Zellner Re-Elected Erie County Dem Chair

Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Zellner fended off a challenge to his leadership and secured another term, our colleagues at Time Warner Cable News Buffalo report.

Zellner’s victory comes after Sen. Tim Kennedy and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown supported Mark Manna, a contract negotiator for the UFCW in western New York, over Zellner’s re-election (Kennedy himself was at one point floated as a possible replacement for Zellner, but denied his interest earlier this month on Capital Tonight).

Grant, who also had the support of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, had previously challenged Kennedy for the Democratic ballot line in 2012 and lost.

The faction that lined up against Zellner came after the chairman supported Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant’s failed primary bid against Kennedy.

Zellner had accused his rival faction of having Steve Pigeon, a former county chairman himself, finding Manna out of nowhere in order to knock him from his post.

Zellner initially won the chairmanship in Erie County after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s allies behind the scenes stepped in to oust then-Chairman Len Lenihan.

Still, Zellner wasn’t the choice of Cuomo sympathizers, who backed Cheekotowaga Chairman Frank Max.

Nevertheless, as Liz reported earlier, there has been a thaw in the relationship between Cuomo’s political operation and Zellner, which comes as the governor focuses heavily on western New York in order to achieve an overwhelming victory against Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino this November.

Hillary Clinton Fundraise For Rice And A Few Others (Updated)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will appear at a Sept. 29 luncheon fundraiser for Kathleen Rice, a Democrat seeking to replace Rep. Carolyn McCarthy in the 4th congressional district.

Updated: As Colin Campbell on Business Insider points out on Twitter, the event is actually for a ton of Democratic candidates running for House seats in New York, not just Rice.

Tickets to the fundraiser range from $500 to $1,000.

Rice, the Nassau County district attorney, faces Republican Bruce Blakeman for the seat.

“When I was first elected District Attorney, I was honored to have Hillary swear me into office,” the campaign wrote in an email to supporters. “Now as we push into the final weeks of my campaign for Congress, I’m thrilled that Hillary is hosting an event to support me and my fellow Democratic congressional candidates from New York.”

Clinton, a former U.S. senator from New York, is widely believed to be considering a campaign for president in 2016 and in recent months has been traveling the country appearing alongside Democratic candidates.


The Republican State Leadership Committee, a national group that focuses on state races, has given $250,000 to help New York Republicans win a majority in the state Senate.

The governor sought to downplay his enthusiasm for a Senate controlled by his own party while speaking to members of the state Business Council.

US Sen. Kirsten Gillirand’s book has debuted at No. 8 on the New York Times’ hardcover nonfiction best-seller list.

The Cook Political report has changed the outlook of the NY-21 race to “leans Republican.”

Cuomo said he doesn’t think the state Business Council knew he was running on the WFP line when it endorsed him in 2010.

NY-11 Democratic candidate Domenic Recchia says he has “great knowledge” of foreign affairs, citing his experience running a school exchange program more than a decade ago and trips to Italy.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted a new ad campaign that will run on city buses and subway stations that feature disturbing images of journalist James Foley in the moments before he was beheaded.

After de Blasio’s comments, the MTA announced it has rejected one of the ads.

Whither the Tappan Zee Tolls and Financing Task Force?

Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL wants to implement new personal conduct policies by the Super Bowl. He has not considered resigning.

The state’s cash position is strong, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

A challenge by Republican Tom Croci to Adrienne Esposito’s state Senate candidacy on the Women’s Equality Line is still alive.

Georgina Bloomberg, the equestrian daughter of former Mayor Bloomberg, took home first place and a $69,300 prize at the $210,000 Central Park Grand Prix.

In 2011, the former mayor made an anonymous donation of $250,000 to a privately funded counterterror center at West Point.

Will climate change replace same-sex marriage as the next big social issue?

Citing terrorist activity overseas, Cuomo announced the National Guard is being called in to help beef up security in the city and beyond.

If you’re driving in the Adirondacks, be on the lookout for moose.

By mayoral proclamation: on Oct. 1, Troy shall be known as “Ginger City, USA.”

