Gotham Gazette Mon, 19 Apr 2021 18:01:26 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Webmaster) Embracing Sanders, De Blasio Leaves Behind His Clinton-Cuomo Era Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders swears in Bill de Blasio for a second term (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)

Bill de Blasio was inaugurated for his second term as New York City mayor on Monday, taking his oath of office on a frigid day blanketed by the warmth of mutual admiration with Bernie Sanders. With praise from the Vermont senator and leading national progressive, de Blasio may also have been attempting, whether consciously or not, to finalize his shift away from the Clinton-Cuomo wing of the Democratic Party, where he has kept one foot as he has navigated, with fits and starts, his past relationships, efforts to move the party leftward, and national ambitions.

Four years ago, de Blasio was the first Democrat to take the New York City mayoral oath of office since 1990, and did so facing Bill Clinton, who swore him in, with Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo looking on and applauding. De Blasio, seemingly cut from a different cloth as the more centrist trio, each of whom he has worked for, went on to back Cuomo and Hillary Clinton in hard-fought primaries where his ties to them and political calculations seemed to trump his ideological dispositions.

As de Blasio was putting his progressive vision into practice as mayor, Zephyr Teachout and Bernie Sanders went without his support in 2014 and 2016, respectively, even as they spoke the gospel of the de Blasio political bible.

After backing Cuomo in 2014, de Blasio appeared to quickly regret the decision, and eventually broke from the governor in an infamous public tirade. The two have been mostly at war over the course of the last four years, with Cuomo doing his best to avoid endorsing de Blasio during the mayor’s relatively easy 2017 reelection campaign. A new chapter is sure to emerge in 2018 as Cuomo seeks a third term. Even as Cuomo has moved leftward, de Blasio has derided the governor for claiming to be progressive and for not following through on promises made during the 2014 endorsement process, calling him out for propping up Republican control of the state Senate, where a variety of de Blasio priorities, like higher taxes on the wealthy to fund city programs, have met their demise.

In 2016 and again battling cognitive dissonance, de Blasio also misplayed his endorsement of Clinton, initially declining to give her the backing that was a virtual given and eventually came, but with diminished standing with the presidential nominee and many in the larger party. All the while, de Blasio praised Sanders, who offered a message that aligned more with de Blasio’s and is one the mayor has said would have won the general election lost to Donald Trump. Since the shocking November 2016 result, de Blasio has become increasingly sharp in his criticisms of the Clinton campaign, while reiterating his respect for Hillary Clinton herself, and increasingly sought to align himself with Sanders, who traveled to New York City in the fall to endorse de Blasio for reelection and express support for the mayor’s proposal to tax millionaires to fund subway fixes and reduced-price MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers.

Meanwhile, de Blasio has credited Sanders for changing the conversation and acknowledged that Sanders’ campaign filled a role in the presidential election cycle that de Blasio had hoped to fill, moving Clinton to the left and pushing a focus on income inequality.

And so, on January 1, 2018, Brooklyn native Bernie Sanders took the seat on the New York City Hall plaza dais that four years before had been occupied by Hillary Clinton, and, from the podium at which Bill Clinton had addressed the 2014 crowd, praised Bill de Blasio’s progressivism.

As Sanders led the mayor in recitation of the oath of office, Cuomo was on Long Island, administering a similar oath to Laura Curran, the new Nassau County Executive. Former Mayor David Dinkins, who gave de Blasio his start in city politics, occupied the seat where the governor had sat four years ago, while Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul represented the Cuomo administration to Dinkins’ right.

“Today we’re here to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for leading this city in making it one of the most progressive cities in the United States of America,” Sanders said.

Speaking in their favorite shared nomenclature, Sanders said de Blasio gets it, and painted the mayor’s administration as a welcome juxtaposition and antidote to the national rule of Trump and congressional Republicans.

“At a time when we have a massive and growing level of income and wealth inequality, we have a government in Washington which has just provided the billionaire class with hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks, while raising taxes on middle class families,” Sanders said. After rattling off that and other problems he sees in the nation’s capital, like steps backward on climate change, he shifted gears.

“That is the bad news,” Sanders said. “But I am very happy to say that there is also a lot of good news in our country and we are witnessing some of that good news today. In this city, the largest city in our country, the people of New York under Bill de Blasio have chosen to move government in a very different direction than what we’re seeing in Washington. Instead of pandering to billionaires we have a government here which has chosen to listen to the needs of working families.”

Referencing de Blasio’s signature accomplishment, Sanders said the mayor’s efforts are “leading this country toward universal pre-K education.”

De Blasio basked in the adulation, recognition from the 76-year-old Sanders, a national liberal icon, on the first day of a second four-years as mayor during which de Blasio, 56, has pledged to continue his pursuit of national political influence while promising that he is not running for president in 2020. Sanders has not ruled out another presidential bid.

Unmentioned by Sanders or de Blasio, but referenced by the other two citywide officials being re-inaugurated on Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James, are the limits to de Blasio's progressivism. The mayor has been criticized for a too-moderate affordable housing plan, not being bold enough in reducing homelessness, and a too-careful approach to police accountability.

When the mayor took the microphone, after a hug with Sanders and a group hug with his family, de Blasio thanked many in attendance, with a special message for the couple in 2014’s Clinton seats. “To Bernie and Jane Sanders: these two proud Brooklynites have changed America in a profound way,” de Blasio said. “Bernie and Jane, you have proven that the voices of the people are what matter most, and the political process in this country will never be the same -- it will be better, it will be more democratic, because of what these two have done. Let’s thank them.”

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

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Embracing Sanders, De Blasio Leaves Behind His Clinton-Cuomo Era Mon, 01 Jan 2018 05:00:00 +0000
Former Hillary Clinton Email Director Tells Young Democrats to ‘Run For Something’ amanda litman voted twitter

Amanda Litman (via @amandalitman)

Gripping two drinks, Amanda Litman, co-founder of a political action committee dedicated to helping young people run for office, arrived at a New York University classroom with a kick in her step. The 27-year-old political campaign veteran-turned-author walked in holding an iced coffee with soy milk and three Splendas in one hand and a tiny bottle of San Pellegrino water in the other.

“The quickest way to age is to work on a political campaign,” said Litman, former email director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. “I kept a box of wine under my desk at all times.”

The 27-year-old Brooklynite’s book, published this month by Simon & Schuster, explains how to run for office, how the government works, how to get a job on a campaign, and basics of voter mobilization and campaign finance. Written in just seven weeks, “Run For Something: A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing the System Yourself,” features an introduction by Hillary Clinton along with sections by Cory Booker, United States Senator from New Jersey; and Jason Kander, founder of Let America Vote.  

The book was a side project to her organization, Run For Something, which she founded after the 2016 election with Ross Rocketto, former management consultant at Deloitte Consulting’s innovation center. The organization, which recruits, supports and endorses first or second-timers under age 35 to run for office, launched Inauguration Day, as Donald Trump was taking the oath of office.

After nine months and with the help of many volunteers, the group claims 11,000 newcomers have signed up to run for office and nearly $500,000 raised from about 5,000 donors.

“My goal is that in 10,15, 20 years you’ll see a presidential candidate who got their start because we told them they could run for office when they were 25 years old,” said Litman.

