Gotham Gazette Sun, 13 Jun 2021 20:02:23 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Webmaster) Brooklyn, Staten Island Democrats Look to Absentee Ballots to Help Them Hold Their Seats 3 runaway

Several local races hing on absentee ballots (photo: @JustinBrannan)

As New York election officials begin counting absentee ballots from the general election, there are dozens of races that have yet to be decided. Based on the in-person tallies, Democrats in several state and congressional races are currently running behind Republicans and are hoping that absentees will deliver them victories. But in three races in overlapping districts in Southern Brooklyn and Staten Island, areas home to more Republican voters than most other parts of the heavily Democratic city, absentees may not be enough to overcome leads buoyed by immense turnout for the GOP candidates for Congress, State Senate, and Assembly.

In New York’s 11th Congressional District, 22nd State Senate District, and 46th Assembly District, Republicans stand a chance of reclaiming Democrat-held seats after turnout swelled this year, likely in large part because President Donald Trump was on top of the ticket. Each district is home to large pockets of Republican-leaning voters, anomalies in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans eight to one and Joe Biden received three-quarters of the in-person vote. Trump’s job performance, New York State coronavirus restrictions, criminal justice reform and public safety, and how far left New York City progressives want to take city government were all key themes in the three races.

In the 11th Congressional District, which covers the entirety of Staten Island and parts of Southern Brooklyn, first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Max Rose trails Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis by a margin of 37,158 votes going into the absentee counting, which begins Tuesday for some districts. Though Malliotakis declared victory on election night due to her more than 15-point margin based on the in-person vote, Rose has refused to concede the race. According to New York City Board of Election data, he received 99,224 votes (42.04%) to Malliotakis’ 136,382 (57.79%).

Rose is all but assured to lose his seat, which has mostly been in Republican hands for many years. With more mailed votes still being accepted for several days to come, the latest Board of Elections numbers show there were 48,259 absentee ballots returned in the district as of Election Day – 27,598 came from Democrats, 9,213 from Republicans, and 9,508 from party-unaffiliated voters. As absentee ballots continued to come in, the Democratic share was expected to remain high, favoring Rose.

Rose also appeared on the Independence Party ballot line and 1,212 voters from the party cast absentee ballots. Malliotakis appeared on the Conservative Party line, whose voters cast 401 absentees. If Rose won all those Democrat, Independence, and unaffiliated voters, which is very unlikely, it would give him 38,318 votes, for a total just past what Malliotakis got in the in-person vote. Meanwhile, Malliotakis will easily pick up the bulk of the 9,900 Republican and Conservative absentee voter votes, not to mention some percentage of the unaffiliated voters. (Some voters will likely leave the race blank, a not-uncommon practice down ballot during presidential elections.)

Of the 48,259 absentee ballots returned as of the Election Day tally, Rose would need to win at least 88.5% of them to surpass Malliotakis, though more valid absentee votes surely came in since Election Day.

State Senate district 22 in Southern Brooklyn falls within the 11th Congressional District. It covers the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Fort Hamilton, Dyker Heights, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, and Manhattan Beach. Democratic State Senator Andrew Gounardes, also a first-term incumbent, is 6,035 votes behind Republican challenger Vito Bruno. Gounardes received 34,586 votes (45.94%) via in-person voting, while Bruno tallied 40,621 votes (53.95%).

Gounardes doesn’t face an insurmountable lead. Through Election Day, 18,524 absentee ballots were returned in the district; 11,622 were from Democrats, 2,651 from Republicans, and 3,714 from party-unaffiliated voters, according to the Board of Elections. Bruno also appeared on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, whose voters returned 101 and 345 absentee ballots respectively.

Taking the 6,035-vote margin and the 18,524 absentee votes into account, even though the latter figure has certainly grown, Gounardes would need to win 66.3% of the absentees to surpass Bruno. That percentage is not far off the percentage of absentee ballots tallied by election night that were from Democratic voters alone.

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus from Brooklyn’s District 46 also represents some of the same neighborhoods as Gounardes and Rose. She received 15,030 votes (45.66%) via in-person voting. Her little-known opponent, Mark Szuszkiewicz, received 17,852 votes (54.23%), giving him a 2,822 vote lead heading into the absentee count.

Frontus could overcome that lead with absentee ballots largely in favor of Democrats. Of the 7,081 absentee ballots returned in the district, 4,525 were Democratic voters, 1,035 were Republicans, and 1,273 were unaffiliated voters.

To make up the 2,822-vote deficit via the 7,081 absentee ballots that came in by Election Day (a number that has surely grown), Frontus would need to win 70% of those votes. That percentage is slightly higher than the 64% of the 7,081 absentee ballots that came in from Democratic voters alone.

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Brooklyn, Staten Island Democrats Look to Absentee Ballots to Help Them Hold Their Seats Mon, 09 Nov 2020 05:00:00 +0000
9 Things to Watch in the 2020 General Election in New York 2 malliotakis rose

Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, left, & Rep. Max Rose face off in NY-11

Voting in the 2020 general election is set to come to a conclusion on Tuesday, November 3, Election Day. The full, official results won't be known for weeks.

The eyes of the world are on the presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, and it's unclear when a winner may be declared.

Though it's unlikely Trump can pull off an upset and beat Biden in New York, voters here have been going to the polls in large numbers, just like across the country, with 2020 expected to see modern record voter turnout. How exactly the presidential race shakes out in New York is among many things to watch as we count the votes. 

1. Voter Turnout
Voter turnout, both in person and by mail, is likely to reach historic highs in the 2020 general election.

There are 5.3 million voters registered in New York City​ and just under 13 million registered across New York State, as of February 2020. (Many thousands more registered between then and the October deadline, but those numbers are not yet available.)

In the 2016 presidential election, only about 64,000 absentee ballots were cast in New York City. This year, eligibility for absentee balloting has been expanded to all registered voters due to the coronavirus pandemic, a change that led to a huge surge in such voting in the June primaries. As of October 20 of this year, over 1 million absentee ballots for the general election had been processed in New York City, according to the city Board of Elections (BOE). The board will accept absentee ballots that are put in the mail or dropped off by Election Day.

The nine-day early voting period, October 24-November 1, has yielded over 1.1 million in-person votes cast in New York City alone, a little more than 21% of registered voters in the city (using the February number). This is the first presidential general election with either universal absentee voting or early voting in New York. (In 2019, the first year of early voting when only a handful of local races were on the ballot, only about 60,000 people citywide and 256,000 statewide voted at an early voting site.)

While many New Yorkers are taking advantage of voting by mail or early voting, Election Day is still expected to see a large surge of voters, with many expecting New York turnout, like that across the country, to surpass recent election cycles.

In the 2016 presidential election, 2.76 million voters cast ballots in New York City (roughly 56% of registered voters) out of a total 7.8 million votes cast statewide (a 62% turnout rate).

In the 2012 presidential election 2.47 million votes were cast in New York City (a 53% turnout rate), out of 7.13 million votes across the state (59% turnout). In 2008, when Barack Obama was first elected president, there were 2.6 million votes cast in New York City (57% turnout), of 7.7 million votes cast across the state (64% turnout).

2. New York City Tries to Run a Smoother Election with Expanded Options
It has already been another election marred by poor execution by the New York City Board of Elections. What Election Day itself will bring is yet to be seen. While some changes and challenges have been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, some problems this year look like those made by the Board of Elections and its vendors in prior years.

There are many outstanding questions about what will unfold on Election Day and in the counting of ballots thereafter.

The 2020 elections have seen an unprecedented level of absentee voting, the result of the state expanding eligibility to all registered voters as part of the larger effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. The high volume and the amount of time it takes to receive and verify mail-in ballots means that many races may not be officially called until weeks after polls close. The New York City Board of Elections has predicted it will complete the ballot canvassing process by November 24, four days before the statutory deadline. The Electoral College is set to formally elect the president on December 14.

Lines at the polls will be long this year, not only because of high turnout, but because of social distancing. The city Board of Elections says it has hired 4,800 additional poll site workers who will be assigned specifically to line management. The board has also mailed "Fast Pass Tags" to all registered voters that have scannable barcodes for expedited and "contactless" poll site check-in. Voters may (but are not required to) bring them to their early voting or Election Day poll location, where electronic poll books are also now in use, having been first instituted last year among a wave of voting and election reforms.

Completed absentee ballots can also be dropped off during open hours at early voting and Election Day polling locations and at BOE borough offices. There is no check-in required for using one of the dropboxes.

The city BOE opened 88 early voting sites this fall, up from 79 for the June primaries and 61 during the general election last year, when early voting began in New York. That number, which became 89 after the threat of a lawsuit by a Manhattan Assembly member, has proven too small, however, given the large turnout, adding to the list of issues with Board of Elections planning and administration.

After having reduced the total number of early voting hours by ten, from 74 to 64 hours, according to Vote Early New York, a non-profit advocacy group, the BOE responded to large turnout on the first several days by adding additional early voting hours. In one Upper East Side district, following days of long lines and a planned court challenge from Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, herself on the ballot this year, the BOE opened up an alternative early voting site. The sites were open for nine days from October 24 through November 1.

New York City is the only jurisdiction in the state that assigns voters to a specific early voting site, rather than having universal centers where any registered voter can go. Voting rights advocates have pushed the city to adopt borough-wide and citywide early voting but administrators have said memory limitations on the machines it uses make it impossible to store the ballots of every election district.

On top of the new absentee voting element this year, election administrators are operating under a brand new state requirement to notify voters when their mail-in ballots are being rejected on certain technical errors and provide them a channel to correct the mistake.

The new mandate, signed into law in August, applies to missing or incorrect signatures on the inner "oath" envelope and to ballots that were returned without the oath envelope entirely. When there is a “cure” eligible error, the Board of Elections is required to send notices to all mailing and email addresses on file for the voter at hand, and must make attempts by phone wherever possible to reach each voter. The notice will include a form through which voters can "cure" the mistake and return to the BOE to be reviewed and counted. Pursuant to an executive order signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, administrators are allowed to review ballot envelopes for defects as soon as they are received, but state law requires they remain sealed with the ballot uncounted until seven days after Election Day.

There are always unforeseen mishaps that impact the voting experience leading up to and on Election Day in New York City. In September, a vendor printing error led as many as 100,000 Brooklynites to receive another voter's oath envelope, which would render the ballot inside invalid if cast. The BOE says it has contacted all impacted voters and has provided new, correct ballots and envelopes.

Between a fifth and a quarter of absentee ballots are rejected every year on technicalities, a majority of which are because of missing signatures. The state has redesigned the oath envelope to emphasize with a prominent red 'X' where a signature is required and passed the ‘curing’ law.

