Flexing their collective political muscles, a coalition of 23 police unions representing more than 200,000 officers statewide has endorsed six candidates, all Republicans, in key State Senate races.
The joint endorsement is in response to what the unions, in a statement, called Democrats’ “anti-police, pro-criminal” reforms passed into law earlier this year.
Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, many of whose members live in districts represented by the targeted Democrats, said the endorsements should serve as a lesson for legislators who vote against the interests of law enforcement.
“The Democrats in the New York State Senate need to learn that their votes have consequences. It doesn’t matter if they claim to support police officers. It doesn’t matter if they put a Blue Line bumper sticker on their car. None of that keeps our communities safe,” the union leader said. “When it mattered, they betrayed their constituents and voted with the radical cop-haters and pro-criminal activists. The dangerous policies that the Senate Democrats supported are turning voters into crime victims. We will make sure that those voters know who is responsible.”
Mr. Lynch last month endorsed President Trump’s re-election bid, the first time in Mr. Lynch’s 21-year tenure that the union formally backed a presidential candidate. He also addressed the Republican National Convention on its last night Aug. 27.
The president of the city’s Detectives' Endowment Association, Paul DiGiacomo, was equally blunt, pinning rising crime on reforms passed by Democrats that took effect Jan. 1.
“The escalating crime rate, with wanton shootings and killings, especially of children, has proven that the so-called ‘bail reform’ and ‘criminal justice reforms’ hastily passed by the New York State Legislature during this past year have had disastrous consequences for the citizens of New York City and State,” he said. We need to elect those who believe that preventing crime, and seeking justice for crime victims, far outweighs coddling criminals.”
Bipartisan Nods in Past
John Nuthall, a spokesman for the PBA, which represents about 50,000 active and retired officers, said the union had long endorsed state and city candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, “including some pretty progressive Democrats.”
This year, however, the policing reforms endorsed and ratified by Democrats, which included bail reforms and the June repeal of a state statute that had kept disciplinary records of uniformed personnel under wraps, further galvanized that effort, he said.
“What we’re asking for is also good for constituents,” Mr. Nuthall said.
Among the other unions that form the endorsing coalition are the city’s Captains' Endowment Association, the Lieutenants Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association. The MTA Police Benevolent Association, the Nassau County PBA, the Suffolk County PBA and a group of state police associations are also involved.
Other Endorsements Planned
Five of the six endorsed candidates are challenging incumbent Democrats, four of whom are in their first terms.
Among the endorsed Republicans is Alexis Weik, the Islip town receiver of taxes, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Monica Martinez in District 3 in Suffolk County. Sen. Martinez won the vacant seat two years ago, flipping what had long been a Republican seat—as did five other Democrats in a total of nine races on Long Island, results that help the party regain its Senate majority for just the second time in a half-century, and prefaced passage of the policing reforms denounced by the unions.
Dennis Dunne Sr., running in District 6 in Nassau County, is another. The Hempstead Town Councilman is challenging Sen. Kevin Thomas, who narrowly won his seat in 2018 by ousting longtime conservative Republican Kemp Hannon.
Edmond Smyth, who is challenging Democratic incumbent James Gaughran in District 5 on Long Island’s north shore, is another Republican who received the unions’ endorsement. Sen. Gaughran beat longtime GOP incumbent Carl Marcellino in 2018’s Democratic wave on the Island.
The unions are also backing Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo to land the District 1 seat representing the tip of Long Island. He is running to replace longtime Republican Sen. Ken LaValle, who is not seeking re-election. He will face lawyer Laura Ahearn, a lawyer who founded a nonprofit benefiting crime victims.
Astorino Has Backing
Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Peter Harckham in District 40, who narrowly beat a Republican incumbent two years ago, also got the unions’ sanction despite revelations that he was tied up in the corruption web that undid former Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook.
In the Hudson Valley, pro-law-enforcement businessman Mike Martucci received the unions’ nod for the District 42 seat, which was long represented by Republican John Bonacic until he stepped down two years ago. Mr. Martucci is challenging Democratic incumbent Jen Metzger, who defeated the widow of a former police chief in a competitive contest in 2018.
The statement said the coalition would soon be making other State Senate endorsements.
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