Mon. May 23rd, 2022

New York politics by now ought to be well past the 2020 election. Or so you’d think. But clearly our regional conversations about governance remain tied to unending national ferment and a political campaign season that never seems to end.

One year into President Joe Biden’s administration, speculation centers on how his poor poll ratings helped drag down his party’s last batch of candidates for local Long Island offices – and how a backlash against Biden could hamper Democratic congressional hopefuls later this year.

Former President Donald Trump, who’s in Florida feuding with the Republican governor there, still makes news in his native state, trying to stave off law enforcement investigations in part by personally attacking inquisitors he can’t control.

Political parties and famous players are looking backward, or over their shoulders, to shape how they go forward. Ex-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo – whose incumbency began falling apart at the end of 2020 – still pushes to redeem his post- #MeToo reputation before a state audience.

One relevant question, with no easy answer: How much is a blue state’s politics shaped by a reaction to the national events of the prior 18 months?

Headlines blare this week about Attorney General Letitia James spelling out in a court filing what’s been evident for many years – that Trump’s real estate organization makes the manipulation of numbers and tax avoidance a standard practice.

This week James cited “significant evidence” discovered in a civil investigation that the Trump operation used “fraudulent or misleading asset valuations” to pump up the price of real estate holdings. This was stated in a memo aimed at compelling Trump, his son Donald Jr., and daughter Ivanka to testify. The AG cites the 45th president’s Trump Tower penthouse as one key instance.

Just as predictably, the congressional committee probing the postelection Capitol riot has subpoenaed Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani based on his promotion of fake claims of voter fraud. In New York, son Andrew Giuliani, best known in his adult life as a former Trump patronage hire, is running for governor. He disclosed this week that he raised a relatively meager $ 85,000 toward that effort in the second half of 2021 and has about $ 188,000 on hand.

The year-old Biden incumbency even reared its head in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget presentation. She has-tipped the president for directing massive federal aid to New York, which gave her a pain-free first budget proposal, which may not have materialized if the White House and Senate remained in GOP control.

Policing in New York and nationwide remains influenced by fallout from the George Floyd killing in May 2020.

The choices of the last administration in Washington even came up when Robert Mujica, the state budget director, spoke Wednesday with reporters. Mujica was asked whether previous state tax hikes on top earners had driven wealthy individuals or big companies to leave New York. He said: “We have not seen any evidence of that.” At the same time, he said, the impact of the state hike would have been small compared to the Republicans’ elimination of state and local tax deductions.

Blue-state Democrats have been trying since then to revive SALT – another New York-based relitigation of the previous White House’s actions.

Maybe this period of post-2020 political ferment ends when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. For the moment, the calendar feels stuck.

Columnist Dan Janison’s opinions are his own.


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