One of the New York City candidates connected with the program, Marjorie Velazquez, 36, praised the social media promotion Run for Something gave her campaign. A lifetime Bronx native running for City Council in the Bronx, in District 13, Velazquez is a proponent of women’s rights who will appear on the general election ballot under the Working Families Party after losing the Democratic nomination to state Assemblymember Mark Gjonaj by 390 votes.

“It’s important for people to know running for office is acceptable,” said Velazquez, who was significantly outspent by Gjonaj in the Council race and is not actively campaigning in the general. “I have friends in government and politics and I still needed guidance. Having a book that explains how to run for office will change things.”

Christopher Marte, 28, another Run for Something candidate, lost the Democratic primary in Manhattan’s City Council District 1 by only 200 votes in an effort to unseat incumbent Margaret Chin. Marte also said having such a guidebook in the market and an organization that can be so helpful to young candidates is significant. “When I was looking up how to run or get on the ballot, there was no one to answer the most basic questions—how do you get a petition form, how do you get a committee started,” said Marte, who will appear on the ballot in November under the Independence Party. He is actively campaigning in a continued effort to topple Chin.

Along with Velazquez and Marte, Litman’s organization endorsed other City Council candidates running this fall, including Amanda Farias, the only woman who ran for a City Council seat in the Bronx’s District 18; Vanessa Aronson, who ran in Manhattan’s District 4; Ronnie Cho, a former White House director of public engagement during the Obama presidency, who ran in Manhattan’s District 2; and Justin Sanchez, an L.G.B.T candidate who opposed an openly anti-L.G.B.T incumbent in the Bronx’s Council District 14.

All these candidates fit the Run For Something support criteria. Candidates must be under 35, Democratic, pro-choice, L.G.B.T. rights supporters, believe in climate change, and advocate to reduce gun violence. The organization provides guidance on how to run, mentorship from political experts and consultants, partnerships with candidate support programs, and endorsements.

At least thus far in the 2017 cycle, none of Run for Something’s candidates has been successful in New York City. But, first-time candidates winning their elections is not nearly the entire frame of Run for Something.

Litman decided politics was her calling at a young age, spending her high school weekends campaigning for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine, now a Senator and recently Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, and reproductive rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.

The appeal of Litman’s activist enterprise is borne of and extends to her persona, which young people can relate to. She comes across as genuine and relatable; not lecturing, but laughing at herself and cursing in the flow of her conversation. She gushes over her dog, Sadie, who’s “too cute to discipline.” She reads romance novels that she buys on her mother’s credit card. And she says it like it is, never claiming that running for office will be easy; instead, she emphasizes that it will be exhausting and hard, but worth it.

Her book reads like a conversation with her. It explains why it’s OK to be flawed and run. It breaks down technical jargon in easy to understand ways; she defines “grassroots tweeter” as a meaningless and convoluted phrase that just means a person advocating a campaign on the internet. The pages of the step-by-step guide are filled with little pep talks, humor, and rhetorical questions to encourage readers to do their bit for democracy. Her fresh demeanor also translates to her startup’s activities. The organization, which does not yet have office space, is currently touring with a rock band to recruit signups, uses Facebook ads to reach younger audiences, and calls its fundraising events “money parties.”

Even if her new candidates lose, what matters to Litman is young people getting on the ballot in the first place. She believes that as more progressives run for office, voter contact will increase, more volunteers will get involved, more Democratic ideas will be advocated, and eventually, the system will improve.

“It’s very easy to talk about the business you want to start, or the organization you think should exist, or a problem you see in a political system,” she said. “It’s much harder to sit down and try because you might fail.”

“It’s not failure,” she added, catching herself and pausing for a second, then continuing with a chuckle and a smile. “It’s redirection.”

Daniela Cobos and Vedika Kumar are journalism students at New York University.

Former Hillary Clinton Email Director Tells Young Democrats to ‘Run For Something’ Thu, 19 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000
Trump’s Victory, De Blasio’s State of the City bdb trump tower

Mayor de Blasio at Trump Tower (photo: Gotham Gazette)

Perhaps so as not to pour salt in the wound, Mayor Bill de Blasio took a few days to give his assessment of what went wrong for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. But, since he started to explain his take on how the Democrats blew it and the country wound up with Donald Trump as President, de Blasio has laid out in sharp terms what he believes should have been done differently.

“I think the campaign became about the wrong thing,” de Blasio said during a February 10 taping of Pod Save America, a podcast hosted by former aides to President Barack Obama, “...[it] focused on what was wrong with Donald Trump -- his character, his personality -- and not what we needed to do for the American people and how we needed to change things, and didn’t reference that extraordinary progressive platform enough.”

The mayor’s analysis, which he delivered almost jubilantly on the podcast and has given several times in recent months, appears to further validate his own 2013 victory and his philosophy around how Democrats must campaign throughout the country. It also seems to have served as definitional for him as he prepared his 2017 State of the City address, which he delivered on February 13, three days after taping the podcast in front of a live, friendly audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

“In the end,” de Blasio said on Pod Save America, “one thing you learn if you’re sort of listening to people, is everyone needs something to vote for, not just something to vote against.”

A few nights later at the Apollo Theater, in front of another supportive crowd, de Blasio headlined his primetime State of the City speech with a pledge to create 100,000 “permanent good-paying jobs” over the next 10 years. These, the mayor promised, will be jobs mostly in growth sectors like life sciences and pay at least $50,000 annually. The mayor framed it as “the next front line in the battle” against inequality and the city’s affordability crisis.

De Blasio outlined his approach to delivering on that promise to explain his administration is working to provide opportunity for people and, as he is also seeking re-election, giving them that “something to vote for.”

“I'm going to talk to you about the things that we are going to do as a city government, the investments we're going to make, and the impact we expect it to have,” de Blasio said during his State of the City.

Reading not from prepared remarks but from notes, de Blasio was at times repetitive, especially in hitting home that his activist, interventionist brand of government is doing what New Yorkers need.

He explained his “deeply held belief that the simple role of government is to respond to people's everyday lives, to constantly show that we can be there for people, that we can do something to change their lives.”

It was a speech, of course, but at times the mayor fell into the de Blasio pattern of telling instead of showing -- he was sure to say out loud what he wanted the emotional takeaways to be.

Directly connecting his analysis of the 2016 presidential election and his mayoralty, de Blasio said, “I have to tell you that so much of what we've seen this last year, so much of what we're talking about in this city and this country honestly stems from the fact that for too long people felt their lives weren't seen, their pain wasn't responded to, their needs weren't met. They felt that here, they felt that all over the country. They felt that when they looked at Washington D.C., and a lot of people voted in 2016 based on a pain that was very economic, very real. Because they hadn't seen answers.”

The same type of dissatisfaction with government, de Blasio was saying, propelled him into office in New York and Trump into the presidency.

One year after voters chose Trump in a stunning upset, de Blasio will be back on the ballot. He has begun his 2017 campaign by rolling out endorsements from several labor unions and elected officials. At events in which he accepts those endorsements, whether union halls or a Bronx church, de Blasio has showcased what his administration has delivered for New Yorkers -- universal pre-kindergarten, more affordable housing, neighborhood policing along with lower crime, and more. He must now convince voters, at least the Democrats that make up his political base, that he not only heard them, but followed through on his 2013 pledge to create a more equal city.

