JIM TELLS POLITICO: “I’M A POLITICAL OUTSIDER WITH DC EXPERIENCE”

February 28, 2024
JIM TELLS POLITICO: “I’M A POLITICAL OUTSIDER WITH DC EXPERIENCE”

FOR SUOZZI, A SWEARING-IN AND THEN ANOTHER RACE

NEW YORK MINUTE: The redistricting drama could be all over in a few hours.

The Democratic-led state Legislature is expected to vote on the revised House map pending a message of necessity from Gov. Kathy Hochul to waive the three-day waiting period for bills.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters late Tuesday afternoon the process will be wrapped up soon. The vote comes as campaigns began to gather petition signatures Tuesday for ballot access.

“We’re just trying to expedite that process,” he said.

As for Republicans, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay indicated GOP legislators will not push back strongly. He also did not rule out some votes in favor of the map from his side of the aisle.

“It’s our Republican congressional delegation that’s generally happy with this, so I think there will be some yes votes,” Barclay said. — Nick Reisman

SUOZ TAKES SEAT: Rep. Tom Suozzi will be sworn in this evening at the U.S. Capitol, with his return to Congress giving Democrats a crucial vote in a narrowly divided chamber and his special election victory two weeks ago buoying fellow centrists.

“The Suoz is back!” Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat and co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, cheered in an interview with Playbook. “I just generally believe that people want us to get things done and that common sense prevails.”

That very outlook helped Suozzi stem the red tide that had swept Long Island in recent years.

But he’ll have to begin defending his seat almost as soon as he takes it.

Nassau County Republican leaders in recent days have been meeting with prospective candidates to challenge Suozzi in November as they wait for the redistricting dust to settle.

They find themselves at many disadvantages, several party members groused to Playbook:

* Two of the better-known names floated as contenders are out. Retired NYPD detective Mike Sapraicone is making a long-shot bid against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. State Sen. Jack Martins is running for reelection.

* Vulnerable Rep. Anthony D’Esposito will require ample party support as he faces Democrat Laura Gillen in a neighboring district, diverting some resources.

* Local donors are tapped out after the very competitive, very expensive special election.

* And the Nassau GOP must save face after running Mazi Pilip, who lost to Suozzi by eight points despite the party’s vaunted ground game, and after nominating George Santos — now indicted and expelled — in 2022 and 2020.

A spokesperson for Nassau Republican chair Joe Cairo didn’t respond to requests for comment, and Cairo rushed away from a POLITICO reporter at last week’s state GOP convention in Binghamton.

The GOP’s best chance at going up against Suozzi is a candidate who, like him, can appeal across the aisle, Kellen Curry, an Afghan war veteran who formerly ran in the district, told Playbook.

“You’ve got to use the same playbook,” said Curry, who hasn’t decided if he’ll throw his hat in the ring again. “You’ve got to be willing to go to Democratic parts of the district, and show up and have a good message.”

Greg Hach, also a U.S. Air Force veteran, declared this week that he’ll run again and told Playbook he’s putting $1 million of his own cash toward his bid. “I’ve never been more concerned in my entire life about our way of life continuing,” he said.

Jim Toes, president of the Security Traders Association, also said he’ll compete. He wants a competitive GOP primary. “I’m a political outsider, but I do have hands-on experience,” he told Playbook.

Suozzi has declined to grant interviews until after his swearing-in ceremony. A person close to his campaign told Playbook that his strategy in seeking a full term is the same solutions-oriented one he deployed during the special election.

One of the Democrat’s first stops after he takes his place in Congress is a Thursday breakfast hosted by Third Way, the center-left think tank.

“It’s one more vote for civility in the House, to be frank,” Third Way’s Kate deGruyter told Playbook. “Having another vote for common sense governance at this moment where we’ve got to keep the government open and functioning and doing the work for the American people is really important.” — Emily Ngo

HAPPY WEDNESDAY: Got news? Send it our way: Jeff ColtinEmily Ngo and Nick Reisman.

WHERE’S KATHY? In New York City making a cannabis enforcement announcement.

