Editorial: Kathleen Rice for Congress, 4th Congressional District

The Island Now

Kathleen Rice is the clear choice for Congress in the 4th Congressional District.

Rice has been an effective and independent voice for the district since she was first elected in 2014.

A former Nassau County district attorney, she has been a strong voice on national security issues as a member of the Homeland Security Committee and as the top Democrat on the Transportation Security Subcommittee.

Having served as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, a federal prosecutor in Philadelphia and Nassau County’s district attorney from 2006 to 2014, Rice also brings an important perspective to issues ranging from President  Donald Trump’s many misdeeds to the issues of police reform surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.

And she has not been shy to express them, backing House Democrats in suing Trump for violations of the Emoluments Clause, supporting Trump’s impeachment and calling for sensible reforms to policing that she terms a long time coming.

She has also shown her independence by opposing Nancy Pelosi’s election as House speaker in 2018, citing a need for a generational change in the Democrats’ House leadership. We disagree with Rice’s opposition, but give her credit for breaking from the majority.

Most importantly, Rice has a clear view and a firm understanding of the No. 1 issue facing the country: COVID-19.

In an interview with Blank Slate Media, she correctly called Trump’s leadership a “complete failure,” beginning with the lack of a national plan to contain the virus and the administration’s repeated questioning of science and doctors and refusal to embrace masking and social distancing.

Rice said that to reopen the economy correctly the country needs a plan on how businesses can do it right that includes testing, masks and social distancing as well as punishment of “bad actors.”

She dismisses Senate Republicans for failing to act for months on a second stimulus plan and then calling for insufficient funds for states and local municipalities while supporting blanket immunity for businesses until 2024.

“If you get sick at all or have any workplace injury, there’s no liability,” Rice said. “That’s ridiculous.”

But, she said, she believes “something is better than nothing” in expressing support for a compromise.

“Do I understand Pelosi’s concern about budging from where we are now?” she added. “Yes. It revolves around what we’re spending where. Enhancing unemployment insurance for people whose jobs will never come back, extending PPP for businesses with bleak futures and local municipalities. This isn’t propaganda for blue state spending, this is recouping lost revenue.”

Rice said she hopes former Vice President Joe Biden wins the election and proposes a “robust” agenda that includes rejoining the Paris Accords, an infrastructure bill to create good-paying jobs, an increase in the national minimum wage and immigration reform.

On policing, she said she does not want to defund the police but would like to see social workers brought in to assist police after community leaders have a chance to explore “what type police-community we want.”

Rice is opposed by Douglas Tuman, a 39-year-old lawyer and engineer who currently serves as commissioner of engineering for the Town of Hempstead.

Tuman falls into the same bad habit as other Republicans in the Age of Trump by minimizing the president’s epic failure in responding to COVID-19 at a time when more than 225,000 Americans have died, 8.5 million have been infected and with the number of those infected rising faster than at any other time since the pandemic began.

This is the worst performance in the world and it was unnecessary.

But Tuman falls back on saying “nobody knew what this was out of the gate” and contends Trump’s initial reaction “made a lot of sense,” referring to a ban on people coming in from China.

The United States was actually the 45th country to ban travelers from China with a porous policy that let tens of thousands in.

More importantly, Trump knew early about the seriousness of the virus and lied to the American people about it.

Tuman also said that in downplaying masks, if not ridiculing people for wearing them, Trump was trying to make a point about the “need to preserve our liberties.”

He says this at a time when the pandemic is raging out of control almost everywhere in the country other than New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo has strongly led an effort to encourage social distancing and mask-wearing.

As we have said about other Republican candidates, there are two explanations for Tuman’s response.

Either he believes Trump’s performance has been good, in which case Tuman has demonstrated he lacks the judgment to serve in the House. Or he believes Trump has failed the American people but won’t say it because of the political price he would pay, which might even be more disqualifying.

But on other issues, Tuman actually proposes a reasonable approach to governing that offers hope for the future of the Republican Party in Nassau County and the state of New York.

He said it was important to get money into the hands of people now through loans to businesses and local municipalities, although he adds a standard Republican talking point that it was important not to bail out “irresponsible” governments. Memo to the candidate: New York, like all other states, must balance its budget every year and currently faces a $14.5 billion loss in revenue due to COVID-19.

But Tuman calls for improving the nation’s and the county’s infrastructure, citing many specific needs in Nassau. He said he believes in global warming and doesn’t “like the stigma” that Republicans are anti-science.

He also says supporting individual liberty includes everyone and that the education system and policing should be reformed to provide safety, security and opportunity to all.

Imagine a Republican actually sounding like a member of the party of Lincoln. We don’t support Tuman in his race for Congress, but we do hope he sticks around in Republican politics.

In the meantime, we strongly endorse Kathleen Rice.


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