the keynote speaker.

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, the Center for New York City Affairs will host a panel on New York City Public Schools that have successfully achieved racial and economic integration.

At 1 p.m. Wednesday, New York Law School will hold “Master Class: NYC’s Land Use and Zoning Laws.”

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will hold “Voting Against Hunger: Presidential Elections and Food Assistance in the US.” There will be discussion of “how figures like FDR, JFK, and Ronald Reagan have dramatically changed the course of hunger in our country.”

At the City Council on Thursday:

  • The Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections will meet at 10 a.m. to continue discussions from its October 20 meeting.
  • The Committee on Finance will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss a “resolution approving the new designation and changes in the designation of certain organizations to receive funding in the Expense Budget.”
  • The City Council will hold a Stated Meeting at 1:30 p.m. It will be prefaced, as usual, by a pre-stated press conference led by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

At 8 a.m. Thursday, City & State New York will hold “State of NY Health.” Discussion will focus on both advances and risks in health-related issues in New York State. State Senators Liz Krueger and Kemp Hannon will participate.

On Thursday at 6 p.m., the Brennan Center for Justice will hold “Corporate Citizen? A Book Talk with Ciara Torres-Spelliscy.” Torres-Spelliscy “will explore this resistance and offer reforms to support these new understandings of the corporation in contemporary society.” She will be joined by Alyssa Katz from the New York Daily News.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Department of City Planning will have its first kickoff meeting for the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study. Among other things, this study “seeks to foster a thriving neighborhood by reinforcing and encouraging a robust local economy anchored by a mix of uses and businesses, while creating opportunities for new housing with affordable housing in appropriate locations.”

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Mayor de Blasio and City Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. will hold a town hall meeting in the Bronx.

Friday and the weekend
At the City Council on Friday:

  • The Committee on Transportation will meet at 10 a.m. for oversight of “the future of driverless vehicles in New York City.”
  • The Committee on Environmental Protection will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss “a Local Law to amend the building code of the city of New York, in relation to establishing requirements for the selection, installation and maintenance of plants for green roof systems.”
  • The Committee on Veterans will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss a “resolution calling on the United States Congress to pass, and the President to sign into law, the Fairness for Veterans Act of 2016.”
  • The Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss two issues related to snow and ice removal.

Over the weekend of October 28, Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will be hosting weekend Halloween Parties at Gracie Mansion.

At 10 a.m. on Friday, State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz will “present a moderated discussion on the financial and fiduciary implications of divesting New York State's pension fund from fossil fuels.”

On Friday, beginning at 4 p.m., “State Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) will host his Annual Hurricane Sandy Remembrance and Recovery Walk...Attendees will gather at Rockaway Beach at Beach 67th Street where there will be a prayer and moment of silence, reflections by elected officials, community leaders and residents and a singing and mime performance by youth from Battalion Pentecostal Assembly Church. Attendees will then walk from the beach to Battalion Pentecostal Assembly Church.”

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez will hold his annual “State of the District” event.

At 8 p.m. on Sunday, Time Warner Cable News and NY1 will televise the only U.S. Senate Debate between Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat, and Republican Wendy Long. The debate will be held at Union College, and Errol Louis and Liz Benjamin will moderate. 

Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Brendan Birth and Ben Max

With Chamber Control at Stake, No Democratic Challenger to Republican Senator from Brooklyn

golden nypd

Sen. Marty Golden (photo: @NYPDAuxilary)

With a great deal on the line for New York City, Democrats are trying to flip the State Senate and a handful of races across the state will make the difference. One Brooklyn district has a significant Democratic voter registration advantage and an incumbent Republican, yet no one is challenging Senator Martin Golden. In 2012, a Democratic challenger won 42% of the vote against Golden.

In the overwhelmingly Blue state of New York, and an even Bluer New York City, a Democratic challenge to an incumbent Republican in a presidential election year would seem to be a no-brainer. But in the 22nd State Senate district in Southern Brooklyn, Democrats have failed to put forward a candidate to run against Golden, a long-serving senator, the only Republican senator from the borough, and one of only two in the entire city.

Golden, a former NYPD officer and New York City Council member, has represented the district for nearly 14 years. He has a strong base of support and has defeated recent challengers despite a heavy enrollment advantage for Democrats in the district. As of April, the district has 27,599 active registered Republican voters, 66,990 Democrats, and 31,756 unaffiliated voters across Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Dyker Heights, parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Marine Park.

