Tag Archive: Naral

Oct 29 2012

THE MAN WITH THE “CAMPAIGN MIND”

The 3rd Congressional District was reapportioned with sections of northeast Queens, a part of town where U.S Rep. Steve Israel needed to build name recognition.

The redistricting of 2012 opened the door for New York Congressman Steve Israel to step into the political consciousness of northeast Queens, but despite conventional wisdom his national job as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) wasn’t enough to raise his name recognition, it was a strong grassroots campaign initiative which helped ensure victory on Election Day.

He didn’t grow up in Queens, but he spent every Sunday here with his grandparents and his dad in the shadow of Shea Stadium, dreaming of someday playing centerfield for the New York Mets.

Being new to the area, over the summer his campaign team launched a concentrated effort to raise name recognition in Queens. Virtually overnight, campaign signs peppered the neighborhood, bumper stickers were given out, and soon civic groups and political organizations met members of his campaign team.

Israel’s iconic green and blue “Steve Israel t-shirt” became ubiquitous throughout the new parts of New York’s fifth CD running from the tip of Whitestone and as far South as Glen Oaks.  But some questions remain, who is Steve Israel, what does he stand for, and what will he do for Queens?

Steve grew up in Long Island, deep in Nassau County in Dix Hills, so naturally the question arises, does Israel know what he is getting into with us Queens folk? We don’t know for sure, yet, but what we do know is that Israel hit the campaign trail with style and it’s been hard to ignore.

To put his ear to the beat of the neighborhood, Steve began visiting the Democratic clubs, including the Clinton Democratic Club, where he was welcomed with much fanfare. Upon meeting Israel, the club’s president, Paul Vallone, concluded, “He’s an exemplary leader for New York.”

Israel made further rounds at the FDR Democratic Club, and then with a plethora of civic groups and senior centers all the while meeting one on one with community leaders. Last week Israel was greeting voters at Waldbaum’s in Bay Terrace.

Who is he, where does he stand? Steve Israel has a strong progressive record. “Steve Israel is a champion of progressive values in the United States Congress and has done an excellent job to restore the Democratic Majority in the house,” according to Steve Behar, a community advocate for northeast Queens and a national figure in progressive politics.

The eastern edge of Queens now in NY3 (in blue) includes Bay Terrace, parts of Bayside, Beechhurst, Little Neck, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, Bellaire, and Floral Park. Map from CUNY Center For Urban Research.

But with a fickle constituency like in northeast Queens – a place where large pockets of voters register as Democrats but tend to lean Republican – Israel will have to remain cordial and open to a sense of pragmatism to transcend these differences and win the hearts of this odd mix.

So far he’s off to a great start. “I don’t care if they’re Dems or Republicans – for me before I was taught to be a Democrat, I was taught to be a Mets fan,” joked Israel – a sound bite that will bode well with voters in northeast Queens.

The political world might see Rep. Israel as the chairman of the powerful DCCC, but first and foremost comes the needs of his constituency. “My primary job is to be the representative and my part-time job is to try and take the majority,” said Israel. His statement expressed the dichotomy of his role as both a member of Congress to provide services for the new constituency and as DCCC Chair to help elect Democrats across the nation, however the line between the two can sometimes be blurry. During the interview he emphasized that the needs of the district will be his primary objective but in regards to strategy to retake the majority (which he believes will also serve not only the district, but the entire country) Israel said it’s very straightforward. It’s mostly raising awareness. “We want to remind people under the Republican majority a budget was passed that ends Medicare in order to fund tax cuts for millionaires…the Republican majority for 24 months has been trying to shut down Planned Parenthood instead of trying to open up small businesses.”

He continued, “big corporations that want to outsource jobs to China and receive tax breaks when instead we should be making it easier for middle class families to afford college in New York.” Israel believes we should expand student assistance programs, including amending the tax code. “Middle class families should be able to write off a big part of their college investments. That is a much better investment to growing an economy than letting a giant corporation write off the cost of opening up a plant in China,” the influential Dem said.

The Congressman’s voting record is as liberal progressive as his talking point. On abortion he is pro-choice (NARAL gave him a 100 rating) and he supported same-sex marriage in 2010. Year after year he receives an ‘F’ from the National Rifle Association for his position on gun rights. On the economy, Israel believes in reducing defense spending and increasing income tax brackets in order to balance the budget. In the past he has advocated for federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth and he believes in providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation.

In 2007 Israel voted YES on regulating the subprime mortgage industry. In 2009, he voted yes for senate pay raises and in 2006 a no for requiring photo-IDs for federal elections. Israel is against privatization of social security into personal spending accounts and he staunchly defends the Affordable Care Act, or what even President Obama now calls Obamacare.