3. Presidential Election Results Across New York City and State
If the last presidential election result is any indication, Joe Biden will handily win New York and pick up its 29 electoral votes. In 2016, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won 4.5 million votes across the state, compared to Trump’s 2.8 million. In New York City, the Clinton-Kaine ticket beat the Trump-Pence ticket overwhelmingly, garnering 2.16 million votes to 494,549 votes.

Trump, however, won 45 New York counties to Clinton’s 17, particularly as he was successful in less-populated rural and suburban areas. He did win both Staten Island (Richmond County) and Suffolk County, one of the two on Long Island, along with Nassau, where Clinton won fairly narrowly.

In New York City, there are a few pockets of Republican strength beyond much of Staten Island. Trump won parts of Queens that are home to white ethnic voters and a significant swathe of Brooklyn where there is a concentration of Orthodox Jewish communities.

While Trump did well in some suburbs of the city, many parts of the region moved towards Democrats in the 2018 elections, when Trump was not on the ballot himself but many voters appeared motivated by his initial nearly two years on the job. Case in point, in the 2018 state elections, Democrats won several State Senate seats in districts long held by Republicans, some in extremely tight races, including one in Southern Brooklyn’s 22nd State Senate District. The same was true in Congressional races in the city and beyond, especially New York’s 11th Congressional District, where Democratic wins helped the party take over the House of Representatives. It remains to be seen whether Trump can help those Republicans make a comeback or if Democrats will retain their hold. 

Though Republicans are hoping that Trump’s presence at the top of the ticket will help them win back those seats in more conservative and moderate districts in rural and suburban areas outside New York City, Democrats are perhaps more confident that their base will turn out in greater numbers and they will win independents by large margins.

4. Can Minor Political Parties Keep Their Ballot Lines?
The presidential election is likely to have major consequences for the state’s minor political parties and what the New York ballot looks like in 2021 and beyond. New York’s fusion voting system, which allows candidates to run on several party lines on the ballot and accumulate votes, is not itself at risk of ending, but there are new thresholds parties must meet to keep an automatic ballot line on which to nominate candidates for offices all across the state.

The system gives minor parties like the Working Families, Conservative, Independence, Green, and Libertarian parties the ability to cross-endorse a candidate also backed by the Democratic or Republican Party to run on their line. The arrangement is mutually beneficial – candidates get allies that can help them expand their voter base and the parties garner influence with candidates and office-holders.

This year’s state budget included legislation creating a new campaign finance system for state elections, based on the recommendations of a state-created commission, while also creating new hurdles for minor parties that could place many of them in a tenuous position heading into the election.

Starting this year and continuing every two years, political parties now have to meet new, higher thresholds to automatically qualify for a ballot line. Where previously they only had to win 50,000 votes every four years in a gubernatorial election, they now have to win 2% of votes cast or 130,000 votes, whichever is greater, every two years, in a gubernatorial or presidential election. Based on the 2018 election, none of the state’s minor parties would have met that threshold except the Conservative Party. The Working Families Party is in the midst of a massive effort to keep its line.

[Read: New York's Smaller Political Parties Must Quickly Meet New Ballot Thresholds]

5. Max Rose Tries to Keep the Congressional Seat He Flipped in 2018
In New York’s 11th Congressional District, first-term Democrat Max Rose is in a pitched battle for his seat against Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis. A recent NBC 4 New York / Marist Poll found that Malliotakis held a slight lead in the race, with 48% of likely voters to Rose’s 46%.

The district, which has swung several times between the two parties, covers all of Staten Island and parts of Southern Brooklyn along the waterfront. It has been a target for Republicans ever since Rose won it in 2018, defeating incumbent Dan Donovan, the Republican former Staten Island District Attorney.

Rose, a military veteran, is a moderate, center-left Democrat who has often sought to distance himself from the party’s more progressive policies and members. As he runs for reelection, he has repeatedly criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio, a two-term Democrat, for his perceived failures in running the city and has at times even expressed support for President Trump, though Rose did vote to impeach Trump.

Malliotakis represents the Assembly in a district that covers most of the east shore of Staten Island and a small part of Southern Brooklyn. She previously ran for mayor of New York City in 2017, but only won 27.1% of the vote, losing handily to de Blasio who won 65.1%. She did, however, win Staten Island that year with 70% to de Blasio’s 25.3%.

The seat is rated one of the most competitive across the country, and while it helped Democrats flip the House of Representatives in 2018, the party does not appear to need it to keep the House after this election. But whether it is part of Democrats keeping and expanding their majority or Republicans narrowing it or possibly flipping control back is yet to be seen. The seat had been Republicans’ only congressional office in New York City until Rose took it.

6. Other Congressional Races in New York and Control of the House
In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats flipped control of the 435-seat House of Representatives, with a net gain of 40 seats. In New York, the party flipped three seats – Max Rose defeated Dan Donovan in the 11th District, Antonio Delgado prevailed over John Faso in the 19th District, and Anthony Brindisi was victorious against Claudia Tenney in the 22nd District.

Delgado looks to be headed to reelection, facing first-time Republican candidate Kyle Van De Water, an Army veteran and attorney, in a district slightly north of New York City. Further upstate, Brindisi is again facing Tenney this year as she seeks to reclaim the position. Though Tenney is hoping to be boosted by Trump’s presence on the top of the ticket, a recent Siena College poll showed that Brindisi has a comfortable nine-point lead in the race. Rose is the most vulnerable of the three Democrats, as he faces a tough fight against Malliotakis in a pro-Trump district. 

The state will also send some new Democrats to the House, candidates finalizing their journeys after tough primaries but easy general elections given teh overwhelmingly Democratic districts they’re running in. In the 15th District in the Bronx, Ritchie Torres, currently a City Council member, won the Democratic nomination from a crowded field vying to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano. In the 16th District, including parts of the Bronx and Westchester, progressive Democrat Jamaal Bowman won the June primary to unseat Rep. Eliot Engel, who had been in office for 16 terms. Both Torres and Bowman are all but assured to win the general election and head to Congress, as is another Democrat, Mondaire Jones, who won a tough primary north of the city to replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey. 

7. Andrew Gounardes Tries to Keep the State Senate Seat He Flipped in 2018
Democrat Andrew Gounardes flipped Brooklyn’s State Senate District 22 in 2018, defeating longtime incumbent Marty Golden, one of the last remaining Republicans in the state Legislature representing New York City.

The district, situated in Southern Brooklyn, includes some of the more moderate parts of the city. Though it has more than twice as many registered Democratic voters as Republicans, Gounardes nonetheless won in 2018 by a narrow margin. This year, he’s being challenged by Vito Bruno, a former nightclub owner and president of the Edmund G. Seergy Republican Club.

Democrats have expressed confidence they can hold the seat given the registration advantage and Bruno’s relative lack of name recognition as well as Gounardes’ first-term accomplishments, while Republicans think Trump’s presence at the top of the ballot can help Bruno win, along with controversial criminal justice reforms passed by Democrats in the State Legislature.

[Read: Democrats Flipped a Brooklyn State Senate Seat in 2018; Is It In Play In 2020?]

8. Other State Senate Races Outside the City and Control of the Senate
After winning control of the State Senate in 2018 and working with their party-mates in the Assembly and governor’s office to pass a long list of liberal legislation, Democrats are now looking at the possibility of capturing a supermajority in the chamber. They currently hold 40 out of 63 seats; Republicans hold 20 while three are vacant from Republican resignations. Several Republicans have also announced their retirements at the end of the year, creating a slew of “open” seats that are being hotly contested.

Since 2018, Trump has grown increasingly unpopular in the state, Democratic voter enrollment has continued to increase, and the party has vastly outraised and outspent the GOP in state Senate campaign funds. Democrats are hoping that turnout will be in their favor again this year and believe they can pick up as many as ten seats; they only need a net gain of two for a supermajority, which would allow the Senate Democratic majority to work with the supermajority of Democrats in the Assembly to potentially override gubernatorial vetoes.

Republicans, however, maintain that they will hold on to all their seats and that they will be able to appeal to moderate Democrats and conservatives to unseat several first-term Democrats who have pushed the Legislature and the state overall towards the left.

Brooklyn’s 25th State Senate District will also see new representation from Jabari Brisport, who won the June primary over Assemblymember Tremaine Wright and others to fill a vacancy being left by the retirement of State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. Brisport, a democratic socialist, is running unopposed in the general election.

[Read: Democrats Eye a Supermajority, Republicans Look to Regain Seats: the 2020 New York State Senate Battle]

9. Other Races of Note in the City
Queens is set to get a new Borough President and it’s all but certain to be Democratic City Council Member Donovan Richards. In the June primary, Richards emerged victorious in a crowded field to claim the nomination; the seat has been held on an interim basis by BP Sharon Lee since former Borough President Melinda Katz resigned at the start of the year to become the borough’s district attorney.

Richards’ most prominent opponent is Republican nominee Joann Ariola, chair of the Queens County Republican Party. But Democrats hold a massive voter enrollment advantage and the borough has not elected a Republican as borough president since the 1950s.

[Read: Donovan Richards Lays Out His Vision As Likely Next Queens Borough President]

In Assembly District 76 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, incumbent Democrat Rebecca Seawright is running for reelection. But Seawright’s bid is only noteworthy because she is running on the self-created “Rise and Unite" party line that she had to create after she was kicked off the Demorcatic and Working Families Party ballot lines after failing to file the proper ballot paperwork. She is being challenged by Republican Louis Puliafito in a race where the GOP is hoping to eek out a win based on there being no Democratic nominee on the ballot and the fact that the Upper East Side is still home to a sizable group of Republicans.

In Assembly District 64, Democrats may have a chance to flip a Republican-held seat as the current incumbent is Nicole Malliotakis, who is not running for reelection as she runs for Congress. Democrat Brandon Patterson, former deputy chief of staff to state Senator Diane Savino, and Republican Michael Tannousis, a former assistant district attorney in the Bronx and Staten Island DAs offices, are running against each other.

In Assembly District 57, incumbent Democrat Walter Mosley lost the Democratic primary to Phara Souffrant Forrest, a nurse and first-time candidate who was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America. After losing the primary, Mosley is running on the Working Families Party line, having received their endorsement as well. But the WFP has asked him to stand down and urged their members to vote for Forrest instead, giving her their endorsement after the primary.

There are also some other notable Assembly races in the city, largely pro-forma finalizing of contested June primaries through the general election.

In Assembly District 31 in Queens, Khaleel Anderson, who is just 24 years old, came out on top in a crowded Democratic primary to win the nomination. The race was for an open seat left vacant after Assemblymember Michele Titus was elected as a civil court judge.