Although Golden faced challenges in the last two cycles, 2014 and 2012, he wasn’t too surprised that he has no Democratic opponent this year. “I’m sure they wanted to spend their money wisely,” he said of the Democratic Party, “to try to take over the Senate and look for better opportunities across the state.”

That confidence seems to stem from an ability to work well with all his colleagues, including those across the aisle. “It’s not about Republican or Democrat, it’s about what we can do,” he said. “I work across party lines to deliver resources to our county and our city and that’s one of the reasons I’m running unchallenged.”

A self-proclaimed “economic development nut,” his main focus once he is reelected will be creating jobs for his district while reducing the tax burden on constituents, he said. His other priorities include education, transportation, public safety and seniors.

For the Democrats, the odds of posing a strong challenge to Golden were better this time around than they have been in years. At the state level, the party has seen renewed hope of taking back the Senate from Republicans, who do not have outright numerical dominance of the chamber but retain control by partnering with the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway faction of Democrats. One other Democrat, Simcha Felder from Brooklyn, also caucuses with the Republicans. With the presidential election this year, more Democrats are expected to turn out on Election Day, and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s strong approval ratings in the state have buoyed other New York Democrats, who hope to leverage that enthusiasm into down ballot races.

Golden, an avowed supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, brushed aside any concern that the Democrats could indeed succeed. “The Senate Democrats are definitely not taking over the majority,” he said. “Between the Independent Democratic Conference and elected Republicans, we’ll have a good number and a majority to carry forward our agenda.”

Local Democrats disagree and believe that the party should have offered up a challenge to the incumbent. “I definitely think it’s a missed opportunity,” said Jamie Kemmerer, a member of the Bay Ridge Democrats political club who unsuccessfully ran against Golden in 2014. “You could reasonably expect Republican turnout to go down based on the last couple of weeks of the cycle,” Kemmerer added, in apparent reference to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s fall in the polls.

When Kemmerer initially ran two years ago, he expected he would run again this year, having built some name and face recognition. But, after his wife gave birth to their second son shortly after the 2014 election, he decided it would be “too much to put the family through.” Personal reasons aside, he also admitted that running against Golden is an uphill battle given the way the district lines are drawn. “The reality is it’s a very gerrymandered district,” he said. “It will be very difficult for anyone to win until the lines are redrawn.”

A South Brooklyn political operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, presented the same reasoning. “For the past several election cycles Golden has won re-election thanks to a wretchedly gerrymandered district,” the operative said, insisting that Golden’s numbers have actually been dwindling in southern parts of the district but he has won because of support in Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and Midwood. “So while his power is becoming more and more of an eroding mirage, the fear of real estate developers coming in and dropping a few million to bury any challenger has made some candidates think twice. But electorally, Marty is definitely vulnerable, no doubt about it. His days are numbered and I think he knows it. South Brooklyn is a markedly different place than it was in 1998 when Marty was first elected to the Council.”

Past election results do, however, indicate that the district will continue to vote Republican. “Regardless of what enrollment numbers show, the vote pattern shows that voters in the area have supported Republicans,” said Steven Romalewski, director of CUNY Graduate Center’s mapping service, which tracks and charts voting patterns (see district map below). “I wouldn’t be surprised that the redistricting effort had something to do with it.”

senate district 22

In the April presidential primary, the district largely favored Trump over other Republican contenders, and mostly voted for Senator Bernie Sanders over Clinton. Both were closed party primaries, though, which excluded the district’s sizable unaffiliated pool of voters.

A key element of Democratic reticence seems to be the lack of support from the Democratic political machinery. There hasn’t been a concerted effort by Kings County Democrats to challenge Golden and even in years past, local contenders have received little in the way of institutional support. This year would likely have been no different, particularly since Mayor Bill de Blasio, who attempted to sway Senate elections for Democrats in 2014, has taken a step back from state legislative races following controversy over his previous involvement. But even in 2014, de Blasio and others gave almost no help to Kemmerer in his bid to unseat Golden.

With a Democratic Governor and a large Democratic majority in the state Assembly, Democrats would have full control of state government if they were to win the Senate. Whichever mainline conference has more seats is still expected to have to make a coalition deal with the Independent Democratic Conference between November's elections and the start of the new legislative session in January.

