Political Roundup

In this week’s headlines…

On Oct. 18, President Trump made a controversial condolence call to the widow of Sergeant La David T. Johnson, who was killed on Oct. 4 in Niger. According to Sergeant Johnson’s mother and Rep. Frederica T. Wilson (D-FL), both of whom listened in on the call, Trump said that Johnson’s husband “knew what he signed up for” and referred to him only as “your guy” (The New York Times, “Trump’s Condolence Call to Soldier’s Widow Ignites an Imbroglio,” 10.18.2017). The next day, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly defended Trump’s words, criticizing Wilson and speaking about the loss of his own son in Afghanistan (The New York Times, “Kelly Delivers Fervent Defense of Trump Call to Soldier’s Widow,” 10.19.2017).

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama separately delivered implicit critiques of President Trump on Oct. 19. Bush spoke in favor of immigration and free trade and condemned nationalism and bigotry, while Obama defended his record on health care and commented on the country’s current social, economic and racial divides (The New York Times, “Without Saying ‘Trump,’ Bush and Obama Deliver Implicit Rebukes,” 10.19.2017).

Following his Oct. 17 endorsement of a proposal to restore subsidies to health insurers, drafted by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), Trump walked back his support with an Oct. 18 tweet stating that he “would never support bailing out” insurance companies (The New York Times, “Trump Pulls Back From Senate Deal to Fund Health Subsidies,” 10.18.2017).

On Oct. 19, the Senate passed a budget blueprint that opens the door to rewriting the tax code by protecting against a Democratic filibuster (The New York Times, “Senate Approves Budget Plan That Smooths Path Toward Tax Cut,” 10.19.2017).

In our backyard…

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who has been rumored to be considering a gubernatorial run, took his first step toward challenging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2018 by registering with the state Board of Elections. Molinaro was elected mayor of Tivoli at age 17, making him America’s youngest mayor. Since then, he has served as county legislator, state assemblyman and county executive. In a September speech to the Town of Republican Club in Allegany County, Molinaro confirmed, “Yes, I’m thinking of running for governor of the state of New York. Yes, I’m here to see how people respond to that concept” (Hudson Valley Post, “Molinaro takes major step toward governor run,” 10.2017).

On Oct. 16, the City of Poughkeepsie adopted a new debt management policy to address its negative fund balance. The plan was funded by a 2016 grant from Dutchess County and developed by Poughkeepsie’s Finance Department in concert with Capital Markets Advisors, LLC, and finance consultants. Outgoing Commissioner of Finance Marc Nelson explained, “This policy outlines our plan to curtail borrowing, seek refunding opportunities in favorable markets, and improve the City’s bond rating” (The Buzz: City of Poughkeepsie eNewsletter, 10.20.2017).

Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison announced on Oct. 17 that his 2018 preliminary budget stays under the New York State tax cap and drew attention to some of the features of the plan, saying, “With this, my second budget, we will turn our full attention towards the many quality-of-life issues in our community, from blight and basic cleanliness, to youth services and public safety.” The budget endows a new program of local grants for youth activities, allows for a new weekend shift at the Department of Public Works, adds a second sanitation inspector and brings back the city planner position, which was scrapped in 2012. Rolison also emphasized the importance of public safety and committed to retaining firefighters whose funding through a SAFER grant will soon expire (The Buzz: City of Poughkeepsie eNewsletter, 10.20.17).

On Oct. 19, area businesses and nonprofits were honored at the Think Dutchess Business Excellence Awards. Business of the Year went to Beacon’s More Good syrup company, and Nonprofit of the Year went to the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory and Hudson River Housing (Poughkeepsie Journal, “Business Excellence Awards recognize Dutchess businesses, nonprofits,” 10.19.2017).

Keeping up with 2020 hopefuls…

A 2020 poll by the University of New Hampshire showed Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the lead with 31 percent, then former Vice President Joe Biden at 24 percent and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 13 percent. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) trailed at six percent, while Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) had just one percent each.

Warren wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, economic advisor Gary Cohn and other aides, asking for clarification on Trump’s position on raising the minimum wage (CNN, “#2020Vision: Sanders, Biden up in New Hampshire; Sanders to visit Puerto Rico; Steyer pushes impeachment,” 10.20.2017).

Booker sang the praises of Gillibrand in a Vogue feature, saying, “I don’t know if America could hope for a president that cares and loves and works and fights for them more than she would” (CNN, “#2020Vision: Warren’s big fundraising haul; Booker says Gillibrand would be ‘amazing president,’” 10.13.17).

During a bipartisan event with Ohio Governor John Kasich, Biden castigated Trump for his self-aggrandizing and constant tweeting, calling him “a president who does not understand governance” (“#2020Vision: Sanders, Biden up in New Hampshire”).

On Oct. 18, California State Senate Leader Kevin de León became the first Democrat to formally announce his run against Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for a U.S. Senate seat. Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, both 2020 prospects, came out in support of Feinstein (“#2020Vision: Warren’s big fundraising haul”).

Sanders cancelled his scheduled appearance at the Women’s Convention in Detroit this week after negative reactions to the idea of a man speaking on the first day of an event focused on women. Instead, he planned to visit hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico (“#2020Vision: Sanders, Biden up in New Hampshire”).

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