During his State of the City, before he turned to his new jobs push, de Blasio discussed the other side of the affordability coin: housing. He not only extolled the progress of his affordable housing plan, which aims to build or preserve 200,000 units of rent-regulated apartments over ten years and is on track to do so, but explained anti-eviction measures the city is undertaking to keep people in their homes and, in many cases, out of a shelter system that is busting at the seams. (The city’s homelessness crisis is a source of vulnerability for de Blasio.)

In the lead up to his speech, de Blasio had announced a deal with the City Council to fund a “right to counsel” in housing court, whereby qualifying tenants would receive free legal guidance or representation from the city.

Explaining the policy during his State of the City, de Blasio carefully articulated to New Yorkers that his administration is both fighting for them and giving them that “something to vote for.”

Describing the specifics of the policy, he provided the three instances where “you get a lawyer.”

When he turned to jobs, he said, “If it's going to be your city, we have to help you keep climbing the economic ladder. We have to help you get more and more opportunity.”

In the 2016 election analysis de Blasio had delivered just three nights before, he said that Hillary Clinton “had a working majority in...states that she lost, but people stayed home because it didn’t feel enough it was for them and about them.”

During his State of the City, de Blasio read his playbook out loud, saying, “People have to see and feel every single day that their government is working for them, is on their side, find a way to make their lives better.”

At a recent press conference, Gotham Gazette asked the mayor when he decided to eschew the traditional State of the City model of running through a lengthy list of proposals, plans, and goals in favor of focusing on one central theme, that of affordability.

After saying that the State of the City is worked on year-round and tinkered with until the last minute, de Blasio said, “Really, over the few weeks leading up to this speech, I thought a lot about what I had heard from people all over the city and what I heard at town hall meetings.” Because of how much he hears about affordability, he said, “I felt that it would be smart to focus on it.”

The mayor added that he felt he had given much public discussion to his policing and education agendas, among other well-worn topics, and, “When I thought about where we needed to add more to the public’s understanding of the direction we were taking, it seemed to me it was around affordability.”

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

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Trump’s Victory, De Blasio’s State of the City Tue, 07 Mar 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Bill De Blasio and the Presidential Election That Didn’t Happen clinton bdb inner circle appleton

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

Just two weeks before Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders stepped into the 2016 presidential election with his uber progressive proposals that would eventually pull the Democratic Party to the left, Mayor Bill de Blasio stuck his foot in the door. The mayor’s attempt to seize the moment for national change was borne from his own electoral success in New York City and began in earnest with a policy announcement outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C., where de Blasio and his allies unveiled an agenda meant to influence the presidential race.

Fashioning himself a national progressive standard-bearer, de Blasio embarked on what would become a largely humbling journey in which he was at times a political pariah, a strong voice for liberal policies, a non-factor, and a loyal Hillary Clinton surrogate. It ended this week as de Blasio led get-out-the-vote rallies on New York City college campuses, cast his vote for Clinton and spoke in support of Clinton at the beginning of a rally outside her election night event, which itself turned from an optimistic coronation to a political funeral.

The journey took de Blasio from glowing appearances on the Sunday political talk shows to humbly door-knocking in Iowa; from an unglamourous afternoon speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to late-game weekend appearances at swing state churches where he vouched for Clinton in front of largely black audiences, representative of his base. And then to several CUNY schools where he rallied young voters in Clinton’s adopted home state, a voting booth at a Park Slope library, and the Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side, where Clinton supporters expected a big night that never came.

With the 2016 election now behind him, the mayor may be relieved to next focus on his own reelection campaign. His first term, much like his involvement in the presidential election, has been defined by a lurching series of setbacks and accomplishments. He has been lauded for achieving key progressive policy goals, including the implementation of universal pre-kindergarten, expanded paid sick leave, and more affordable housing.

But among de Blasio’s failures, one that stands out -- and foreshadowed his 2016 efforts -- is his unsuccessful 2014 attempt to influence state elections and flip control of the New York State Senate to Democrats. Not only did de Blasio-backed candidates lose and the Senate, which stifles the mayor on policy matters, remain in Republican hands, but de Blasio’s efforts are under law enforcement investigation because of the campaign finance tactics used.

After the 2014 election cycle, de Blasio also went national, expressing his disappointment with results around the country in a Huffington Post op-ed, urging Democrats to stiffen their backbones and commit to “a bold, new approach” that acknowledged the need to address income inequality. The missive landed with a thud, somewhat like de Blasio’s efforts to influence the 2016 conversation and his delayed endorsement of Clinton.

It is widely acknowledged that de Blasio’s progressive credentials are indeed strong, but his attempts to push his principles at the national stage faltered, even while his preferred policies took center stage in the Democratic debate. It would be Sanders, not de Blasio, who was the left-wing star of 2016. The mayor’s past proximity to Clinton, whom he once served as a political operative and who attended his 2014 inauguration as Mayor, seemed to encourage his audacious attempts at influencing her policy positions.

The highs and lows that followed de Blasio’s initial non-endorsement of Clinton, over 18 trepidatious months, also captured the relationship, which has since been placed under the microscope following the release of stolen emails from the hacked account of Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta.

The first blow to the mayor and New York City’s role in the presidential election came early, in February 2015, when the city lost its bid to host the Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn. Some said that although logistics and security were stated reasons why the Democratic National Committee chose Philadelphia, which is in a swing state, part of the problem was New York’s status as a heavily liberal haven, and a sure thing for any Democratic nominee.

That April, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” de Blasio declined to officially endorse Clinton’s presidential run. “I think like a lot of people in this country, I want to see a vision,” he told host Chuck Todd, insisting that he wanted to first gauge Clinton’s policies on income inequality. What followed was not surprising. The Clinton campaign, already keeping the mayor on the periphery, shunned him almost entirely.

De Blasio’s initial offers of unsolicited advice went largely ignored, the emails revealed by WikiLeaks showed, and the campaign’s attitude turned almost hostile as the race continued. In private, campaign staffers derided him, with one aide even calling him “a terrorist” for his refusal to attend Clinton’s kick-off rally on Roosevelt Island and a compliment paid to Sanders, her chief primary opponent.

In May, as the mayor continued to hold off on his endorsement, he unveiled the Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality, a nonprofit organization and 13-point policy platform, at a news conference outside the Capitol. Signatories included former and current elected officials at various levels and a number of advocates and celebrities, but not the Clinton campaign. “It’s time to listen to the people all over this country, to listen to their hunger for a change,” de Blasio said at the announcement, according to the New York Times. “It’s up to us to answer their call — their strong demand, in fact — that we create a more just nation.”

Prior to the announcement, the mayor travelled to a number of states to promote a conversation around income inequality, earning him much criticism at home for focusing his attention away from the city -- he had been in office a year and a half.

The Progressive Agenda group made no concrete difference and slowly faded away, particularly after a failed attempt to host a bipartisan presidential forum in Iowa. The forum, slated for December, was called off in November after none of the candidates committed to attending.

De Blasio’s official endorsement of Clinton had come in late October, six months after his initial refusal, and was met with shrugs, the expected development that it was. Politico New York reported at the time on the mayor’s coordination of the endorsement with the Clinton campaign. Emails recently revealed by Wikileaks showed this and more, with communication around the mayor’s press appearances before the endorsement.