The last competitive challenge Golden faced was in 2012 when Andrew Gounardes, another member of the Bay Ridge Democrats, did better than Kemmerer would subsequently do. But Gounardes, who now works in the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, was outspent and outmatched. Gounardes received 42.3 percent of votes in 2012 against 57.7 percent for Golden; in 2014, Kemmerer garnered 29.3 percent while Golden won with 64.9 percent.

“For many years, the worst kept secret was the sweetheart deal made to protect Marty Golden from any serious Democratic challengers,” said the political operative from Brooklyn. “This deal was strictly enforced by [former Brooklyn Democratic party chair] Vito Lopez. Andrew Gounardes in 2012 was the first year the Democrats were given the green light to run a real candidate against Marty. The fact that Gounardes defeated Marty in Bay Ridge and gave him the race of his life shows why that sweetheart deal was so important to keeping Marty in power for so long. It is much different now and County is not protecting Marty anymore but they aren't exactly drafting or recruiting challengers either.”

Another political operative who spoke on the condition of anonymity echoed that view. “It’d be great if we had a Democratic Party committed to electing Democrats, if we had local officials who supported those efforts,” the second operative said. “It’s a really winnable seat if you look at the numbers and enrollment, it’s winnable if you have the right support and resources.”

by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Limited Down Ballot Choices for New Yorkers Come November 8

Sample BK ballot for Nov 2016 short

sample ballot

When New Yorkers go to the polls November 8, they’ll be facing a big choice at the top of the ballot, with four presidential candidates to choose from. Further down the ballot, however, there will be much more limited choice for many given the number of uncontested general election races for state legislative seats.

New York City residents are represented by 91 seats in the New York State Legislature. Of those, 26 are in the 63-seat Senate and 65 in the 150-seat Assembly. Every two years, the entire state legislature is up for election. As has become tradition, the state legislative primaries that took place September 13 were riddled with uncontested races in both the Senate and Assembly, wherein many incumbents were not challenged from within their own parties.

While you might think the general elections would provide a healthier show of democracy, that is not the case. There are another slate of uncontested races: in total, 32 candidates from across the city -- or 35% of city representation in the Legislature -- will run uncontested in the general election. Twenty-one candidates will have run unopposed in both the primary and general elections. Those 21 constitute 23% of the city’s seats in the Legislature. Data on uncontested candidates was first compiled by Citizens Union, a democracy reform group.

In many cases, an incumbent’s opposing party has not even filed a challenger for the general, much less running a robust campaign. In some cases, there is nominal opposition on the ballot, but incumbents will cruise to re-election. Many of New York City’s election districts are so overwhelmingly Democratic that the winner of the party primary is a lock to win the general -- which, combined with the power of incumbency, makes becoming an incumbent Democrat a virtual lifetime appointment to the Legislature, which has no term limits.

“It’s very difficult for newcomers to unseat incumbents,” Dr. Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University told Gotham Gazette last month. “Once you’re in office it’s much easier to stay in and protect that office, so a lot of people see it as a David versus Goliath situation and choose not to engage in trying to break into the political system.”

In the State Senate, seven of the city’s 26 seats -- 27% -- will remain in the hands of incumbents facing no opponent and therefore little pressure to further tailor their agendas to the wants and needs of their constituents. Of the city’s 64 Assembly seats, 25 -- or 39% -- will be won by candidates that faced no opponent in the general election.

Also of note are the seven “open” state legislative seats in New York City. Two of the seven, Senate District 36 in the Bronx and Assembly District 33 in Queens, were vacated prior to the primaries. In the other five, incumbents are choosing not to run for re-election.   

Two of the uncontested races -- in Assembly Districts 56 and 72 -- are for seats currently held by Annette Robinson, who is retiring, and Guillermo Linares, respectively. These seats will be won by first-time candidates Tremaine S. Wright (AD56) and Carmen De La Rosa (AD72). De La Rosa was one of just three candidates to unseat a New York City-based incumbent in the primaries when she defeated Linares.

Notwithstanding the wins by De La Rosa, Brian Barnwell, and Yuh-Line Niou, who each defeated a sitting legislator, being an incumbent is almost always a safe space.

“I think the voting public increasingly believes that they will not see competitive elections by and large, and it’s a reflection of a system that is designed to be an incumbency protection machine,” said Blair Horner, of the New York Public Interest Group, in a September interview. It is a self-perpetuating problem Horner calls the “democracy death spiral.”