There were other upsets along with those by Souffrant Forrest and Anderson in Assembly districts in the primary, as leftist candidates unseated longtime establishment Democrats and are now poised to sail to election in the general.

In Assembly District 50 in Brooklyn, activist Emily Gallagher defeated Assemblymember Joe Lentol. In Assembly District 51 in Brooklyn, Marcela Mitaynes defeated Assemblymember Felix Ortiz. In Assembly District 34 in Queens, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas defeated Assemblymember Michael DenDekker. In Assembly District 36 in Queens, Zohran Mamdani defeated Assemblymember Aravella Simotas. In Assembly District 38 in Queens, Jenifer Rajkumar defeated Assemblymember Michael Miller. In Assembly District 84 in the Bronx, Amanda Septimo won after Assemblymember Carmen Arroyo was disqualified from the ballot.

by Ethan Geringer-Sameth and Samar Khurshid

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

9 Things to Watch in the 2020 General Election in New York Sun, 01 Nov 2020 04:00:00 +0000
Fact-Checking Malliotakis and Rose Campaign Ads in NY-11 max rose budget

An image from a Malliotakis attack ad

It’s been clear for quite some time that the race between Democratic Congressional Rep. Max Rose and his Republican challenger, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, would be highly competitive and full of mud-slinging. The campaign in New York’s 11th Congressional District, spanning all of Staten Island and a slice of Southern Brooklyn, is among the most-watched nationally, and the attack ads have been flying for months.

Now with under three months until Election Day, the Rose and Malliotakis campaigns both recently released negative ads that stretch the truth — though the challenger’s is significantly more misleading than the incumbent’s.

Rose, an Army veteran who is still part of the National Guard, was able to flip the seat in 2018, winning 50% of the vote against incumbent Dan Donovan’s 46%. The Democratic win was among several red-to-blue flips in New York, which contributed to the party’s seizure of the House majority. It also ensured that New York City had an all-Democratic congressional delegation.

Malliotakis, who represents a significantly overlapping district in the State Legislature and was the Republican nominee for  mayor in 2017, now hopes to flip the seat back. Rose’s successful 2018 approach was based on a moderate brand of Democratic politics, focusing on less partisan issues like infrastructure, criticizing de Blasio, and mostly avoiding the often polarizing topic of President Donald Trump, who carried the district and won Staten Island overwhelmingly in 2016, though Rose did eventually vote for Trump’s impeachment.

But you wouldn’t know that Rose has staked out a moderate, law enforcement-friendly path after seeing Malliotakis’ recent ad titled, “Thin Blue Line,” which groups Rose in with de Blasio — who the Congressmember has recently called “not only the worst mayor in the history of New York City, he’s the worst mayor in the history of this great country” — and, despite evidence to the contrary, says Rose’s positions on the New York Police Department “aren’t just radically liberal…they’re radically dangerous.”

Rose’s own ad, “When the Virus Hit,” goes after Malliotakis for her actions related to the coronavirus pandemic, although points of criticism it raises are on policies or votes shared with her Democratic colleagues in the Assembly.

“Thin Blue Line”

In her ad, Malliotakis says that Rose “joined de Blasio and the defund the police crowd” in “calling to dismantle the NYPD,” referencing the “defund the NYPD” protest movement spurred by the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, which calls for resources to be redistributed from the NYPD to youth and social services.

But Rose has made multiple public comments stating that he does not support the “defund the NYPD” movement. In early June, Rose tweeted “I don’t support defunding or abolishing the NYPD,” while criticizing Republicans for their role in not funding police. A month later, Rose wrote an op-ed in the Staten Island Advance titled, “Defunding the police is shortsighted and wrong,” in which he said, “I oppose #DefundThePolice and spoke out against efforts to cut funding to our District Attorney’s office because doing so will undermine the most critical goal of the moment: to build a city and country where relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve are based on trust and mutual respect.”

Rose serves on the Committee on Homeland Security and Committee on Veteran’s Affairs in Congress, and has worked to increase Homeland Security funding for New York and co-sponsored a bill to increase mental health programs for law enforcement.

When asked why Malliotakis’ ad suggested Rose supports defunding the NYPD, a spokesperson for Malliotakis’ campaign pointed to his attendance of a peaceful Black Lives Matter march where some protestors held “defund NYPD” and other signs as evidence of his support for the movement.

“On issue after issue Max Rose tries to play both sides,” Malliotakis’ spokesperson, Rob Ryan, said. “He takes part in an anti-NYPD demonstration where his fellow marchers chant ‘defund the police’ and carry signs saying ‘Blue Lives Murder” and then he claims he supports the NYPD; he can’t have it both ways.”

Rose previously responded to Malliotakis in a tweet by alleging she was insincere in her remarks for criticizing his attendance of the march despite having expressed support of recent peaceful demonstrations in Bay Ridge and Staten Island in her own tweet two days prior. Meanwhile, Malliotakis attended a pro-NYPD rally at which demonstrators used sexist, misogynistic language against Black Lives Matter supporters, something Rose condemned in a statement the next day.

In her ad, Malliotakis also said Rose had joined calls to “end cash bail.” Rose voiced support for bail reform generally in a 2018 Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn candidate questionnaire, which cited a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo that included legislation to “Eliminate monetary bail for people facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges.”

However, when New York State’s initial bail reform laws passed in 2019, Rose joined Republicans and some Democrats, including de Blasio, in criticizing them and said the reforms “went too far, too fast.” He also called for changes to prevent major drug dealers from being released along with Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan and Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon.

"Unlike Nicole Malliotakis, I know what it means to risk everything to keep this country and those I love safe,” Rose said in a statement to the Gotham Gazette. “That's why I opposed defunding the police, secured millions of dollars for the NYPD to keep NYC safe from terrorists, and have taken on my party no matter the consequences. Nicole lies as if her very life depends on it and flip flopped on everything from support to President Trump, to sanctuary cities, and even the Black Lives Matter protests. After this election, hopefully she'll finally understand you can't lie to the people you're trying to lead."

Rose was referring to how Malliotakis previously said she “was never really a supporter of his” in reference to Trump and had tried to distance herself from him while running for mayor in 2017, as well as how she voiced support in 2017 for a type of sanctuary city policy put in place by former Mayor Ed Koch but in January 2019 wrote an op-ed saying New York should no longer be a sanctuary city.

“When the Virus Hit”

Rose’s ad focuses on the pandemic and Malliotakis’ response as a member of the State Assembly, where she is in the minority. The ad mentions three main points: that Malliotakis photoshopped herself into a picture to make it appear as if she were providing covid-related relief to New Yorkers, that she voted to cut hospitals funding by $400 million; and that she voted for a law that “protects shady nursing homes that put seniors at risk,” as the ad says.

Although it is true that Malliotakis was photoshopped into a picture in early April as part of an Instagram post that said she was delivering PPE and other supplies to nursing homes, sanitation workers, and first responders, the photoshopping was done by the Brooklyn Conservative Party, which posted the image. Her campaign noted that although the particular photo was not genuine, Malliotakis had done a significant amount of work to distribute PPE and help her constituents in other ways during the pandemic.

The two other allegations made in the ad are also broadly correct — Malliotakis did vote to cut hospital funding and pass a law that protects nursing homes from litigation, but those votes were part of the State budget that passed in late March. For it to pass, many Assembly members — mostly Democrats — voted in favor of the same motions, even though many later said they were unhappy with the end result, rammed through by Governor Cuomo while legislators argued the budget needed to be passed to prevent a government shutdown or delay in services or aid to New Yorkers.

“The real fraud in this race is Max Rose; he cynically attacks Assemblywoman Malliotakis on issues that were part of the state budget process, all the time knowing that the vast majority of legislators voted the same way including his Democrat colleagues,” Ryan said in a statement. “It’s another example of how he twists the truth.”

by Victor Porcelli, Gotham Gazette

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Fact-Checking Malliotakis and Rose Campaign Ads in NY-11 Mon, 17 Aug 2020 04:00:00 +0000
The 10 Most-Read Gotham Gazette Stories of 2019 groundbreaking gov twa

(photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

As 2019 comes to a close, we’re looking back at some of our “best” and most-read articles of the year. We have a lot of reporting that we’re proud of -- some of which was really well-read, some of which may not have received the attention it deserved. Gotham Gazette readership increased for the sixth straight year in 2019, and was up about 30% from 2018. Thank you to all those who have been reading, we appreciate it and enjoy doing what we do to bring you important local news with our unique in-depth, accountability-focused style.

In a separate post, we’ll highlight some of the “best” reporting (editor’s choice) that we published that isn’t among our ten most-read articles listed below.

This most-read list does not include articles like election guides or candidates lists or even our summaries of voter turnout numbers, all of which are often among our most-read posts. The list below also does not include opinion pieces (there’s a separate post for the most-read guest columns of the year). Also, while this list reflects our best-read original Gotham Gazette reporting of the year, any list like this will be somewhat biased against stories published in the last month or so of the year, but that’s how it goes.

Our ten most-read articles of 2019:

1. Corey Johnson Wants to ‘Break the Car Culture’ in New York City; What Does That Mean?
by Noah Berman
“Imagine a New York where cars no longer rule the road, and pedestrians and cyclists reclaim dominance of the city’s public space. While a New York where cars don’t dominate the streets may seem like a fantasy, to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, it is the future.”
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2. 'We're in a New Era’: Inside the Crowded Race to Elect the Next Queens District Attorney and Reset the Borough’s Prosecutorial Agenda
by Emma Whitford
“Uncontested for seven terms spanning more than a quarter-century, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has hung back while his counterparts in Brooklyn and Manhattan join a growing national conversation about criminal justice reform and the power of prosecutors to decarcerate jails. While the retiring Brown is a “dear friend,” former New York Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman told Gotham Gazette recently, “it’s time for a new prosecutor with new, up-to-date modern views.””
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3. ‘Hard to Define’: Melinda Katz’s Path to the Precipice of Becoming Queens District Attorney
by Samar Khurshid
““If it’s good for families, it’s good for Queens,” Melinda Katz likes to say. It’s a line she used in her first State of the Borough speech as borough president, a position she has held for six years and she now hopes will propel her to the office of Queens District Attorney.”
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4. How Vulnerable is Max Rose?
by Samar Khurshid
“Max Rose calls himself a “centrist populist.” The first-term Democrat who represents New York’s 11th congressional district, which spans across Staten Island and along the shore of Southern Brooklyn, appears set on trying to make that label stick, and in doing so earn a second term when voters head to the polls next year.”
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5. New York’s New, Untested Redistricting Process Set to Unfold After 2020 Census
by Samar Khurshid
“Following the 2020 Census, New York will kick off the decennial redrawing of its state legislative and congressional districts to ensure equitable representation based on population. But the next redistricting process is untested so far, having been approved after the 2010 Census when New York saw a severe undercount, contributing to the loss of one congressional seat, followed by a redistricting that many observers and elected officials criticized for creating overly complicated state legislative districts on partisan lines.”
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6. As New York Rethinks High School Graduation Requirements, Under-the-Radar School Group May Offer a Model
by Samantha Handler
“In a process likely to last years, the New York Board of Regents is considering changing high school graduation requirements, which may include revising or creating a substitute for the Regents exams. To graduate, most students must currently pass five Regents exams. But while the education policy-setting board recently announced its exploratory plans, another path to a New York high school diploma already exists: a set of performance-based tasks that test students on an array of skills meant to be more in line with college- and career-readiness than what typical standardized exams measure.”
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7. For Ruben Diaz Jr., A Booming Bronx and Plan to Run on Development
by Savannah Jacobson
“Development in the Bronx has defined Ruben Diaz Jr.’s borough presidency, now in its tenth year and coinciding with record economic expansion across the city and country coming out of the Great Recession. And Diaz Jr. has defined his borough presidency –– and plans to build his upcoming run for Mayor –– around economic and housing development.”
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8. There are NYPD Oversight Measures on the Ballot - How Significant Are They?
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth
“New York City may soon take several steps toward strengthening the power of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, or CCRB, the agency responsible for investigating misconduct allegations against police officers.”
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9. Speaker Says Assembly No Longer Supports Public Campaign Financing, Downplays Other Reforms
by Samar Khurshid & Ben Max
“Though Democrats have for years blamed Republican intransigence for the failure of key campaign finance and ethics reforms in Albany, those measures still appear stalled even as their party controls the entire state Legislature and governor’s office. On Friday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said that the votes are not there in his chamber to approve a public-matching campaign finance system, despite the fact that the Assembly has repeatedly passed such a measure in the past when Republicans controlled the Senate.”
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10. As New NYCHA Chair Takes Over, the Future of Public Housing Hangs in the Balance
by Truman Stephens
““These first few months of our work have revealed NYCHA as an organization fraught with serious problems in structure, culture, and direction, and perhaps even worse,” wrote Bart Schwartz, the new federal monitor of the city’s public housing authority, in his first progress report, released July 22.”
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Honorable Mention
Little-Used Community Land Trust Model for Affordable Housing May See Big Boost
by Emma Whitford
“Manhattan City Council Member Carlina Rivera is part of a growing coalition of Council members pushing for city government's first major commitment to a seldom-utilized affordable housing model. In the face of rapid gentrification, they say, the city should invest $850,000 in Community Land Trusts, or CLTs, in the city budget currently being negotiated.”
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Why is Governor Cuomo Attacking a Longtime Labor Ally?
by Samar Khurshid
“Governor Andrew Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, has in recent weeks repeatedly lashed out at state legislators from his own party and a long-time labor ally, 32BJ SEIU, as he points to the role of independent expenditures in state politics amid questions about his own fundraising habits and commitment to campaign finance reform.”
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Payphone-Replacing LinkNYC Kiosks Not Generating Projected Revenue
by Lisette Voytko
“During a February 2016 press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio made the first phone call on New York City’s first LinkNYC kiosk, stationed at the corner of 16th Street and 3rd Avenue. “It will be the biggest and fastest network in the world, and completely free of charge. And one thing I know about my fellow New Yorkers, they like things that are free of charge," said de Blasio.”
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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

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The 10 Most-Read Gotham Gazette Stories of 2019 Thu, 26 Dec 2019 05:00:00 +0000
How Vulnerable is Max Rose? rose handshake

Rep. Max Rose (photo: @MaxRose4NY)

Max Rose calls himself a “centrist populist.” The first-term Democrat who represents New York’s 11th congressional district, which spans across Staten Island and along the shore of Southern Brooklyn, appears set on trying to make that label stick, and in doing so earn a second term when voters head to the polls next year.

Rose’s pitch and politics seem to match the district well: he’s a moderate, center-left politician and military veteran with a no-nonsense but affable and energetic personality. His mantra is serving constituents above political party, he regularly criticizes fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio, and he distances himself from the ascendent left-wing of his party, but sticks close to the House majority, though in fulfilling a campaign promise he did not vote for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to retain her leadership role.

But as he runs for reelection for the first time in 2020, a presidential year where Donald Trump is expected to be on the top of the Republican ticket, Rose is one of the top targets of Republicans hoping to regain majority control of the House of Representatives while holding the Senate and reelecting the president. Representing one of the swing-iest districts in the country -- represented by three Republicans and two Democrats in the last 10 years -- Rose is dealing with major countervailing forces: Trump’s strong popularity among many New York-11 voters and Democrats awakened by Trump’s surprise 2016 win who swept Rose into office last year.

Indicative of the minefield he finds himself navigating, Rose just became the last Democrat from New York City to announce support for impeachment proceedings against the president. While Rose’s somewhat cautious approach to Trump may endear him to some of his district’s center-right voters, it, coupled with his moderate positions on a variety of issues, could embitter the very Democratic base that he needs in his corner. But upon announcing he backs the impeachment inquiry into Trump at a Staten Island constituent town hall on Wednesday night, Rose shifted the terms of his already-heated reelection campaign.

“So while the President of the United States may be willing to violate the constitution to get re-elected, I will not,” Rose said on Wednesday. “I will not shirk my duty and I will not violate my oath. I will support and I will defend the United States Constitution. And it is for that reason that I intend to fully support this impeachment inquiry and follow the facts."

His announcement, coming just the day after a Democratic primary challenger launched a campaign against him, was met by derision from Republicans who hope to unseat him through next year's election.

Rose won the 11th district seat last year against Republican Dan Donovan, the former Staten Island District Attorney elected to Congress in 2015, in a 2018 election that saw a surge in Democratic turnout, giving the Democrats control of the House and dramatically shifting the national political landscape. Rose’s margin of victory was substantial – he received 101,823 votes to Donovan’s 89,441, even defeating the Republican on Staten Island by more than 5,000 votes.

It was a reversal of fortune for Donovan, who had been reelected to the seat in 2016 with 142,934 votes against Democrat Richard Reichard’s 85,257 (there were nearly 60,000 more votes cast that presidential year than in the 2018 midterms). It helped Donovan that Trump was running for president and won Staten Island with 56.3% of the vote against Hillary Clinton’s 41.2%.

But Rose is confident he can pull off another victory, even with Trump on the ballot, in part by remaining far more focused on local issues than the national dynamics of the 2020 election. “We have gotten tremendous amounts of legislation through and by that I don't mean symbolic or ceremonial pieces of legislation passed by the House of Representatives, and then resigned to the graveyard that is Mitch McConnell's Senate,” Rose said in a recent phone interview. “I mean things that have or will be signed by the president of the United States.”

He cited four major victories – approval for the Staten Island east shore seawall, permanent funding for the 9/11 victims compensation fund, sanctions on Chinese pharmaceutical companies to stem the flow of fentanyl into the city, and two-way tolling on the Verrazzano bridge to reduce traffic.

“Staten Island and south Brooklyn are on the map, and we are not stopping. We are advocating for issues at every level of government to make sure that people are no longer ignored,” Rose said.

Though there is a Republican primary for the seat as well – between Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and longshot candidate Joseph Saladino, a YouTube personality who goes by the name Joey Salads and has a history of racist pranks – virtually all observers see the race as an eventual Rose-Malliotakis battle, though there does remain the question of whether any other Republicans may jump into the race ahead of the June 2020 primary.

When he first ran for office last year, Rose set himself apart from most other New York City Democrats, seen as a necessity in a district that defies the bluer boroughs. Though there are more active registered Democrats (191,145) than Republicans (114,363) in New York-11, along with 93,303 party-unaffiliated voters, the district elected Trump by a margin of nearly 10 points, after a tight victory there for President Barack Obama in 2012. Governor Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, won the district in his last two elections. 

Though Trump remains extremely unpopular in New York City, with his approval rating at 26% (to 71% disapprove) in an April Quinnipiac University poll, his approval was generally higher on Staten Island, at 47% approval to 52% disapproval. The Island is fairly split, with more Democrats concentrated along the northern shore than in other parts of the borough, which gets more conservative the further south one goes.

Rose made it clear he was running against what he saw as ‘the establishment’ and the ‘career politicians’ in Congress and elsewhere who had ground the business of the people to a halt. He was, and remains, a critic of de Blasio, even focusing on him in a 2018 campaign ad, and refuses to embrace the politics of newly elected progressives in the House such as fellow New York City Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“We are showing people that you can make war against the establishment, you can choose not to play by the rules of inside-D.C. establishment politics while also accomplishing something,” Rose said in the interview, citing his vote against Pelosi’s election as speaker.

City Council Member Justin Brannan, a Southern Brooklyn Democrat and Rose ally, said in a statement to Gotham Gazette, “Ultimately this election is going to come down to what kind of elected official do you want. Max refuses to take money from lobbyists. He supports campaign finance reform. He has been unwavering in his battle against [the Trump] administration's discriminatory policies that directly impact the hardworking people he represents.” Brannan added that Rose has fought “Trump's discriminatory Muslim ban not just in words but in action by literally helping reunite families torn apart by conflict. Meanwhile, his Republican opponent is on Twitter posting ‘You're Fired’ memes.”

Despite his distance from Ocasio-Cortez and others, Republicans have still sought to paint Rose as a “socialist Democrat” who has betrayed the will of the voters who elected him. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has spent months hammering at Rose in press releases and public statements, largely on the general principle that he’s part of a Democratic operation hostile to the president.

NRCC spokesperson Michael McAdams says the party’s chances of taking back the seat are strong, citing the district’s strong Republican presence and Trump’s victory there in 2016. “Max has claimed that he is a moderate. On the campaign trail, he said he was going to be an independent voice for Staten Island, and he's gotten to Washington, D.C. and he's fallen right in line with the socialist Democrats and their socialist agenda,” McAdams said in a phone interview, though he did not provide specific examples (later in the interview he said Rose hasn’t taken a position on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants).

“He votes against President Trump 96% of the time, which is an absolutely shocking number given that a majority of his constituents voted for the president last cycle,” McAdams said.

Malliotakis, whose Assembly district covers much of the east shore of Staten Island and a small part of Southern Brooklyn, has extended the same argument. “As far as I’m concerned, this race is between me and Max Rose,” she said, dismissing any worries about facing a primary opponent. Though Salads is running a barebones campaign, there’s also the possibility that others could jump into the race. Michael Grimm, who previously represented the district and served prison time for felony tax evasion, has signalled he may run. New York City Council Member Joe Borelli, who represents the South Shore of Staten Island and is running for public advocate in this fall’s special election, has also not ruled it out.

