On the Upswing

Race for President, Map Redo, NYS Bills Pending

Good morning from Washington, D.C. where we are under one month away from the Iowa Caucus, the first stop on the Republican presidential primary trail. Former United Nations Ambassador and Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley has gained the most ground, moving into second place in a number of national polls. The Haley campaign is hoping a win or close second-place finish in Iowa will lead to a swell of momentum in New Hampshire, the next stop on the campaign trail.

That plan received a boost last week with New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu formally endorsing Haley saying, “Nikki’s spent the time on the ground here, she’s earned people’s trust, and that’s going to be the real decider.” Governor Sununu, an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump, enjoys outsized support among New Hampshire Republicans.

Back in Iowa, a new poll from the Des Moines Register found Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has moved into solo second place, increasing his support from 13% to 16%, and also secured the endorsement of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

That is where the good news ends for the DeSantis campaign. The same poll found Former President Donald Trump has 51% support in Iowa compared to DeSantis’ 16%, and leads the Florida Governor with men and women, and among all age groups, education levels, and income brackets. Trump scores the lowest with independents, but still leads both DeSantis and Haley by double digits among that group. 

For all the media attention and debates and endorsements, Haley and DeSantis barely break double digits compared to Trump who appears to be consolidating support as other candidates drop out and all of this adds up to a heated battle to lose the Republican nomination to Trump who could, realistically, have the GOP nomination almost wrapped up by Spring.

Speaking of Trump, he continues to lead President Joe Biden in most national general election polls as well as individual swing state polling. A new poll from the Wall Street Journal found Trump is leading Biden 47% to 43% in a hypothetical rematch, with Biden continuing to be hampered by a low approval rating. Much of the dissatisfaction aimed at Biden is a result of public perception of the economy, despite promising economic forecasts.  The Dow Jones hit a record high last week, unemployment dropped to 3.7%, and inflation is at its lowest point in over two years yet the majority of voters still hold a negative view about the direction of the economy. Whether the Biden campaign can reverse that trend remains to be seen.  They are also reckoning with a startling divide among Democratic voters over Biden’s support for Israel with many younger, more progressive Democrats unhappy with that support.  

Of course, what happens now in Washington may very well affect who voters trust with the levers of power in Washington in 2024. And what is happening now? Nothing. 

Congress is barreling towards the first of two government shutdown deadlines on January 19th, and most lawmakers left for winter recess last week without an agreement on a topline spending number (Senate Democrats are coming back next week to work on border issues, but without any partners, they will not get far). Without an agreement on an overall total number for defense and non-defense spending, lawmakers cannot begin debating the actual contents of a spending package. Democrats contend that there is nothing left to negotiate and that Congress should move forward with the spending totals agreed to in the summer debt limit deal. Republicans, under pressure from their right flank, are pushing for deeper spending cuts. Whether Speaker Johnson is able to unite his fractious conference or decides to negotiate with Democrats to advance a spending package, he needs to do it fast.  Once lawmakers come to a framework agreement, it can take weeks to negotiate the bill text, whip enough support, and bring the bill to the Floor for a vote. Speaking on the time crunch, Senate Appropriations Vice Chair Susan Collins said, “I’m getting very concerned about the absence of the topline agreement” before adding that a framework deal generally needs to be struck at least a month before funding is set to expire. 

Despite the threat of a shutdown, House Republicans used their last week in Washington to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden. The vote was along party lines, 221-212, with every Republican voting in favor. Rep. Jim Jordan, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee said, “This is an important step. The impeachment power resides solely with the House of Representatives. If a majority of the House now says we’re in an official impeachment inquiry … that carries weight. That’s going to help us get these witnesses in.” Jordan and his Republican colleagues have been alleging for months that President Biden was involved in a corrupt scheme to use his office to enrich his family, but even Republican Senators have said they have not seen any evidence. In response to the vote, President Biden released a statement that said, “Instead of doing anything to help make Americans’ lives better, they are focused on attacking me with lies. Instead of doing their job on the urgent work that needs to be done, they are choosing to waste time on this baseless political stunt that even Republicans in Congress admit is not supported by facts.” Republican Rep. Troy Nehls said the quiet part out loud when asked what he hopes to gain from the impeachment inquiry. Nehls responded “Donald J. Trump 2024 baby.” 

“Instead of doing anything to help make Americans’ lives better, they are focused on attacking me with lies. Instead of doing their job on the urgent work that needs to be done, they are choosing to waste time on this baseless political stunt that even Republicans in Congress admit is not supported by facts.”

President Biden

Congress was able to cross one thing off their to-do list before the holidays with the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense bill that sets policy and funding levels for the Department of Defense. The $886 billion package is a $28 billion increase from the previous fiscal year and authorizes a 5.2% pay raise for military members.

