Politics

Bowman’s anti-AIPAC fundraising bump


With help from Shawn Ness

Rep. Jamaal Bowman saw a fundraising spike in May, his campaign said, but he’s still being heavily outspent in his primary.

BOO$T FOR BOWMAN: AIPAC’s attack ads seem to have been a boon for Rep. Jamaal Bowman — at least when it comes to fundraising, Playbook has learned.

The endangered progressive’s May haul was more than $1 million — triple what he raised in April — with $770,000 of the contributions coming after anti-Bowman TV spots hit the air, according to his campaign.

“The backlash to AIPAC’s attack ads began immediately, as our campaign set new records for grassroots fundraising and volunteer mobilization,” Bowman campaign manager Gabe Tobias told Playbook in a statement. “Our beautiful, diverse community has Jamaal’s back because he’s always had theirs.”

Team Bowman highlighted its fundraising bump just as AIPAC’s super PAC, the United Democracy Project, planned $1.7 million more in ads for the week ahead, according to an AdImpact alert today. The new spending brings the pro-Israel lobbying group’s total to about $10 million thus far in the Westchester County and Bronx contest.

Bowman is locked in a brutal primary against Westchester County Executive George Latimer, a more moderate challenger with the benefit of both deep ties to local government and deep-pocketed donors’ support.

Bowman is a chief target this year for AIPAC, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, as a Squad member and vocal critic of U.S. financing of the Israel-Hamas war who has kept his focus on destruction in Gaza.

Asked about Bowman’s fundraising spike, United Democracy Project spokesperson Patrick Dorton told Playbook, “No amount of funds can hide Jamaal Bowman’s anti-Israel record, disagreements with President Biden and trafficking in conspiracy theories.”

A newer anti-Bowman ad from the group is voiced by Elisha Wiesel, whose father is Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.

“Jamaal Bowman repeated Hamas lies, denying that women were raped,” the younger Wiesel says, a reference to POLITICO’s reporting that led the House member to later release a statement reading in part, “The UN confirmed that Hamas committed rape and sexual violence, a reprehensible fact that I condemn entirely.”

Bowman’s campaign said his May numbers included more than 10,000 unique donors and 83 percent of the donations were $50 or less. They did not say how much he spent these past two months.

The Latimer campaign declined to release its April and May numbers.

It had been outraising Bowman’s campaign as of the end of March, according to the candidates’ most recent FEC filings, which showed Latimer with $3 million cash on hand versus Bowman with less than $1.5 million.

“He’s received over 90 percent of his money from outside the district,” Latimer told Playbook recently of Bowman, referencing the incumbent’s last two quarters of fundraising.

“AIPAC has endorsed me, and I’ve also been endorsed by CSEA, TWU, all these other entities,” Latimer added. “They don’t own me and AIPAC does not own me.” Emily Ngo

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (center) is attempting to speed up the biding process for three downstate casino licenses.

GAMING THE CASINO TIMELINE: A push from the Legislature’s gaming chairs to speed up the bidding process for the three available downstate casino licenses is being considered in the final days of Legislative session.

And that could spell doom for two bidders who need more time: entertainment giant Bally’s and Mets owner Steve Cohen, whose proposals require state approval to alienate parkland.

“This bill is about a process, let’s start the process,” said Queens state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who chairs the gaming commission and whose district includes Resorts World New York City, considered a favorite to earn one of the lucrative gaming licenses. “Remember, all of these entities — and they’re all good, they’re all credible — they’ve had two years already trying to figure this stuff out. And we’re giving them another session year to do it.”

“So there will be some sites that are just unattainable,” he added. “If that’s the case, we gotta move on.”

One potential last-minute change to the licensing timeline being mulled by legislative leadership would threaten to dramatically shake up the process — and likely cut out Bally’s and Cohen, while giving an edge to two others regarded as shoe-ins, Yonkers’ Empire City and Resorts World NYC.

Five people familiar with discussions in the Legislature say lawmakers are considering accelerating the licensing process to mid-year 2025 in a way that would threaten Cohen’s Citi Field-area project and Bally’s vision for a former Trump-managed golf course in the Bronx. It could also affect a bid for a Long Island proposal from the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which is tied up in a legal dispute from neighboring Hofstra University.

The measure being considered would ensure that casino bids from Empire City and Resorts World would have an even easier path toward procuring a license as the two sites already are approved for their existing gaming activities.

Downstate casino licenses are expected to be doled out by the end of 2025, after a March announcement from the state’s Gaming Commission where the agency’s executive director insisted the process was “ahead of schedule.”

Talks around changing that remain ongoing.

“There are conversations with the governor’s office, the Assembly and Senate,” Pretlow told Playbook Sunday.

