No End in Sight

Speakership Saga, More U.S. Aid, Local Elections

U.S. Representatives head home without choosing a Speaker

Good morning from Washington, D.C. where there is still no Speaker of the House. There are 26 days before government funding runs out.

This morning, the House Republicans are no closer to selecting a Speaker than on the day when Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) was removed on October 3rd. The story so far: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was narrowly nominated by the Conference before falling far short of the necessary support to win a full floor vote and dropping out. That left Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) as the last candidate standing and Republicans moved forward with a full floor vote. Jordan had 20 Republicans vote against him, leaving him far short of the 217 needed to become Speaker.

The opposition came from moderate members who cited Jordan’s lack of legislative history, his embrace of 2020 election denialism, and his downplaying of January 6th as disqualifying for someone second in line to the Presidency (and a likely albatross around their necks come Election Day). Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), one of the moderates opposed to Jordan said, "If he's going to lead this conference during the presidential election cycle and particularly a presidential election year with primaries and caucuses around the country, he is going to have to be strong and say, 'Donald Trump didn't win the election and we need to move forward.’”

“If he's going to lead this conference during the presidential election cycle and particularly a presidential election year with primaries and caucuses around the country, he is going to have to be strong and say, ‘Donald Trump didn't win the election and we need to move forward.’”

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO)

Subsequent ballots only got worse for Jordan with the opposition growing to 25 Republicans by the third ballot on Friday. The GOP then embraced the idea of empowering the current Speaker Pro Tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), to at least temporarily end the paralysis in the House, but that idea was quickly scrapped when enough Republicans opposed the plan that it would have required concessions to Democrats to pass.

After Jordan lost on the floor for the THIRD time, Republicans held an internal, secret ballot vote on whether to keep the Ohio Republican as their nominee. Jordan was soundly defeated by a margin of 112-86, once again leaving the GOP without a nominee for Speaker.

At that point, Members were sent home on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend thinking about what they have done.

They have a long list to choose from, with ten members announcing they are running. Those members include House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), House Republican Vice Conference Chair Mike Johnson (R-La.), Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), House Budget Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), House Small Business Chair Roger Williams (R-Texas), Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Dan Meuser (R-Pa.).

Tonight at 6:30 the candidates will present their cases to the Conference with a secret ballot leadership vote scheduled for 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. Timing of the floor vote, which doomed the first two nominees, is uncertain.

The ongoing dysfunction may seem harmless or comical, but it matters. The world is watching the chaos unfolding in the Middle East, Ukraine, and at our Border, while the House of Representatives remains paralyzed. Nonetheless, the Biden Administration submitted a formal request to Congress for a $106 billion emergency funding package that includes support for Israel and Ukraine, border funding, and resources to counter China’s growing influence in the Pacific. Including border funding in the aid package, $14 billion in total, was significant for the Biden Administration and increases the chances that Congressional Republicans will get on board with the measure. If approved, the package would provide $61 billion in military assistance to Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel to replenish missile and air defense systems.

The request follows President Biden’s trip to Israel where he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli first responders, and victims of the terrorist attacks and their families. The President was strong in his support for Israel while also offering a bit of caution saying, “You can’t look at what has happened here... and not scream out for justice, but I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. And while we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.”

“You can’t look at what has happened here... and not scream out for justice, but I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. And while we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.”

President Biden

The urgency and significance of the aid package were underscored by a rare Oval Office address from President Biden, just the second of his Presidency. Biden reiterated his message that the world is at an “inflection point” and made the case for increased American support for democracies around the world, particularly those under threat. The President said, “Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy, completely annihilate it… We can’t let petty partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.”

Many regarded Thursday night’s address as one of Biden’s strongest speeches, including Fox News commentator Brit Hume who said, “I think it may be remembered as one of the best, if not the best speeches of his presidency. He was firm, he was unequivocal, he was strong, as he has been — particularly in recent days before he went to Israel, and while he was over there.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul was also in Israel last week to show support and solidarity for the Jewish people. Hochul met with President Netanyahu, visited with displaced Israelis, and traveled to one of the towns attacked by Hamas terrorists. While in Israel, the Governor learned of the passing of her father, Jack Courtney, at the age of 92. We knew Jack and worked closely with him on Hochul’s campaigns. We offer our deepest respect and condolences to Governor Hochul and her entire family.