“The candidate who I believe can fundamentally address income inequality effectively and has the right vision and the right experience and ability to get the job done is Hillary Clinton,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talk show. “I have seen her vision and her platform develop over five months, I am extremely pleased with what she has put on the table,” he said.

Besides the reception from Clinton’s team -- the two did not appear together and Clinton’s team released a lukewarm statement  -- the mayor was peppered with questions over the reasons for his delayed endorsement and the apparently failed calculations involved.

The weekend before the February 1 Iowa caucus, the mayor sought to make amends by personally travelling to the state, with no invitation from the campaign, to knock on doors and urge people to support Clinton. Clinton and de Blasio did not appear in public together and the trip seemed to have little political payoff for either. It played more as a symbolic mea culpa on the mayor’s part, particularly after the New York Times reported that the Clinton campaign had rejected a previous offer by him to campaign in the state.

The relationship slowly thawed in the next few months. The mayor’s effort to push Clinton left was virtually over, though since she did take more liberal positions on a number of issues, the mayor saved some face and later took some credit. He also regularly praised Senator Sanders, and continues to do so -- acknowledging, at least tacitly, that the Vermont senator had the impact the mayor was aiming for when he organized the Progressive Agenda.

In April, Clinton and de Blasio finally made a joint appearance at the annual Inner Circle dinner in New York City. But even that event turned sour after the two participated in a racially-tinged joke that referenced de Blasio’s reticence in endorsing Clinton. After a week or two of critical headlines, however, both emerged unscathed.

Clinton went on to debate Sanders for the last time in the Democratic primaries at an event in Brooklyn that de Blasio attended, then won the New York primary on April 19. At her victory celebration, the mayor was among those who spoke to the crowd -- months before stolen emails were released that showed him critiquing some of her debate performance.

De Blasio eventually became an active Clinton surrogate, taking to the road to campaign for her across the country. He went to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin in just the last few weeks of the general election campaign.

“I’m very comfortable with the fact that I pushed the Clinton campaign to take a more progressive stance,” de Blasio said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show on October 14. “And even if that meant holding out for a while I think that is part of the political process and that is how I am going to comport myself.”

This past weekend, the mayor visited multiple churches across the five boroughs to stump for Clinton. And on Monday, he rallied with college students at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, LaGuardia Community College in Queens, Baruch College in Manhattan, and Hostos Community College in the Bronx.

On Tuesday morning, amid a five-borough get-out-the-vote blitz, the mayor arrived with First Lady Chirlane McCray in their old neighborhood to cast their ballots at the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Speaking to reporters outside the polling site, they took stock of the “historic moment.” “I signed in my bubble slowly to savor the moment,” said McCray.

“There’s something amazing happening today,” said the mayor, who was on his way to several rallies across the city before attending Clinton’s election night event at the Javits Center. “I really believe this is the day we’re going to elect the first woman president of the United States of America. And as a Democrat I’m particularly proud. Just eight years ago we elected the first African-American president, today we’ll elect the first woman president. This speaks volumes about the values of the Democratic Party…It’s a powerful day for change in America.”

But, it was not to be. Clinton lost to Republican Donald Trump in one of the most stunning moments in United States history -- seemingly putting de Blasio’s hopes for more progressive federal policy on hold, and inserting in the White House someone who has forcefully criticized the mayor’s leadership.

De Blasio was scheduled to discuss the election results on WNYC radio Wednesday morning, but his appearance was bumped due to Clinton’s concession speech.

Instead the mayor addressed the election results at City Hall, where he expressed his disappointment in the results, but said, “I congratulate the New Yorker who won the election, Donald Trump, and I honor the New Yorker who won our city’s vote and the popular vote nationally, Hillary Clinton.”

De Blasio called on New Yorkers to “move forward together, resolute and determined to protect and preserve the city we love and the values we cherish.” He listed some of the key policies that he’s implemented in New York and wants to see nationally.

“It’s no secret that I have profound political disagreements with President-elect Trump,” de Blasio said, before promising to work with the new administration “positively and constructively.”

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

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Bill De Blasio and the Presidential Election That Didn’t Happen Wed, 09 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000
Donald Trump Elected President in Big Night for GOP Trump election night 2

President-Elect Donald Trump

On a huge Election Day for Republicans, Donald Trump won the presidential election, the GOP kept control of both houses of Congress, and, here in New York, Republicans have increased their margin in the state Senate, the party’s last stronghold of statewide power.

With a stunning show of support across the country, Trump and his vice presidential running mate Mike Pence won more states than expected and Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Reports came in around 2:40 a.m. that Hillary Clinton had called Trump to concede, and soon after, Trump took the stage at the New York Hilton to declare victory.

It was less than an hour after Clinton campaign chair John Podesta said that several states were “too close to call,” that the campaign was going to see every vote counted, and that it would have more to say on Wednesday.

But as more votes came in, the Associated Press called the race for Trump and reports came in of Clinton’s call. Trump called for unity and promised to be a President for all Americans. He repeated campaign promises of investment in infrastructure and jobs for Americans. He did not mention several of his other promises from the campaign trail, like building a wall on the Mexican border and getting Mexico to pay for it, nor did he use disparaging nicknames for his opponent or lash out at critics, as he had throughout the primary and general elections. Trump did not threaten key pieces of the U.S. Constitution as he had over the course of his campaign.

The President-elect spoke calmly and graciously, thanking many members of his team for their work and support, and he thanked Hillary Clinton for her service to the country. There is a great deal of uncertainty about how he will handle the transition of power and the Presidency once inaugurated on January 20, 2017. He is the first person ever elected U.S. President with no government or military experience.

The popular vote count is very close, and Clinton could very well win that but lose the Electoral College and thus the presidency. Trump pulled out a variety of swing states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Financial markets in the U.S. and around the world tumbled as Trump’s win became more apparent.

In the U.S. Senate, where Republicans held a 54-46 advantage coming into the elections, during which 34 Senate seats were being voting on, Republicans appear to have lost just one seat, in Illinois. However, as of 3 a.m., there were two races still not called. It appears likely that the Senate split will be 53-47 or 52-48. New York Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat who won reelection easily, is on track to become Senate Minority Leader.

Republicans will also maintain control of the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats were on the ballot and the GOP came into the elections with a 247-188 advantage. Democrats appear to be picking up a handful of seats to slightly narrow that gap.

Here in New York, congressional races contributed to those House results. Despite several hotly contested races, mostly on Long Island and the Hudson Valley, the New York delegation to the House will remain the same in terms of party representation. In the most watched race in the state, if not the country, Republican John Faso defeated Democrat Zephyr Teachout to replace retiring GOP Rep. Chris Gibson.

In the race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, Democrat Tom Suozzi has defeated Republican Jack Martins. Other Congressional results include wins for Republicans Lee Zeldin, Peter King, Dan Donovan, Elise Stefanik, Claudia Tenney, Thomas Reed, John Katko, and Chris Collins; and for Democrats Kathleen Rice, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Nydia Velazquez, Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke, Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Adriano Espaillat, Joe Crowley, Jose Serrano, Eliot Engel, Sean Patrick Maloney, Paul Tonko, Louise Slaughter, and Brian Higgins.

