Bucky Gleason / AP New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
If he said so, it was July, not August, when the New York Republican Party suspended four lawmakers for allegedly meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s staffers to devise a scheme to acquire a controversial line of cannabis-infused vermouth under the state’s controlled substances program. The list of alleged convos, though, soon included a range of related incidents: discussion of legislation to lift an array of ethical rules governing party fundraising; a hiring decision for someone with a history of recent sexual assault accusations; the demand that some of the defendants try to hire gay men under surrogacy services; the attempt to acquire a vendor that would help power the political operation in exchange for private campaign donations; the creation of a non-subsidized dispensary to help flush down cash from the stoned Republicans; and the refusal to swear off the use of private cars for the benefit of some of the demonstrators (who, while demonstrating at the Assembly and statehouse are not members of the GOP).
The verbal excesses of the proceedings came quickly enough that they receded into the background, but not before they began to show up in the actual details of the proceedings, as a group of more than 40 New York Republicans launched a public campaign on what they’ve dubbed #GetFordForDemocrats. In order to drum up traction for the effort, they’ve enlisted former Cuomo communications director Michael Longo, a Democratic recruiter of sorts for the state party who’s also a former lobbyist for the NYC Taxi Workers Alliance, to play the role of major party pols, telling reporters that they intend to “first elect a Democrat in the state senate, and the party will then nominate the Dem Party for mayor.” He said that, though they plan to “talk about the “feminization” of politics as an organizing principle, the campaign itself is primarily just a “reproduction of [the] efforts of grassroots Democrats in upstate New York to elect pro-choice Democrats,” suggesting that its core objective is more broadly Republican. “We have already begun a grassroots effort to elect pro-choice Democrats in upstate New York,” Longo added, and urged more progressive-leaning activists in the state to “to support the effort to elect Democratic lawmakers at the state and statewide levels.” Longo elaborated on these plans in a recent interview with the Huffington Post, but it’s easy to see why other liberal activists might not give the message much credence: Longo’s announcement isn’t the first time the Longo has linked the party to nonprogressive causes. When the agency his employer handles cleared up the sexual assault allegations against retired head of the state’s most populous county, county chairwoman Janet Brown, in 2014, Longo pulled up a list of politicians who had previously been accused of sexual assault, identifying, among others, Antonio Reynoso, an assemblyman from the Bronx; Joseph Savino, a former state senator from Queens; and Charles Barron, a Brooklyn Councilman.