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Two candidates looking to succeed him next year, Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley, announced their campaigns at relatively muted affairs. They each gathered just a few dozen supporters who sat several feet apart, their faces and cheers obscured by masks, as they somberly promised to guide the city through a time of profound crisis. Other candidates, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, past Citigroup executive Ray McGuire and former nonprofit head Dianne Morales, must navigate concerns over a second wave of Covid-19 as they prepare to announce their bids in the coming weeks.

As the presidential election draws to a close, the contest to succeed de Blasio, whose term ends on Dec. 31, 2021, will be unlike any other in city history. It features a crowded field of contestants who must consider both the growing progressive wing of the Democratic Party and a creeping unease over safety, the economy and quality-of-life matters in a city transformed by the ongoing pandemic.

“This will look different than any race, except for the very bizarre eight-week run between Sept. 11 and the November general back in 2001,” Jonathan Rosen, a consultant who worked on de Blasio’s 2013 race, said in a recent interview. “Then, as in now, the city faced real existential questions about its future. Unlike then, the pandemic and what it means for the city is yet to be determined and there’s no end in sight.”

The virus-era restriction on gatherings is not the only novel factor in the upcoming election.

The primary contest — which will likely decide the race in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 8-to-1 — has been moved by state law from September to June, compressing the political calendar and robbing candidates of standard summer opportunities to connect with voters.

If Covid-19 continues apace, gone will be the annual parades commemorating American soldiers during Memorial Day weekend and Puerto Rican heritage in June. The West Indian American Day parade along Eastern Parkway, an all-but-mandatory stop on every candidate’s path to office, takes place several months after the primary on Labor Day. Campaigns’ in-person efforts to register and turn out voters will likely be complicated.

The pandemic has already begun affecting the rituals of campaigning.

The candidates were forced to skip the traditional, lively Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club visit, instead answering questions from the host on individual Zoom calls. Wiley is launching a series of online forums titled “People’s Assemblies,” which will run from Nov. 16 through Dec. 15 and will provide voters a chance to interact with her on issues.

In-person fundraisers are smaller, presenting a difficulty for newer candidates in raising money, according to several campaign advisers. As a result, they are relying more on social media and online efforts. Further changing the roadmap is a new, voluntary campaign finance system that limits individual donations while increasing the size of taxpayer-funded matches.

Even if the virus abates and restrictions are lifted during the election, the earlier primary means candidates will not have a chance to schmooze with voters at street fairs and block parties.

The advent of ranked-choice voting, which will make its debut next year, is another big factor altering the election’s dynamics. Backed by government reform groups — as well as Stringer and Wiley — it is intended to avoid subsequent runoff elections in inconclusive primaries by allowing voters to rank their choices. But the reform, approved by voters on a ballot question last year, is being challenged by people close to established Democratic organizations who argue it will ultimately disenfranchise Black and Latino voters.

“I will call it BS forever. We can undo the law. We are going to have more than 10 candidates per race. More people’s vote will not count because people will not rank all 10. We institute a program to ‘empower the minority’ when we are no longer that. We’ve gentrified our vote,” Patrick Jenkins, a Queens-based political operative, tweeted

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on Saturday, responding to a post about ranked-choice voting.

In a follow-up interview, Jenkins said he is discussing efforts to delay the reform with lawmakers in the City Council.

Jenkins is close to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a powerful figure in the Bronx Democratic Party, but said his opposition to the measure is his alone.

“Now that minorities are the majority in this city, things like ranked-choice voting are there to dilute their power,” Jenkins said.

Supporters of the measure are holding educational training sessions ahead of the election, and argue it will better reflect the will of voters, particularly in crowded races.

Dennis Walcott, a deputy mayor for Mike Bloomberg and current president of the Queens Public Library, said ranked-choice voting will change how candidates craft their messages.

“Vote for me, but then vote for this person in the second slot. I think it really raises a level of sophistication in how you campaign,” Walcott, who volunteered on Bloomberg’s 2005 and 2009 campaigns, said in an interview. “You’re campaigning, but you don’t necessarily have the hand-holding that’s going on in the streets to reinforce your message.”

“The other piece is you really can’t dog that many people because there are implications in really trying to tear other people down,” he added.

Walcott is also a regular church attendee in Southeast Queens, and often accompanied Bloomberg to church services when he was running for re-election. Some of the city’s larger religious institutions, such as the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, are regular stops for candidates looking to connect with large audiences of consistent voters.

To that end, Walcott said most churches are holding Zoom sessions, which enable candidates to cut down on travel time and connect with even more potential voters than they normally would — albeit without any in-person contact.

Jessica Ramos, a state Senator from Queens and surrogate for Stringer’s campaign, agreed the tactic of trying to appeal to every voter rather than discounting certain blocs is likely to discourage negative campaigning.

“It really will bring us closer to being much more solution-oriented, which is what I’ve always thought government should be, and it’s hard when electoral politics get in the way,” Ramos said in a recent interview.

She said she recently participated in a cell phone poll that she believes was conducted on behalf of a mayoral candidate.

