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News12 featured Political Science Professor George Picoulas commentating on the State of the Union

02/05/2020

News12 featured Political Science Professor George Picoulas commentating on the State of the Union

Pace University Professor George Picoulas joins News 12 to analyze President Trump’s State of the Union.

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Metro featured Dyson's political science professor George Picoulas in "Will Senate impeachment trial hurt Trump in 2020?"

12/16/2019

Metro featured Dyson's political science professor George Picoulas in "Will Senate impeachment trial hurt Trump in 2020?"

There's a risk that Americans have tuned out over the course of the House hearings, leaving little appetite to follow any Senate trial. "My guess is that in the court of public opinion, not many people are going to be moved by it," says George Picoulas, professor of political science at Pace University. "Most Americans have made up their minds. What's going on is political theater to engage the base within two political parties. But we don't know what kind of theater we're going to see in the Senate."

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"The New York Times" featured Dyson Professor George Picoulas in "He Led a Group of Disloyal New York Democrats. Will It Cost Him His Seat?"

09/12/2018

"The New York Times" featured Dyson Professor George Picoulas in "He Led a Group of Disloyal New York Democrats. Will It Cost Him His Seat?"

...But whether typical voters comprehend the arcane — some might say Machiavellian — deal that Mr. Klein engineered with Republicans remains to be seen.

“The average voter is not aware of the I.D.C., at least not in any detail,” said George Picoulas, a lecturer in political science at Pace University. “But it’s not the average voter who turns out in primaries like this. It’s the activist base.”

Mr. Klein has sought to explain his deal with Republicans, saying he formed the conference because of a dysfunctional Democratic body that included Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate, who in 2012 were convicted of financial wrongdoing.

His power-sharing bargain with Republicans made Mr. Klein, 58, one of the most influential members of the Legislature. He sprinkled goodies like free boat rides, theater tickets and firework displays on his constituents. And he takes credit for pulling Republicans to the left, pushing through such progressive legislation as a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave.

In a statement, Mr. Klein’s campaign spokeswoman, Barbara Brancaccio, said he “has shown up and delivered for Bronx and Westchester residents.” She accused Ms. Biaggi of waging “a civil war among Democrats across the state.”

Many Democrats in the district say they became aware of the I.D.C. only after the election of President Trump.

“It became clear that one of the biggest problems at the state level was this thing called the I.D.C.,” said Rebecca Lish, an actor and mother of two who lives in Riverdale. “I realized that I had been voting for the head of the I.D.C. over and over again. You see this guy in the district and he has on a blue tie. But then he goes up to Albany and he switches to a red tie.”

Ms. Lish has since become involved in a number of progressive groups in the Bronx and beyond, and has volunteered tirelessly for Ms. Biaggi.

“I believe Alessandra Biaggi will be a stronger advocate for the issues that matter to me and my family,” said Ms. Lish, pointing to stalled bills dealing with abortion rights, single-payer health care and immigrant protections, among other things.

Mr. Klein does have his ardent supporters, particularly residents like Monique Johnson, whom he has helped in small but meaningful ways. As president of the Throggs Neck Resident Council, she is the liaison between the 1,700 residents of a public housing complex in the Bronx and the city’s Housing Authority.

In a phone interview, Ms. Johnson said Mr. Klein had been generous with his time and discretionary dollars: calling bingo numbers; running meetings about heat and hot water; donating school supplies and holiday toys; helping children get tested for lead exposure; and securing $1.5 million to overhaul a ball field.

“Everything that I do in this development, he is a part of, and I mean that literally,” Ms. Johnson said.

Despite her traction with progressive groups, Ms. Biaggi has struggled to amass a significant fraction of Mr. Klein’s war chest. According to state election filings, she has raised $445,000 to his $1.9 million. (He has also spent money left over from previous campaigns.)

Last month, he took a $100,000 contribution from a campaign fund-raising committee set up by the state’s Independence Party on behalf of I.D.C. members. In July, the state’s top election enforcement officer ordered the former members to return hundreds of thousands of dollars from the committee. A month earlier, a State Supreme Court justice had ruled the fund-raising arrangement improper.