Donald Trump: “The Wilson family should thank me. Pegula overpaid for the @buffalobills because of me!”

Former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland was found guilty in federal court here on all seven counts of corruption.

Assemblyman Peter Lopez is featured along with other community residents in a video pitching the gaming/water park project proposed at the Howe Cavern tourist complex in Schoharie County.

POLITICO’s Dylan Byers says Democratic NY-19 candidate Sean Eldridge is “pretty much done” and was “doomed from the get-go.”

DiNapoli Hopes Loan Claw Back Will Trigger Spending Plan For TZB

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is hopeful the partial denial of more than $400 million for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project will help shine more light on the spending for the project.

“The big question mark still is how’s it going to be paid for and the real question is what’s the impact on tolls,” DiNapoli said in an interview after speaking to the state Business Council. “So as soon as the Thruway Authority comes forward with that information, I think the more confidence we’ll all have. So perhaps this denial will force a little more priority to have that full disclosure of the financing plan.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this month denied more than $400 million be used as a loan from the bridge, with the money come from a clean-water revolving loan fund. The state had initially sought $500 million to help pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, but EPA officials only approved $29 million for aspects of the project.

The state plans to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, an independent authorities budget office is investigating the process through which the Thruway Authority requested the loan.

DiNapoli said he couldn’t compel the Thruway Authority to release more details on the proposal.

Cuomo, speaking with reporters today, reiterated that the loan was never a key piece for the bridge construction.

“The loan had nothing to do with anything. It was not part of the financing,” he said. “It was not part of the budget. The EPA loan came after the fact — way after the fact. So it was never an integral component for the Tappan Zee bridge or calculations for the Tappan Zee Bridge.”

He said there’s been “no discussion” about using a portion of the state’s $4 billion budget surplus to pay for the construction of the replacement bridge.

Esposito Receives Green Party Nod

Adrienne Esposito became at least the third Senate Democratic candidate on Friday to gain the endorsement of the Green Party through the opportunity-to-ballot process.

Esposito, who is running for the Suffolk County Senate district held by Republican congressional candidate Lee Zeldin, is competing for the seat against Islip town Supervisor Tom Croci.

“I am deeply proud of securing the Green Party ballot line because of the work I have done throughout my career to protect Long Island’s natural beauty. I’ve dedicated my life to preserving and improving our environment, and I plan to be an environmental champion in the Senate. In the wake of the toxic dumping scandal that has rocked our community, Suffolk County needs leadership on environmental issues now more than ever. I will be honored to lead the way as a State Senator,” Esposito said.

Sens. Cecilia Tkaczyk and Terry Gipson this month also gained the Green Party ballot line as well.

All three candidates are running in tightly contest races this year as Democrats try to gain full control of the state Senate.

NRCC Ad #2 in NY-24: Maffei ‘Puts Us At Risk

The NRCC has released its second ad in the NY-24 race, accusing Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei of being soft on terrorism and putting Americans at risk.

The ad cites Maffei’s votes over the past two years on several amendments to defense spending bills, including his support for a measure that prevents the use of federal funds for the use of military force in Iraq, and his rejection of a measure that prohibits the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries.

One amendment was proposed by California Rep. Barbara Lee. According to her office, it “prohibits funding for the use of force pursuant to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, effective on December 31,2014, when the last American combat troops will rotate out of Afghanistan and the responsibility for security will have passed to the Afghan people.”

Technically speaking, this isn’t a simple funding cut, and it’s a bit of a stretch for this ad to say that the congressman voted in favor of reducing financial support for troops fighting terrorists overseas.

One hundred thirty five of Maffei’s fellow Democrats voted “yes” on Lee’s amendment, and so did 21 Republicans – including Rep. Chris Gibson, a US Army vet who taught at West Point and is the author of “Securing the State”, a book on national security decision-making that was published in 2008.

The claim that Maffei voted in favor of bringing individuals accused of terrorism to be tried here in the US isn’t so cut-and-dried, either. Robert Harding of The Auburn Citizen has a detailed explanation of the ins and outs on this issue, as well as the ad’s claim that the congressman would keep police from detaining illegal immigrants who have been accused of crimes. In one of those cases, Maffei and Gibson were again on the same page

The new ad will run for the next week on broadcast stations in the Syracuse market. The buy is $145,000. Maffei is facing Republican former prosecutor John Kato in the November general election.