WHERE’S ERIC? Making an economic development- and green economy-related announcement, hosting a roundtable discussion with Manhattan Jewish community leaders and appearing live on “CBS 2 News.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I don’t care if you’re the black cat, or the white cat, you’ve still got to catch the mouse.” — Mayor Eric Adams, asked if the city would renovate the home field of the city champion Cardinal Hayes football team, via Katie Honan on X.

ABOVE THE FOLD

GOOD CAUSE CAMPAIGN: The fight over the “Good Cause Eviction” measure is hitting a mailbox near you.

The advocacy group Housing Justice for All today will launch a paid $60,000 mail and canvassing campaign to press state lawmakers to pass the measure, which is meant to prevent evictions and steep increases in rents.

Advocates plan to send mailers or reach out to voters in the districts of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris.

The campaign will also target the districts of state Sens. Kevin Parker, Iwen Chu, Nathalia Fernandez, Roxanne Persaud, Jeremy Cooney and Assemblymember Pat Fahy, all Democrats.

“Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are struggling to keep a roof over their head as a result,” Cea Weaver, the group’s campaign coordinator, said. “Good cause is common sense, necessary, and most overall overwhelmingly popular with voters.”

Landlords and their allies have blasted the proposal, however, arguing its provisions are far too onerous, especially for small property owners.

“It’s concerning that they feel like they can just put out mailers and lawmakers will believe the lie,” Jay Martin, the Community Housing Improvement Program executive director, said in response.

A push for the bill comes as the budget negotiations in Albany will be heating up over the next month.

Hochul wants the Democratic-led Legislature to approve a revised housing package that would create an incentive plan for communities in the state to build more housing units — a push that comes as New York City grapples with a historically tight housing market.

But advocates, including some left-leaning Democrats, have called for stronger tenant protections to come alongside any statewide housing agreement.

A deal on a housing package fell apart last spring when lawmakers and Hochul could not agree on the terms. At the time, Hochul’s office questioned whether Democrats in the Senate and Assembly had the votes to pass the Good Cause bill as written.

Top Democrats in the Senate have said their conference could support a measure that includes key Good Cause provisions. — Nick Reisman

CITY HALL: THE LATEST

GIVE HIM THE LIGHT: Adams will make his first visit to a legal cannabis dispensary on Thursday, reupping his appeal to Albany for the power to inspect and shut down illegal smoke shops while celebrating the opening of the first Black, woman-owned site, Playbook has learned.

Adams is due at Matawana Dispensary in Brooklyn. Owner Leanne Mata and her family were impacted by cannabis criminalization but now are central to the legal economy.

Asked if he’ll purchase anything, a person close to the mayor said only, “TBD.”

The proliferation of illegal storefronts around the city has undermined licensed businesses as well as legalization’s goal of righting the wrongs of drug-related incarceration rates that disproportionately hurt Black and Latino Americans.

The mayor has been lobbying state lawmakers for local municipalities to have explicit control over cannabis enforcement, the power to inspect and shutter bad actors.

“It’s not enough to support the opening of new legal cannabis shops — we must also close down the illegal operators that threaten the success of legal shops and put the safety of our communities at risk,” Adams will say in a statement announcing his visit.

Hochul, separately, is scheduled to make her own cannabis enforcement announcement today in Manhattan. — Emily Ngo

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse will introduce a resolution today calling on Hochul and the state Legislature to pass a measure that would raise Medicaid reimbursement rates to equal the cost of providing care at public and private hospitals across New York by fiscal 2028.

Doing so will help “achieve health care justice for all by reducing health care disparities and improving health outcomes for low-income, predominantly Black and Brown communities,” the resolution says. Similar resolutions have been passed in Utica and Auburn.  Irie Sentner

More from the city:

— Adams wants migrants “suspected” of major crimes turned over to federal immigration officials — a proposal that would curtail sanctuary city policies. (POLITICO)

— A clause in the city’s building emissions law gives too much leeway to landlords who don’t comply, lawyers say. (City Limits)

— ‘We had to do something’ — an interview with the Senegalese immigrant who housed 70 migrants in his Richmond Hill furniture store. (The City)

NEW FROM PLANET ALBANY

SUPER TROUPER: Peter Abbate may be 74 years old, but he wants his Assembly seat back after losing to Republican Lester Chang in 2022.

