Maloney Backs Cuomo On American Greatness Comment

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, one of four Democrats seeking the nomination for attorney general, backed up Gov. Andrew Cuomo after the firestorm created by his remarks that America was “never all that great.”

“It was a pretty stupid thing to say, but I think we knew what he meant,” Maloney said before participating in a town hall in Albany.

“I give him credit for arguing that this country is best when it’s getting better. I believe that’s what he meant. I think he meant we have so much greatness to be proud of and we have so much work to do. Families like mine depend on it. I have watched this governor — please include in this what you’re reporting — I have watched this governor contribute to making America greater by passing marriage equality in New York and I give him a lot of credit for that. I think he misspoke, and it’s fun to jump all over him for that, but I think we know what he meant.”

Several other Democratic lawmakers have not been as forgiving. Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, running for Congress in the 22nd district, said in statement Cuomo was wrong. Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat from the Albany area, said he had not heard of the governor’s remarks.


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Trump’s planned military parade in Washington, D.C., is reportedly estimated to cost $92 million, $80 million more than was initially thought.

Democrats distanced themselves from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “America was never great” remark, with New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson saying it was “inartful,” Rep. Paul Tonko claiming ignorance and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi saying Cuomo was “wrong.” underwent its first major homepage redesign since 2012.

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The Nation magazine endorsed Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout for AG, citing her “experience, independence and toughness.” (It also backed her for governor in 2014).

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Democrat Alessandra Biaggi, who is challenging former IDC Leader Jeff Klein in next month’s primary, released a new campaign video.

NYU School of Medicine has pledged to provide full-tuition scholarships to all current and future medical students regardless of need.

Epstein And Nixon Endorse Each Other

Manhattan Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Epstein on Thursday endorsed Cynthia Nixon’s bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor in the Sept. 13 primary.

Epstein is the third lawmaker in the state Assembly to back Nixon over Cuomo, joining Democratic lawmakers Andrew Hevesi and Tom Abinanti.

“I am proud to endorse Cynthia because I believe she is truly committed to fighting for a more just and equal New York,” Epstein said. “Together, we will work to advance issues of social and economic justice so that every citizen has a chance to thrive. From reforming our criminal justice system that disproportionately targets low-income people of color, to fixing the MTA and making public transportation more efficient and accessible, I believe that Cynthia will be an excellent ally in this work.”

Nixon in turn backed Epstein’s re-election as well.

“I’m thrilled to receive the endorsement of Assembly Member Harvey Epstein and proud to stand with him in the fight to make New York a state for the many,” she said. “As we’ve seen all across the country, when bold progressives stand together and fight back, we can bring about real change. I look forward to working with Harvey to fix our subways, rein in Cuomo’s housing crisis, and usher in a new era of progressive leadership in New York on Thursday, September 13th.”

Cuomo Allies Come To His Defense

Allies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, NOW-NYC and labor leaders issued statements on Twitter in his defense amid the blow up over his comments on Wednesday that America was “never that great.”

The supportive statements on Thursday came hours after President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening slammed Cuomo on Twitter following the extended criticism of his Make America Great Again slogan.

“There are those who think ‘great again’ means going backward and trampling on workers’ rights,” said AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. “We are with @NYGovCuomo who supports moving forward toward a better, brighter tomorrow by giving workers more protections not less.”

Added Sharpton, “@NYGovCuomo we are not going back to the “good old days” – our people didn’t do well, we fight 4 our rights & fight racism.”

Cuomo made the remark at a bill signing ceremony in the context of opposing discrimination toward women and immigrants. His office has since walked back the comment, saying Cuomo does believe America is great, but hasn’t reached its full potential.

NOW-NYC President Sonia Ossorio said in a tweet Cuomo was right when he responded to Trump’s tweet that making America great “again” is going back to a more troubled time.

“That’s right. There’s no place for racism and sexism in an America that is great,” she wrote.

Not impressed with the exchange was Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican who has been increasingly at odds with Cuomo over the last several months as he seeks to help Democrats gain control of the chamber.

“Like many New Yorkers and thousands of veterans, I am disappointed and outraged that Andrew Cuomo said that America ‘was never that great.’ I couldn’t disagree more,” he said.