Ramos said the survey, which lasted for 18 minutes, inquired about her race and education level and the importance of a spate of issues including the pandemic, crime, public transportation, racism, the economy, public schools and homelessness. It specifically inquired about Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ history as a police officer, she said.

She was asked what she thinks of several mayoral hopefuls, including Stringer, Wiley, Adams, McGuire, former Obama and Bloomberg official Shaun Donovan, former de Blasio commissioner Kathryn Garcia and City Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

Many of the candidates volunteered for Joe Biden in recent weeks as the election wound down, and quickly reminded supporters of their own ticking clocks.

“After four LONG years, we did it,” Wiley wrote in a blast email to supporters. “We can breathe a sigh of relief, and NOW is the time to turn to real solutions to the problems that plague us.”




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Trump super PAC to hold first fundraiser at Bedminster

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A pro-Donald Trump super PAC is holding its first fundraising event on May 22 at the former president’s Bedminster golf club, according to two people familiar with the planning.

The event will benefit Make America Great Again Action, a super PAC spearheaded by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Trump is expected to attend the event, which will include reception and a dinner. The minimum price for entry is $250,000.

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Trump tapped Lewandowki earlier this year to oversee the super PAC as part of his post-White House political operation. It’s the second big money group Trump has formed. Shortly after the election, he launched Save America PAC, a leadership PAC that has raised tens of millions of dollars.


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Pierre ‘Pete’ du Pont IV dies; ran for president in 1988

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“I was born with a well-known name and genuine opportunity. I hope I have lived up to both,” du Pont said in announcing his longshot presidential bid in September 1986.

As a presidential candidate, du Pont attracted attention for staking out controversial positions on what he hoped would reverberate with voters as “damn right” issues. They included random drug testing for high school students, school vouchers, replacing welfare with work, ending farm subsidies, and allowing workers to invest in individual retirement accounts as an alternative to Social Security.

Some of those ideas have since become more mainstream.

He won the endorsement of New Hampshire’s largest newspaper but failed to gain traction among voters. He ended his campaign after finishing next-to-last in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Afterward, du Pont remained engaged in politics. He frequently wrote opinion pieces for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and co-founded the online public policy journal IntellectualCapital.com. He also served as chairman of Hudson Institute, the National Review Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan public policy research organization.

Pierre du Pont IV was born Jan. 22, 1935, in Delaware. After attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he graduated from Princeton University in 1956 with an engineering degree. Following a four-year stint in the Navy, he obtained a law degree from Harvard University in 1963.

He joined the Du Pont Company, where he held several positions, resigning as a quality control supervisor in 1968 to begin his political career.

After running unopposed for a state House seat in 1968, he immediately set his sights on Congress, running as a fiscal conservative and winning the first of three terms in 1970.

Elected governor in 1976, du Pont fought successfully to restore financial integrity to a state he had declared “bankrupt” shortly after his inauguration. He presided over two income tax cuts; constitutional amendments restricting state spending and requiring three-fifths votes in the legislature to raise taxes; and establishment of an independent revenue forecasting panel.

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After a rocky start with Democratic legislators, including an embarrassing override of a 1977 budget veto, du Pont forged successful relationships with lawmakers from both parties to tackle thorny issues including prison overcrowding and corruption and school desegregation. He was re-elected in a landslide in 1980, winning a record 71 percent of the vote and becoming the first two-term governor in Delaware in 20 years.

In his second term, du Pont signed landmark legislation that loosened Delaware’s banking laws, including removing the cap on interest rates that banks could charge customers. The Financial Center Development Act made Delaware a haven for some of the country’s largest credit card issuers.

Under du Pont’s leadership, Delaware also established a nonprofit employment counseling and job placement program for Delaware high school seniors not bound for college. It served as the model for a national program adopted by several other states.

Prohibited by law from seeking a third term, du Pont briefly withdrew to the private sector, joining a Wilmington law firm in 1985. A year and a half later, he announced his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, becoming the first declared candidate in the 1988 campaign.

During an appearance at the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington, where du Pont announced he was abandoning his presidential campaign, he praised an electoral process that gave a shot at the White House to a former small-state governor with unorthodox ideas.

“You’ve given me the opportunity of a lifetime. You listened, you considered and you chose. I could not have asked for any more,” du Pont said. “For in America, we do not promise that everyone wins, only that everyone gets a chance to try.”

Du Pont is survived by his wife of over 60 years, the former Elise R. Wood; a daughter and three sons; and 10 grandchildren.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a later date, Perkins said.


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Larry Hogan decries ‘circular firing squad’ within GOP

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday the Republican Party experienced its “worst four years we’ve had, ever” under President Donald Trump, noting the party’s losses in both chambers of Congress and the White House.

“We’ve got to get back to winning elections again. And we have to be able to have a Republican Party that appeals to a broader group of people,” said Hogan, a Republican, on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “Successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.”

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Hogan’s comments comes as Republicans deliberate on the future of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in the party’s House leadership, particularly over her repeated criticisms of Trump, which many Republicans view as breaking ranks and distracting from the party’s opposition to President Joe Biden. House Republicans are expected to strip Cheney of her role as conference chair and replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).


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