Skelos Holding Out Hope For The IDC

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos isn’t ready to write off the coalition government with the five-member Independent Democratic Conference just yet.

In an interview on The Capitol Pressroom on Tuesday, Skelos pointed to successes of the Senate under coalition rule — ranging from on-time budgets to a property tax cap (a measure that came in 2011, before the formal governing agreement was actually in place).

“I can go on and on and on of all the accomplishments that we did have together and hopefully that will continue down the road,” Skelos said while adding, “The IDC and the Republican conference work very well together. We showed that bipartisanship could work. We worked with the governor.”

Even so, IDC Leader Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, has made potential noise about trying to snag one of Skelos’ own, Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican who lost primary this month and retains the Independence Party line.

Klein and Grisanti reportedly met in Buffalo recently, fueling more intrigue over the Senate chessboard.

But Skelos shrugged at the idea of Grisanti, a former Democrat, defecting to the IDC.

“I don’t know if that’s just a news account that he reached out about joining the IDC or that he met with them,” Skelos said. “I don’t think that’s really unusual.”

Klein, along with the mainline conference, have promised to form a new coalition after Election Day, a deal that was brokered by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor himself for the first time in office backs a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate by his own party, a pledge he made when receiving the endorsement of the Working Families Party.

“Right now the IDC is (five) members as I understand and we’ll see what post-November brings,” Skelos said.

But it’s de Blasio, not Cuomo, who has been cast as the villain for Republicans in state Senate races.

It’s a role reversal for Republicans in Albany, who previously had billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg donating to their soft-money account.

Now de Blasio, who wants to see his home rule legislation pass the chamber, needs full Democratic control of the Senate.

“If you look at his agenda, I think it’s dangerous for this state,” Skelos said. “You have his candidates running for the Senate or running for re-election around this state.”

A de Blasio-controlled Senate, Skelos said, “would be the worst thing that could happen to this state.”

NRCC Knocks Eldridge As A ‘Partisan Politician’

The ad wars continued in the 18th congressional district on Tuesday, with the National Republican Campaign Committee releasing a 30-second commercial knocking Sean Eldridge’s claim he’d be an “independent voice” in Washington.

“He isn’t independent, he’s a partisan politician,” the ad’s narrator says.

The NRCC is pointing to Eldridge’s fundraiser hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and his support for the Affordable Care Act, while also criticizing the Farm Bill.

“Sean, it’s okay to be partisan, but at least be honest,” the ad concludes.

The committee released this ad the same day Eldridge’s campaign unveiled a new commercial linking Republican Rep. Chris Gibson’s campaign donors to his support for hydrofracking and paring back financial regulations.

The Gibson campaign countered that Eldridge has invested in energy companies that would stand to benefit from natural-gas drilling.

A TWC News/Siena College poll showed Gibson leading Eldridge by 24 percentage points.

Updated: The Eldridge campaign issues some clarifying remarks, noting the candidate is concerned with food stamp cuts in the Farm Bill and points to the ACA helping to insure 15,000 families in the Hudson Valley district.

“With the NRCC’s most recent ad buy, Gibson has now had DC-based groups spend nearly $1,000,000 on his re-elect. For someone who claims to be playing for the home team, Gibson doesn’t have any problem with away team money pouring into New York. It really makes you wonder who he’s actually working for in Congress; his neighbors, or his big-money donors,” said Sophie Friedman, Eldridge campaign spokeswoman.

Haber’s First Ad Pledges To Back Women’s Agenda

Senate Democratic hopeful Adam Haber released his first TV ad of the campaign season with a 30-second spot that highlights his support for lower property taxes and the full 10-point women’s agenda.

“Property taxes are killing the middle class, that’s why I’ll fight any new tax increases,” Haber says in the ad. “I’ll work to cut red tape for small businesses, so they can grow and create jobs.

The Democratic hopeful also picks out two items from the 10-point package of bills that has stalled in Albany: Supporting pay equity and the codification of Roe v. Wade in state law.