“It’s simple – America is the greatest country on the face of the earth. It has no equal. It has long served as a beacon of hope for immigrants throughout the world, who came here in search of a better life for themselves and their families. It has given countless citizens the opportunity to prosper and get ahead, and to live out their dreams. Together, America has helped win two World Wars, defended freedom across the globe, and brought democracy and peace to millions of people who yearned for it. No matter what the Governor’s radical leftist advisers want him to say, America was, is, and always will be great. The Governor should apologize today – not through a spokesperson – but with his own words and from his own mouth.”

DiNapoli: Pension Fund Reaches $209.2B

The state pension fund reported a 1.53 percent rate of return during the first quarter of 2018 and reached a value of $209.2 billion, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office said.

“The Fund saw steady growth in the first quarter,” DiNapoli said. “New York state’s pension fund is designed and prudently managed to provide sustainable investment returns over the long-term, that means adjusting to conditions and finding opportunities even when markets are uncertain.”

The pension fund paid out $2.8 billion in benefits during the first quarter of the fiscal year, which ran from April 1 to June 30. It began the fiscal year at $207.4 billion.

DiNapoli is running for re-election this November, facing presumptive Republican nominee Jonathan Trichter.

Buffalo CWA Endorses Eve For AG

Democratic candidate for attorney general Leecia Eve on Thursday was endorsed by the Communications Workers of America Local 1168 in Buffalo.

Eve is a former economic development aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and was a vice president for government relations at Verizon.

“I am proud and honored to receive the endorsement of one of Western New York’s largest unions in my campaign for Attorney General,” Eve said. “I have spent my career in public service championing the rights of working men and women, and as Attorney General I will continue advocating on their behalf to ensure that the progress organized labor has achieved is not threatened by a hostile White House.”

She is in a four-way primary for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, facing New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Zephyr Teachout.

“We are proud to stand behind Buffalo’s own Leecia Eve in her bid to become New York’s next Attorney General,” CWA 1168 President Cori Anne Gambini said. “Leecia’s decades-long experience fighting in the trenches for everyday New Yorkers is what makes her the most qualified and prepared candidate for the job. We look forward to working with her to ensure the rights of workers and all New Yorkers are protected.”

Klein Gets Enviro, Labor Nods

Sen.. Jeff Klein over the last several days has picked up endorsements from a key environmental organization and labor union in his re-election bid.

Klein on Wednesday was endorsed by the New York League of Conservation Voters, which praised his 92 percent voting record with the group’s preferred legislation.

“It is an honor to receive NYLCV’s endorsement. Now more than ever, New York State must fight destructive federal policies, and lead the nation when it comes to advancing progressive environmental legislation,” Klein said.

“I have stood side by side with NYLCV in the fight to improve conditions in our public housing, transform food deserts, promote smart transportation solutions, protect our waterfronts, and build resilient infrastructure. I am proud and truly grateful to receive NYLCV’s support.”

Klein on Thursday was among the lawmakers given the backing of the Building and Construction Trades Council, a politically active construction labor union.

“This distinguished slate of candidates will fight for policies that benefit working families and solidify a pathway to the middle class,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the 100,000 member Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “The BCTC Executive Board is proud to endorse these candidates and we look forward to working together to ensure good paying jobs with benefits and an economy that works for everyone.”

Klein is the former leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, a faction of Democrats that folded in April and rejoined the mainline conference under an agreement reached with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Klein next month faces Alessandra Biaggi in a Democratic primary on Sept. 13.

Earlier this year, Klein was accused by a former staffer of forcibly kissing her in a 2015 incident. Klein has denied the allegation and has sought an investigation by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

Molinaro Seizes Opening On Cuomo’s MAGA Comments

Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro on Thursday morning sought to capitalize on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s remarks that America “was never that great” with a Fox News appearance and a fundraising appeal.

Molinaro appeared on the Fox News morning show that has one prominent viewer: President Donald Trump, who tweeted his criticism of Cuomo over the remark Wednesday evening.

“I was raised by a single mom, grew up on food stamps,” Molinaro said on Fox & Friends. “Tell me America isn’t great.”

He added: “Even with our imperfections, this nation, its promise, its purpose, its principles, and its people have always been great.”