Though all five boroughs are suffering from a lack of competition, Staten Island provides the starkest example of this troubling trend. All six of the borough’s seats, counting both Senate and Assembly, will go uncontested. Only one candidate, Ronald Castorina Jr., a Republican from Assembly District 62, faced competition in the primaries.

Brooklyn and Queens, the city’s two largest boroughs, lead the count of uncontested races with 12 and 11, respectively. There are a number of Republican challengers to Democratic incumbents, in Manhattan especially -- the candidates have campaigns with varied levels of legitimacy, though. There are not any New York City-based races expected to be close. Meanwhile, control of the state Senate is likely to be determined by November's elections, turning on districts outside of New York City, but with a great deal at stake for residents of the city and the rest of the state.

Between the Presidential races and state legislative races, on the November ballot will be one U.S. Senate race in New York - Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Wendy Long - and local races for the House of Representatives.

[Find your poll site and see your sample ballot here]

Below is a list of the 32 uncontested state legislative districts by borough. An asterisk indicates a candidate who did not face opposition in the primary election either.

Uncontested New York City-based Senate and Assembly Seats, 2016 General Election, courtesy of Citizens Union:

The Bronx:
Assembly District 83: Carl Heastie (D)*

Senate District 17: Simcha Felder (D)*
Senate District 18: Martin Malave Dilan (D)
Senate District 19: Roxanne Persaud (D)
Senate District 22: Martin Golden (R)*
Senate District 26: Daniel Squadron (D)*
Assembly District 43: Diana Richardson (D)
Assembly District 48: Dov Hikind (D)*
Assembly District 50: Joseph R. Lentol (D)*
Assembly District 53: Maritza Davila (D)
Assembly District 56: Tremaine Wright (D)
Assembly District 57: Walter Mosley III (D)*
Assembly District 58: N. Nick Perry (D)*

Assembly District 66: Deborah J. Glick (D)
Assembly District 72: Carmen N. De La Rosa (D)

Assembly District 26: Edward C. Braunstein (D)*
Assembly District 27: Michael Simanowitz (D)*
Assembly District 28: Andrew Hevesi (D)*
Assembly District 29: Alicia Hyndman (D)
Assembly District 31: Michele Titus (D)
Assembly District 32: Vivian Cook (D)
Assembly District 34: Michael DenDekker (D)*
Assembly District 35: Jeffrion Aubry (D)*
Assembly District 36: Aravella Simotas (D)*
Assembly District 37: Catherine Nolan (D)*
Assembly District 39: Francisco Moya (D)*

Staten Island:
Senate District 23: Diane Savino (D)*
Senate District 24: Andrew Lanza (R)*
Assembly District 61: Matthew Titone (D) *
Assembly District 62: Ronald Castorina Jr. (R)
Assembly District 63: Michael Cusick (D)*
Assembly District 64: Nicole Malliotakis (D)*

by Luke Foley and Ben Max for Gotham Gazette

Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.

Top Cuomo Aide Moves to Avoid Conflicts of Interest Before Leaving for Private Sector

malatras cuomo site

Jim Malatras, right, with Gov. Cuomo, center (Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

Jim Malatras, director of state operations for the Cuomo administration, has walled himself off from healthcare issues as he prepares to leave his post early next year to join the Healthcare Association of New York State as its new chief operating officer. Precautions, including guidance from a state ethics panel, are being taken so that Malatras will avoid conflicts of interest as he continues working for Cuomo for the next several months before moving into a top role with one of the state’s most powerful lobbying entities.

Politico New York first reported that Malatras will be resigning soon after the Governor’s next State of the State address, in January. Known as a policy wonk, Malatras started his public career in 2001 working for Assembly Member Richard Brodsky. In 2007, he joined the office of Andrew Cuomo, then-Attorney General of New York State. He has been by Cuomo’s side since, save for a one-year stint as vice chancellor for policy and chief of staff at the State University of New York from 2013 to 2014. For the last two years, he has held his current position as state operations director.

In August, Malatras was approached by the Healthcare Association for its top managerial position, as current COO Richard Cook is resigning, according to HANYS. The association is one of the state’s largest trade groups and represents about 550 hospitals, nursing homes, and health care facilities. It is a $30-million operation, part for-profit and part nonprofit, which employs more than 200 people. The group also has a large lobbying presence in Albany. “The COO is the chief management role at the organization,” said Darren Dopp, senior vice president of corporate communications at HANYS. “It’s not a lobbying role, it’s not a political role. It’s a purely management position.”