All of the seats in the New York State Legislature were also on the ballot this year: 63 Senate seats and 150 Assembly seats. Democrats will maintain a healthy majority in the Assembly. The Senate math is more complicated, but Republicans appear to have ensured they will have at least a bare majority of 32, including Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with the GOP. As of 3 a.m. there were two races too close to call, though, which will influence the final margin and could give the GOP more cushion: Republican Sen. Michael Venditto and Democratic challenger John Brooks and Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino and Democratic challenger James Gaughran are locked in tight battles, both on Long Island.

There is another key piece to the state Senate puzzle, of course: the soon-to-be seven-member Independent Democratic Conference and the GOP are likely to continue to align in a power-sharing coalition. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan indicated in an Election Night press statement that the GOP-IDC partnership would continue in 2017. It is not immediately clear what this means for the Albany agendas laid out by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo as they discussed what they hoped to see next year if Democrats took the chamber.

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Note: this story has been updated with additional information.

Donald Trump Elected President in Big Night for GOP Tue, 08 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000
5 Things to Watch on Election Day in New York statue of liberty water

(photo: Mayor's Office on Flickr)

Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States. When we know which of the two New Yorkers will be number 45 depends on how the vote unfolds. Both candidates will be in New York City on election night: Clinton holding her event at the Javits Center, Trump holding his at the New York Hilton.

The potential historic significance of the Presidential vote should not be overlooked: Hillary Clinton could become the first woman elected President of the United States. For his part, Trump is attempting to complete an almost unfathomable outsider run through to the White House. A political novice best known as a celebrity television personality and real estate mogul, Trump defeated a variety of more traditionally qualified opponents in the Republican primary, has broken many norms of American democratic politics, and run a type of campaign never before seen in this country.

Though there has been some fluctuation, Clinton has maintained a solid lead in the polls, both nationally and in key swing states that will help determine the all-important Electoral College results. Still, this has been an election like no other, and no one is sure what will happen Tuesday.

But beyond the winner of the Presidential race, there are several key things to watch for on Election Day 2016 in New York: 

Along with the Presidential race, there are key contests -- some in New York -- to see which party controls the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, both of which currently have Republican majorities.

There is a far slimmer margin in the Senate (four seats) and it’s basically a toss-up as to whether Democrats will swing enough seats to take a majority. If they are able to, New York Senator Charles Schumer is set to become Majority Leader. Schumer is up for re-election this year and being challenged by Republican Wendy Long. He is expected to cruise to victory.

Meanwhile, there are several House seats in New York that Republicans are trying to keep in order to maintain their healthy majority in the lower house. One of the most hotly-contested races in New York and the country is in New York’s 19th Congressional District, where Republican John Faso and Democrat Zephyr Teachout vie to replace retiring Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican. The race, like others, but to a larger degree, has seen a huge influx of money from special interests and the national parties.

The results of the Presidential election and party control in Congress will mean a great deal for the country, and for New York City and State, especially when it comes to federal policy and funding decisions -- particularly regarding infrastructure, immigration, health care, and more. 

Also in New York, all the seats of the state Legislature are on the ballot: 63 Senate seats, 150 Assembly seats. Control of the state Senate, Republicans’ last statewide stronghold, is on the line.

The complicated state Senate math includes about two dozen members of each mainline party, a Democrat who caucuses with Republicans, and a caucus of breakaway Democrats that is set to grow from five to seven. That breakaway group, the Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, will likely be again able to dictate terms of a coalition power-sharing agreement with one of the mainline conferences. The IDC has been aligned with Republicans for the past several years, but once the Election Day dust clears with a handful of swing seats decided, negotiations will again ramp up. Like with swing seats for the House, the state Senate variables on are Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, as well as a couple of upstate seats. 

While across the country more than 43 million people have already voted, according to NBC News analysis of early voting data, another 85 million or so will vote on Election Day.

In 2012, about 129 million total votes were cast in the presidential election. It was 131 million in 2008, when Barack Obama was first elected.

In New York, there were 7.1 million votes cast in the 2012 presidential election, 2.5 million of which were cast in New York City. Across the state, Obama received about 4.5 million votes to Mitt Romney’s 2.5 million, sending the state’s 29 electoral votes for Obama (270 electoral votes are required to win; Obama won 332). In New York City, Obama received about 1.95 million votes to Romney’s 400,000.

As of November 1, 2016, the state Board of Elections reports that there are 11.5 million registered active voters in New York; 4.5 million of them in New York City. There are 5.7 million active registered Democrats in the state, 2.7 million Republicans, 2.5 million unaffiliated (or "independent") voters, and about 700,000 other active registered voters affiliated with other parties.

Hillary Clinton, a Democrat like Obama, is expected to easily win the state, and overwhelmingly win New York City. How the vote will shake out across the country is less clear in some places, especially this year’s swing states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and a few others. Most projections favor Clinton to win the popular and, more importantly, Electoral College. But, turnout is key, and it is not clear whether Clinton’s ground game and candidacy have whipped up the participation she will need in those key states, or whether Trump’s candidacy has activated enough independents, conservatives, and previously inactive voters to take him over the top.

There’s little mystery in New York, though it will be interesting to see what the margin outside New York City looks like and whether there is significant ticket-splitting by Republicans who don’t vote for Trump but do vote for their local representatives in the House or state Legislature. 

Problems with the New York City Board of Elections are rampant and well-documented. City Comptroller Scott Stringer is auditing the agency, which is actually governed by state law, something Mayor Bill de Blasio has been regularly lamenting over the past year, especially when the BOE improperly removed tens of thousands of Brooklyn voters from the rolls.

De Blasio said last week that he has full faith in the "integrity" of the process and results, but not in the administration or "efficiency" of the voting process across the city’s 1,205 polling places and at BOE headquarters.

The federal Justice Department announced Monday “that its Civil Rights Division plans to deploy more than 500 personnel to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states for the Nov. 8, 2016, general election.” Included among those are both Queens County and Kings County in New York City.

“Although state and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections, the Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day,” reads the DOJ announcement.

Along with general BOE incompetence, there are also concerns about voter intimidation as this fraught, violent presidential campaign comes toward an end. And, there are concerns about the possibility of a terror or cyber attack. On Monday, de Blasio and NYPD officials, including Commissioner James O’Neill, held a press briefing to discuss security measures. The NYPD is on high alert given Election Day and the fact that both Clinton and Trump will be in Manhattan Tuesday evening.

There will be more than 5,000 NYPD officers on patrol Tuesday.

“[W]e know that the eyes of the world will be on New York City,” de Blasio said Monday, about Election Day. “We have an obligation, not only to the people of this city, but to this country to make sure that tomorrow, all through the day, and particularly tomorrow night, goes smoothly and goes well. So we have extraordinary resources in place to do that and we’ll be working very closely with our federal partners.”

As for a cyber threat, NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said Monday, "Working with DoITT – the City’s IT overarching agency – as well as with the FBI and their cyber team, as well as with the NYPD and our cyber people, we have done a survey of the key systems that would affect the City’s ability to respond in emergency [inaudible], as well as systems that have to do with moving information around the election. And we’re very confident that we’re in a good position to declare those systems operating properly, free of any intrusions, and our ability to monitor those things."

Even after all of his shocking statements and maneuvers, Donald Trump sent shockwaves throughout the country, even the world, when he said at the third Presidential debate that he may not accept the results of the election. “I will look at it at the time...I’ll keep you in suspense,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News and all those watching, many with mouth agape. 