“I believe I am more in line with the people in this district,” Malliotakis said, citing her nine years in elected office. She said the race would be a combination of local and federal factors. “This is a district that is pretty impacted by what the federal government does,” she said, pointing to the seawall project, national parks, a veterans hospital, and the Fort Hamilton army base. She also brought up issues that were salient in the 2017 mayor’s race, including her opposition to sanctuary city policies and safe injection sites for drug-addicted people, and said she would push for a federal infrastructure package.

“The Democrats in the House are more concerned with continuing investigation instead of actually working with the president to address a lot of these issues,” said Malliotakis, who has come around to closely embrace Trump as she runs for Congress after having been a supporter of Senator Marco Rubio in the 2016 Republican presidential primary and distancing herself from Trump in the 2017 mayoral race. She begrudgingly stated at one point that she had voted for Trump over Clinton, and expressed regret for having done so.

“I’m going to be running on the same ticket as the president and I embrace that,” Malliotakis said, when asked if she sees herself in line with the president, calling Trump a “voice of reason” in Washington, D.C.

The House of Representatives has “absolutely no interest in actually doing the job that they were elected to do and instead they're just looking to see how they can tear down the president,” she said, “And so he needs people who are willing to work with him, and particularly from New York City, and I will be an individual who will work with him to accomplish things where we see eye to eye...I'm not going to agree with everything the president does but for the most part, yes, I do agree with a majority of what he's doing. And I think that he's doing a good job overall.”

Malliotakis says Rose has been more progressive than moderate, insisting that he votes “in lockstep” with Pelosi and members of the so-called Squad of Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive women of color. “The votes he's taking in Washington are not representative of views in this district,” she said, citing, for instance, his support for a resolution that criticized Trump for a racist tweet about the women of color representatives of “the Squad.”

But it’s a tenuous argument, says Richard Flanagan, political science professor at the College of Staten Island. “I don't think it holds water with the independent voters at all,” he said. “Rose has done a really good job of positioning himself in the center, getting federal action on local issues. He's very upfront about his military record. It’s definitely differentiated him from [the members of the Squad]...I guess [Republicans are] going to do that to try to get their base to come out to vote, but it's not persuading anybody in the middle.”

Rose himself scoffed at the Republicans’ attempts to align him with progressives. “If they think anyone's gonna believe that, they're idiots. The truth is that nobody in the entire Democratic caucus has pushed back more than I have,” he said, pointing to his votes against Pelosi, his opposition to the Green New Deal, which he called a “socialist lie” in the interview with Gotham Gazette, and his repeated disapproval of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar over her criticism of Israel. “The NRCC and Nicole Malliotakis have such an obsession with these individuals that it's clear they would rather run against them than me,” he added.

On the question of impeachment Rose found himself in a difficult place. He issued public statements that showed him seemingly vacillating on the issue saying that “all options must be on the table,” which signalled to some that he was open to jumping on board. He voted to table a privileged resolution led by Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that would have disapproved of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s actions to begin an impeachment inquiry.

Just before Rose announced his support for the impeachment inquiry, McAdams from the NRCC said Rose’s decision, either for or against, would doom his chances of reelection with one or the other segment of voters.

“I think support for the president is at the top of the line there,” he said, predicting that support for impeachment would lose Rose votes among Republicans and opposition to it will anger the Democrats who powered his victory. The latest Quinnipiac University poll from September 30 may show a fast-moving shift, as it found that nationally voters were split 47-47 percent on impeaching and removing Trump from office. Just last week, support was at 37% and opposition at 57%. By a majority of 52-45 percent, voters approved of the impeachment inquiry opened by the House.

The NRCC and Malliotakis both quickly jumped on Rose after he proclaimed his support for the House impeachment inquiry. "Just one day after finding out he had a challenger in the Democrat primary, Congressman Max Rose caved to socialists Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Nancy Pelosi in the rush to impeach President Donald Trump," Malliotakis said in a statement. "It just shows that when pressure is applied, Max Rose stands with the radical left instead of Staten Island."

During his remarks at the Wednesday town hall, Rose followed his comments about the impeachment process by attempting to preempt that line of attack: "But, I want to make something else very, very clear: nothing, nothing at all—impeachment or otherwise—will distract us, will distract me from my work fighting for you," he said. "I will not let this or anything else detract us from our focus on ending the opioid epidemic, holding pharmaceutical companies accountable, making sure that we have the backs of our cops and our firefighters and our first responders, and yes--ending our commuting nightmare.”

What kind of impact Rose's support for the impeachment inquiry has on his standing in his district is yet to be seen. A great deal will of course play out over the next year-plus before the 2020 general election.

Rabyaah Althaibani, a community organizer and co-founder of Arab Women's Voice, a consulting firm, rallied the Arab vote in Southern Brooklyn behind Rose last year. But she’s worried that he has disappointed progressives, particularly by refusing to support impeachment. “There are a lot of issues that progressives...just don't agree with Max on, and a pretty sizable bunch of people are very upset with him,” she said, although she praised him for supporting the Yemeni American community by questioning the rationale behind Trump’s Muslim travel ban and for pushing to end American support for the war in Yemen.

“The Yemeni community and allies that care about the community, I'm just hoping that they're going to rally and help us get him elected again,” she added. “But Max has a lot of work to do, a lot of explaining to do. He needs to reach out to the progressive base.”

Althaibani did recognize that Rose faces a tough situation, having to reconcile the differing parts of the district with its spread of conservatives and progressives, and many moderates in between. She expressed doubt that Rose would face a tough primary. “I don't think anyone can do what Max is doing right now,” she said.

On Tuesday, the Staten Island Advance reported that Richard-Olivier Marius, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, is challenging Rose in the Democratic primary. In an interview with the paper, Marius said he had voted for Rose in 2018 but was running because of Rose’s failure to support progressive legislation like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, as well as impeachment of Trump. 

A Democratic operative familiar with the race, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted that Rose may be trying the same balancing act as the last Democrat to hold the seat, Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon, who voted against the Affordable Care Act in the hopes of not alienating conservative voters. But while that move backfired against McMahon, the dynamics of the district necessitate similar thinking by Rose.

As of the latest fundraising deadlines, Rose held a significant advantage. His campaign had $1.2 million in cash on hand as of June 30, compared to Malliotakis’ $475,000. (Saladino had $16,877 in his campaign account.)

But the Trump effect may nullify that. As Flanagan from College of Staten Island noted, the district has always been competitive and even Republicans have never won in a blowout. He said the race will hinge on voter turnout, which will be hard to predict since Trump being on the ballot will drive voters from both parties to the polls. “Are these Trump voters gonna come back and vote for Trump and vote straight ticket? Or are they willing to ticket-split? I think that's the big question,” he said.

Malliotakis is trying hard to turn Trump’s presence to her benefit, and appeal to voters across the district who have seen her on the ballot before, whether in her Assembly district or when she faced de Blasio in 2017 and, while receiving only 27.1% of the overall vote to de Blasio’s 65.1%, did blow the incumbent mayor away on Staten Island, winning 70% of votes to de Blasio’s 25.3%. (As it was in Rose’s 2018 win, one of the keys in 2020 will be the turnout in the more Democratic Southern Brooklyn portion of the district.)

On several issues, Malliotakis has broken from Trump while embracing him on most fronts. She has wholeheartedly accepted the aid of Trump and his allies, including national Republican stars like U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney and Dan Crenshaw, who canvassed for her in Staten Island a few weeks ago, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Yet a source close to the Staten Island Republican Party said she is far from an ideal candidate to beat Rose, despite the potential that’s there to unseat him. “Rose is vulnerable to a candidate that can land some punches on him,” the source said. “However, we saw from Malliotakis’ race against Bill de Blasio that she can't land a punch on even him.”

The source, who requested anonymity to speak freely about internal party concerns, added, “Rose is moderate, he's likeable, he hasn't made many errors. And I think when he campaigns, he grows his support. And the more Malliotakis’ campaign develops, the less it seems successful.”

The Republican said Malliotakis needs to “clarify where she stands” with respect to Trump. “The 2017 Malliotakis is not the same as the 2019 Malliotakis,” the person said. “It’s just so plainly evident that anyone can see it.”

Rose, meanwhile, believes Trump will fail to affect the vote. “I'm going to win,” he said. “The people of this district are independent and they will vote and have consistently voted for the person, not the party.”

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Note: this story has been updated to reflect Rose's support for the House impeachment inquiry.

How Vulnerable is Max Rose? Tue, 01 Oct 2019 04:00:00 +0000
Cuomo Reelected, Democrats Take the State Senate; 2018 General Election Results in New York and cuomo nov

Gov. Cuomo votes (photo: @andrewcuomo)

Democrats will take full control of New York state government in 2019 thanks to the reelection of Governor Andrew Cuomo and other candidates for statewide office, as well as wins in the state Senate that flipped control of the upper chamber. Democrats continue to hold a wide majority in the state Assembly. With help from New York, Democrats also flipped the U.S. House of Representatives.

The state Senate and gubernatorial victories open the door for Democrats to move a sweeping policy agenda that has been blocked by Republicans, some items for years, in areas such as voting, campaign finance, and criminal justice reform, women's reproductive rights, alterations to rent regulations, and more. While some results are still to be finalized, Democrats may have 39 seats in the 63-seat chamber come January.

Cuomo won a third term on Tuesday, easily defeating Republican challenger Marc Molinaro and three other candidates, while his running-mate Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul won a second term alongside the governor.

Letitia James, currently the New York City Public Advocate, was elected Attorney General and is the first woman of color elected to a statewide position in New York. She's also the first woman and first person of color elected to become New York Attorney General.

The other Democrats running for statewide positions were also victorious, with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli both winning reelection by wide margins, as expected.

New York City and State races also contributed to a Democratic takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives.

And, in New York City, the three ballot proposals from Mayor de Blasio’s charter revision commission were all approved by wide margins, ushering in campaign finance reform, a new civic engagement commission, and term limits for community board members.

In the overall race for control of the state Senate, Democrats claimed a majority, and seemed on their way to winning at least 36 and up to 39 seats while several remained neck-and-neck and could also tilt their way, according to unofficial state Board of Elections results. With Democrats in control, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will become the first woman of color majority leader of the state Senate. "I am confident our majority will grow even larger after all results are counted, and we will finally give New Yorkers the progressive leadership they have been demanding," she tweeted Tuesday night.

Much of the action was on Long Island, but one of the few Republican-held seats in New York City was also hotly-contested and appears to be a Democratic pick-up for Andrew Gounardes, though Senator Marty Golden has not conceded.