As in most elections, outcomes will hinge on turnout. Primaries usually yield low turnouts, which tends to favor incumbents. But this year could be different.

“In the Trump era, the progressives are more energized,” said Mr. Picoulas, the Pace University lecturer. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the turnout in this year’s primary is higher than four years ago.”

All of the former I.D.C. members are facing primary challenges. In the 13th District in Queens, Jessica Ramos, a former aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio, is opposing Senator Jose R. Peralta. In central Brooklyn’s 20th District, Senator Jesse Hamilton is facing a challenge from Zellnor Myrie, a lawyer and housing advocate.

Elsewhere in New York City, Jasmine Robinson, a legal secretary and community activist, is taking on Senator Diane J. Savino in the 23rd District, which covers parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn. The former city comptroller, John C. Liu, is challenging Senator Tony Avella in the 11th District in Queens, and Senator Marisol Alcantara is defending her seat against Robert Jackson, a former city councilman, in the 31st District in western Manhattan.

Outside the city, Senator David Carlucci, whose 38th District includes parts of Rockland and Westchester Counties, is fending off an insurgent campaign by Julie Goldberg, a librarian and writer. In upstate New York, Rachel May, who directs sustainability education at Syracuse University, is trying to unseat Senator David Valesky in the 53rd district.

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"The New York Times" featured Dyson Professor George Picoulas in "Special Elections in New York on Tuesday Will Decide 11 Races"

04/23/2018

"The New York Times" featured Dyson Professor George Picoulas in "Special Elections in New York on Tuesday Will Decide 11 Races"

...The big challenge with special elections, of course, is voter turnout. Unlike the November elections, special elections can escape the notice of all but the most avid followers of politics. In the past year, more Democrats have become involved in local politics than any time in recent memory. “The Democratic base is a lot more energized since the election of President Trump,” said George Picoulas, a lecturer in political science at Pace University.

In the Assembly, where Democrats have a nearly three-to-one advantage over Republicans, the nine elections on Tuesday could afford Republicans the opportunity to make inroads and the Democrats to solidify their grip. Five of the nine seats were held by Republicans, including all three on Long Island and two upstate.

Two fresh vacancies in the Assembly, resulting from two certainties of life in Albany — death and indictment — will be decided in the November election.

The three Assembly seats in New York City are expected to be filled by Democrats. In the 39th District in Queens, which includes Jackson Heights, the only major-party candidate to appear on the ballot is Aridia Espinal, a Democrat and former aide to Francisco Moya, who left the Assembly for a spot on the City Council.

In the 80th District in the Bronx, which includes Pelham Gardens, Mark Gjonaj also quit the Assembly for the City Council. The Republican candidate, Gene DeFrancis, is a United States Navy veteran who founded a merchants association. He will face Mr. Gjonaj’s former chief of staff, Nathalia Fernandez, who also worked as a Bronx representative for Mr. Cuomo.

The recent move of Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat, from the Assembly to the Senate opened up the seat in the 74th District on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where Harvey Epstein, a lawyer and former community board chairman, has the Democratic nod. He will oppose Bryan Cooper, an event planner and perennial Republican candidate.

On Long Island, the outcome of the special elections is far less certain.

In the Fifth District in Suffolk County, where Republicans dominate the electoral rolls, Al Graf, a former Republican assemblyman, left the seat for a district court judgeship. Competing to replace him are two Holbrook residents: Doug Smith, a Republican and former aide to Mr. Graf, and Deborah Slinkosky, a Democrat and former school board member who twice tried to unseat Mr. Graf.

Another seat in Suffolk was also under Republican control. Chad A. Lupinacci stepped down after winning the race for Huntington town supervisor. Republicans have held the seat in the 10th District for decades, despite the Democratic advantage in voter registration.

On Tuesday, Janet Smitelli, a Republican lawyer of Huntington, will face the Democrat, Steve Stern, a lawyer and former county legislator. Both said they want to confront the problems of high taxes, gang activity and groundwater contamination.

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