Good Morning from New York,
With only fifteen days until Election Day, polls show former Vice-President Joe Biden holding a lead over incumbent President Donald Trump, but as Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager said this week, we believe the race is “far closer” than the coverage or many experts are predicting and the electorate is more volatile than any time in the last one hundred years. Similarly, control of the United States Senate is very much up for grabs, while Democrats are likely to keep—and even expand—their majority in the House of Representatives, though several key races are worth watching. In New York State, the race for a Democratic supermajority in the state Senate is drawing more interest, including Ron Lauder, the cosmetics heir, who recently put another $2.9 million into the fight. In reality, Democrats are in firm control throughout the state legislature and their ability to override vetoes will not make it any more likely that they will actually try to override any vetoes.
In reality, Election Day began weeks ago with already over 22 million Americans participating in early voting and absentee balloting. November 3rd really represents the end of a six-week sprint during which a record number of Americans cast their ballots in advance.
After a week of unexpectedly civil Supreme Court confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to approve her nomination this Thursday at 1:00 pm. The outcome of the nomination is not in question. Republicans are predicting Barrett will sail through and Democrats know there is nothing they can do to stop it. “We have the votes,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed and her nomination will make history as the closest SCOTUS confirmation to a presidential election.
However, many critics say more could have been done. Abortion rights groups—like NARAL Pro Choice—and other progressives on the Hill are calling for the ouster of Judiciary Ranker California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein after she called the hearings “the best hearings that I’ve participated in” and concluded with a hug for Senate Judiciary Chair Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham—who, in places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, is persona non grata. In many ways, Feinstein’s conclusion of the hearing was a microcosm of the direction of modern politics: although her legacy in California is one of respect, given her lengthy history of public service starting out as Mayor of San Francisco in 1978, her penchant for civility and not rocking the boat feels out of place in today’s politics, her critics say.
Whither stimulus negotiations? After President Trump briefly pulled out of COVID relief negotiations and issued several somewhat confusing calls for standalone bills for an airline bailout and stimulus check—and told Senate Republicans he wanted them to focus on Barrett’s nomination instead—he has reversed course, offering a $1.8 trillion proposal.
The Supreme Court has cleared the Trump Administration to end the 2020 census count early, blocking a lower court order that required the government to continue with the count as originally planned through the end of October. Friday was the last day that responses could be accepted. Advocates who pursued litigation to keep the census going through the end of October said that a shortened timeline would lead to a greater undercount of the population but the Trump Administration claimed an earlier deadline could produce census data for apportionment of congressional districts for the next decade by the end of the year. This could have a dire impact on New York.
Back in New York, we are reminded of some other major consequences of this year’s election season. The Working Families Party is encouraging Democrats to vote for Joe Biden on their line as they seek enough support to stay on the ballot in future contests. The Party has been a force in progressive politics for years and has never been shy about poking the Governor in the eye. New York allows so-called fusion voting, which allows smaller parties to endorse and run a mainline candidate under their name. But after years of battling with the Working Families Party, Governor Cuomo led the push to enact budget language this year requiring political parties receive at least 130,000 votes or 2% of all votes cast, whichever is higher, every two years to maintain a ballot line. The previous threshold was just 50,000 every four years. Here’s my take from the State of Politics blog: “The new, higher standard is a big test for the Working Families Party; especially ironic at a time when the WFP is fielding more candidates, forcing primaries, and winning more races. The Conservative Party has been successful punching above their weight, getting more votes on their ballot line than the number of registered conservative voters. I suspect, those donors, and believers, with assists from Sen. Schumer, Cong. Ocasio-Cortez, and a legion of supporters in the Assembly and Senate, that the WFP will meet the threshold. That said, it may be tough to sustain every two years.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo is now threatening to withhold state money—“impound all funds”—from New York City (and other municipalities) if shutdown regulations are not enforced in new coronavirus hotspots. Officials in New York City, Rockland and Orange counties, the town of Ramapo, and the village of Spring Valley were all sent warnings that the state could take their funds. “Hopefully that will motivate them,” Cuomo said. Yet another battle in the Cuomo-de Blasio saga, and de Blasio’s press secretary, Bill Neidhardt, did not miss a beat in comparing the Governor’s response to that of President Trump, whom Cuomo has called a “bully” and a would-be “king” for attempting to block money for the “anarchist jurisdiction” of New York City. Neidhart responded: “What drives NYC’s COVID response and enforcement is the threat of a second wave, not threats of federal or state funding cuts.”
Governor Cuomo also announced yesterday that the State has sent a draft mass vaccine distribution plan to the federal government, saying he thinks a vaccine could come as early as December. Cuomo predicted the state will need 40 million doses as part of its “Vaccine Administration Program,” noting 20 million New Yorkers would require two doses each over the course of three to four weeks. While announcing the plan, he also submitted a letter, along with the National Association of Governors, asking detailed questions of the federal government on everything from funding to potential supply chain issues.
State Legislature Candidates Spending Sooner Than Usual With More People Voting Early
UB-Community Partnership Reducing Covid-19 Deaths Among African Americans
The Working Families Party’s Fuzzy Future
Bridge Upgrade to Boost Border Travel in Lewiston