In the open race for District 3, Democrat Monica Martinez defeated Republican Dean Murray. In District 5, Democrat James Gaughran won by more than 9 points against Republican Carl Marcellino. In District 39, Democrat James Skoufis beat Republican Tom Basile. Kevin Thomas, the Democrat in District 6, closely defeated Republican Kemp Hannon. In District 7, Democrat Anna Kaplan defeated Republican Elaine Phillips with an almost ten-point margin.

In two other open races, however, Democrats lost to their Republican opponents. In District 43, Aaron Gladd was defeated by Republican Daphne Jordan, and in District 50, John Mannion was defeated by Bob Antonacci.

The current Republican majority leader, Senator John Flanagan, said in a statement, "This election is over, but our mission is not. Senate Republicans will never stop advocating for the principles we believe in or the agenda that New Yorkers and their families deserve."

Along with competitive races for state Senate seats, many eyes were on potential swing districts for New York seats in the House of Representatives, part of the national picture whereby Democrats flipped the chamber to secure some control of government in Washington, D.C. and a significant leverage point regarding legislation, funding, and oversight of President Trump and his administration. That effort was aided by outcomes in New York, including an upset in New York City.

In the one city-based congressional seat held by a Republican, Rep. Dan Donovan lost to Democrat Max Rose, who will go to the House to represent New York’s 11th congressional district of Staten Island and part of southern Brooklyn. In the 19th congressional district covering parts of the Hudson Valley and Catskills, Democrat Antonio Delgado defeated incumbent Republican Rep. John Faso. And in Central New York's District 22, Democratic candidate Anthony Brindisi was ahead by a razor-thin margin over incumbent Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, in a race that seems too close to call. In Congressional District 27, though Democrat Nate McMurray had conceded to Republican incumbent Rep. Chris Collins, McMurray's campaign later called for a recount when the margin between the two was only one point.

Back in the five boroughs, of the three ballot proposals passing, Mayor de Blasio said in an election night statement, “Tonight we took a big step toward becoming the fairest big city in America. The question in front of voters was simple: are we going to be a city that works for everyone? New Yorkers answered with a resounding ‘YES, YES, YES!’ They voted to set a historic new direction for campaigns in our city by getting big money out of politics. They voted to give voters more power over their tax dollars. They voted to bring new voices into our democracy. The end result of the charter revision process that began nine months ago at the State of City is a democracy that can work for all of us – not just the wealthy and well-connected.”

In terms of specific outcomes in important New York races, as of 2 a.m. on election night, initial results and tentative margins included:

-Governor Cuomo was reelected with about 58% to 36% for Molinaro, while Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins received 1.7%, Libertarian Larry Sharpe won 1.6%, and Stephanie Miner of the Serve America Movement got less than 1%. Both Sharpe and Miner earned their parties automatic ballot access for the next four years (Cuomo on the Women's Equality Party line and Molinaro on the Reform Party line did not get enough votes on those lines and parties will lose their automatic ballot lines.

-James won the attorney general office with 60% over Republican Keith Wofford, who received 34.3%, and other candidates splitting 2.3%.

-DiNapoli was reelected comptroller with 64.4%, while Republican nominee Jonathan Trichter got about 31%, and other candidates split 1.7%.

-Gillibrand won 64.5% of the vote, while Republican Chele Farley received 32.5%.

In competitive state Senate races, the results included:

-Democrat Andrew Gounardes appears to have won with 49.8% over Republican Senator Marty Golden's 48% in Senate District 22

-Democrat Monica Martinez won with 52.2% over Republican incumbent Dean Murray's 47.5% in Senate District 3, which includes parts of Suffolk County.

-Republican Phil Boyle won with 50.4% over Democrat Louis D’Amaro's 46.7% in Senate District 4, which also includes parts of Suffolk County.

-Democrat James Gaughran won with 53.23% over Republican incumbent Carl Marcellino's 44.7% in Senate District 5, which includes parts of Suffolk County.

-Democrat Kevin Thomas won with 49.2% over Republican incumbent Kemp Hannon's 48% in Senate District 6, which includes a portion of Nassau County.

-Democrat Anna Kaplan won with 53.7% over Republican incumbent Elaine Phillips' 44.5% in Senate District 7, which a portion of Nassau County.

-Democrat incumbent John Brooks successfully defended his seat, with 53% against Republican Jeff Pravato's 44% in Senate District 8, which includes Eastern Nassau and Western Suffolk counties.

-Democrat James Skoufis won with 52% over Republican Tom Basile's 45% in Senate District 39, which includes parts of Rockland, Orange, and Ulster counties.

-Democrat Pete Harckham won with 49.9% over Republican incumbent Terrence Murphy's 48% in Senate District 40, which includes Yorktown and Putnam, Westchester and Dutchess counties. 

-Republican incumbent Sue Serino won with 50% over Democrat Karen Smythe's 48% in Senate District 41, which includes parts of Dutchess County.

-Democrat Jen Metzger won with 50% over Republican Ann Rabbitt's 47.4% in Senate District 42, includes parts of Delaware, Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties. 

-Republican Daphne Jordan won with 52.1% over Democrat Aaron Gladd's 44.2% in Senate District 43, which includes parts of Saratoga, Rensselaer, Columbia, Washington counties. 

-Republican incumbent George Amedore Jr. won with 55% over Democrat Pat Strong's 42.2% in Senate District 46, which includes Montgomery and Greene counties and portions of Schenectady, Albany and Ulster counties. 

-Republican Robert Antonacci won with 50.4% over Democrat John Mannion's 48% in Senate District 50, which includes Syracuse and the surrounding area.

In competitive House of Representatives races, the results included: 

-Democrat Max Rose won with 52% against Republican incumbent Dan Donovan's 46% in Congressional District 11, which includes Staten Island and parts of South Brooklyn. 

-Democrat Antonio Delgado won with 49.2% against Republican incumbent John Faso's 46.4% in Congressional District 19, which includes the Hudson Valley and Catskills region.

-Democrat Anthony Brindisi led with 49.5% against Republican incumbent Claudia Tenney's 48.9% in Congressional District 22, which includes parts of Chenango, Cortland, Madison, and Oneida counties.

-Republican Incumbent John Katko won with 52.2% against Democrat Dana Balter's 46% in Congressional District 24, which includes pats of Cayuga, Onondaga, and Wayne counties.

- Republican incumbent Chris Collins, who is under indictment for insider trading, received 48.1% over Democrat Nate McMurray's 47.1% in Congressional District 27, which includes Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, and Livingston counties. McMurray's campaign has called for a recount.

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Samar Khurshid contributed to this article.

Note - This article has been updated.

Cuomo Reelected, Democrats Take the State Senate; 2018 General Election Results in New York Tue, 06 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: Rep. Dan Donovan mxm logo

Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits

October 23, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan

us rep dd 209Representative Dan Donovan, the lone Republican representing any of New York City in Congress, joined the show to discuss his reelection bid. Donovan, whose 11th congressional district includes Staten Island and part of Southern Brooklyn, is facing a stiff challenge from Democrat Max Rose, who declined the invitation to appear on the show. The incumbent addressed security issues, his record, infrastructure, opioids, NYCHA funding, the Eric Garner case, and more.

Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @JarrettMurphy. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max & Murphy," and listen to Max & Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Max & Murphy Podcast: Rep. Dan Donovan Wed, 24 Oct 2018 04:00:00 +0000
New York Congressional Races to Watch - Start of October nydemoparty dp

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a NY rally (photo: New York Democratic Party)

Four-and-a-half months after Donald Trump became president, Governor Andrew Cuomo held a rally in New York City with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, pledging to help take back the lower chamber of Congress by flipping several New York seats through the midterm elections, which were then well over a year out.

Those elections are now five weeks away, and, after his decisive victory in the gubernatorial primary on September 13, Cuomo held another rally recommitting himself and the state party he controls to the effort Democrats are waging across the country in the hopes of securing at least one foothold of power on the federal level.

Along with his own reelection and that of his statewide state-level slate of party-mates, Cuomo has verbally committed to working to flip the New York State Senate and several U.S. House seats in the state. There are a number of potential targets for Democrats in New York in a year that is expected to see a so-called blue wave of energy and voter turnout in many parts of the country. That notion was bolstered in New York by an explosion in turnout for the primaries, which saw Cuomo dispatch Cynthia Nixon, but several progressive challengers unseat Democratic incumbents in the state Senate.

With a reconstituted group of state Senate nominees, Democrats must flip only a net of one seat to take the majority in the upper chamber of the state Legislature, while they already enjoy a sweeping majority in the Assembly.

As for House, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committees’ national “Red to Blue” districts — a list of tens of races it is focusing its resources to unseat Republicans — includes five New York congressional races. A state that Hillary Clinton won over Trump by a 22.5 points in 2016, though of course redder in the districts home to competitive races, Democrats hope New York will be fertile ground for them in November.

“I think we have to win at least two seats in New York to contribute to the overall effort to take back the house,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn and Queens told reporters after a recent event. Jeffries listed Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Max Rose (NY-11), and Dana Balter (NY-24) as Democratic candidates most likely to flip seats in November.  

“The progressive delegation is clear we have to play our part in delivering the House majority to Democrats, and the road to doing so runs in part through New York State,” Jeffries said.

Asked about a recent commercial from Rose’s campaign that presents the Democratic candidate as an independent-minded candidate who doesn’t align himself with the leaders in either major party in Washington and New York — and attacks Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio by name — Jeffries said that as long as they speak “affirmatively talk about pocketbook issues,” it’s fine by him if candidates running in purple or red districts keep the more liberal party leadership at arm’s length. .   

“I don’t think Nancy Pelosi holds it against anyone,” he continued, “and she‘s basically indicated to everyone ‘Do what’s necessary to run the race that you have to run in your district.’”

Many races are at least in part seen as referendums on Trump, his leadership, character, and policies. In some of the swing congressional districts in New York, the new federal tax reforms signed by Trump late last year are central campaign issues. The vote split New York’s Republican delegation, but even those like Donovan who voted against it may be forced to answer for it.

Rep. Grace Meng of Queens was optimistic about the potential for New York races contributing to the Democrats effort to take control of the House in January, saying she expects Democrats to this year flip more seats than what is currently forecasted.

“The definition of viable doesn’t necessarily hold in this political climate,” she said. “I’m hopeful for a lot of these races.”

Meng went on to say there are many college campuses in the five swing district, so she is counting on young voters and campaigners to help push the candidates over the edge. “In these five districts, there are 23 college campuses,” she said, referring to the DCCC-identified “Red to Blue” candidates. “I’m hoping that our college-aged voters will make a difference.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan also said she expects young voters to make a difference, based on the elections this summer and earlier in the fall.