The Democrat is running again for the southern Brooklyn district he repped for 36 years before a red wave washed him ashore.

Why not back a younger ally? Abbate said he’s supporting former congressional candidate Jimmy Li for district leader, and hopes to “give him the training so he can become a successful Assemblymember in the future.”

But Abbate has a political foe in neighboring Democratic Assemblymember Bill Colton and said he couldn’t be sure Colton wouldn’t run a challenger against him. “He’s very sneaky … He’ll look out for himself first and try and plot what’s best for him,” Abbate said, adding that Colton “doesn’t have much influence in Albany. (Twenty-seven) years and no committee chair.”

Colton didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Abbate said Chang has “no influence or input into any laws or legislation coming about,” being in the minority. “My thing was to make sure that southern Brooklyn got its fair share.”

Chang is the first Asian American to represent the majority Asian district, adviser Dmitriy Kugel told Playbook, and Abbate winning “would be a bad situation where it would take away (Chang’s) right to represent his people.” — Jeff Coltin

TAX FIGHT: A bill that would lower the gate tax on mixed martial arts events in New York is picking up momentum.

Lawmakers in the state Senate on Tuesday advanced a bill that would lower the tax on MMA events from 8.5 percent to 3 percent. The move is meant to align the tax on MMA bouts with boxing events.

The measure, spearheaded by Sen. Kevin Parker and Assemblymember Ken Zebrowski, is now in the chamber’s Finance Committee. It has the backing of the UFC, the most prominent MMA promoter in the country. — Nick Reisman

AYE, LASHER: Rep. Adriano Espaillat may have tried hard to unseat state Sen. Robert Jackson two years ago, but this year they can agree on something: endorsing Micah Lasher for Assembly.

Hochul’s former policy director shared their endorsements, plus support from City Council member Gale Brewer, first in Playbook. Lasher is an early favorite for outgoing Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell’s Upper West Side seat after also getting endorsed by Rep. Jerry Nadler among other Manhattan pols.  Jeff Coltin

More from Albany:

— Some people have paid for the bus and still gotten a fare evasion ticket since inspectors aren’t using the technology properly (Hell Gate)

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

— New Paltz is remembering the 20 years since the first same-sex marriages were officiated. (WAMC)

 New York paid $50 million in excess Medicaid drug claims because of “poor oversight” by the state’s Department of Health, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office found in a new audit. (Times Union)

 Most New Yorkers can’t afford childcare, and young families are leaving the city because of it, a new report found. (Gothamist)

SOCIAL DATA

Edited by Daniel Lippman

MAKING MOVES: Former SKDK Senior Vice President Jack Sterne has joined JP Morgan Chase as executive director for New York communications. … Josh Cook is now president of the progressive influencer network atAdvocacy. He most recently headed up the digital and marketing verticals at BerlinRosen.

MEDIAWATCH — Zainab Khan is joining POLITICO as managing editor of global audience. She previously was VP of strategy and growth at Luminary and is an NYT and AJ+ alum.

IN MEMORIAM – Paul Gioia, the former chairman of the New York State Public Service Commission who was later involved in the creation of the New York Independent System Operator, died earlier this month at 81.

WEDDING — Katherine Bernard, a writer and Vogue alum, recently married Lily Olsen, a model and sculptor. The couple met on queer app Lex and got married at a friend’s parents’ house in Greenwich, Conn. Pics via Vogue

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: NYT’s Paul Krugman, Lisa Lerer and Meredith Kopit Levien … WaPo’s Sarah Ellison … Jessie Singleton Lazarus, who leads commercial strategy at the MTA … Manhattan Institute’s Kelsey Bloom … Pete Williams … Brendan Kelly … (WAS TUESDAY): Michael Gervis … Bruce Kovner

YOUR NEW YORK NUMBER OF THE DAY