ALBANY — In the fight for control of the state Senate, Democrats have begun aggressively using Donald Trump as their bogeyman to help raise money for their candidates in crucial Long Island races.
The new fund-raising emails and digital ad campaigns seek to tie Nassau County's Republican Senate candidates to Trump, who polls show is extremely unpopular in New York.
Democratic candidates Ryan Cronin, Adam Haber, and James Gaughran all sent emails to donors last week trashing Trump and tying their opponents to GOP Majority Leader John Flanagan's comments that he would be supporting the bombastic billionaire "with grace, with diplomacy, with passion and with fervor and I’m going to do it with New York style.”
Cronin, who is facing long-time incumbent Sen. Kemp Hannon, wrote that "it's so disheartening to hear all of this hatred, divisiveness, and disrespect from Donald Trump day in and day out."
"What's even worse, my opponent Kemp Hannon and the Long Island Republican Machine are 'passionately supporting' Trump and his dangerous beliefs."
The email knocks Hannon's anti-abortion views and notes that "Donald Trump also thinks there should be 'some form of punishment' for women who make their own reproductive health choices and has made gross comments demeaning women who are sexually harassed at work."
"As State Senator, I look forward to the opportunity to work together with everyone and not divide people with extreme ideologies and hateful rhetoric. Together, we will stand up to Trump and Kemp in November."
A digital ad that will run on social media has a picture of Hannon and Trump, with the heading "Kemp Hannon Loves Trump's Radical Ideas."
Haber, seeking the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Jack Martins, who is running for Congress, sent a fund-raising email saying that "Donald Trump is imploding and yet local and state Republicans supporting my opponent's campaign are still with him."
"It's disheartening that they aren't condemning Trump's hateful actions such as attacking a Gold Star family or dismissing the seriousness of sexual harassment in the workplace," he wrote.
Gaughran in his own fund-raising email ripped the record of his GOP opponent, veteran Sen. Carl Marcellino, before saying that "the final straw is Carl's passionate embrace of Donald Trump."
"We need to send a clear message that this message of hate has no place in our communities."
Long Island, whose nine-member Senate delegation boasts eight Republicans, is considered a key battleground in the bitter fight for control of the chamber this fall.
A recent Siena College poll found that 62% of voters statewide — including 56% in the suburbs — believe that Trump will hurt, not help, the GOP effort to maintain its Senate majority.
The same poll showed 67% of suburban voters hold an unfavorable view of Trump and just 32% in the suburbs are prepared to vote for him in November.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif accused the Democrats of having a "complete and absolute fixation on Donald Trump" to mask their record when they briefly controlled the Senate in 2009 and 2010.
"When you are wrong on all of the issues that Long Island taxpayers and their families care about — and the Senate Democrats are thoroughly and utterly wrong — you look for anything else to put in front of voters," Reif said.