Long Island Rumble
Exit This Way
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice today netted the first major union endorsement in the race for retiring Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy’s seat.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is backing Ms. Rice, a Democrat, for the seat Ms. McCarthy is vacating at the end of the year, Politicker has learned. Ms. McCarthy is retiring after revealing that she is battling lung cancer.
Amid all of the high-profile political drama taking place in New York today–notably the City Council speaker’s race vote and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s major State of the State address in Albany–there’s significant news happening in Long Island as well.
Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy announced today that she will not seek re-election this year.
Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy was diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer, she announced in a statement this evening.
“My doctor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where I’ll receive my treatment, has told me that I begin my treatment in good physical health and that he looks forward to my return to work after I recover,” she said. “My family and I will appreciate privacy while I undergo my treatment.”
Earlier this morning, Democratic lawmakers gathered in Washington D.C. to unveil the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, which is legislation that would ban “military-style” assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. The press conference announcing the bill featured New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, the legislation’s House sponsor, as its first speaker. Needless to say, Ms. McCarthy–whose husband was killed in a 1993 shooting spree on the Long Island Rail Road–made it clear it wasn’t going to be a speech that stuck to the script.
“This battle has been a very lonely battle for many, many years,” Ms. McCarthy began. “You know, a lot of words can be said. I’ve got a great speech here and my staff worked on it a long time and I’m probably going to do what they always tell me not to do. That means just talk from my heart.”
Ms. McCarthy expressed particular frustration that gun control legislation has stalled in Congress but argued that the recent massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school would be the catalyst for change.
Two Long Island congressional finance reports just popped up on the Federal Elections Commission’s website: Democrats Steve Israel and Carolyn McCarthy.
Mr. Israel, who netted north of $400,000, is less notable, however, as he is a more entrenched incumbent. Ms. McCarthy, on the other hand, won reelection with about 54% in 2010 and could see a potentially competitive election against same opponent as last time, GOP Nassau County Legislator Fran Becker. She raised just over $274,000 in the last three months.
Last month, it was reported the Congressional districts of Gary Ackerman and Carolyn McCarthy were going to be joined during the redistricting process and Ms. McCarthy could get the short end of the stick, running in a district that was much closer to Mr. Ackerman’s base than hers.
Now that both the Assembly and the Senate district maps have come out (not that these maps mean very much of course) we can see that, in fact, the reverse was true: The Senate’s version sends Mr. Ackerman mostly into Ms. McCarthy’s district, while the Assembly map divides his district four ways and effectively puts Mr. Ackerman in a majority-minority district.
So what happened?
Over the weekend rumors emerged that Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman would not seek reelection in 2012. In response to these rumors, Mr. Ackerman tweeted, “Republican rumor mill is 100%, Absolutely Wrong. I’m running.” In an interview with Capital New York, he emphatically and repeatedly rejected this speculation as well.
But that’s not enough to convince the National Republican Congressional Committee. The organization sent out a statement this afternoon directly stating Mr. Ackerman will end up retiring.
“The question is not if but when Gary Ackerman is going to retire,” Nathaniel Sillin, the group’s regional press secretary, wrote.
Earlier this morning, Ken Lovett reported one of the two Congressional districts New York State is destined to lose looks likely to be Nassau County Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, resulting in electoral implications across New York State.
Notably, because the seats are eliminated based on relative population loss, this would likely mean Congressman Bob Turner’s nearby Queens-based district is safe. Mr. Turner’s district had long been assumed to be on the chopping block, and Mr. Lovett’s report certainly makes Assemblyman Rory Lancman’s recently announced campaign efforts against Mr. Turner look far less foolhardy.
As The Politicker reported earlier this week, combining Ms. McCarthy’s district with neighboring Congressman Gary Ackerman’s seat makes a certain amount of mathematical sense, as Long Island can only support exactly four Congressional districts while five Representatives currently call the area home.
New York may be losing two Congressional districts this year, but Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who announced his intentions to run for recently-elected Congressman Bob Turner’s district today, told The Politicker he’s confident Mr. Turner’s seat won’t be among them. His sentiments are echoed by Shelly Silver, who said he’d like the district to be kept around, and who, as Assembly Speaker, has as much say on what the final map will look like as anyone.
The conventional wisdom has long been that Mr. Turner’s Queens-based district would be chopped up and handed to the surrounding Representatives. However, if the district is kept largely intact, some of those surrounding seats could easily be significantly impacted.
With relatively anemic growth in Queens and Nassau counties compared to the rest of the state, it could be very difficult to avoid eliminating at least one district in the region. Although there are nine Congressional districts touching either of those two counties, some of them are particularly challenging or impossible to erase.
The two minority-majority districts, belonging to Representatives Nydia Velázquez and Gregory Meeks, are likely protected by federal law (and wouldn’t really be possible to eliminate anyway).
Nassau County Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy showed she wasn’t going to take her reelection efforts for granted by raising $211,000 this cycle, Politicker has learned. This puts her total amount of money in the bank at $636,000.
As mentioned when Politicker reported neighboring Congressman Gary Ackerman’s fundraising totals this afternoon, Ms. McCarthy represents a district that could theoretically be vulnerable in the redistricting process.