WFP Gets A Pitch From Whoopi Goldberg

The Working Families Party on Friday received a celebrity boost in a video message from Whoopi Goldberg.

In a minute-and-half video, Goldberg touts the WFP as the “progressive party” that has helped elect officials who in turn have fought to pass measures such as paid sick leave, living wages and support for public transit.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is pushing for votes on his Women’s Equality Party ballot line next week, is not mentioned.

But Goldberg does suggest — as have other WFPers recently — that a vote on the liberal, labor-backed line will be about sending a message.

“Next year could be big. When we stand together and vote, it’s a clear progressive message Albany cannot ignore,” she says.

Goldberg adds: “We can’t wait for them until we elect them. Get out and vote.”

A star-powered GOTV effort isn’t new for the WFP. The party in 2010 had Matt Damon promoting a vote on the ballot line as well; Goldberg jokes in the video she wants viewers to share it on social media and beat his view total.

Meanwhile, the WFP co-chairwoman, Karen Scharff, pushed back this afternoon after Cuomo made reference to the creation of “fringe” parties in a radio interview.

“I’m 5 feet one inches tall, but even little parties can pack a big punch,” Scharff said. “We’ve never been afraid to pressure the big guys to be accountable to women and families.”

Cuomo Defends Aggressive GOTV Mailer

Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended a letter being circulated by the state Democratic Committee that takes an aggressive approach to getting out the vote next Tuesday.

In the letter, which has popped up in the downstate region, voters are reminded to head to the polls on Election Day, with the warning that the party will know whether voted.

The letters are part of an increasingly common — if not controversial — tactic of getting voters out. Letters and post cards have taken similar routes, but with varying degrees of pressure. Some letters simply remind voters about the civic duty of voting, others use peer pressure to remind them their neighbors voted last time.

But others can take a more aggressive tone, which can backfire (The Fix on the Washington Post has a good look at this GOTV tactic).

The governor, in Syracuse today for an upstate campaign swing, said he had not seen the letter, but defended the approach.

“It’s my understanding that they use the mail, that there’s nothing new about this or novel about this — that they mail letters to people urging them to vote,” Cuomo said. “Look, the Democratic Part urges people to vote. They accuse the other side of trying to suppress the vote, we try to energize the vote. But I don’t see how it can be bad when you’re telling people, exercise your franchise, get out and vote, make your voice heard. That’s what the whole system is about.”

Cuomo last month blamed low turnout on the closer-than-expected showing from Zephyr Teachout, a little-known Fordham Law School professor, who received 35 percent of the vote.

At the time, Cuomo said because most of his supporters expected him to win, they weren’t motivated. Cuomo said that’s a problem this time, too, as polls showing him with a wide advantage over Republican Rob Astorino.

“I think that’s a very real issue on my race — when you have a poll that shows you’re that far ahead,” Cuomo said. “You have a lot of races that are very, very close that is very, very close. Congressman Maffei’s race is very, very close and turnout will decide that race. These decisions are too important to leave it chance to decide who turns out that day.”

NYLCV Mailer: ‘Choose’ Justin Wagner

A mailer touting the candidacy of Democrat Justin Wagner in the 40th state Senate district uses the word “choose” a lot to promote him.

But the mailer isn’t about the hotly debated abortion provision in the Women’s Equality Act.

Instead, the mail piece is coming from the independent expenditure campaign being funded by the New York League of Conservation Voters is actually a focus on environmental issues.

The mailer though certainly seems to at least make an attempt to invoke the issue of “choice” — a common euphemism often ascribed to abortion rights.

The mail piece shows a picture of a woman with the quote “We all have the right to choose” with Wagner’s name underneath.

On the other side is the reveal that it’s actually for environmental issues: “Let’s choose fresh, local food for our families” and “Let’s choose safe, toxic-free toys for our children and grandchildren” with descriptions of Wagner’s support for clean water and safe toys regulations.

Filings with the state Board of Elections show the NYLCV is spending $40,000 on a TV ad campaign in the district, along with $29,205 in mailers. The investment comes after the New York State United Teachers union’s VOTE-COPE political action committee contributed $40,000 to the NYLCV’s campaign committee.