And since, Trump has increased his claims of a “rigged” election, casting doubt about how he might react if he is not declared the winner on Tuesday evening. Trump has talked about voter fraud, which studies have shown to be virtually nonexistent, and his belief that the media has been in out to get him. If Trump does lose and even if he does decide not to openly challenge the validity of the results, no one knows what his “concession” speech might sound like. 

If Trump shocks the world, it is all-but-certain that Clinton would concede without calling into question the democratic process, local vote-counters, or any other factors. And, there is of course the off chance of a repeat of the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, where a Florida recount was started after there was no clear winner on Election Night, though polls have not indicated that the results have much chance of being that close.

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

5 Things to Watch on Election Day in New York Mon, 07 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000
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

Read more by this writer.

On Election Day, Federal Policy & Funding Stakes High for New York City Sun, 06 Nov 2016 04:00:00 +0000
On the Issues: Presidential Candidate Comparison election candidates

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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
On the Issues: Presidential Candidate Comparison Mon, 31 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Trump Could Tip Key Races for State Senate Control Trump NY GOP

photo: @NewYorkGOP

New York State Senate Democrats have picked up seats in every presidential year in the past two decades. They’ve been chomping at the bit for Hillary Clinton, a former New York Senator, to head the presidential ticket, telling anyone who would listen that she would bolster turnout for them and win them swing districts, thereby securing them control of the chamber, perhaps for good.

What the Senate minority didn’t count on was the Republican presidential candidate being toxic to black and Hispanic voters and alienating a significant portion of his own base, giving even greater hope to Democrats for a takeover of the only lasting Republican stronghold in New York State government.

According to recent polls, that is exactly the situation Senate Democrats are in, and their optimism is running high. With less than three months until Election Day a Siena University poll released Monday found that in a two-way race, New York voters prefer Clinton to Donald Trump 57-27 percent.

Worse for Senate Republicans who hope to hold off Democrats in key races on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley is that Trump trails Clinton in both the suburbs and upstate by 11 and 8 points, respectively. “The top of the ticket has always had a major impact for us,” Democratic State Senator Mike Gianaris of Queens told Gotham Gazette, referring to the fact that more Democrats vote in presidential years than non-presidential years. “I think the top of the ticket is going to be a real problem for Senate Republicans.”

Scott Reif, spokesperson for Senate Republicans, sent Gotham Gazette the following statement: "Rather than hope and change, the entire campaign strategy of the Senate Democrats this year seems to be hope and hope. They hope that the Republican presidential candidate is a drag on the bottom of the ticket. They hope that Hillary Clinton has long enough coattails to sweep them into office. The Senate Democrats don't stand for anything and they have no vision for where they want to lead this state. We're going to grow our majority because we have delivered for hard working New Yorkers, starting with a $4.2 billion income tax cut that will slash middle-class taxes by 20 percent and a record level of support for education, including complete elimination of the GEA."

Mike Murphy, spokesperson for Senate Democrats, responded: “The GOP are getting desperate. This year will be a historic year for Democrats. The people are sick and tired of the Republican Conference that has blocked women's health choices, stood up for special interests and elected corrupt leader after corrupt leader.”

There are currently 32 Democrats and 31 Republicans in the chamber but Republicans maintain control with the help of Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, who caucuses with Republicans, and the five-member Independent Democratic Conference, which has a governing coalition agreement with Republicans. The IDC appears to be in the process of strengthening its position and attempting to expand its membership in anticipation of Democratic victories. Meanwhile, leading Senate Democrats met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month to discuss efforts to win the chamber, as first reported by Politico New York.

Cuomo has historically allied himself with Senate Republicans, at times promising support to Senate Democrats that never appeared. Some insiders insist the meeting shows that Cuomo sees the writing on the wall and that he will look to keep his influence in the chamber by utilizing the IDC. Several Senate Democrats said that Cuomo has shown more interest in supporting Democrats this year than he has since he was elected in 2010. Still, Senate Democrats say as much as they would like his support, they aren’t counting on it.

According to Democrats, political experts, and polls, Trump is driving away parts of the Republican base. The GOP nominee’s rhetoric appears to be energizing pockets of new voters who want to see him defeated. Eighty-five percent of black voters surveyed said they would vote for Clinton if the contest was “held today,” with only 8 percent saying they would vote for Trump. Seventy-six percent of Latinos surveyed said they would vote for Clinton if the race was “held today,” while 10 percent said they would vote for Trump.

African-Americans and Hispanics are two voting blocs that will have major impact in races on Long Island. Senate Democrats have policies that appeal to many voters of color, including criminal justice reform measures and the DREAM Act, which provides financial aid to children of undocumented immigrants. Senate Republicans have blocked these reforms in Albany.

Republicans charge that Democrats have been bad for the economy, namely for small businesses and job creation, and point to an MTA tax put in place while the Democrats controlled the Senate from 2009 to 2010.

Senate Democrats have recent precedent on their side as their candidate, now Senator Todd Kaminsky, won the highly contested special election for the 9th Senate District in April to replace former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Skelos was forced from office after being convicted on multiple federal corruption charges.

“We had a test run where people thought Trump would be a draw and what we found is more Democrats turned out,” said Sen. Gianaris, who runs the Senate Democrats’ campaign efforts and noted the special election took place when Trump was riding high on primary victories and had yet to begin to self destruct.

Doug Muzzio, professor of political science at Baruch College, noted that Trump’s impact on down ballot races is hard to gauge at this point given his nontraditional candidacy. “The question is, ‘Can he motivate people to go to the polls who haven't voted before, who have not been polled?’ And then you have to factor in that the more people know about Trump, the less likely they are to vote for him”

However, Muzzio said that it is impossible for Republicans to ignore the results of the special election. “Kaminsky was still a test case and the results mean they are in trouble,” Muzzio told Gotham Gazette.

Evan Thies, founder of Brooklyn Strategies, a political consultancy used by Kaminsky, said that the trend he is fascinated by in current polls is the declining support of registered Republicans for their own party. “The biggest problem Trump created is not for himself but for the Republican Party. The favorability for the party itself has plummeted,” Thies told Gotham Gazette.

Thies said that since Trump won the nomination polls have shown more Republicans dissatisfied and disconnected from their party while Democrats’ favor for their own party has grown.

“If the election was held tomorrow, Trump could depress Republican turnout,” said Thies. “You could begin to see a concerted effort for down ballot Republicans to disassociate themselves with Trump and create a local brand.”

The Siena poll shows that in a head-to-head matchup 81 percent of Democrats surveyed said they would vote for Clinton, while only 55 percent of Republicans say they will vote for Trump. Meanwhile only 24 percent of voters surveyed saw Trump favorably with 72 percent saying they saw him unfavorably. Meanwhile, 52 percent of Republicans surveyed favored Trump with 46 percent saying they saw him unfavorably.

Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan gave a full-throated endorsement of Trump at the Republican National Convention in July. According to State of Politics he told the New York delegation: "I’m going to make this unequivocally clear: I’m supporting Donald Trump for President. I’m going to do so with grace, with diplomacy, with passion and with fervor, and I’m going to do it with New York style.”

Like Flanagan and Kaminsky, Senator Jack Martins represents part of Long Island. Martins decided, however, to forgo attempting reelection to run for an open Congressional seat. He has not endorsed Trump, something many Democrats see as a significant indication of Republicans’ fear of Trump’s impact on important Long Island races. The race to replace Martins in the 7th Senate District is one of the top races in the battle for Senate control.