Ethics reform is also a major part of his platform. I spoke candidly to him about lobbyists in their dual role as campaign managers, funneling clients and money back and forth, and the need for regulation, he raised the ethical dilemmas of Super PACs.  “I have heard plenty of concerns about ethics with respect to elected officials but I have not heard the issue of whether campaign managers should be regulated. I will say that I think this country is in need of fundamental campaign finance reform. You know have these super PACs sanctioned by the Supreme Court that can spend anything, spend any amount, not have to disclose who they are, and they’re funded by special interests who are trying to steal elections. We ought to ban them.”

In his latest initiative Israel introduced legislation to reform the electoral college which would in effect make campaigns more competitive as well as advocating for weekend voting to increase turnout in federal elections.

As chairman of the DCCC, Israel oversees a sophisticated propaganda outfit. He can dump a fortune into your campaign war chest and optimize the use of media to sway the hearts and minds of the electorate. For example last August, ahead of the House vote to repeal Obamacare, the DCCC went on the offensive with their “Drive for 25″ campaign which targeted vulnerable GOP lawmakers on healthcare ahead of the House vote.

The initiative included television ads, online videos and robo-calls, however, despite the DCCC’s best efforts, the plan was ineffective as the Republican controlled House repealed all or parts of the Affordable Care Act more than 33 times. The ads ranged from the awe-inspiring (Check out “Health Care Victory”) to the whimsical (See The Millionaires video regarding Bobby Shilling).

While the leadership position comes with such privileges as helping fellow Dems get elected, it has also cast Israel as a national target for Republicans and the far right. Recent attacks include a NY Post story that suggested Israel’s support of the TARP program is the reason he was granted a ‘bailout’ for his home in Dix Hills. State GOP Chairman Ed Cox didn’t waste any time urging an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. “The Congressman has taken advantage of his position to qualify for a debt reduction that is supposed to be reserved for hard-working families that are experiencing a financial set back,” said Cox, adding, “It is not for a congressman that wants to avoid his obligations and a personal financial loss.”

Israel said he wasn’t fazed by the scurrilous accusations. “It’s politics as usual that Republicans, who are trying to end Medicare, would find phony issues to raise against me,” he said. “It’s unfortunate when you’re one of the national leaders trying to stop Republicans from ending Medicare to fund tax cuts for millionaires, then you should expect to be a target of their attacks – it doesn’t surprise me.”

There are plenty of battles for Steve Israel to fight for in this part of Queens, but for now the Congressman from Long Island is busy building bridges on both sides of the aisle to focus on issues challenging middle class families. “Whether you’re living in Wyandach or Whitestone it’s about strengthening the economic recovery and protecting Medicare for Seniors, and stabilizing taxes.”

Visiting Queens is something he has done for his entire life, so naturally we wanted to know his favorite deli. Cherry Valley? Chrisite’s? No, the Congressman’s favorite deli is Ben’s Kosher in Bay Terrace. He told me a story about how he how he competed in a New York deli fundraiser competition in Washington – an annual tradition in it’s 30th year run by Congressman Gary Ackerman where competitors would invite the best deli to the Hill and present a full spread to Congressman Ackerman to judge the winner.  Israel chose Ben’s Deli and his competition, U.S Rep. Jerry Nadler, chose Liebman’s Deli of Brooklyn. Each won in respective categories.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/10/steve-israel-dccc-chair-congressman/

Nov 08 2011

How Christine Quinn Could Lose the Chance to Be Mayor of NYC

Bring it on. From Evidentlyblog.blogspot.com

"With a crowded primary I have a mean left hook."

Could there already be an organized movement to defeat undeclared mayoral candidate Christine Quinn? A man who’s work saved over 45,000 unborn children from certain death says he plans to deliver many times that number to vote against her.

The Founder of Expectant Mother Care is a kingpin of religious Catholics in New York. Accusing Quinn of “Gestapo-like tactics,” he’s galvanizing the Pro-Life movement for a voting bloc against a Quinn term—and some analysts say it could cause Quinn to stumble.

 

Chris Slattery is well known in churches of all denominations and founded the nonprofit group, Expectant Mother Care to encourage expectant moms to choose motherhood, and either marriage, adoption, or self-sufficiency, instead of abortion, according to the website.

Traditionally, social conservatives were considered a swing demographic, hard to predict, often marginalized, but never to be underestimated because of their large numbers says William Ferraro, a political consultant from the Pendulum Network.

Social conservatives were historically and traditionally Democrats, but the political climate has changed. Social conservatives support socially conservative ideology, which means that their votes could potentially go to a candidate with little concern for party enrollment.

