Although much of the attention has been focused on New York City, millions of Long Islanders were also caught in Hurricane Sandy’s path, with tens of thousands of them still without electricity or a regular supply of gasoline. In a statement sent out this afternoon by Nassau and Suffolk counties’ entire delegation in the State Senate, the local officials cried out for additional federal assistance. In doing so, they repeatedly raised the specter of Hurricane Katrina, the disaster that infamously marred former President George W. Bush’s administration.
“We are facing a massive, Katrina-style disaster here on Long Island that will only get worse unless all of the resources of the federal government are at our disposal. Incredibly, that hasn’t happened yet,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos declared in the release, the title of which warned of “More Death and Destruction.”
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.
Pat Maher, a former Democratic Congressional candidate whose 2010 biography described her as “the Director of Development and Community Relations for a not-for-profit health care foundation covering Long Island,” told The Politicker this afternoon she intends to run against one of two Republican State Senators, Kemp Hannon or Jack Martins, this year. This could set up a competitive Democratic primary as there is already a Democratic candidate, Ryan Cronin, running against Mr. Hannon.
“I’m committed, but I’m not committed as to which race,” Mr. Maher said, indicating her decision will be made based on how New York’s chaotic redistricting process works itself out.
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).
Kathleen Rice, the Nassau County District Attorney who ran as a tough, law-and-order attorney general candidate last year, is warning clerks they could face “criminal prosecution” if they refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples after July 24.
In a letter to clerks today, Rice said the religious protections within the same-sex marriage legislation are “inapplicable to town and city clerks” and refusal to serve gay couples “may constitute Official Misconduct.”