Out of Line?
Redistricting feedback, Trump trial, Speaker scramble
Good morning from London where after productive meetings and tours, this commentator will be returning to the United States. Congratulations to our new friends at Ireland Rugby for winning their group and advancing in the Rugby World Cup!
Back in New York, we are just over one month away from oral arguments in a case that could decide the balance of power in Washington, D.C. in 2024. The New York State Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments on November 15th in a redistricting case seeking to throw out the Congressional map imposed by the Courts in 2022. Those district lines, as well as a number of other factors, resulted in sweeping Republican gains. Democrats are arguing that the maps, which were created by a court-appointed Special Master, should be redrawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC), as called for in the State Constitution. The State Supreme Court agreed in July. However, an appeal by Republicans has kicked the question up to the Court of Appeals.
Should the Court uphold the decision and order the maps to be redrawn by the IRC, it would almost certainly result in boundaries more favorable to Democrats. Republicans flipped five Congressional seats in 2022, mainly in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island, enough to give the GOP a majority in the House of Representatives. Democrats have recruited a strong slate of candidates to contest those seats, but where the candidates end up running may be just as important or even more so than the candidates themselves. In the meantime, the IRC has begun asking for public input on the new, hypothetical Congressional boundaries.
The intrigue within the New York County—i.e. Manhattan—Democratic Committee continues. Just last week, County Leader Keith Wright took heat for a recent appearance on former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s podcast. Last year, the party battled over Wright’s role as a lobbyist and County Chair Nico Minerva’s efforts to overturn a judicial screening panel’s decision. Last week, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein challenged Minerva, but was narrowly defeated by a margin of 377-359. Many of the insurgents are aligned with United States House Rep. Adriano Espaillat who defeated Wright in a congressional primary in 2016.
On the ground meeting with leaders and locals in Ecuador to discuss solutions to the migrant crisis.
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor)
Oct 6, 2023
In a sign of the times, New York City Mayor Eric Adams traveled to the Southern border last week as part of a four-day trip to Central and South America. Adams made stops in Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia and his office has said the trip is intended to build relationships with local leaders and to get a first-hand account of the path migrants take to make it to the United States. Adams offered, “They are going to attempt to get me on as many stations, newspapers, radios, TVs in these areas to give people the honest truth.” The honest truth, according to Adams and his administration, is that New York City is full. The Mayor said, “Coming to New York doesn't mean you're going to stay in a five-star hotel. It doesn't mean that the mere fact you come here you're automatically going to be allowed to work. We're going to tell them what the real conditions are, the large number, thousands of people, are living in congregant settings.” Some immigration advocates, including Murad Awawdeh, the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, reject that Adam’s visit will have any deterrent effect on migrants crossing the border and think his time would be better spent addressing issues in New York City, beginning with permanent housing solutions for migrants.
“Coming to New York doesn't mean you're going to stay in a five-star hotel. It doesn't mean that the mere fact you come here you're automatically going to be allowed to work. We're going to tell them what the real conditions are, the large number, thousands of people, are living in congregant settings.”
Mayor Adams also was in the news for his recently announced press policy, limiting reporter's questions to whatever topic he is in public for that day and limiting “off-topic” questions to one press conference per week. Adams contends the change is in order to avoid “mixing the messages” but reporters and City Hall veterans see the new policy as still another example of Adam’s lack of transparency. Bill Neidhardt, press secretary for then Mayor Bill de Blasio offered, “When I was press sec, we held 4 pressers a week (M-Th). No on/off-topic rules. It wasn't perfect (could've done more in person) but it was a ton of access & the admin was better off for it. Being this closed-off to press is bad strategy.” It is not just the questions, either. Mayor Adams has refused to regularly release detailed public schedules disclosing his meetings, a practice that had become commonplace among New York City Mayors.
“When I was press sec, we held 4 pressers a week (M-Th). No on/off-topic rules. It wasn't perfect (could've done more in person) but it was a ton of access & the admin was better off for it. Being this closed-off to press is bad strategy.”
Former President Donald Trump was in New York City this past week attending the first few days of the civil trial brought by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Trump claims, without merit, that the case is “made up” and has repeatedly attacked the presiding judge, Arthur Engoron; Attorney General James; and even Judge Engoron’s law clerk. The result is a gag order on the former President. Trump has also insisted the case against him is “rigged” because it will be decided by Judge Engoron via a bench trial rather than a jury. In reality, Trump’s legal team filed paperwork that explicitly requested a bench trial!
I will not be bullied.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG)
Oct 4, 2023
AG James defended the integrity of the prosecutors in her office: “This case was brought simply because it was a case where individuals have engaged in a pattern and practice of fraud, and I will not sit idly by and allow anyone to subvert the law…..This was nothing more than a political stunt.”
In Washington, D.C., this week there was only chaos. Part of that mayhem was caused by New York’s own Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon Office Building in the midst of the vote on the Continuing Resolution that kept the government funded. Bowman insisted that it was a mistake and that he was confused by the signage on an emergency exit as he tried to make his way to the floor to vote. Republicans, however, have branded the move as a criminal attempt to delay the vote, with Rep. Nicole Malliotakis drafting a resolution to expel him from Congress.