For example, during the Presidential Election of 2000, a study found that 40 percent of the total vote for George Bush came from Christian Evangelicals, making it the largest single voting bloc in the Republican Party. However, Black Protestant voters, majorities of whom are Evangelical, voted 96 percent for Pro-Choice Democrat Al Gore and only 4 percent for George Bush, the Pro-Life candidate.

There are recent trends that indicate a change from the unpredictability of a socially conservative voting bloc. Single-issue positions like being Pro-Life or Pro-Choice seem to trump any party loyalty, even religious affiliation. This trend was a key factor in the election of Republican Congressman Bob Turner.

When Turner a Pro-Life Catholic businessman ran against an orthodox Pro-Choice Jewish Democrat David Weprin, Turner’s campaign launched a series of ads aimed squarely at the orthodox Jewish vote in the Ninth Congressional District, where Democrats enjoy a significant enrollment advantage. This demographic group rallied behind Turner because Weprin had voted in the state legislature for the same-sex marriage bill.

Republican campaign operative Steven Stites anticipates a problem for Quinn if the debate is framed by a stance on Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, which hasn’t happened yet. “If the issue is framed by her position on Pro-Life centers, there could be a problem during the general, but during a primary, social conservatives are under-represented,” according to Stites.

“Slattery is correct to be upset, but attacks from the right during a primary aren’t necessarily a bad thing for Quinn,” Stites added.

Is the axe coming down on Speaker Quinn as opposed to any of the other Democratic candidates? Could they swing votes away from Quinn and toward John Liu, Bill de Blasio, Scott Stringer, Tony Avella, or any other candidates? Yes, it could, if Slattery has anything to do with it. He wants Quinn’s policy maneuvering against crisis pregnancy centers to define her candidacy.

While the other potential candidates are also Pro-Choice, according to insiders in Slattery’s group no other candidate has the viciousness demonstrated by Quinn toward religious free speech.

Quinn and Bloomberg signed Local Law 17, which required crisis pregnancy centers, like Expectant Mother Care, to disclose more information about what services they perform and whom they will be provided by. Critics say the measure would force crisis pregnancy centers to advertise services they do not offer. The City Council approved the bill that would have placed strict limits on the advertising crisis pregnancy centers may use and required them to post signs designed to discourage women from seeking their abortion alternatives services.

Quinn called the matter a protection of consumer rights.

However Pro-Life advocates like Slattery say the bill put harsh restrictions on alternatives to abortions, such as adoption and counseling.

The law Quinn signed was challenged in Federal Court. Slattery’s group, EMC was one of the plaintiffs. A stay was issued, and according to legal experts it will probably be overturned. Judge William Pauley said the bill was “unconstitutionally vague”, although he conceded the harm that can be caused to pregnant, at-risk women by unlicensed ultrasound technicians “operating in pseudo-medical settings”.

Slattery hailed the decision as a victory for the First Amendment.

“The legislation was [Quinn’s] baby and [City Councilwoman] Jessica Lapin’s baby, we warned them it was unconstitutional to shut down our life saving operation” said Slattery. “But they went ahead anyway.”

Slattery alleges that Planned Parenthood and Naral New York may have been influencing Quinn’s active pursuit of bill 371 .

Naral Pro-Choice NY, then led then by Kellie Conlin, who was forced out in January from her post after pleading guilty to stealing $75,000 worth of donations from the organization said in a press release, “Unfortunately, when a woman enters a Crisis Pregnancy Center, she loses all expectation of accurate, unbiased information and any assurance of privacy. Instead, she is faced with biased counseling, anti-abortion propaganda, deliberate deception, and emotional manipulation.”

Slattery responded to Naral’s accusations,

“The woman [Kellie Conlin] who was forced out – that called us frauds – while she’s committing fraud” exclaimed Slattery who called it a “repugnant characterization” of his group “that was intended to be offensive.”

The dispute put Quinn in the crosshairs of social conservative voters who tend to support the use of government to reinforce traditional social relations, according to a Pew research report. So is it enough to galvanize a Pro-Life voting bloc, the same bloc vote once thought to be too unpredictable to be considered an effective movement in city elections?

Slattery’s movement is gaining traction.

Chris Slattery is more than an outspoken Quinn critic, he is well known by key members of all denominations that connect him to thousands of parishioners in all five boroughs.

In January, 2010 Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, a Pro-Life activist and a leader of the black community held a Pro-Life rally in Manhattan side-by-side with Chris Slattery of Expectant Mother Care where she encouraged opposition to Bill 371.

City Council Member Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx), also the only Reverend in the City Council is a staunch advocate of Slattery’s movement.

Cabrera, who for the last four years, has co-chaired the Hispanic-Jewish Relations Task Force for the Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, began a church called New Life Outreach International, a congregation that has swelled to over 400 members. He is also well known in a network of Evangelical churches that are spreading like wildfire throughout the five boroughs, according to inside sources.