Martins discussed his decision on Effective Radio with Bill Samuels on Sunday, saying, “Thankfully, I’ve always run as an individual. I’ve had the opportunity through elective office to take stances on different things and people know who I am, so I’ve been able to use that and show through experience that I listen, I work across the aisle, I get things done,” Martins said.

Seeking to replace Martins are Democrat Adam Haber, a businessman, and Republican Elaine Phillips, who is the mayor of Flower Hill. Haber, who unsuccessfully challenged Martins in 2014, is leading in fundraising. Democrats have a 20,000 voter enrollment advantage in the district and held the seat from 2007 to 2010. As in other swing districts, turnout will be key, and that is where Clinton and Trump may factor in decisively.

Sen. Kaminsky will again face Republican opponent Chris McGrath. Running as an Assembly member, Kaminsky won the special election by about 1,000 votes. Democrats think Kaminsky will perform even better as the incumbent and with Republican turnout suppressed by Trump’s performance. Republicans hope independents, who couldn’t vote in the Republican presidential primary, may now vote for McGrath when they come out to vote in November. But the recent Siena poll shows independent New York voters favor Clinton by about 10 percentage points, though it is not clear how Long Island independents feel.

Longtime Republican incumbent Senator Kemp Hannon of Garden City, the 6th Senate District, is battle tested, having dispatched a number of strong Democratic challenges. But this year he again faces Democrat Ryan Cronin, who he narrowly defeated in 2012. Hannon’s district has seen steady growth in Democratic registration and he could be in danger if Trump depresses Republican turnout.

Republican Senator Bill Larkin of the Hudson Valley’s 39th Senate District also faces a rematch against his 2012 challenger, Chris Eachus, who he defeated by five points. Many observers wondered whether the 88-year-old Larkin would run for reelection as he has kept an extremely low profile in the district. Democratic registration has also grown in this district with registered Democrats now outnumbering Republicans 62,824 to 50,130 amongst active voters.

Thies said that one key trend to watch in Long Island races is whether Trump’s position moves the needle on black and Latino turnout. “African-American and Latino voter numbers should give Democrats a big advantage in key races on Long Island,” said Thies, “but in previous years turnout didn't match registration. Trump has now poked a very big bear. If we see even a marginal uptick amongst African-American and Latino voters Republicans could face a major challenge.”

Democrats are hoping to unseat Republican Senator George Amedore, of the 46th Senate District, who soundly defeated Democratic incumbent Cecilia Tkaczyk in 2014. But in this case, as in many others, Democrats are hopeful that their candidate’s performance in past presidential election years is a sign of things to come. Amedore’s district was tailor-made for him in the 2010 redistricting process, but Tkaczyk narrowly won it in 2012, when President Obama was re-elected. The district continues to grow more Democratic and the challenger, Sara Niccoli, has out fundraised him. Democrats outnumber active Republican voters in the district 61,976 to 51,850.

Some Democratic operatives expect that Trump’s cratering poll numbers and controversial positions could put dark horse races in play - races that Senate Democrats haven’t invested in as of yet.

One of those races is for Senator Kathy Marchione’s 43rd district seat, where Republicans lead Democrats 62,268 to 53,650 in voter registration. The district is home to about 15,000 registered voters unaffiliated with a party, known as independents. It may now be in play thanks to Marchione’s botched reaction to water poisoning in the small town of Hoosick Falls.

Marchione, a Republican, flip-flopped on whether it was necessary to hold legislative oversight hearings on the state response to the Hoosick Falls crisis, and at one point introduced an amendment to her own bill designed to help residents sue companies for water poisoning that would have basically killed any chance of it passing both houses. Marchione then reversed herself after major backlash from residents and environmentalists. The Senate is now scheduled to hold hearings into Hoosick Falls at the end of August.

Marchione’s Democratic opponent, Shaun Francis, said he isn’t concerned about how his race plays into the larger political picture, whether it be Senate control or the presidential race. “Having poisoned water isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue,” Francis said in an interview with Gotham Gazette. “The incumbent’s actions in session really opened a lot of eyes in the district of people who were concerned for their health. Regardless of whether they were Republican or Democrat people in the district saw that she is incapable of doing her job.” Marchione’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Republican Senator Hugh Farley, 83 years old, has represented the 49th district that is comprised of Schenectady, Fulton, Herkimer and Saratoga Counties since 1977 and will not seek reelection. Pundits see his hand-picked successor, Assemblymember Jim Tedisco, as a sinch for the seat, but Tedisco lost a 2009 Congressional bid to Democrat Scott Murphy despite running in a district with Republican registration advantage and having significantly better name recognition. Republicans currently hold a 67,924 to 53,012 active voter registration advantage in the district. Democratic challenger Chad Putman holds little name recognition in the district but depressed Republican turnout could make the race closer than expected.

Muzzio said he expects to see some Senate Republicans “disavow Trump” in the coming weeks if his current trajectory continues, but in Upstate districts Muzzio said he isn’t sure Trump will actually be a hinderance. “I expect in some Upstate districts we will see turnout for Trump higher than for Democrats,” said Muzzio. He also warned that the presidential race has already been so volatile that he wouldn’t be surprised to see the dynamics shifted by an outside force, like more damaging documents leaked about Clinton, or revelations from investigations into her use of the Clinton Foundation or of her home-made email system.

Thies said that despite the good news Democrats see in Trump’s recent poll numbers they are aware that there is more at play and more to do in the battle for Senate control. “Their position is looking good, but they still have to get their message out to voters,” he said of Democrats. “You will not see anyone taking their foot off the gas pedal because the stakes are too high and you could very well see down ballot Republicans utilizing an effective vote-local message.”

by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Trump Could Tip Key Races for State Senate Control Tue, 16 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Could ‘Third Party’ Candidates Swing the Presidential Election? Jill Stein

Green Party candidate Jill Stein (photo via Facebook)

With the Republican and Democratic parties having nominated presidential candidates with record-high unfavorability ratings, this election cycle is turning out to be a choice between a rock and a hard place for many voters. Some, though, are looking elsewhere and still-early polling shows that this November could yield near-record voting for so-called “third party” candidates.

Those who oppose Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton say she’s an untrustworthy, calculating politician with cozy ties to corporate interests and Washington insiders; opponents of Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, see him as a sexist, fear-mongering, racist xenophobe with authoritarian tendencies. Though the United States has a political system dominated by two parties, Clinton and Trump aren’t the only choices, much to the relief of a number of voters. What that number winds up being could determine the election, the next President, and much of the future of the country and the world.

The third-party candidates in the 2016 race for the White House are the Libertarian Party’s nominee Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s candidate Dr. Jill Stein, both of whom ran in 2012 and are now going all out to woo those disaffected voters who believe that neither Clinton nor Trump is a viable choice for President of the United States. While no expert would argue that either Johnson or Stein will be the next President, voters choosing one or the other on November 8 could determine whether the next President is Trump or Clinton.