The discussions around speeding up the timeline come about two weeks after Addabbo and Pretlow introduced a bill to dramatically speed up the casino timeline. That bill would have granted conditional licenses and allowed bids to finalize zoning and land use after being awarded a license. — Jason Beeferman

ICYMI: THE POL WITH 46 TRAFFIC TICKETS. Assemblymember Emily Gallagher is alleging the New York Post has been “desperately trying to dig up dirt” on her after the tabloid published a piece on the lawmaker’s two-and-a-half year period of prolific parking penalties.

In a lengthy Friday thread on X, Gallagher slammed The Post for pursuing a “nasty hit little piece [sic]” ahead of the story’s publication. The missive was written after Gallagher said she arrived home from Albany to find one of the Post’s tabloid photographers staked outside the following morning.

“The goal here is to make me and other progressive politicians hate our jobs, to feel bad and scared, to try and shut us up,” she wrote on X. “And truthfully, it is unnerving to have a photographer camped out in front of your home! But the intimidation simply will not work on me or my community.”

The tabloid’s piece did run over the weekend, and it shows safe-street advocate Gallagher’s relationship with parking rules to be a little more colorful than she had let on. Gallagher has been fined over $4,000 in the past two-and-a-half years in unpaid tickets, the Post’s story claims. That includes violations for parking in front of a fire hydrant at least six times.

“I don’t have speeding or school zone violations. Just some parking tickets I’ve paid,” she wrote Friday.

In a statement to Playbook, Gallagher said, “Since my first run for office, the Post has been desperately trying to dig up dirt on me. Their latest investigative triumph: I have parking tickets. In a neighborhood with constant construction, film shoots and alternate side parking, it’s not hard to get a couple tickets a month — especially when I refuse to abuse my placard. We should implement a residential parking permit system. Until then, I’m happy to contribute to the city coffers!” — Jason Beeferman

YIMBY MONEY: Build-more-housing advocacy group Open New York announced another round of endorsements this year — and its associated YIMBY super PAC Abundant New York is planning to spend “six figures” on Assemblymember Demond Meeks in Rochester and Gabriella Romero who is running for the open Albany seat.

Other endorsements include Gallagher; Yi Andy Chen, who’s challenging Assemblymember Ron Kim in Queens; and Yvette Valdés Smith, who’s taking on Republican state Sen. Rob Rolison in the Hudson Valley. Abundant New York also plans to spend on Smith in the general.

The independent expenditure committee is already boosting Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha’s primary, with mailers saying she’s “committed to fighting for tenants and the housing abundance that we deserve.”

In that race, Open New York is breaking with some other real estate industry players, who are funding a Hudson Valley Voters super PAC to support Shrestha’s primary challenger, Gabi Madden. Jeff Coltin

SOCIAL NETWORK: Count the Real Estate Board of New York among those in favor of bills to regulate social media platforms — a key priority for Gov. Kathy Hochul as the session draws to a close.

Lawmakers are weighing a measure that would end algorithmic feeds on social media platforms for child users in a bid to cut off what critics have alleged helps fuel depression and addiction. They also want new data protections for kids on social media as well.

“REBNY strongly supports legislation advanced by the Governor and Attorney General to combat the challenges that social media platforms pose to children’s mental health,” James Whelan, the group’s president, said in a statement to Playbook.

“Excessive social media use poses a significant threat to young New Yorkers. The New York Child Data Privacy Act and SAFE For Kids Act are common sense measures that will help families and put our state on stronger footing.”

The group’s endorsement of the bills is purportedly aimed at making New York a more attractive city for families. But it also comes after a bruising housing negotiation in which Hochul largely got what she wanted in the state budget and has cemented herself as a powerbroker. Nick Reisman

SARATOGA SPRINGS AND HOMELESSNESS: The New York Civil Liberties Union has issued a statement condemning the police department of Saratoga Springs for its “reported arrests and detention of homeless individuals” ahead of the historic Belmont Stakes race Saturday.

“The Saratoga Springs Police Department’s reported crackdown is a shameful attempt to shuffle them away from public sight and cover up the city’s housing problems,” the NYCLU’s regional Director for the Capital Region, Melanie Trimble, said in a statement. “In doing so, Saratoga Springs is ripping a page from the books of other cities that have swept homeless people and so-called encampments before major sporting and entertainment events.”

The police department did not respond to a request for comment. Jason Beeferman

— ON THEIR RADAR: The first week of June has been dubbed “Speed Week” by Hochul’s office. Drivers should expect to see more police cars — both marked and unmarked — to ramp up speeding enforcement. (State of Politics)

— SCOOTER SCOFFLAWS: Two NYPD officers were shot by a migrant while he fled on an electric scooter. The case is renewing focus on the staggering number of crimes involving the electric vehicles. (Daily News)

— FIRST COME FIRST SERVE: After 15 years, a 128,000 family-long list for affordable housing reopened. But the housing landscape has changed drastically since the list closed in 2009 as New York City’s rental vacancies have hit a 50 year low. (The New York Times)

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