The New York State Republican Party ended debate on their nominee to represent them in November. It is now John C. Cummings. Cummings is the sole nominee and the only candidate producing enough signatures and other requirements needed for eligibility. No primary will be held for this seat.
Cummings, is a lifetime resident of NY District 14. He is a teacher and a former NYC Police officer injured in the line of duty. His credentials are impeccable.
I have had numerous interviews over the last year with John Cummings. The quotes in this piece come form those discussions.
John Cummings: Community Service is in his Blood
After graduating High School, Cummings followed in father’s footsteps as a NYC Police officer, protecting the community where he grew up, assigned to the special operations Harbor Patrol Unit. Unfortunately, Cummings was permanently injured in the line of duty. Forcing him to retire. John went back to college after retirement (Fordham University – Bronx, NY) and received a degree in communications.
Continuing his service to the community since his injury, Cummings teaches High School at the same Bronx School he graduated from in 1978 – St. Raymond’s Boys High. Cummings teaches American government, US history, and economics. As a candidate, Cummings comes prepared. He knows the streets and people of the Bronx. Cummings is considered a favorite son of the “neighborhood,” growing up in the Parkchester Apartments with his parents and sister.
Just A Guy From The Bronx
I have spoken to Cummings many times over the last six months and many of these quotes are from those conversations
“Where we grew up, we certainly were not rich, just regular people. My mom worked at Macy’s, and my dad was a cop. Four of us in a small apartment in the Bronx. I remember playing ball in the park from morning until night as a boy, we stayed out, then went back home for dinner. After dinner went back and hung out until late at night, talking about sports, music, just about everything. We grew up next to every nationality and flag in the world; we accepted everyone. Parkchester was our melting pot.”
Cummings played baseball in Parkchester next to former US Attorney, National Review author, and Fox News Analyst Andy McCarthy.
John Cummings was the person in high school everyone respected. If he saw someone was teased unfairly, he didn’t have to say much. Striding next to the person he would put his arm around their shoulder and say, “Hey Frank, what’s happening?” The heckling stopped. He didn’t have to engage anyone. People knew his integrity; respected by all.
(Full disclosure – This author has known Cummings since the first day of High School in 1974 and is a lifelong friend. I was also an early consultant to his campaign).
Teaching: More than a Passion
Cummings enjoys teaching at his Alma Mater St. Raymond’s High School for Boys. Many of us from the class of 1978 call him our own Mr. Kotter, a reference to 1970’s sit-com “Welcome Back Kotter,” where a member of the old gang comes back to teach at the same High School. Cummings is an effective teacher. A former student, Billy DeToma wrote, “Mr. Cummings would take time to pull me aside and talk to me… He would work with me. He made sure I graduated.”
This author attends the Career Day at our Alma Mater. I have met Cummings’ students. They all have three things in common:
- Great respect for his commitment to them as individuals and future leaders.
- Cummings doesn’t preach a point of view. He teaches his students to come to their own conclusions: teaching critical thinking.
- Cummings loves a have good debate! They know their opinions will always be honored and respected.
- He cares. I have spoken with many former and current students. They shared with me that John Cummings is the reason they graduated.
Unlike his incumbent, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), while Cummings tended bar in his day, he can boast about molding future leaders of our country. He could safely talk about the hundreds of students he taught in the last 20 years. These students have gone on to become productive members of the community.
Students Urged him to Run
Many people have thought John Cummings would be a natural for political office. John Cummings has told this story on many occasions: “I had no desire to [run for office]. My kids (students) kept asking me, Mr. Cummings, why don’t you run for Congress? You could win! I always pushed them aside saying: ‘Joe Crowley has been in Congress for as long as I am teaching here. Taking him down would be next to impossible!'”
In 2018 Crowley lost to AOC, and that excuse was gone. John has said: I cannot tell you how many calls, emails, and just casual conversations from former students I received saying, “You need to run.” As my kids told me, my excuse was now lame. I thought about it and it was not as far fetched as I thought.
John Cummings on Running for Office and Tackling Hot Issues
John Cummings did not blindly walk into the possibility of running for office. Like a good leader, he put together a capable team and started to test the waters. His thought process followed along these lines: First, could I do it? It would take a lot of work. Second, could I pull this off? Is it going to take a lot of money? Mike Rendino , Bronx Republican Chairman, believed in me and gave me a pep talk. To get me revved up, he asked me if I liked what AOC brought to the district?