The group is involved in several state Senate races this year, and is spending especially heavy on behalf of Sen. Mark Grisanti in Buffalo with a media campaign that gives Gov. Andrew Cuomo a starring role (NYSUT, ironically, is spending heavily to oppose to Grisanti).

Wagner, who like most Democratic candidates running for state Senate failed to file the necessary signatures to run on the Women’s Equality Party ballot line, faces Republican Terrence Murphy.

The Hudson Valley Senate seat is one of several open seats this fall following the retirement of Sen. Greg Ball.

Democrats are said to be making a final push for Wagner in the 40th Senate district this weekend. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken a particular interest in the race.

WagnerWoman.pdf by Nick Reisman

Marist Poll: Cuomo Leads Astorino Upstate, Suburbs

A Marist College/Wall Street Journal/NBC4 poll released this morning found Gov. Andrew Cuomo maintaining a wide lead over his Republican challenger Rob Astorino four days before voters cast their ballots.

Cuomo leads Astorino 56 percent to 30 percent, with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins receiving 6 percent.

The poll also found Cuomo with leads in different regions of the state.

Unsurprisingly, Cuomo is pounding Astorino in New York City, where he leads 72 percent to 13 percent.

But more problematic for Astorino is the governor doing well in suburban counties as well as upstate.

The poll found Cuomo leading in the suburbs 57 percent to 37 percent, and winning upstate by a more narrow margin, 46 percent to 37 percent.

Cuomo, who has focused heavily on women’s issues this election season, is beating Astorino among female voters 65 percent to 22 percent. With male voters, it’s a somewhat closer race: 47 percent for Cuomo, 38 percent for Astorino.

Both candidates today are campaigning upstate. Cuomo is taking a tour of cities Rochester and Syracuse, while Astorino is traveling through Binghamton, Elmira and Plattsburgh.

The poll of 1,042 adults was conducted from Oct. 26 through Oct. 28. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Cuomo: Public Financing A ‘Band-Aid’

The creation of a public financing system for political campaign statewide, as well placing new limits on campaign spending, is like putting a “Band-Aid” over a larger problem, Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview said.

Instead, Cuomo pointed to the problem of super PACs and their growing influence on the state level.

“You have these independent expenditure committees all over the place, millions and millions of dollars of very little disclosure,” Cuomo said.

Independent expenditure campaigns this year have spent millions of dollars on state-level races this election cycle, with interests varying from the state teachers union to wealthy New York City landlords.

Republican Rob Astorino is also benefiting from a super PAC called “Rescue New York” that is launching a last-minute $800,000 ad campaign on his behalf.

Nevertheless, Cuomo has benefited himself from the current campaign-finance laws in New York, with numerous loopholes and sky-high contribution caps.

Cuomo in particular has been able to take advantage of the so-called “LLC loophole” that has allowed him to collect millions of dollars from limited liability corporations that are controlled by a single donor.

The governor, too, has transferred millions out of his campaign account to the state Democratic Committee, which in turn has bashed Astorino.

But Cuomo says the implementation of public financing wouldn’t be a cure-all to ending the influence of money in politics.

“People who support public finance have the old paradigm in mind where you’re going to limit the money that’s going to come into politics,” he said. “Public finance doesn’t mean that anymore.”

Cuomo knocked the current system as a “mockery” that allows for unlimited spending and contributions.

“That’s all perfectly within the bounds of the law. You are talking about a minor issue compared to the major issue which is stopping the unregulated, unrestricted flow of money through these independent expenditure committees,” Cuomo said. “That’s the problem with the system. If we don’t remedy that, you’re putting Band-Aids on multiple bullet wounds.”

Cuomo supports public financing, but up until this point has not convinced the state Senate to pass a statewide version of the program. The state budget did include a pilot program for the state comptroller’s race only this year, which incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli is not participating in.

Cuomo, it could be argued, also had some help from a independent expenditure committee early in his tenure as governor with a rather happy-sounding name.

The Committee to Save New York poured millions of dollars from unidentified donors into ad campaigns supporting Cuomo’s budget and fiscal proposals.

The group folded up shop just before new disclosure laws took effect.

Cuomo: ‘Tortured Analysis’ To Suggest He’s Gunning For WFP

Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted in a radio interview on Friday that he wasn’t trying to weaken the labor-backed Working Families Party by forming the Women’s Equality Party.