Considering the scope of healthcare issues in New York State and Malatras’ position as essentially the overseer of all state agencies, the move provokes a number of questions about conflicts or the appearance of conflicts of interest. These are questions that the Cuomo administration says are being accounted for as Malatras continues to work for the governor.

“If you include federal aid, healthcare is the biggest part of the state budget,” said Bill Hammond, director of health policy at the Empire Center for Public Policy. “Even without federal aid, it’s the second biggest behind school aid.” Hammond pointed out that healthcare has “receded as a political fight” in Albany in the last few years after having been one of the major sticking points that led to budget delays in the past.

Still, there are key healthcare and hospitals-related issues facing the state. Medicaid funding levels for the city through the state budget became a sticking point this past budget season. Hammond pointed out that the Healthcare Reform Act is due to expire on December 31, 2017 and he expects that the governor will address it either in his State of the State or the next budget. Surcharges under the act bring in millions of dollars for the state and large amounts of that funding are funneled to hospitals. The act will likely be extended, as it has been in the past.

Another issue is permanent guarantee funds, which insulate healthcare providers if insurance companies go bankrupt. These funds were the subject of much debate this year following the closure of Health Republic Insurance of New York State. Hammond also said a perennial issue in Albany is whether the legislature should establish nurse staffing ratios. A “sleeper issue,” he said, for the state could be New York City Health + Hospitals, the city’s municipal health care system which is currently being overhauled to compensate for massive deficits. “At some point, there might be a push for the state Legislature to do something,” Hammond said.

Malatras has put measures in place to avoid any possible conflicts. Before even receiving an official offer from HANYS, he filed two written notifications recusing himself from all healthcare matters on August 11 and August 18. He then sought guidance from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics on the prospective job. In an informal advisory on August 26 and a supplemental informal opinion on September 12, copies of which were provided to Gotham Gazette by the Cuomo administration, JCOPE approved of the precautions that Malatras has taken and informed him of the restrictions he will face with his new employer.

“Jim has been an invaluable member of this administration and spearheaded many of the Governor’s key initiatives – such as the tax cap, Clean Energy Standard and college loan forgiveness – which have improved the lives of New Yorkers and will ensure a better a brighter future for this state,” said Abbey Fashouer, deputy press secretary for the governor, in a statement to Gotham Gazette.

“Per state ethics laws, Jim informed Counsel’s Office upon being approached for his new position as well as sought, received, and followed guidance from JCOPE regarding his ongoing duties to avoid conflicts in post-state employment,” Fashouer continued. “He intends to abide by those ongoing ethical obligations to avoid even the appearance of a conflict both as he concludes his work with the Executive Chamber and in the private sector.”

Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, praised Malatras’ foresight. “That’s why JCOPE exists,” he said, “and it sounds like the correct steps for the administration to have taken.”

As per the Public Officers Law, Malatras will face a two-year bar against appearing before a state agency or receiving any compensation for services related to cases before his former agency. Since he was employed by the executive branch, the two-year bar applies more broadly to all state agencies. He also faces a lifetime ban against providing services that would involve any matter that he directly oversaw or was personally involved in while in state government.

Hammond, describing Malatras as “a sharp guy” and “very capable and intelligent,” also said he was glad that Malatras has tried to preempt any conflicts in his work going forward. “Taking those precautions in and of itself doesn’t necessarily solve the problem,” he said, “but it’s a sign of good faith that he’s acknowledged the issue and taken steps to address it.”

The governor’s office did not make Malatras available for an interview for this article.

Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a government watchdog organization, said Malatras will no doubt be constrained by the state’s laws. “However, having a top administration official within a large organization like [HANYS] does provide the association with the unique perspective on the governor’s thinking and the decisions that will be made over the next couple of years,” Dadey said.

Dadey lauded Malatras as a principled public servant but warned of the tough scrutiny he will face in his transition into the private sector. “[Malatras’] last couple of months in government will be examined closely,” he said, “to ensure that he acts with his usual integrity in handling of matters that affect the healthcare industry. He’s a good guy with a strong compass and I’m sure that will guide him in how he exits state government service successfully and with integrity.”

by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.

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