The women’s agenda is one he and Sen. Jack Martins have already started to spar over.

Martins, a Nassau County lawmaker, has emphasized his support for aspects of the women’s agenda, especially those that have a chance of becoming law that Republicans in the Senate have approved as individual items.

But they have balked at the abortion plank, which opponents say is unnecessary and expands existing law.

Haber, however, makes a point in his TV ad of touting his support for the full agenda.

“I’ll support pay equity because women deserve to be paid the same as men,” Haber says. “And let’s be clear, unlike Jack Martins, I’m pro-choice and will stand up to the extremists who are blocking the Women’s Equality Act from becoming law.”

The Haber-Martins race is expected to be the most closely watched contests this year in a battleground Senate district that could decide who controls the chamber next yet.

Maloney Counters With A Veteran Ad Of His Own

Who is better for veterans?

That’s the argument being had today in the battle for the 18th congressional district with both candidates releasing ads touting their credentials on veterans services.

Earlier today, former Rep. Nan Hayworth, a Republican unseated 2 years ago, blasted Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney for votes on veterans issues in a TV ad released by her campaign.

Now Maloney this afternoon has an ad released called “Ed Kackos” that focuses on a Sparrow Bush Vietnam veteran who was able to gain access to overdue compensation after Maloney intervened.

And the Maloney campaign is pointing to a Factcheck.org assessment of past Hayworth claims on Maloney’s veterans record as being “shamefully misleading.”

Tying it all together is Republican state Sen. Greg Ball, who endorsed Maloney last week and is his Veterans for Maloney co-chairman.

“On many issues we disagree, but when it comes to fighting for our nation’s veterans I have found no stronger ally than Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney,” Ball said in a statement. “Nan isn’t fooling anyone. When fellow veterans needed Nan, she left us in the cold, voting in lock step with the extreme wing of her party, mindlessly and callously slashing PTSD and housing assistance, including for seniors and homeless veterans. When Nan was in office the only thing we could count on was a busy signal or no call back. Sad but true, and frankly its refreshing to have an independent minded Congressman who gets it and picks up the phone, whether you’re a vet or not.”

Ball’s endorsement of Maloney has sat well with some Republicans in the Hudson Valley House district, with Ball’s staff getting into a subsequent Twitter fight with Republican state Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor.

Democrats Charge Astorino With Pay To Play

Last week, the campaign of Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino released a 100-page report on the intersecting circles of donors to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who also happen to have lucrative state contracts.

The report showed $2.7 million in contributions over the years to Cuomo, with $7.2 billion in contracts from the state doled out.

Today, the state Democratic Committee showed Astorino’s donors have also benefited from the largesse of Westchester County.

Astorino, the county executive since 2009, has received $907,669 from donors with business before the county worth $709 million.

And Cuomo’s allies put Astorino’s opposition research in perspective: Cuomo’s donors with state contracts account for 3.4 percent of all contributions. Astornio’s donors with county contracts, meanwhile, account for 8 percent.

“From the perch of his glass house, pay-to-play Republican Rob Astorino likes to scold others about fundraising practices he has been the poster child for,” said Democratic committee spokesman James Freedland. “Now that he has been exposed, will Astorino return the nearly $1 million in contributions he received from corporations that have contracts with Westchester County? And will he apologize for being part of the ‘pay-to-play corporate cronyism machine’ he continues to express faux outrage about?”

Updated: Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud responds, noting the contracts cited by Democrats are competitively bid and approved by the Board of Acquisitions and Contracts.

“It’s not even an appropriate comparison. County contracts are competitively bid and selected unanimously by The Board of Acquisitions and Contracts with Democratic approval from the Chairman of the Board of Legislators. There is also a professional qualifications board that ensures all bidders meet the qualifications for the contract. The County Executive also increased transparency by posting all the contracts in full online and records the contract meetings.”