“We saw that in the elections in New York, in the [Rep. Joe] Crowley race and some of the races that we just had in the State Senate,” she said in reference to to Crowley’s upset loss to insurgent democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the June primary and the September primary wins by state Senate primary challengers to the former members of the rogue Independent Democratic Conference that worked closely with Republicans.

But while members of Congress who spoke to Gotham Gazette were eager to help out fellow Democratic House candidates, many eyes have turned to the state’s Democratic governor, and how he is spending his immense power, including his fundraising capabilities. As Politico reported recently, several Democrats in New York are waiting for Cuomo to fulfill his promise to allocate resources to competitive 2018 House races in the state. Recently released campaign finance filings from the Cuomo and the Cuomo-controlled New York State Democratic Committee showed that the governor spent over $26 million during the primary, the vast majority on his own campaign, and the state party spent about $1 million for Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul in her primary win, and $860,000 for Public Advocate Letitia James in her successful attorney general primary bid. But the committee had spent no money on Congressional Democratic candidates as of September 25.

A Cuomo campaign spokesperson stressed to Gotham Gazette that with the state primaries now over, the governor is turning his attention to the House and state Senate races. The spokesperson, Abbey Collins, also pointed out that from his campaign coffers, Cuomo has given max donations to the Democratic nominees in 10 House races and seven state Senate races, and said that the governor has several fundraisers with candidates already scheduled and is in the process of scheduling others, that he plans to campaign with Democratic candidates over the coming weeks, and that the state party has a robust organizing effort underway.

"The Governor launched an aggressive coordinated campaign over a year ago and has laid a robust infrastructure to take back the House and State Senate to fight back against Donald Trump and Washington Republicans. As we head towards November, we will continue to build on the State Party’s dynamic field, data and mail program and ramp up fundraising and advertising efforts," Collins said in a statement. "There is no more urgent task ahead than defeating Trump and Democrats have never been more energized and united to win the day.”

As Election Day approaches, Cuomo’s efforts for both the state Senate and House will be of interest, but his role will only be a piece of the puzzle in a variety of contests that will help determine which party controls the two chambers.

In June, just after the congressional primaries, Gotham Gazette examined the congressional races to watch in New York for the general election. Since then, Democrats’ chances to gain seats in New York have only improved, by all projections. Below is an updated look at where things stand on the Congressional side, starting with the lone competitive New York City-based race, followed by numerical order by district beyond the five boroughs.

New York Congressional District 11
Rep. Dan Donovan, New York City’s sole Republican member of Congress, is facing a challenge this year from military veteran Max Rose, who is running as a middle-of-the-road Democrat in a district of diverse political leanings. District 11, comprised of Staten Island and parts of Southern Brooklyn, includes some of the city’s most conservative territory, some liberal areas, and a large portion of moderate neighborhoods full of Democrats who supported politicians like Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, and Dan Donovan.

The seat has largely been held by Republicans, and Trump is more popular in the district than any other in the city. Donovan, who defeated his predecessor, Michael Grimm in a hard-fought primary earlier this year, has touted his support for Trump, though he did vote against Trump’s signature tax reforms. The president endorsed Donovan in the primary.

In a recent ad, Rose lamented the “traffic” and “drugs,” among other problems that the “establishment” — including Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is unpopular in the district — has allowed to feser in New York-11.

Donovan is favored to win by the Cook Political Report, which places the seat he has represented since 2015 in the “likely Republican” category; Real Clear Politics is a bit more bullish on Rose’s chances, placing the seat in the “leans GOP” category.  

District 1
New York’s first Congressional District, which includes most of eastern Long Island’s Suffolk County, is represented by Rep. Lee Zeldin, in his second term in the House. A President Donald Trump-supporting Republican in a district where he isn’t unpopular, Zeldin is perhaps the most likely of the “Red to Blue” districts to stay in Republican control.

Perry Gershon, a commercial real estate lender, is the Democratic nominee, and faces an uphill climb in a district where Zeldin prevailed over his last Democratic opponent by over 15 percent. According Cook Report’s ranking of the district’s partisan leanings, the district compared to the rest of the country is R+5, which means the district went for Trump by five points more than the nation as a whole.

Cook puts the seat in the “likely Republican” category as does Real Clear Politics. The race, however, was recently targeted by the DCC. And it was represented by a Democrat not long ago, noted Rep. Jeffries.  

“That is a race that I think can be won. Tim Bishop held that seat for six terms as a Democrat and just lost in 2014,” Jeffries said. “Trump did win the district in 2016 but his numbers are falling. But it’s a district that can be won, particularly in a Democratic wave.”

District 2
On Wednesday, the Cook Political Report moved Congressional District 2, held for decades by Rep. Peter King from being deemed an uncompetitive race to “likely Republican.” Vying to represent the South Shore of Long Island district is Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley, who previously worked for nonprofits in global economic development and human rights as well as New York University and the United Nations Foundation.

King has been in Congress for 25 years and has a relatively moderate voting record, though he is also a prominent Trump supporter on most topics. Cook Report has the district as R+3, and it voted for Trump by nine points. Still, given enrollment numbers, a wave election could put the seat in play if turnout for Democrats surges to the degree some are expecting.

District 18
Coming off his second unsuccessful run for New York Attorney General, Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney will attempt to hold onto his seat against Republican opponent James O'Donnell, an Orange County legislator. District 18, a swing district, is currently “likely Democrat,” according to the Cook Political Report. Maloney in 2012 flipped the seat from red to blue, and has kept it in two elections since.

During his bid to become the state’s chief legal executive, Maloney donated a lot of money from his House campaign tranche to that of his Attorney General campaign, sparking criticism, as well as a suit from fellow Democratic candidate Zephyr Teachout. Maloney, holding a seat in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton by just a two-point margin, appears to remain popular, but it remains to be seen if Hudson Valley remain enamored with him in the wake of his third place finish in the Attorney General race. Democrats hope to hang on to his seat to amass a net gain of Congressional seats in New York races.  

District 19
Held by Republican Rep. John Faso, New York’s 19th District, which includes parts of the Hudson Valley and Catskill region, voted for Trump by nearly a seven-point margin, but for Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008. Attempting to unseat Faso is Antonio Delgado, a Harvard graduate, corporate attorney, and former Rhodes Scholar.    

The race has garnered a lot of media attention, in part because of what many regard as race-baiting ads run by Republicans, pointing to the facts that Delgado, who is black, in 2007 released a rap album and expressed certain left-wing views. A recently released ad, for example, labeled Delgado a “bit-city rapper.”

Cook Political Report rates the district R+2 and a “Toss Up,” as does Real Clear Politics.

District 22
Another Cook Political Report and Real Clear Politics “Toss Up” seat is Central New York’s 22nd Congressional District, including Rome, Utica and Cortland, and held by Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney. Running against her in the Cook R+6 district is Anthony Brindisi, a member of the state Assembly, in a race that is among the DCCC’s prime targets in November.

Brindisi is running on a centrist record while Tenney has largely leaned in to a more hard right orthodoxy, and is an unapologetic Trump supporter. They both have “A” ratings from the NRA, which Brindisi earned in part by voting against Cuomo’s SAFE Act, though that didn’t stop gun safety group Giffords from endorsing him.

District 24
Dana Balter, a lifelong educator and currently an assistant professor at Syracuse University, is running to unseat Republican Rep. John Katko, who represents the Syracuse-area 24th District. Katko, who has been in Congress since 2015, may be the most vulnerable Republican incumbent from the New York delegation.

Though she is on the DNC”s Red to Blue list, Real Clear Politics and Cook Report both rate the race likely Republican. The district, however, is a Cook D+3, and Trump in 2016 lost the district by 3.6 points.  

District 27
Republican Rep. Chris Collins, who has represented Western New York’s 23th District since unseating now-Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul in 2012, was Donald Trump’s first congressional endorser for president. Collins is now running for reelection despite having been indicted for insider trading.

Nate McMurray, a Democrat and Grand Island town supervisor, is looking to unseat Collins, who had in the wake of his indictment told Republican leaders in the Buffalo area that he would work with them to get off the ballot, then reversed course, saying he will actively campaign. Real Clear Politics puts the race in its “Toss Up” category and Cook Political Report rates its “lean Republican.” Despite the district’s heavy red tilt — Trump won the district by over 24 points and it’s a Cook Political Report R+11 — Democrats have been potentially handed a gift in Collins’ legal troubles, which he is fighting.

Prosecutors in August charged Collins with using information obtained via his seat in Congress about a drug company’s board to provide a stock tip to his son. There will be a court hearing on the case on October 11.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.

New York Congressional Races to Watch - Start of October Sun, 30 Sep 2018 04:00:00 +0000
New York General Election Congressional Matchups to Watch - End of June rosen donovan

Dan Donovan (center) & Max Rose (photos via @dandonovan_ny & @MaxRose4NY)

The congressional primaries in New York on Tuesday saw a shocking defeat for a Democratic party giant in Queens while other Democratic incumbents in the city held on with close margins. And on Staten Island, a closely-watched Republican primary ended with a wider margin for the incumbent victor than expected.

[Read: Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results]

All eyes will now turn to the general election, with the full slate of candidates in focus. Nationally, Democrats are attempting to claw back a majority in the 435-seat House of Representatives by flipping key Republican seats -- they currently hold 193 seats and Republicans hold 235, and there are seven vacancies -- while Republicans are hoping to fend off a blue wave that has put them on the back foot in dozens of races across the country. New York races are expected to factor significantly into the House balance of power.

In New York, according to The Cook Political Report, there are five competitive congressional races, all held by Republicans, among the state’s 27 seats. Two are considered a toss-up -- the District 19 seat held by Rep. John Faso and the District 22 seat held by Rep. Claudia Tenney; the District 11 seat, where incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan prevailed in Tuesday’s primary, leans Republican; and District 1, held by Rep. Lee Zeldin, and District 24, held by Rep.  John Katko, per Cook’s predictions, are considered “likely Republican.”

The Donovan seat is the only congressional district held by Republicans in New York City.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is more closely focused on Districts 11 and 22, under its organized ‘Red to Blue’ effort, backing army veteran Max Rose to challenge Donovan, and state Assembly member Anthony Brindisi against Tenney.

And there are still other races where candidates are seen as more long-shots to win, but given the surprise leveled Tuesday by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley and the successes of Democrats, especially women, in other races in New York and elsewhere since Donald Trump’s election, some additional districts may be in play. For example, Liuba Grechen Shirley won her Democratic primary Tuesday and will now attempt to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Peter King on Long Island.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, a two-term Democrat running for reelection himself, has also committed the state Democratic Party’s machinery to support Democratic congressional challengers. “Our focus now must turn to winning back the House of Representatives, and the road to accomplishing that runs right through New York State,” Cuomo said, in an email blast sent out by the state party on Wednesday morning. “The only way to stop Donald Trump and his hateful agenda over the next two years is to win back the House of Representatives,” he added, appealing for volunteers to join phone banking and canvassing efforts in the next few weeks.

