Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Long Island Gets A New Candidate Today-- And Blue America Endorses DuWayne Gregory


A couple of weeks ago DuWayne Gregory was elected to his fifth term as the Suffolk County Legislature’s presiding officer. I met DuWayne a few years ago when he helped me conduct a forum for political science and economics majors at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. This morning he announced that he is running for New York's second congressional district, a seat that's been held by Republican Peter King since 1992. Although Obama won the Long Island district both times he ran (51-48% against McCain and 52-47% against Romney), Suffolk County was Trump territory in 2016. Hillary lost the county to Trump 328,403 (52.5%) to 276,953 (44.3%) and lost NY-02-- which includes part of Nassau County as well-- by slightly worse margins-- 53.0% to 43.9%. The district's voters wanted change and Hillary was seen as the candidate of the establishment and the status quo. Although DuWayne did better than other candidates had against King, he was swimming against the tide in 2016.

This year he feels he's swimming with the tide and probably along with a strong anti-Trump/anti-GOP wave. The district starts at Lake Ronkonkoma, Islandia, Bohemia, Bayport and Sayville in the east and heads west through Islip, Bay Shore, Babylon and Lindenhurst to Amityville, Massapequa and Seaford. This cycle many in the district-- as well as those of us at Blue America who had gotten to know DuWayne over the last couple of years-- were eager to see him in a rematch with King, especially in the kind of political environment of GOP overreach that Trump and Paul Ryan have created. Their tax bill, for example. is absolutely devastating for working families on Long Island. And the voters there know it, despite Trumps' gaslighting and Ryan's bogus claims. Peter King was given a "pass" to vote NO, but all that did was highlight his ineffectiveness as a representative for the district.

The most Hispanic of any of the Long Island districts (23% Latino), many NY-02 residents were shocked when they read that their own congressman sponsored a bill to deny citizenship to natural born Americans if their parents were not U.S. citizens. Nor were they pleased to see him sponsoring a bill that called for English only in government communications. Needless to say, the bigoted King was not a supporter of the comprehensive immigration bill passed by a wide bipartisan majority in the Senate.

In his own communications to Long Islanders, Duwayne stresses his own record of inclusion and vows to go to Washington "to fight for fairness for all Americans by working to bring about justice reform" and to "ensure that no one is treated differently because of their race or economic status when it comes to our justice system." He's one veteran who has every intention of going to Washington to ensure that "the problems with the VA never happen again to our war veterans" and to "work to provide quality healthcare to every veteran in need."

Over all, his outlook leads in a very different direction from King's. His concerns are about fighting for the middle class, not maintaining a status quo for the very wealthy and for corporate special interests. His goals are to be part of the congressional team that will increase the minimum wage, guarantee college affordability, increase child care credits, provide tax credits for healthcare providers and fight for good-paying jobs. When he was endorsed by New York's Working Families Party, Long Island Political Director Emily Abbott noted that "DuWayne has put politics aside to get things done for working families. Washington needs people like DuWayne Gregory who will fight to ensure that all of Long Island’s families and small businesses have a fair shot to succeed." DuWayne is a strong advocate for Medicare-For-All.

Peter King's antiquated perspective on women doesn't work in NY-02, not in 2016. He voted against equal pay for women and his anti-choice extremism belies his claims to be a "moderate." Moderates, unlike King, don't oppose women's choice even in cases of rape and incest. "The disparity of pay between men and women doing the same work is unjustifiable and I'll never forget when I'm in Congress that my constituents don't want any part of that," DuWayne told us. "Nor will I ever countenance the government coming between a woman and her doctor or her minister or whomever she choses to consult about her intimate health matters. My opponent talks about government getting off the backs of our people. I don't know how he squares that with his extreme positions on women's choice and his shameful, ideological vote to defund Planned Parenthood."

Goal ThermometerDuWayne reacted strongly when King voted for TPP Fast Track Authority. He would have rejected it. "I have serious concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was largely negotiated in secret. The nations set to sign on to this agreement represent 40% of the world’s GDP. A trade deal of that magnitude deserves to be rigorously debated and amended in Congress, so as to ensure strong protections for American jobs. By sacrificing the power to make changes to this deal, Congress is sacrificing its power to help shape it."

This morning DuWayne told me that "the call for vigorous new leadership in Washington is loud and the enthusiasm for change is inspiring." He added that Trump has degraded America's moral authority while Peter King remained silent. "We deserve a passionate champion for the issues we all care about-- cutting taxes, protecting our environment, and preserving the American Dream... "I hear it from my neighbors and from friends across the country; people are tired of the nonsense, the lies and the failures of Trump’s administration, and the politicians in Washington who let it happen. We know the swamp hasn’t been drained-- it’s deeper and dirtier than ever. And we know that it’s because politicians like Peter King aren’t doing their job."

Last year we had a mobile billboard driving up and down the district and we'd like to step up our participation in DuWayne Gregory's campaign for 2018. We are eager for suggestions from Blue America members and DWT readers. Meanwhile, a remembrance of 2016:

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At 7:52 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Go for it DuWayne.


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