Here’s the script:

ANNCR: In a world like this…

NEWS ANCHOR: The country is about to go to war. Violence, street gang, crossing the border

ANNCR: Dan Maffei puts us at risk.

Maffei cut funding for troops fighting terrorists. Backs constitutional rights for foreign terrorists, voted to bring them to America. Maffei would keep police from detaining illegal immigrants who’ve been suspected of crimes.

Dan Maffei: Dangerously wrong for our security.

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

To Business Leaders, Cuomo Touts His Bipartisan Accomplishments

Gridlock, dysfunction and chaos were spoken of in the past tense.

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged to business leaders jittery about his support from the union-aligned Working Families Party and endorsement of a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate that he has no intention of going backwards.

In a speech to the state Business Council’s annual meeting in Bolton Landing on Friday morning, Cuomo relied heavily on touting his record on the state budget as well as his efforts to combat property taxes while also taking some veiled swipes at his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino.

Cuomo proposed using some of a $4 billion surplus, which he acknowledged was a “one-shot” revenue source from numerous financial settlements, on infrastructure spending, education and for helping local governments find ways to share services as part of an overall economic development boost for the upstate region.

Cuomo in a question-and-answer session with reporters after his speech said he would commit about $500 million to the shared services effort and, without naming Astorino, said a hypothetical county executive hasn’t convened local government leaders to take necessary stops to reduce costs.

But the speech was very much Cuomo boosting the results of New York in 2014, four years after he’s taken office: 500,000 new jobs, a credit rating upgrade from the major agencies and approved budgets that kept spending increases under 2 percent year over year.

Cuomo told the business leaders the reason for this was a state Capitol that ran a lot smoother than the years before he took office.

“Washington thinks they discovered gridlock,” Cuomo said. “Albany invented gridlock and it was a vicious form of gridlock.”

The governor also pointed to the state’s massive investment in the economically depressed city of Buffalo in western New York, crediting the emphasis placed on the region with the recent purchase of the Bills football team from an owner who plans to keep the team in the area.

“I don’t know if Terry Pegula buys the Bills four years ago,” Cuomo said. “Today he does.”

Pegula made his money in natural-gas development and the governor’s administration is yet to make a decision on whether to allow high-volume hydrofracking in the state, a controversial extraction process that is supported by the energy industry, but staunchly opposed by environmental groups.

Astorino’s campaign has sought to make Cuomo’s indecision on hydrofracking a major issue in the campaign, and the GOP candidate reiterated his support for the process in his speech Thursday night.

Still, Cuomo sought to shore up support from business leaders that he won in 2010, despite concerns that he will be forced in to a more liberal agenda next year.

In receiving the Working Families Party endorsement, Cuomo pledged to back a faster phase-in of the state’s minimum wage and allow local governments to increase the wage on their own through a state-based formula.

But in a slide-show presentation, Cuomo repeatedly highlight accomplishments made with a state Senate that was either fully or partially controlled by Republicans, and included a photo of him with a smiling Senate GOP leader, Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat.

Cuomo later said the Business Council’s leadership raised concerns with his WFP endorsement.

“I told them I was endorsed by the Working Families Party four years ago, something that I don’t think they were aware of,” Cuomo said.

The circumstances of those two endorsements were vastly different: The WFP four years ago was under an investigation for the actions of its for-profit arm, Data and Field Services. Cuomo ultimately took the line, forcing them to accept his more economically moderate platform.

This year, the WFP nearly nominated its own candidate, Fordham Law School Professor Zephyr Teachout, after party activists raised alarm over the governor’s economic record.

In the end, Cuomo was endorsed after backing a Democratic state Senate and a host of liberal friendly measures.

Cuomo said later this morning he’s willing to work with Senate Democrats, brushing aside concerns they would seek to drag him to the left on economic issues.