Astorino Pay to Play Report by Nick Reisman

State Democrats: Astorino’s ‘Oops’ Moment? (Updated)

Not surprisingly, state Democrats are zeroing in on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s support for Rob Astorino this evening in Buffalo, pointing to the possibly 2016 presidential hopeful’s stance on guns, abortion and same-sex marriage as not being in step with most New Yorkers.

In a statement from the party, which has been acting as an attack arm of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign, the party ties Astorino to Perry’s stances on a variety of issues that maybe play well in Texas, but not in a Democratic heavy state.

“When you look at their positions on cutting Medicaid, cutting education, opposing a woman’s right to choose, blocking marriage equality and repealing gun safety laws, there’s no daylight between ultraconservative Texas Governor Rick Perry and his ideological soul mate Rob Astorino. Just when Astorino might be hoping New York voters have an ‘oops moment’ and ignore his ultraconservative views, in comes Rick Perry to remind everyone,” former Gov. David Paterson, now the chairman of the state Democratic Committee, said in a statement.

Astorino this evening will attend a fundraiser being thrown by Carl Paladino, the party’s 2010 candidate for governor, with Perry headlining the event.

The event itself likely has more to do with maneuvering for 2016 on the Republican side than it does for the race for governor here in New York.

Perry’s arrival to New York comes after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said it was unlikely the group would provide financial assistance to Astorino, telling reporters this summer he didn’t want to “invest in lost causes.”

Update: Astorino advisor Bill O’Reilly responds with a zinger from Cuomo’s 2002 run for governor.

“The 2014 “Oops!” category closed when Governor Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission. When federal prosecutors are done investigating, it may prove to be the biggest “oops!” moment in New York history, even surpassing Andrew Cuomo’s “holding-Giuliani’s-coat” remark that sank his 2002 gubernatorial campaign.”

Skelos Floats Ending Candidate Swap

Senate Republicans would considering barring candidates from being transferred from one ballot line and being nominated for judgeships after Democrats sought to place former Senate hopeful Dave Denneberg in a Supreme Court justice race.

“That’s something that when we come back into the majority, that’s something we’re going to look at,” Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom.

Dennenberg had been running in a battleground Senate district in Nassau County, but he dropped out of the race when it was revealed in a lawsuit had been accused of defrauding his former law firm out of $2 million.

Democrats in the county transferred Dennenberg’s name to a judgeship race he has little chance of winning.

The practice is not uncommon in state politics, especially when it comes to unifying a statewide ticket. For instance, Republican Rick Lazio was nominated for a judgeship in 2010 after he lost the GOP primary to Carl Paladino in order to free up the Conservative Party line for the Buffalo businessman.

But the circumstances of Denneberg’s nomination — the fraud charge in the lawsuit as well as the effort to give Democrats full control of the state Senate — has raised eyebrows.

Skelos, in the interview, also attacked Buffalo Democratic Senate candidate Marc Panepinto for a previous election-law violation, linking him to Dennenberg’s case.

“The question is, is he a role model? Is he the type of person you want representing that district?” Skelos said.

Still, Skelos was careful to not say whether the conference was endorsing Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican who lost his primary to Kevin Stocker.

“Mark is A great member of our conference, I wish him the best. I don’t know Kevin Stocker,” Skelos said.

When it was noted Deputy Senate Republican Leader Tom Libous faces his own legal troubles with a charge of lying to the FBI, Skelos said that was a false equivalency.

“I think there is a big difference between conviction and presumption of innocence,” Skelos said.

He also defended his recent appearances alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat running for re-election against the underfunded Rob Astorino, a Republican who hasn’t shied away from criticizing GOP lawmakers in Albany.

“I endorsed Rob Astorino months ago. I told the governor I was going to do it,” he said, adding that the appearances with Cuomo are “an obligation I have to do as majority leader.”

Skelos said he is not attending tonight’s fundraiser in Buffalo for Astorino, which is being thrown by Paladino and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Senate Democratic Campaign Committee spokesman Mike Murphy was quick to weigh in on the Skelos interview.