The bill passed both chambers overwhelmingly, with margins of 87 to 13 in the Senate and 310 to 118 in the House. Most Republican opposition stemmed from the provision that renewed Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a War on Terror era policy that allows the U.S. government to collect intelligence on foreign individuals using U.S.-based communication services. The House Freedom Caucus, the right-wing group that moved to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, called the NDAA “an utter disaster for House Republicans and a massive unforced error from leadership.” 

In New York, the Court of Appeals ruled that the State must redraw its congressional map, delivering a big win for national Democrats who see New York as a key battleground for retaking control of the House in 2024. After the Court of Appeals ruled the original maps drawn by the State’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) in 2022 were unconstitutional, a court-appointed special master developed a map that was much more competitive for Republicans, helping them to flip five Democratic seats. The process will now be kicked back to the IRC to come up with a new map that will need to be confirmed by—or replaced—the Legislature. While partisan gerrymandering is outlawed in the State Constitution, even marginal changes to a handful of districts, namely on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, could make a big difference in 2024.

In a joint statement, Governor Kathy Hochul and New York State Attorney General Letitia James said, “Today's redistricting decision will ensure all New Yorkers are fairly and equitably represented by elected officials. As the Court of Appeals reaffirmed today, district lines should be drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission. We will continue our efforts to protect voting rights for all New Yorkers.” The IRC has until February 28th to submit a new proposal with additional lawsuits surely to follow. Here is the latest timeline— The Commission is expected to meet in late December or early January to establish a framework for moving forward. The 10-member panel (5 Democrats and 5 Republicans) will then either come to a consensus on a map or submit two separate,  partisan redistricting plans for the Legislature to vote on. Both of those maps would almost certainly be voted down, empowering the Legislature to come up with a map of their own.  

The IRC has until February 28th to submit a new proposal with additional lawsuits surely to follow. 

There will be much more to come on this story as well as a Spring full of new redistricting lawsuits.  Remember that Congressional primaries are currently scheduled for June 25th and petitioning for that should begin in February!

The Chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission, Ken Jenkins, is facing calls from the Working Families Party (WFP) to recuse himself from the process over his connections to Westchester County Executive George Latimer. Jenkins serves as Deputy County Executive for Latimer who recently announced a primary challenge in the 16th Congressional District against WFP-endorsed candidate Rep. Jamaal Bowman. Another progressive group aligned with Bowman, Justice Democrats, wrote on Twitter “There can be no fair maps for #NY16 until Jenkins steps down.” Latimer has stated that Jenkins does not report to him on redistricting matters and Jenkins has highlighted that there are 9 other people on the Commission and that the Legislature has the final say. 

Jack reacts to NYS bills pending and the political quake caused by the Court of Appeals decision calling for a redraw of NY’s Congressional lines.

With only two weeks left in the year, Governor Hochul will need to make a decision on over 100 bills still awaiting her signature or veto. Once a bill is sent to the Governor from the Legislature, she has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to issue a decision. Here are some of the high-profile bills that are awaiting a signature or veto: 

A1278-B/S3100A- Ban on Noncompete Agreements

The bill would ban employers from imposing noncompete agreements and other restrictive employment covenants. The measure has faced opposition from large, corporate employers who argue noncompete agreements are necessary to retain high-earning individuals. 

A3484A/S0995B- LLC Transparency

The bill would require LLCs to disclose the identities of their beneficial owners. The legislation is in response to concerns regarding illegal activities, such as money laundering and real estate fraud, by anonymous entities.

A4282B/S3505B- Even Year Elections

The bill would bring local elections in line with the Presidential Election cycle, which proponents argue will increase turnout and be more cost-effective for the State. Opponents of the bill contend that the change will result in local candidates being overshadowed by the national candidates. 

A7760/S7564- Public Campaign Financing 

The bill makes subtle, but material changes to the State’s public campaign financing initiative, making the first $250 of any contribution eligible for matching public funds. Under current law, any donation over $250 is ineligible for a public match. 


Those of you playing Whamageddon will appreciate this story.

The unofficial record occurred on Lake Erie in July 2003 during the North American Lightning Lake Erie District races in Pt. Abino, as I was talking to NYS Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

There will be no Monday Morning Memo next week, but we will be back on January 1st with a preview of the upcoming Legislative Session in New York

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Congrats Kara!

Each year City & State NY identifies 100 leaders whose efforts exemplify what it means to be socially responsible. We’re thrilled to announce that our Kara Hughes, Senior Adviser and Head of NYC Practice at OD&A, was selected for her hard work creating meaningful partnerships between government and the private sector to make life better for all New Yorkers! Read her submission below:

Job description

I love working in the space between government and the private sector to create bespoke solutions to the challenges New Yorkers face every day.

Defining social responsibility

Ensuring that the work we do to create partnerships between government and the private sector benefits New Yorkers – especially the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

Best advice

The only way through is through. To me this means you must face things and walk through them in order to achieve your goals and get to the other side.

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