75.4 F
Smithtown
Friday, July 12, 2024

National, State and Local Temperature Checks

-

National

Tuesday night hosted primaries in three states, but only one of them came with critical results: Virginia.


Senator Tim Kaine (D) is seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate from the Old Dominion, and Tuesday’s results show he will face Hung Cao (R) in November. After a distinguished career in the Navy, Cao sought a Congressional seat in VA-10, a moderately blue seat that encompasses the left-trending Northern Virginia-D.C. suburbs. He lost to incumbent Jennifer Wexton (D) by 6.5 points in 2022.


Cao now seeks an uphill battle in Virginia, a state where Republicans have not won a Senate race since 2002. Additionally, no Republican has carried the state at the presidential level since 2004, a streak Donald Trump (R-FL) and company are hoping to interrupt as he and Biden are now tied in the state in aggregate polling.


Trump endorsed Cao ahead of Tuesday’s Senate primary.


Additionally, Congressman Bob Good (R, VA-05) narrowly trails a State Senator John McGuire III in his run for re-election.


Good has managed to alienate Republicans of different ideological strains, having earned the chagrin of Trump for his nomination of Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for president, and for casting one of the lynchpin votes to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20) last year. Establishment Republicans have looked to return the favor. Good now trails McGuire by about 300 votes in the south-central Virginia district.


VA-05 is moderately Republican. It became slightly more Republican after 2021 redistricting; Good won re-election in 2022 by about fifteen points. However, its inclusion of college towns like Lynchburg and Charlottesville, as well as exurbs of Richmond, can lead to an engaged race in the right environment. VA-05 was decided by single digits in both 2018 and 2020.


A final projection in the race is not expected until Thursday.


Regarding the presidential election, the ballot access quest for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. continues as his campaign has officially made the ballot in nine states and has submitted the required signatures in fourteen other states.


Ballot access has been obtained in California (54 electoral votes), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4), Michigan (15), Mississippi (6), Oklahoma (7), Texas (40), South Carolina (9), and Utah (6), with Mississippi and South Carolina as the most recent additions.


The campaign has also received the required signatures in each state, surpassing the minimums by large margins, in Alaska (3), Florida (30), Idaho (4), Iowa (6), Minnesota (10), Nebraska (5 split), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (14), New York (28), North Carolina (16), Ohio (17), Tennessee (11), and Washington (12). Signatures in these states will need to be verified by the respective secretaries of state to formally obtain ballot access.


In total, RFK has collected signatures or gained access in twenty-three states, collectively representing 310 electoral votes.


The campaign continues to race against the clock in several states. Illinois (19) requires 25,000 signatures by June 24, New Mexico (5) requires almost 3,600 by June 27, and Indiana (11) requires nearly 37,000 by July 1.


Ballot access initiatives are currently afoot in most of the country. Only three states have not yet opened their windows for petitioning. Rhode Island (4) begins on June 26, Wisconsin (10) opens on July 1, and Louisiana (8) opens on July 16.


RFK’s presence on the ballot and impact of the overall presidential race continues to remain unclear, as both parties assert he could be a benefit or a liability to both Joe Biden (D-DE) and Trump.


However, RFK’s campaign may be growing into a more serious concern, as he has just become the first Independent candidate in decades to poll evenly with a major-party candidate.


A June 4-7 HarrisX poll of 857 registered voters in Utah finds Trump with 49% of the vote and Biden and Kennedy tied with 20% each. The same poll finds Trump capturing 57% of the vote to Biden’s 25% when Kennedy is removed from the equation.


Such a high level of support for a third-party presidential candidate is nothing to balk at; however, Utah is a state known for its high rates of third-party participation. In 2016, Trump received 45.5% of the statewide vote in Utah, a low margin for a Republican in one of the most staunchly conservative states. However, Hillary Clinton (D-NY) received 27.5% and Independent Evan McMullin, a Utah native, received 21.5%.


With no major third-party opposition in 2020, the margin was a more appropriate 58%-37%, in favor of Trump.


Utah had a prominent Independent population in the 1992 election. Ross Perot (I-TX) earned second place in Utah that year, resigning Bill Clinton (D-AR) to third place. Maine was the only other state where Perot outperformed a major-party candidate.


Although Kennedy is polling around where a vibrant Independent candidate would poll in a state like Utah, it does little to Trump’s foundation in a highly idiosyncratic, albeit red-leaning, state. A commanding twenty-nine-point lead is one that Kennedy would need to significantly tighten to pose a serious threat to Trump’s electoral prospects.


On the other side of the political equation, an April poll of 609 registered Maine voters, conducted by Digital Research, tracked Trump with a one-point lead statewide. Kennedy receives 15% support in this poll.