Cummings knew he had to run at that point. He did’t have any problem with AOC as a former bartender because he was one too. The love of socialist ideals is what pushed Cummings over the edge. He has said repeatedly, he “despises socialism.” Government controlling you, your output, and productivity is not his idea of a productive economy. Capitalism, does it have problems? You bet it does! These problems will work themselves out if left alone. The market will equalize itself. Cummings admires the teachings of economist Milton Friedman. Government’s problem is they always tinker in the market, then wonder why it’s not working.
Here are a number of John Cummings’ stances, per my interview with him at CPAC:
Unions/Medicare for all
Cummings stance on unions and “Medicare for all” are as follows: AOC’s plan of “Medicare for all” has a horrible end for unions. Union negotiators began trading salary increases for great health benefits for the members 20 years ago. Under “Medicare for all,” those benefits will disappear. What were the results of their bargaining? It will become “rationed health care for all,” which is what “Medicare for all” is about. It just won’t cut it for union workers. Unions will want her to explain how this helps them. It clearly does not!
“AOC is on record for working on getting her God-daughter into a charter school. Talk about hypocrisy! AOC is against charter schools for everyday citizens. Directly affect her family – she wants in. A Typical socialist move: “Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others” – George Orwell 1984. Everyone knows I am all about school choice . I am teaching in a private, parochial school. I am not complaining; Salaries not nearly as much as in public schools. Look at the results in our little school. It is way above the quality you get at a public school just down the street. We need to give our children a chance at a better life. The only tried and true way is with education. I believe education is the Civil Rights Issue of This Generation.”
“AOC needs to start explaining her unwavering support for non-citizens. Yes, we live in a Hispanic district. Many in my district are scraping to get by. They don’t realize their taxes are used to provide an array of benefits to others that they don’t get as citizens. We are one of the highest-taxed cities in the nation. Immigration effects are going to be felt right down to the services.” Especially with coronavirus, these issues hit the state and local governments the most.
After graduation, Cummings’ students will have compete with non-citizens for the same jobs. Are there many Hispanics who want illegal immigration? Of course! They want their families with them, and they want them to have the opportunities they have. All Hispanics are not singular on the topic of unlimited immigration. Cummings thoroughly knows the issues on both sides as he speaks fluent Spanish.
“I have been saying this since I started. That I live in the district, I eat in the district, and I play in the district. I was born in 1960, and I am part of the fabric of this district. Growing up in NYC, I have seen everything, and I have been part of what has happened here. I shop, I go to the same drug store you visit. I can tell you the best places to eat. Driving, I know all of the short cuts – Waze has equalized those. I attend mass here, where I worship with my friends and neighbors. I even get my hair cut here (though I only pay $15).”
“AOC does not live in the district. While she may have an address here, she never lived or grew up here (AOC grew up in Yorktown Heights). She shares office space in her own district, where no one answers the phones to her constituents. AOC pays $250 to get her hair done in DC, not in the district. She has no presence at all here. People here know me; they know who I am, I was raised, and I live here. #IAMYOU2020 is not a slogan – it is who I am!”
What is Next?
Al Davis owner of the Oakland Raiders, once said: “Just win baby!” Cummings has an uphill climb and is determined to make it. Many of his former St. Raymond’s classmates are behind him. John is riding a new wave of uncertainty. Can a Republican win in NYC where the Republican base is almost non-existent. Cummings said, “I can win. I have better ideas, and I care about my neighbors and their future.”
The 2020 election is up in the air at the moment. How will the election be held, what is it going to look like, and what will be the results?. How do we campaign with all of the social distancing? All of this needs to be baked into the equation. Door knocking, shaking hands, and kissing babies – they might be relics of the past. At least in 2020. Another unknown is how the electorate is responding to the media. They (the media) may have blown the Coronavirus out of proportion, maybe not.
Will people allow their constitutional rights to be eroded? Have Democrats taken the virus as a way to further their policies? Their actions point to an infringement on the rights of American people. Have they traded safety for liberty? If people want that, you will see a tilt to the left.
Nobody knows at the moment how this will shake out. The next few months will be an interesting time to be alive. Frank D’Onofrio will be holding a One on One interview with Cummings in the next few days. Watch for it!
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