In a clear rebuttal of Astorino’s view that the business community should be more forceful in pushing back against policies from Albany detrimental to job growth, Cuomo said he’s never seen them “more engaged” than ever with state politics.

With Astorino watching on, Cuomo knocked Westchester County for having the highest property taxes in the nation and for having a recent credit-rating downgrade.

Cuomo Doesn’t Rule Out Endorsement Of Grisanti

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday did not rule out endorsing Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti,saying it was a “difficult” choice to make.

Grisanti, a GOP lawmaker in his second term who lost his primary this month to attorney Kevin Stocker, is the last of the Republicans in the state Senate who supported the 2011 same-sex marriage law.

Cuomo told reporters after speaking to the state Business Council in Bolton Landing (and touting his work with Republicans in the Legislature) that he was yet to make a decision as to whether he would back Grisanti or the Democrat in the race, Marc Panepinto.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have not made a decision either as to whether they’ll back Grisanti’s bid in the general election or Stocker.

The governor insisted that it was Grisanti’s vote for the same-sex marriage law that cost him the primary, though the Buffalo Republican survived a challenge from Stocker in 2012 as well. More likely, Grisanti faced a backlash for his vote in favor of the SAFE Act, a gun control law Cuomo championed in 2013.

“It’s a difficult problem for me, because I want to be there, I want to be supportive,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo had endorsed or offered to support two Republicans in 2012 who had voted in favor of the measure: Sen. Stephen Saland, who lost a three-way race, and Sen. Roy McDonald, who had retained the Independence Party line after losing his primary, but ultimately declined to compete in the general election.

Cuomo this year supports a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate, which is currently controlled by a coalition of Republicans and five independent Democrats.

Cuomo And Astorino Meet, Briefly

The Battle of Bolton Landing Part Two it was not.

But Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino had a rare-run in with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday morning here at the Sagamore Hotel for the state Business Council’s annual meeting.

Astorino, who spoke last night to the business lobbying organization, unexpectedly appeared at the breakfast session of the group’s Friday meeting awaiting Cuomo’s scheduled speech.

There was a moment of pregnant anticipation among the business leaders and reporters in the room as Astorino waited close to a door for Cuomo to appear.

When he did, Astorino strode over to the governor to greet him.

“Governor!” Astorino said. “Are we going to debate?”

“Yes,” Cuomo said smiling and clapping Astorino on the back.

“Just tell me when,” Astorino responded.

In a question-and-answer session with reporters after he addressed business leaders here, Cuomo said he expected to debate his GOP rival.

But when it comes to specifics as to who would sponsor the debate, where and when it would be or even if minor-party candidates should be involved, Cuomo said he would leave those up details up to the campaign.

Cuomo and Astorino both are competing for the business group’s endorsement, with each seeking to position themselves as best for making the state more economically attuned to their concerns.

The moment, while a rare interaction between the two men this campaign, was not as electric as four years ago at the Business Council’s meeting, when then-GOP candidate for governor Carl Paladino got into a shouting match with New York Post reporter Fred Dicker over claims the gubernatorial hopeful was making about Cuomo having had extramarital affairs.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Warren County.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will speak at the 1199 SEIU Monthly Executive Council Meeting in Manhattan. This event will be closed press.

At 9 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on WCSS 1490AM with host Sam Zurlo.

At 9:30 a.m., the Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during a forum titled “From Protest to Policy: Policing in Communities of Color”; The Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, CUNY’s School of Professional Studies, 18th floor, 25 W. 43rd St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo speaks at the NYS Business Council’s annual meeting,The Sagamore, Bolton Landing.

At 10:30 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman and his GOP opponent, John Cahill; along with Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and his Republican challenger, Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci, speak at the Business Council meeting.

At 11:45 a.m., Astorino will attend the Montgomery County Senior Picnic, Fonda Fairgrounds, 21 S. Bridge St., Fonda.

At noon, activist Howie Hawkins, the Green Party gubernatorial candidate, greets subway riders; Harlem-125th Street station, Lexington Avenue and 125th Street, Harlem.

At 12:30 p.m., US Sen. Chuck Schumer will formally endorse former NYC Councilman Domenic Recchia’s congressional campaign in NY-11, Arthur Von Briesen Park, on the corner of Bay Street and School Street, Staten Island.