Cuomo’s office clarified in the hours after the comment, saying in a statement he believes America is great, but must still strive to protect immigrants and secure the rights of women.

Still, Republicans have pounced the comment. Molinaro released an email fundraising appeal highlighting the line and the Fox & Friends appearance.

“Have you had enough of Cuomo and his anti-American rhetoric?” the email states. “Are you sick and tired of sky-high taxes, corruption and crime in our beautiful Empire State?”

Trump Versus Cuomo Turns To Twitter

From the Morning Memo:

The tweet from President Donald Trump came at around 10 p.m. Wednesday night, hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo ridiculed the “Make America Great” slogan by suggesting America “was never that great.”

“Can you believe this is the Governor of the Highest Taxed State in the U.S., Andrew Cuomo, having a total meltdown!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

It was followed up about 20 minutes later with a tweet from Cuomo.

“What you say would be ‘great again’ would not be great at all…We will not go back to discrimination, segregation, sexism, isolationism, racism or the KKK,” Cuomo’s account posted.

“Like NY’s motto says: Excelsior — Ever Upward (not backward)”

The firestorm was a coda to an unusual day in which Cuomo also walked back the initial statement, made at a bill signing ceremony in New York City. There, Cuomo riffed extensively about Trump and his statements about women, including Rep. Maxine Waters, Omarosa Manigault Newman and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The fateful line about America was wrapped up in a call for ending discrimination against women.

And now it’s escalated into a very public feud with Trump after Cuomo has for the last several months escalated his criticism of the president.

Cuomo has wanted to be seen as taking on Trump and his policies in New York: His campaign ads ahead of the Sept. 13 Democratic primary against Cynthia Nixon frequently mention he’s doing just that.

But this firestorm is probably one Cuomo would have wanted to avoid even as he’s trying to stoke a fight with a president who is deeply unpopular with Democrats in New York; a line that just didn’t land the way it intended.

“I think this is just another example of Andrew Cuomo trying to figure out what a progressive sounds like and missing by a mile,” Nixon said.

Republicans down ballot meanwhile have also sought to turn the remark against their Democratic opponents.

Rep. Claudia Tenney in a statement called on Democrat Anthony Brindisi to condemn the statement.

“While Brindisi stands by silently as his mentor mocks our great country, Claudia Tenney is proud of the brave men and women who serve our country, the entrepreneurs, small business owners and farmers, and the tireless work ethic, generosity and faith of the American people that has made our country the greatest nation the world has ever known,” Tenney’s campaign manager Raychel Renna said.

Brindisi’s campaign has also tied Tenney to a Republican with problems of his own, Rep. Chris Collins, who faces insider trading charges and is not seeking re-election. Brindisi’s campaign has called on Tenney to return donations from Collins.

As to Cuomo’s statement, Brindisi said: “The governor is wrong, America is great.”

Former Education Secretary Is Keynote Speaker In Buffalo

From the Morning Memo:

Former U.S. Secretary of Education John King will be the keynote speaker for the inaugural Business and Education Forum, hosted by the Business Council of New York.

King, who is also a former state Education Commissioner, is scheduled to speak at the event at the Buffalo Marriott Niagara in Amherst, around noon today. The president of the Business Council, Heather Briccetti, said he will discuss how to move New York forward by bridging the talent gap and ensuring businesses have access to the workforce they need.

“This one-of-a-kind event, born out of the need to address the critical skills gap impacting workers and employers across the state, will bring together the best minds in industry, academia and government to come up with solutions and public policy goals aimed at ensuring a better future for New York’s children and businesses,” Briccetti said.

King is no stranger to the Queen City. As state education commissioner, he took a keen interest in Buffalo’s struggling public school system.

His often critical stance of the district, appointment of a “distinguished educator” to oversee operations, and general implementation of the new Common Core standards, were hands-on, also but controversial in the eyes of district officials, the teachers union and parents.

Former President Barack Obama appointed King as education secretary, a position he held from 2016 through the end of Obama’s tenure.

Charter school booster, philanthropist and Republican fund-raiser Betsy DeVos, an appointee of President Donald Trump, currently holds the cabinet position.