Will they come out on election day?

“It’s a set of core values that unites us,” said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) who spoke at a Save The Life Center rally. Council District 19 is the most ethnically and religiously diverse in the City. Protestant groups, Baptists, Lutherans, Hindus, Catholics, and a large Jewish demographic of conservative, orthodox, and reform Jews can be found in the northeast section of Queens. “We all coexist because we respect the values of our community, said Halloran, adding “We will not back down and we will continue to advocate for you.”

Critics fear that Quinn has awoken a sleeping giant. With six or seven possible candidates running, if her campaign thinks she will win with the social conservative base actively campaigning against her, she could be gravely mistaken.

There could be 5,000 parishes, temples, and synagogues turning against her. Will the residents be so upset that they vote for another candidate or is it just a case of saber rattling?

“It was a use of raw political power in a complete disregard for the first amendment and the rights of Christians and almost all Catholic and Christian Pro Lifers” said Slattery.

“I am in fear and trepidation in her run for mayor, she will put the jackboot to Christians in the city and stomp on our necks for us to cry uncle and to shutdown millennial old moral underpinnings and traditions,” he added.

Slattery said the Pro-Life movement would not support candidates that are Pro-Choice. But Quinn took it a step further with her bill that would have crippled Expectant Mother Care and other crisis pregnancy centers that Pro-Lifers like Slattery have embraced.

Slattery believed the bill was a direct challenge to his organization’s mission, but so far, the other candidates have not been as active as Quinn with the intent of shutting down the life centers.

“Bloomberg and Quinn use the schools as an experiment in birth and population control, they have completely disregarded the astounding abortion rates and ratios in New York,” Slattery said. “They think the only way to prevent pregnancy is to flood the city with more condoms.”

Slattery agreed that while“they [public schools] haven’t had overtly bad sex education, its covertly and without former curriculum: tie-ins and programs to escort school children to planned parenthood, it’s been happening for 40 years.”

“Reading writing arithmetic, mapping out roots to the abortion — this man is crazy. Quinn is even more radical than Bloomberg.”

Socially conservative groups like Slattery’s could be the deciding factor in the Democratic primary, much in the same way the socially conservative religious voting bloc came out in force for the election of Congressman Bob Turner in Queens and Brooklyn.

Quinn’s decision to support Local Law 17 was influenced by her campaign contributors Slattery alleged.

“Its all about who she’s getting her campaign funds from: Naral Pro-choice, Planned Parenthood, the abortionists. The Catholic press is softball, they won’t name names and they don’t really call these politicians to account, they decry the whole body. Pastors don’t play enough hardball. They’ve been emasculated by there fear of politicians. I don’t understand them, the people in the pews will be making the decisions.

If Quinn loses these voters, as Slattery believes she will, it is likely that these votes will go to John Liu, a Queens native, according to a Democratic official. Lots of people are already behind John Liu, and it is widely rumored that Quinn threw him under the bus with a recent ruling regarding campaign signs and a probe of questionable campaign contributions.

Queens Democratic Party Boss Joe Crowley, who is Pro-Life, and was raised in the cradle of old school conservatives of Irish decent would be caught in the middle. “Because of Joe Crowley’s prominence in the Irish-Catholic community – he would understand better than most people what’s coming” said Elio Forcina, a Republican, and former Assembly candidate who also helped organize a fundraiser for Expectant Mother Care in May 2011 for an ultra sound machine that is currently being used in Brooklyn.

“If the Catholic parishes, the evangelicals, and the synagogues all unite, they could ultimately derail Quinn’s campaign,” according to Forcina. “May the fruits that grow out of this movement ultimately be Christine Quinn’s redemption,” he said.

Religious convictions appear to trump party loyalty. Many Americans continue to say their religious beliefs have been influential in shaping their views about social issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage, according to Pew research, but it doesn’t always translate into votes. It’s how a liberal and a conservative like Fernando Cabrera and Dan Halloran and a civil rights leader like Dr. Aveda King can find some common ground.

The potential galvanization of socially conservative church-going voters against Christine Quinn as the Democratic nominee for Mayor should not go unnoticed. Bill 371 has been the rallying cry. Past elections can illustrate the voting bloc as fickle and unreliable. How likely is it that the bloc would vote for a Lesbian Democrat from the West Side of Manhattan, anyway? Not very likely, but there are recent examples that may prove the observation as not entirely accurate. Quinn may have inadvertently energized Pro-Life voters against her campaign at the same time a massive mobilization of Pro-Lifers appears to be underway unlike anything New York City has seen before.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/11/how-christine-quinn-could-lose-the-democratic-primary-for-mayor/


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