“The Republicans have controlled the Senate for over 50 years and that has resulted in higher taxes, a crippled upstate economy, out-of-control mandates and a State Senate that has lacked transparency and accountability. The Senate Republicans have a Deputy Leader serving under federal indictment, senators fleeing under the cloud of federal investigation and extremist right wing candidates who oppose.

Astorino Ad: Cuomo Didn’t Fix Albany

A new ad released by Republican Rob Astorino’s campaign blasts Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s record on ethics, saying he broke a promise to voters on cleaning up Albany.

The ad points to Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption and the reported involvement by the governor’s office in directing or blocking subpoenas by the panel.

“Burned again,” the ad’s narrator says. “NY voters trusted Andrew Cuomo to clean up Albany. Now he’s at the center of the biggest corruption scandal in years.”

Indeed, Cuomo ran on a platform in 2010 of clamping down on corruption in the halls of the state Capitol. As governor, Cuomo was able to get lawmakers to reveal more information on their outside income and overhauled the state’s lobbying and ethics regulatory body, the latter of which was met with mixed results.

After a string of corruption scandals hit the Legislature, Cuomo impaneled the commission to investigate the Legislature when lawmakers failed to reach an agreement with him on new ethics laws.

Cuomo shut down the commission with little fanfare in April after ethics legislation was agreed to in the state budget.

The governor’s handling of the commission, as well as the decision to shut it down, is now part of a federal inquiry by the U.S. attorney’s office.

The ad concludes by paraphrasing a column from Fred Dicker — who has been critical of the governor — that called him a “phony.”

“Andrew Cuomo. Another phony. Another Albany politician caught in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors.”

Burned Again from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.

Hayworth Ad Knocks Maloney On Veterans Issues

A TV ad released by Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth’s campaign on Tuesday takes on Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney on a perceived strength: vetreran’s issues.

The 30-second commercial from Hayworth’s campaign is criticizing Maloney for votes on measures that impacted military pensions and Medicare.

The ad features Art Hanley, a Brewster resident and Vietnam veteran:

“I served in Vietnam for this country. What did Sean Maloney do? He voted to cut pensions for veterans and Medicare for seniors, while keeping fancy perks like first class airfare and lifetime healthcare for Congress. It’s disgraceful. Nan Hayworth served veterans as a doctor in the VA; she fought to preserve funding for troops and veterans. It’s an easy choice.”

The ad comes after Maloney has placed an emphasis on veteran’s services during his first term in Congress.

He was endorsed recently by Republican state Sen. Greg Ball, a Hayworth rival, who touted Maloney’s work on veteran’s issues.

NRCC Keeps Heat on Woolf

Another day, another TV ad from the NRCC attacking on-the-ropes NY-21 Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf.

The newest spot again highlights the troubles Woolf has experienced with his Brooklyn food store and restaurant.

A Siena poll released earlier this month found Woolf trailing his GOP opponent, Elise Stefanik, by 13 percentage points, with Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello receiving 10 percent of the vote and 11 percent of those polled saying they remain undecided.

The Republicans smell blood in the water as the Democratic establishment appears to be giving up hope that Woolf could somehow pull out a victory in the November election.

Funiciello has added to Woolf’s stress by calling for the Democrat to drop out of the race and clear the field for the Green Party contender, insisting that he can make a stronger campaign against Stefanik. Woolf has said he has no intention of quitting the race.

Here’s the script of the NRCC’s latest salvo against Woolf:

Announcer: Meet Aaron Woolf, millionaire filmmaker from Brooklyn.

Aaron tells us he’s a champion of small business. But his Brooklyn grocery store failed to pay over one hundred thousand dollars in state taxes.

And Woolf’s employees? They sued him for stiffing them out of their overtime pay. Not paying his taxes, stiffing his employees.

Aaron Woolf, that may work in Brooklyn, but not for us.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.”