As New York and the country move toward November’s Election Day, congressional races are now set, while state-level primaries will happen on September 13 for all 213 seats in the state Legislature and the state-wide posts of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general. While those elections are being fought out, throughout the summer and into the fall, there will also be a good deal of attention of the state’s most contentious congressional races.

District 11
After a caustic primary battle, Rep. Dan Donovan, a former district attorney, emerged victorious over Michael Grimm, who held the seat before Donovan but resigned after pleading guilty on charges of tax fraud. Both candidates tried to ride the coattails of Republican President Donald Trump, tying their records to his own in a district that overwhelmingly voted for him in 2016 -- the district covers all of Staten Island and a small section of southern Brooklyn.

Grimm, despite his felony conviction, had a strong base of support on Staten Island but Trump endorsed Donovan a few weeks before the primary, pushing him far over the top in what became one of the most hard-fought primaries across the state. Donovan claimed victory with 63.9 percent of the vote to Grimm’s 36.1 percent.

On the Democrat side, decorated army veteran Max Rose emerged victorious with a similar vote share, pulling in 64.7 percent to beat five other Democrats for the nomination. Rose ran a well-funded campaign with support from the DCCC, raising a total of $1.6 million through June 6, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Rose was formerly an executive at a nonprofit health care organization and worked as director of public engagement and special assistant under late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. He has received endorsements from several local and state-level elected Democrats as well as prominent national Democrats -- including U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Crowley. He was also backed by the local Brooklyn City Council Member, Justin Brannan. The Working Families Party and the Women’s Equality Party endorsed him, as did several unions and political action groups.   

In a brief phone interview Wednesday, Rose said he will stay the course on his approach to the campaign. “The strategy does not change,” he said of moving on to the general election. Rose said his opponent “will do and say anything” to get reelected, including attempting to rewrite his record as he moves closer to the president. “So we’re gonna win the old-fashioned way. We’re gonna take it day-by-day, door-by-door, and Dan Donovan doesn’t stand a chance,” he said.

Though the district is split between two boroughs, Rose said his pitch wouldn’t be determined by the community where he campaigns, but rather by the bread-and-butter issues that residents care about. “[W]hat matters is what is troubling voters each and every day,” he said, pointing to crumbling infrastructure, interminable commutes, an increasing cost-of-living and the hundreds of opioid overdoses in Staten Island.

“We have got to earn voters’ trust first and then convince them that it does not have to be this way under any circumstances,” he said.

“People are disgusted across the board,” he continued. “We don’t have a South Brooklyn strategy, a Tottenville strategy, a St. George Strategy. That’s what’s wrong with politics, is that politicians try to slice and dice the electorate. They use poll-testing and based off some high-level analytics they say one thing to the community here and…say something in another community.”

For his part, Donovan used part of his victory speech Tuesday night to stress the importance of holding onto the GOP’s lone New York City congressional seat, and he connected the race to the larger battle for the House, warning his supporters that Democrats want to impeach Trump if they win control of the chamber.

District 19
Republican John Faso currently holds the District 19 seat in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills but is widely seen as a vulnerable incumbent in a toss-up seat. A former state Assembly member, Faso won the seat in 2016 after the retirement of Republican Rep. Chris Gibson. Like Donovan, Faso voted against the recent tax cuts passed by Congress and signed by Trump, and has also criticized the president’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated thousands of  migrant children from their parents. He ran unopposed in the primary and FEC filings show he has about $1.1 million in his campaign coffers.

Faso’s Democratic opponent in the general is Harvard Law graduate and Rhodes scholar Antonio Delgado, who won in a crowded primary that saw millions in campaign money coming in for all the candidates. Delgado was endorsed by Citizen Action of New York, a progressive, left-leaning organization that is now one of the few groups at the core of the Working Families Party. Delgado secured about 22 percent of the vote, which was enough to place him first over six other Democrats. He outraised all his primary opponents and has about $759,000 left for the general election.  

District 1
Last night, Perry Gershon, a former businessman who’s framed his race as one against Trump, won the Democratic Party’s nomination to run in this eastern Long Island district. The Cook Political Report rates NY-01 as “Likely Republican,” and it went twice for Barack Obama before supporting Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Gershon will challenge two-term Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin, who won re-election in 2016 by 16 points over his Democratic opponent. As of June 6, Zeldin maintains over a 3-1 fundraising lead over Gershon.

District 2
First-time candidate Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley will challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Peter King, who has been in office since 1992, in this Long Island district that also voted for Trump after supporting Obama twice. King won his most recent re-election with 62.5% of the vote, defeating Democrat DuWayne Gregory, who also lost to Grechen Shirley in Tuesday’s primary election. The day after her primary victory, Grechen Shirley challenged King, who recently said that town halls “diminish democracy,” to a series of five public debates. The incumbent, as of the beginning of the month, has over $3 million on hand, while Grechen Shirley has slightly less than $150,000 left over after her primary campaign.

District 3
Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi won his seat in this district covering Long Island’s North Shore and part of Queens by a six-percent margin in 2016. NY-3 is narrowly Democratic, and it voted for Clinton in 2016 by the same margin as Suozzi. Republican challenger Dan DeBono ran unopposed in the Republican primary but, going into the general election, has less than one-tenth of the cash on hand as the incumbent.  

District 22
First-term Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney narrowly won this large, rural, and majority-white central New York district in 2016. Democratic State Assembly Member Anthony Brindisi, who faced no primary challenger, will challenge Tenney in the general election. Tenney is a hardline conservative endorsed by the Tea Party and the National Rifle Association, and the district went for Donald Trump by 16 percent in 2016.

Brindisi’s fundraising has, at times, outpaced Tenney’s, and, as of June 6, the challenger maintains a $400,000 cash lead over Tenney. An April poll conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported that 50% of voters in the district would favor Brindisi, who has been attempting to appeal to the district’s moderate Republicans, in the general election, compared to 44% supporting Tenney.

District 24
In this central New York district that voted for Trump once and Obama twice, Democratic law professor Dana Balter will face off against incumbent Republican Rep. John Katko. Katko styles himself a moderate Republican, claiming to have written in Nikki Haley’s name for president in 2016, though he has voted in line with the president approximately 90 percent of the time. Running for a third term in the House of Representatives, Katko won both his previous races by margins of about twenty percent. He maintains a 13-1 fundraising lead over Balter, who advocates for Medicare-for-All, a carbon tax, and elimination of cash bail.

by Samar Khurshid and Daniel Yadin

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

New York General Election Congressional Matchups to Watch - End of June Wed, 27 Jun 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results ocasio-cortez campaign buttons

Ocasio-Cortez campaign buttons (image via @Ocasio2018)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old self-identified democratic socialist, unseated 10-term Congressional representative and Queens Democratic Party leader Joe Crowley in a dramatic upset quickly having ripple effects both locally and nationally. And she won handily, by about 4,000 votes and a 57.5 to 42.5 percent margin.

Crowley entered the House in 1999 and maintained a largely center-left voting record; he was seen as a strong contender to become the next Democratic Speaker of the House, after Nancy Pelosi. Crowley is also the chair of the Queens Democratic Party, making him one of the most powerful kingmakers in New York City politics. Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina from the Bronx, ran an aggressive, organized, energetic campaign to Crowley’s left, accusing the incumbent of acquiescing to real estate and financial interests rather than adequately representing constituents of the district. She has professed support for Medicare for All (which Crowley also supported during the campaign), a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free public college, reinstating Glass-Steagall, and abolishing ICE.

She further distinguished herself from Crowley by refusing money from corporate PACs; Crowley, a prolific fundraiser for the party, has raised millions of dollars over the course of his career from corporations. Crowley significantly outraised and outspent Ocasio-Cortez, but she made up for it with a significant social media presence, strong ground game, and glowing profiles in national publications. Crowley raised more eyebrows when he failed to show up for a debate with Ocasio-Cortez, instead sending former City Council Member Annabel Palma in his place, which earned him a rebuke from The New York Times editorial board.

Ocasio-Cortez has said that her campaign is part of a movement, emblematic of a far-left wave that is seeking to take over the Democratic primary in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, and with a chance to flip the House at stake this fall. She is all but certain to win the general election, something Crowley noted in a gracious concession speech wherein he also said he’d be supporting Ocasio-Cortez moving forward.

The challenger’s win appeared to give a shot in the arm to other progressives hoping to unseat incumbent Democrats this year, namely gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had exchanged endorsements with Ocasio-Cortez on Monday and attended what became her victory party Tuesday night. Also apparently boosted by the result are the challengers to the former members of the Independent Democratic Conference of the State Senate. Those primaries will all be held September 13.

Crowley was among a handful of long-time Democratic incumbents facing spirited primary challenges on Tuesday. The others appeared to hang on, with Rep. Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn leading Adem Bunkedekko by a 1,000-vote margin with 99 percent of precincts reporting at about midnight. Bunkedekko had earned the endorsement of the Times editorial board in his insurgent campaign, but it did not appear to do quite enough to get him over the hump against Clarke.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Eliot Engel also fended off primary challengers, by wider margins.

Other than the Ocasio-Cortez victory, the other top storyline of the night was Rep. Dan Donovan fending off a primary challenge from his predecessor, Michael Grimm, that looked to be going Grimm's way before President Donald Trump endorsed Donovan. Donovan wound up winning by more than 20 percentage points, though.

On the Democratic side in New York’s 11th Congressional District, Max Rose won a crowded primary by a wide margin and will take on Donovan in the general election, attempting to swing the lone New York City House seat in GOP hands.

In other notable congressional primary results around the city and state (many incumbents were unchallenged in the primary, some faced only nominal competition):

Perry Gershon won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in Congressional District 1.

Liuba Grechen Shirley won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. Peter King in Congressional District 2.

Antonio Delgado won a crowded Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. John Faso in Congressional District 19.

Tedra Cobb won a crowded Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik in Congressional District 21.

Dana Balter won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. John Katko in Congressional District 24.

Assemblymember Joseph Morelle won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Jim Maxwell in Congressional District 25, a seat vacated when Rep. Louise Slaughter passed away earlier this year.

These results now largely set the stage for the general elections for Congress in New York, with all 27 House seas on the ballot and one U.S. Senate seat -- where Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is facing Republican challenger Chele Farley.

State-level primaries, including for all the seats in the state Legislature and the four state-wide positions of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general will be September 13.

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results Tue, 26 Jun 2018 04:00:00 +0000