Cuomo is urging voters to back him and his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, on the ballot line formed to promote the 10-point Women’s Equality Act, which has stalled in Albany over a provision designed to codify Roe v. Wade.

But with Cuomo’s focus on getting 50,000 votes for the new ballot line — thus giving the party automatic ballot status for the next election cycle through 2016 — concerns are being stoked the WFP could lose influence and its own ballot position, currently Row D.

Cuomo, in an interview on WNYC with Brian Lehrer, denied the ballot line was meant to rival the WFP, whose endorsement he had to fight for back in May.

“I think that’s really tortured analysis whoever gave that to you,” Cuomo said, adding, “I’m here to make social change, I’m here to pass the Women’s Equality Act.”

Nevertheless, Cuomo is pushing for the Women’s Equality Party in the final days of the campaign, with emails, mailers and a TV ad campaign promoting the newly formed ballot line.

At the same time, the governor and the WFP are currently feuding over his recent comments knocking the public education system as a “monopoly” and pledged to fight next year for more charter school protections.

Now, the WFP is calling on supporters to — ironically — back the governor on their ballot line as a way to rebuke him.

Cuomo in this morning’s interview insisted he wasn’t concerned with political insider debate over the ballot line and instead wanted to successfully push the women’s agenda next year.

“I would be less concerned and I am less concerned with the internal political machinations of who has political power and I’m more interested in social change, Brian, and I’m more interested in passing the Women’s Equality Act,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo introduced the women’s agenda in 2013, with provisions aimed at curbing domestic violence, pushing pay equity and curtailing human trafficking. But the omnibus version of the bill has stalled in the state Senate over the last two years with mostly Republicans opposing a measure aimed at strengthening abortion rights.

The governor insisted he planned on making the women’s agenda an election-year issue after it failed.

“I said that when it failed last year I would make a major issue out of it in this campaign,” Cuomo said.

The wedge issue is working: Cuomo has a wide lead over his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, among women voters.

Check Your Calendars

Democrats are having a laugh at the expense of the conservative, anti-abortion Chiaroscuro PAC, which sent out a mailer attacking Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk that featured some erroneous information – including the wrong date for the upcoming election.

The mailer, which appears below, urges recipients to vote “no” on November 6th to the senator’s “radical position on expanding late term abortion,” also refers to Tkaczyk as “he.”

The election, of course, is on Nov. 4, and Tkaczyk is undoubtedly a woman.

“Let these special people go vote on Nov. 6th against Cece – there will be no waiting at the polls,” one Democrat laughed.

The Chiaroscuro PAC is active in three battleground upstate Senate districts this cycle, including the race that pits Tkaczyk, a freshman Democrat, against the Republican she defeated by just 18 votes in 2012, former Assemblyman George Amedore.

The PAC is also involved in the fight between Democratic Sen. Terry Gipson and Republican Dutchess County Legislator Sue Serino in the Hudson Valley, and the battle in Rochester between Democratic Sen. Ted O’Brien and his GOP opponent, former broadcaster Rich Funke.

Over the summer the PAC launched a radio ad that ran in all three districts and featuring the “voice” on an unborn fetus.

They Can’t Give It Away

Sales of Cuomo’s new memoir are not going particularly well – a fact the governor has attributed to all the time he needs to spend campaigning, which is preventing him from doing a full-scale book promotion tour.

“All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life,” sold 945 copies in the week after its Oct. 15 release.

In its second week on the shelves, however, sales reportedly dropped by more than 43 percent to just 535 books sold. Some stores – like the famous Strand in NYC – have resorted to, let us say, creative tactics, in hopes of getting readers to buy Cuomo’s tome.

That may be a fruitless effort, because it appears New Yorkers just aren’t interested in finding out what the governor has to say – even if they can get his book for free.

A CapTon fan pointed out in an email yesterday that the Brooklyn Public Library has 12 copies of Cuomo’s memoir available for borrowing and just one on hold so far.

That’s unusual for a new book, he noted, adding: “I believe there were even more copies available last week, but they must have cut back on the order once they realized the low demand.”

Sen. Krueger: Cuomo WEP Push ‘Disturbing’

Sen. Liz Krueger, an outspoken Manhattan Democrat, is stepping up her criticism of Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Party push, calling an email sent by the governor urging voters to support him on the new party’s line in next week’s election “disturbing.”