At 1:05 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on Long Island News Radio with host John Gomez.

At 1:30 p.m., Eric Garner’s family, their attorney and Dr. Michael Baden hold a press conference following Baden’s final review of Garner’s autopsy records, 520 1st Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney will announce comprehensive legislation to combat prescription drug abuse, the Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center, Mackintosh Community Room, 147 Lake St., Newburgh.

At 1:45 p.m., Astorino will hold a press conference calling on Cuomo to cease his television “smear campaign based on an absurd lawsuit brought by Sam Zherka, an Independence Party ally newly indicted on multiple federal charges,” West Capitol Steps, Albany.

At 6:30 p.m., environmental advocates including writers Paul Hawken, Bill McKibben and Vandana Shiva and attorney Elizabeth Yeampierre participate in a “Climate Voices” advocacy and art event; ABC Carpet & Home Inc. store, 888 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 8:20 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on Mark Levin, WABC radio.


NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio went to bat for congressional candidate Domenic Recchia, saying he would hit the hustings for the Democrat looking to unseat two-term Republican Rep. Michael Grimm.

A NY1/Capital NY/Siena College poll showed Grimm leading Recchia by just four percentage points (44-40), but also showed that 49 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of the embattled Republican congressman.

De Blasio campaigning for Recchia may not be entirely helpful in Staten Island, where the mayor’s approval rating was a dismal 25 percent according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll. The mayor also lost the borough to his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, in the general election last year.

The Democratic State Committee is launching a petition and Facebook ads calling on GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino to release five years of 1040 returns. There is no requirement for statewide officials or aspirants to release tax returns, but most do as a gesture of transparency.

In a pitch for the state Business Council’s endorsement, Astorino chided top executives for failing to speak up as New York’s economic climate has declined and promised that he would authorize fracking and immediately repeal hundreds of state regulations if elected.

Multiple sources told Ken Lovett that aides to Cuomo, who only formally committed last week to making an appearance at the Council’s meeting, were pressuring to have Astorino moved from the Thursday night speaking spot. But Business Council leaders, noting Astorino agreed to attend the conference months ago, refused.

In a bid to lure NYC’s estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants to carry official identification, those who enroll will get a sweet deal packed with comped tickets and discounts easily worth $2,100.

DailyKos is raising campaign cash for five Senate Democrats/Democratic candidates: Dave Denenberg, Cecilia Tkaczyk, Terry Gipson, Marc Panepinto and Justin Wagner.

Rep. Chris Collins publicly discussed a taboo topic: How fracking saved the Buffalo Bills. “(W)e could have, potentially, more Terry Pegulas. Let’s face it: He’s lived the American dream above and beyond.”

Calling sexual harassment and domestic violence “a crisis facing our nation,” Republican attorney general candidate John Cahill said if elected he’d create a special division dedicated to fighting them.

A Newsday/Siena College poll showed Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice with a big lead – 55-37 – over her GOP opponent, Bruce Blakeman, in NY-4.

A $100,000 incendiary ad campaign that includes an image of American journalist James Foley just before his beheading in Syria is coming to 100 MTA buses and two subway stations, paid for by flame-throwing blogger Pamela Geller.

Cuomo, LG candidate Kathy Hochul and former NYC Council speaker Christine Quinn announced a “women’s equality pledge”, which indicates support for all 10 points of the failed Women’s Equality Act, calling on all seekers and holders of state office to sign it.

New York City plans to hire potentially dozens of additional contractors to rebuild superstorm Sandy-damaged homes, a move that officials say could quadruple the pace of construction.

The city’s unemployment rate fell faster in August than in any month on record, to 7.3 percent from 7.8 percent in July, the State Labor Department reported.

Phil Reisman wonders what’s taking Cuomo so long to write his memoir (or “mem-wah,” as Reisman prefers), and thinks Astorino’s 11-year-old son, Sean, should get a book agent.

De Blasio said securing alternative employment for Central Park’s horse-drawn carriage drivers will be a priority if his long-promised ban on the industry is realized.

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