This year’s presidential election is likely to once again come down to several key swing states, and polls in some of those states, like Ohio and Florida, show a close race between the two leading candidates. (In at least one national poll, Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, polled in double digits, but in other polls both he and Stein were in single digits - a candidate needs to hit an average of 15 percent in five national polls to be invited to a debate.) There is concern for some that one or both of the third-party candidates could be a spoiler for Clinton in a swing state or two and skew the election in Trump’s favor. While the likelihood is minimal, experts say, it not entirely implausible.

A Real Clear Politics poll average has Trump at 41.5 percent in Florida, against Clinton’s 41.3 percent while Johnson takes 4.5 percent and Stein takes 2.5 percent of the vote. In 2012, President Obama beat Mitt Romney by just 74,309 votes or 0.88 percentage points in Florida. In Ohio, Clinton bests Trump by 1.4 points on average thus far; Johnson gets 6.4 percent and Stein gets 3 percent. In 2012, Obama won by 2.98 points in the state. In New Hampshire, a four-way contest has Clinton and Trump tied at 37 percent according to a WMUR Granite State poll; with Johnson at 10 percent and Stein at 5 percent. Obama won the state in 2012 with 52 percent of the vote, against Romney’s 46.4 percent.

Both Stein and Johnson have been encouraged by the high unfavorable ratings of Clinton and Trump. A Gallup poll conducted July 18-25 found that Clinton and Trump had equal favorability marks: 37% favorable and 58% unfavorable. Some believe the 2016 dynamics could create a situation similar to the 2000 presidential election, when famous third-party candidate Ralph Nader took votes away from Al Gore in Florida, the state which gave George W. Bush the presidency with a razor thin margin.

Nader addressed those concerns in a recent interview with the New York Daily News, insisting that a third-party candidate shouldn’t unjustly be termed a “spoiler” and laying the blame instead on the media, the voters, and the candidates themselves. A Florida-like situation is exactly what former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was trying to avoid when he abandoned plans of running for president as an independent earlier this year. He didn’t want to run the risk of helping elect Trump, he said, something he affirmed by speaking at the Democratic National Convention in favor of Hillary Clinton and calling upon independents to vote for her.

The most recent CBS News poll had Clinton at 41 percent and Trump at 36 percent, with Johnson receiving 10 percent of the vote. Stein was not mentioned in the poll. Among independents, however, Clinton trailed Trump by 2 points, and Johnson received 15 percent of the vote.

A new CNN/ORC poll taken after the close of the Democratic National Convention shows independents favoring Clinton, with a 37% plurality, Trump with 33% of independents, Johnson wiht 16% of independents, and Stein with 8% of independents.  

Gallup polling shows that 42 percent of registered voters identify as independents. While at this juncture in the election cycle about one-third of independents may say they favor a ‘third-party’ candidate, support for such candidates tends to drop as the general election gets closer. (The latest Real Clear Politics polling data averages put Johnson at 7 percent and Stein at 3.2 percent.)

“One primary struggle in a year like this,” said John Hudak, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, “is not that voters are in love with third-party candidates. They’ve fallen out of love with the major party candidates.” Hudak contrasted Ross Perot’s insurgent candidacy in 1992, when he ran as an independent. “Perot did quite well because people liked his message. He was inspiring people. Stein and Johnson are not providing any inspiration for voters.”

Hudak doesn’t expect that the third-party candidates will have a significant influence and that people disillusioned with Clinton and Trump will more likely stay home on Election Day than vote for Stein or Johnson. Even in swing states he said the effects of a third-party candidate would be difficult to attribute and would likely have minimal impact on the outcome.

No one discounts, however, the strong possibility that third-party candidates will get a higher vote share this year than past elections. Stein appeals to Democratic voters, particularly former Bernie Sanders supporters who felt betrayed when the Vermont senator dropped out of the race and endorsed Clinton. Last week, outside the Democratic National Convention, she made attempts to win over ‘Bernie or Bust’ protesters who had walked out of the main arena. She has proposed a “Green New Deal,” a platform that skews closely to Sanders’. It includes single-payer health care, forgiving student loan debt, transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy, breaking up the big banks, and fighting income inequality, to name a few main planks. Stein has also built some name recognition. She ran in 2012 and received about 469,000 votes, which she’s hoping to build on this year. There were a few more than 129 million votes cast that year.

Gary JohnsonAlthough Libertarian Gary Johnson (pictured) has been seen as more of a threat to Trump, on social issues his policies correlate closely with Sanders, again perhaps offering a home for voters supportive of Sanders but not attracted to Clinton. Johnson, who also visited Philadelphia during the DNC, favors legalizing marijuana, is pro-choice on abortion, and supports marriage equality. In a recent interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Johnson said of Sanders, “On the social side, we’re simpatico.” Johnson has also received more media attention than Stein and has a record as former (Republican) governor of New Mexico. When he ran for president in 2012, he received about 1.28 million votes.

Johnson’s other policies are far flung for Democrats. As a Libertarian, he wants smaller government that has a minimal role in people’s lives, not just on social issues like marriage and abortion. He wants to get rid of the entire tax code and institute a consumption tax nationwide. He wants to cut the Department of Education.

Nicholas Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, told Gotham Gazette that Johnson is an easy choice for voters as the “honest guy” running against a “bigot” (Trump) and a “liar” (Clinton) who are historically unpopular. He’s not concerned that Johnson could pull votes from Clinton and hand Trump swing states. Although if that should happen, he said it falls at the feet of the voters and not the third-party candidate. “You’re supposed to vote for who is best for the office,” he said. “Not who you hate more or less.”

Part of the struggle for both Johnson and Stein, neither of whom was made available for an interview for this article, will be getting on the debate stage, which is crucial for third-party candidates to build name recognition and get media attention. The Commission on Presidential Debates, however, only allows candidates polling 15 percent in national polls to participate in the debates. So far, Johnson seems more likely to hit the mark. “They’re going to have a very hard time getting sufficient attention to register with voters,” said Micah Sifry, executive director of Civic Hall and an expert on third-party candidacies, in a phone interview.

Sifry doesn’t think the election will be as close as the 2000 race and doesn’t see a high likelihood that a third-party candidate could give the election to either Trump or Clinton. At best, he said, Stein and Johnson will split 6 percent of the vote between them. He does see Johnson receiving votes from disaffected Republicans and from the 10 percent of Sanders supporters who “were probably never Democrats in the first place.” He also said Stein could do better in strong “blue” states, which are overwhelmingly Democratic and “where people feel it’s a safe protest vote.”

Gene Healy, vice president of the Cato Institute, echoed Sifry’s views on the debates. “The name recognition on the national stage that access to the debates provides can be transformative,” he said, pointing out that Ross Perot in 1992 had only 7 percent of the vote in the polls before the debates and jumped to nearly 19 percent. Perot was added to the debate roster because George H.W. Bush’s campaign insisted on it, which Healy said was in hopes of tilting votes in Bush’s favor. “It can really rocket a former unknown into contender territory,” Healy said.

Healy said it was “certainly plausible” that third-party candidates could affect swing states since Trump and Clinton, “are the most widely reviled major party candidates in the history of polling.”

Should Johnson and Stein make themselves better known between now and November, they may at least drive voter turnout and encourage alternative discussion of issues on the campaign trail. “That’s part of a healthy phenomenon,” said Sifry. “You want people to have more choices. You want the major parties to fight for their votes. They shouldn’t take people for granted.”

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

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Could ‘Third Party’ Candidates Swing the Presidential Election? Mon, 01 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000