Cuomo’s email landed in the in-boxes of his fellow Democrats (and a few reporters) yesterday morning.

“It’s time for a party whose singular goal is equality for women, a party that knows women work as hard as men do and is committed to getting them equal pay,” the governor wrote.

“A party where protecting a woman’s right to choose is a priority, not an afterthought. A party that believes women deserve to stand at the front of the line.”

“…If at least 50,000 of us vote on the Women’s Equality Party line on November 4th, together we will ensure that women’s issues are no longer something politicians think they can disregard.

Please pledge to vote for me and Kathy Hochul on the Women’s Equality Party line on November 4th and together we’ll make history.”

Krueger has called Cuomo’s creation of the WEP a “mistake” that could cost the Senate Democrats votes – and perhaps ruin their chances of re-taking the majority – because most of their candidates didn’t qualify to run on the new party line.

“This whole plan will come back to bite women and Democrats in our derrieres,” Krueger wrote in an email sent to her supporters yesterday.

“Running on the WEA issues and pointing out that the R’s are stopping these issues from being passed as laws – absolutely.”

“Urging the creation of a different party for women – beyond unjustified.”

The subject line of Krueger’s email: “Cuomo writes: This is Important. I say, This is Disturbing.”

It was not lost on political insiders that Cuomo’s email mimicked the electronic missives frequently sent out by the Working Families Party, which is frantically reminding its supporters to vote for Cuomo on Row D, even as he ignores – and even seeks to undermine – the minor party.

If the WFP – which just so happens to be one letter away from the WEP – fails to get 50,000 votes for Cuomo on its line next Tuesday, it will lose its official party status, and its clout, for the next four years.

WFP allies insist the party won’t miss the crucial vote threshold, but admit it’s possible another minor party – perhaps even the Greens, whose gubernatorial candidate, Howie Hawkins, is putting in a strong performance this election season – could surpass them in the final tally and bump them from Row D.

Some insiders have even speculated that the Greens could perform so well next Tuesday, thanks in part to Hawkins’ support among disaffected former backers of Cuomo’s primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, that they could oust the Conservative Party from its new perch on Row C, which it gained four years ago due to the strong showing in Western New York by GOP/Conservative gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.

Yesterday, Mike Boland, who left the WFP in disgust after it gave Cuomo its endorsement and took a job running Teachout’s campaign, sent out an email urging WFP supporters to join him in voting for Cuomo on Row D.

Debate Deconstruction

If you didn’t catch last night’s TWC News/NY1 debate in Hamburg between the two major party candidates for state attorney general – the only time they’ll face off before next Tuesday’s election – you missed quite the show.

It was a verbal slap-fest between Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman and his GOP opponent, former Pataki administration official John Cahill, with the two trading barbs over everything from ethics and campaign contributors to abortion rights and gun control.

As has been widely reported, I had a tough time controlling these two, who were more interested in talking over one another and getting their jabs in than answering questions posed by myself and the members of our panel.

We did, however, manage to learn some key information during our lightning round, such as the fact that Cahill doesn’t appear to know what BuzzFeed is, and has never taken one of the site’s infamous quizzes, whereas Schneiderman has (though he didn’t elaborate, so we’ll never know which Weasley he is).

For the record, Cahill is a quick study. He Tweeted a photo of himself “catching up on BuzzFeed quizzes” at a Buffalo-area bar after the debate.

We also know that when Schneiderman finishes up another stressful day at the AG’s office, he likes to kick his feet up and unwind with a nice historical drama film – preferably about WW II.

Schneiderman revealed the last movie he watched was “Diplomacy,” a Franco-German film that premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival last February. It was directed by Volker Schlöndorff and adapted from the play Diplomatie by Cyril Gely.

Cahill also has a taste for historical dramas. He said the last movie he saw was “Lincoln” – the 2012 film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the nation’s 16th president.

If you want to learn more about the candidates – their likes and dislikes, habits, and even a little on policy – you can catch the full debate here.

Thanks again to both candidates for participating, to our panel members for their insightful (if not always answered) questions, to Hilbert College for hosting and to our live audience members for (mostly) following my instructions to hold their applause until after the debate was over.