Although Maine at-large has not voted for a Republican candidate since 1988, it has somewhat unceremoniously found itself back onto the competitive table. At just four electoral votes, two of which are allocated by popular vote-winners in each of the state’s two congressional districts, Maine doesn’t attract much presidential attention on the campaign trail. Trump came within three points of upsetting Clinton in 2016, although Biden grew the margin back to nine points in 2020.


Maine is much more Independent-leaning and swingy than its New England counterparts. Again, Perot was able to secure second place with 30% of the vote in 1992 and managed to win three counties. Although Perot’s margins slipped nationally in 1996, he still managed 14% of the vote in Maine that year.


Ralph Nader’s (G-CT) 2000 campaign saw him take nearly 6% of the vote, while Gary Johnson’s (L-NM) 2016 run saw him receive just over 5%.


Theoretically, states like Maine and Utah are RFK’s best bet at trying to win counties, congressional districts, or states outright. Intrinsically libertarian states with historical third-party tendencies could be where he could siphon votes from the majority parties.


Regarding enthusiasm for the major-party candidates, the Trump campaign recently issued a statement regarding the launch of their TikTok account.


Since its creation just over two weeks ago, the account has received over a quarter-billion views, with 115 million views in just its first two days. The campaign also noted that Trump’s account has surpassed Biden’s 300,000 followers on the platform with 6.4 million of his own.
The Trump campaign has joined the platform in an effort to connect with younger voters, a key demographic of the Democratic voting bloc with whom Biden has struggled alarmingly in the polls.

State

In a surprising turn of events, Governor Kathy Hochul (D) has floated the idea of banning face masks and coverings in New York City’s subway system.


The stated impetus for this plan is to deter potential protestors and/or criminals from using identity-concealing facewear to commit acts of anti-semitism.


“We will not tolerate individuals using masks to evade responsibility for criminal or threatening behavior,” said Hochul, further mentioning that “on a subway, people should not be able to hide behind a mask to commit crimes.”


Mask bans on New York transit systems are more the norm than the exception. Face coverings were originally banned in 1845 due to attacks by farmers on landlords. The ban was repealed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and masks remained mandatory until September 2022.


Hochul mentioned recent claims of subway riders participating in anti-semitic conduct, specifically a “group donning masks that took over a subway car, scaring riders and chanting things about Hitler and wiping out Jews.”


Hochul has the support of NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D), who says that protestors who “hide their faces when they want to do something disgraceful” are “cowards,” and that “people have hid under the guise of wearing a mask for Covid to commit criminal acts and vile acts.”
Alternatively, Hochul has announced $36 million to police budgets across the state, coinciding with a 28% drop in shootings statewide. She intends to fund twenty-eight agencies across New York by means of the Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) programs. Suffolk County stands to receive $1,307,677.


Finally, regarding the State’s heavily-criticized rollout of marijuana dispensary licenses, Hochul has announced that more than four hundred illegal cannabis shops across New York City have been shut down. The statistic comes after the state legislature expanded the Governor’s enforcement powers in this year’s budget.


Roughly 2,800 illegal cannabis shops persist in the city, which Mayor Adams says equates to $13.3 million in illegal products and more than $30 million in fines. However, the four hundred closings largely fall short of the Mayor’s promise to close all unlicensed shops within thirty days of expanded enforcement powers.


Hochul also said that legal cannabis sales have soared by 27% over the past month after the shutdowns.


“That makes a difference between staying open and closing,” Hochul said. “That means you can continue paying good wages to your workers.”

Local

Congressman Nick LaLota (R, NY-01) has recently announced over $1.8 million in federal funding for research grants at Stony Brook University. The additional funds now move the total secured for the university to nearly $19.5 million since LaLota’s tenure began last January.


The following projects are set to be financed through these grants:
• $1,075,000 for LSAMP BD: Stony Brook University SUNY LSAMP Alliance
• $100,000 for Planning: Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure-1 Community-scale Testbeds to Accelerate Climate Adaptation and Disaster Reduction Research
• $99,983 for Conference: International Year of Quantum (IYQ) Educational Leadership Conferences
• $398,750 for Clinical Research Related to Neurological Disorders
• $169,826 for Collaborative Research: Generation and Manipulation of Spatially Entangled States of Structured Photon Pairs with 2D Material Quantum Holograms


“Stony Brook’s world-class research and development projects deserve all the funding they need. The work done at Stony Brook has changed millions of lives already and I look forward to seeing what comes next,” said LaLota. “Every day federal dollars come to Suffolk County is a good day. I’ll always fight to make sure Suffolk comes first and that Stony Brook has the resources they need to support critical research and scientific advancements.”

Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Messenger Papers since August 2023. He is the author of the America the Beautiful, Civics 101, and This Week Today columns. Matt graduated from St. Joseph's University, Patchogue, in 2022, with a degree in Human Resources and worked for his family's IT business for three years. He's also a musician and composer with his sights set on the film industry. Matt has traveled all around the U.S. and enjoys cooking, photography, and a good cup of coffee.