Of course, the real madness was Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) being removed as Speaker of the House. It was set in motion by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.), a long-time antagonist of McCarthy and the “Establishment” wing of the GOP, who officially filed a Motion to Vacate, forcing a vote on removing McCarthy as Speaker. Gaetz laid out a litany of grievances against McCarthy, but the final straw, according to Gaetz, was McCarthy using Democratic votes to pass the Continuing Resolution last week that kept government funded.
Make no mistake, this was a direct result of the Faustian bargain McCarthy cut with Gaetz and his merry band through fifteen tough and indecisive ballots in January. One of the rule changes McCarthy agreed to was allowing any single member to bring a motion to vacate the chair. Previous rules required a majority of either party to agree to a motion to vacate.
Perhaps the GOP’s small margin precluded any other choices, but since then McCarthy continued to pander to the Freedom Caucus. Recent tough talk after passing the CR about “being the adult in the room” carried little weight after ten months of trying to get the “cool kids” in the Freedom Caucus to like him.
In the end, McCarthy could afford to lose four Republican votes or cut a deal with Democrats for a lifeline. However, the number of GOP defectors grew to eight while Democrats refused to have anything to do with McCarthy and the Motion to Vacate passed the House by a vote of 216-210. Speaking at a news conference after the vote, a sullen McCarthy indicated he would not run again for Speaker and offered, "I may have lost this vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber I feel fortunate to have served. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
"I may have lost this vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber I feel fortunate to have served. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
I will not seek to run again for Speaker of the House. I may have lost a vote today, but I fought for what I believe in—and I believe in America. It has been an honor to serve.
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy)
Oct 3, 2023
McCarthy concluded by quoting Lou Gehrig. Lou Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games, won a Triple Crown, two American League MVP awards, and six World Series wins. McCarthy served as Speaker for 269 days.
The new question is, who can get the 218 votes needed to become the next Speaker of the House? Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have both already entered the race, with Kevin Hern (R-Ok.), head of the Republican Study Committee, rumored to be mulling a run.
Rep. Jim Jordan rose to prominence during the Tea Party movement and has made a name for himself as a disruptor, with former Republican House Speaker John Boehner famously calling him a “legislative terrorist.” Rep. Scalise has had a more steady rise through the ranks of the House Republican Conference, parlaying his broad support among fellow Southern representatives into a position in leadership. Both Jordan and Scalise hail from the right wing of the party and have racked up endorsements among those members, setting up the moderate wing of the GOP to be the deciding voting bloc.
Among those moderates are a handful of members from New York including Rep. Mike Lawler, Rep. Marc Molinaro, and Rep. Anthony D’Esposito.
Lawler, who has been the most outspoken about his frustration with the far-right wing of his party, declined to comment on who he would support.
Meanwhile, Rep. Marc Molinaro said, “I intend to keep my powder dry and work to define who best will serve not only the conference, but the people I represent as well.” Another New Yorker who could play a major role is Rep. Nick Langworthy, the former New York State GOP Chair.
On Friday, Jim Jordan was endorsed by Donald Trump who said, “He will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete and Total Endorsement.” Whether that endorsement helps or hurts Jordan among the moderates remains to be seen.
The GOP will also have to figure out who will serve in other key leadership positions, namely the Majority Leader. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), the current House Whip, is rumored to be eyeing that spot as is still another New Yorker, GOP House Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY).
.@RepStefanik is an America First fighter and a respected leader who can unite our conference. I’d love to see her as Majority Leader sooner than later 🇺🇸🇺🇸
— Jim Banks (@Jim_Banks)
Oct 5, 2023
The race could set off another showdown between the far-right of the party and the moderates, as a number of Trump supporters have already begun attacking Emmer for his outspoken opposition to the former President being the nominee in 2024. The House is expected to gavel back into session on Tuesday under acting Speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.).
A 9/11-era House rule requires the Speaker to submit a secret list of ten successors meant to ensure the continuity of government. When McCarthy was removed, the rule kicked in and the first name on the list, Rep. McHenry, immediately became Speaker. One of his first orders of business as Speaker was to evict Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Steny Hoyer from their Capitol hideaway offices in a seeming act of retaliation for Democrats not bailing out McCarthy.
Finally, it is bittersweet to congratulate our competitor Jon Fosse on being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature this week. The Monday Morning Memo was awarded an Excalibur Award and our team was optimistic that would carry a lot of weight in Sweden but, alas, it was not to be, at least in 2023.
As the Irish say, Tiocfaidh ár lá, our time will come.
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New to the NYS Senate
Senator Jake Ashby was elected to the New York State Senate on November 8, 2022. The 43rd District includes all of Rensselaer County and parts of Washington and Albany Counties.
Senator Ashby served in the State Assembly from 2018-2022, where he sponsored laws that made speech therapy more accessible and established more stringent water safety standards.
His top priorities in the Senate include delivering tax relief, promoting public safety, and expanding mental health care for first responders, law enforcement officials and healthcare workers.
A former Army Reserves Captain, Senator Ashby completed combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and deployed in support of a humanitarian mission in Africa. He has worked as an occupational therapist and rehabilitation director for the last 20 years and operated his own community-based practice.
Senator Ashby resides in Castleton with his wife, Kristy, and their two children.
'Calutron Girls' monitoring a mass spectrometer during the Manhattan Project. Gladys Owens, in the foreground, did not know what she was involved with until seeing this picture on a tour fifty years later.
This Day in History
October 9, 1941