Back in New York, Hochul vetoed a bill that would have expedited an offshore wind project off the coast of Long Beach on Long Island. The bill, known as the “Planned Offshore Wind Transmission Act,” would have permitted Equinor, the offshore wind developer, to circumvent local rules and build a transmission line from the wind turbines to the shore, a distance of more than 15 miles. Residents voiced strong concerns over having electromagnetic cables in high-density areas, and Hochul heard their concerns saying, “It is incumbent on Renewable Energy developers to cultivate and maintain strong ties to their host communities.” Renewable energy advocates have said this is yet another blow to decarbonization efforts after the NYS Public Service Commission declined to issue subsidy rate increases to planned renewable energy projects. Any retrenchment in the various offshore wind projects could severely compromise New York’s bold climate goals.

It is also worth noting that there are a slew of municipal elections scheduled for next Tuesday. Political junkies will be closely watching local elections on Long Island as a potential gauge of whether Republican gains there in 2022 were an anomaly, or if Democrats can win back their lost Congressional seats.

In Suffolk County, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, a Republican, and Democratic candidate and former prosecutor Dave Calone are running for the open County Executive seat. The County was favorable for Democrats as recently as 2017, but has given Republicans the majority in the County Legislature and 58% of the County voted for Lee Zeldin in the 2022 gubernatorial contest. In North Hempstead, former supervisor Jon Kaiman is running to unseat incumbent Republican Jennifer DeSena. The town is part of Rep. George Santos’ district and could serve as a bellwether for Democrat’s chances of flipping the seat back to their column in 2024.

Marjorie Velázquez

New York City has elections for City Council where Republicans are hoping to make gains in nontraditional areas, including the southeast Bronx where a Republican has not been elected in over 20 years. Incumbent Democrat Marjorie Velázquez is facing a serious challenge from Republican Kristy Marmorato, an X-Ray Tech with strong ties to the local Bronx GOP.

Democrats maintain a strong enrollment advantage, but the traditional low voter turnout in off-year elections could benefit Marmorato. In perhaps the most competitive race, Democrat and former state senator Tony Avella is running against incumbent Republican Vickie Paladino for a third time in northeast Queens. Paladino has been an outspoken supporter of former President Trump, but her focus on public safety and quality of life has resonated with Queens voters. In southern Brooklyn, redistricting has led to two incumbents running against each other for the 47th district. Council Member Justin Brannan, a Democrat who currently represents the 43rd Council District, is running against fellow incumbent Ari Kagan, who currently represents the 47th District and switched party affiliation from Democrat to Republican to challenge Brannan.

Three major upstate counties, Onondaga, Monroe, and Erie also have elections for County Executive. In Onondaga, Democratic County Legislator Bill Kinne is challenging incumbent County Executive Ryan McMahon, a Republican. If successful, Kinne would be the first Democrat elected as County Executive. Incumbent Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, a Democrat, maintains a steady turnout advantage and fundraising lead over Republican challenger Mark Assini. Bello was first elected in 2019, the first Democrat to be elected County Executive in nearly 30 years in Monroe County. In Erie County, incumbent Democrat Mark Poloncarz is seeking his fourth term as County Executive. Poloncarz and his Republican opponent, Chrissy Casilio, faced off in a debate last week at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Buffalo.

Those who frequent the Capitol complex in Albany will be saddened to learn that the McDonald’s in the Empire State Plaza, a staple since 1997, will be closing at the end of the month. The Office of General Services has said it plans to have a new tenant in the space for the start of the upcoming legislative session in January. Color us concerned.


The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester is looking for your input on which famous toy deserves the last spot in this year’s Hall of Fame class. You can vote here! I voted Transformers.

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New to the NYS Legislature

State Senator Kristin Gonzales won a Democratic primary in 2022 and ran unopposed in November in the newly-drawn 59th District that spans Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.

Senator Gonzalez is the youngest woman ever to be elected to the NYS Senate. She is a Queens native, former tech worker, and community organizer who lives in Long Island City. She was raised in Elmhurst by a single mother from Puerto Rico.

One of her priorities in the Senate is to help the Good Cause Eviction bill become law. This bill would ensure that renters are protected from unfair evictions and help residents stay in their homes.

Before being elected to the NYS Senate, Senator Gonzalez worked in the New York City Council, the Obama White House, and Senator Chuck Schumer’s office.

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