Gianaris Declines To Rebuke NYSUT Mailer

From the Morning Memo:

The chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee on Wednesday would not repudiate a mailer from the statewide teachers union that depicts a battered woman and accuses Republican candidates of blocking domestic violence legislation.

The mailer has become a controversy in key races for the state Senate, where the New York State United Teachers has mailed the fliers in the 60th Senate district in Buffalo, and two Hudson Valley races.

In an interview on Capital Tonight, DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris of Queens declined to criticize the mailer, saying that what was important was the message. He also claimed Republicans have sent out similar mailers and TV ads with controversial images that are “equally gross if not worse” though he did not offer any examples.

“That was sent out by an independent expenditure, not something the conference put out. I could show you a big stack of mail or show you a lot of TV ads that were just blatantly grotesque or full of lies that the Republicans have sent out,” Gianaris said in the interview. “We’re in that season now, as it happens every two years. We can pick at one or the other, but I think the more important thing is to focus on the message of that mailer which is Republicans have stood in the way of protections for women.”

Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, a Republican running on the Independence Party ballot line next week, was a target of the mail piece, and on Wednesday appeared with former Sen. Marc Coppola who rebuked it.

At the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also blasted the mailer in an interview with The Buffalo News, calling it “disgusting.” (Cuomo is not on the best of terms with NYSUT, and he has declined for now to endorse the Democratic candidate in the race, Marc Panepinto).

The mail piece comes as Democrats focus this election cycle on women’s issues, and in particular the passage of the 10-point Women’s Equality Act, which has stalled in Albany over a provision aimed at the codification of Roe V. Wade.

Cuomo has gone to lengths this election season to court female voters and has a large lead among women over Republican Rob Astorino according to polling in the race.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 7:20 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on 91.1 WFMU JM in the AM with host Nachum Segal.

At 8:05 a.m., Chemung Country Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss appears live on “Good Morning Westchester” on WVOX 1460 AM.

At 9 a.m., Brooklyn elected officials will speak to the media about why Prop. 1, a constitutional amendment revising redistricting, should be rejected by the voters on Nov. 4, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., Moss appears live on “Binghamton Today” on WNBF 1290 AM.

At 10 a.m., Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins and his running mate, Brian Jones, will conduct a conference call with with reporters, discussing their disgust with Cuomo’s latest attack on public teachers and public education.

Also at 10 a.m., P.S. 203Q, Queens Councilman Mark Weprin and other elected officials welcome a delegation of mayors, superintendents, principals, school administrators and municipal assistants from the Republic of Chile, 53-11 Springfield Blvd., Queens.

Also at 10 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, Assemblyman Victor Pichardo and others celebrate affordable housing groundbreaking, 2247 Walton Ave., the Bronx.

At 10:05 a.m., Moss appears live on “Live from the State Capital with Fred Dicker” on Talk 1300 AM Albany.

At 10:40 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on WOR radio with host Mark Simone.

At 11 a.m., Astorino will host a meeting with African American and Hispanic clergy members, Royal Coach Diner, 3260 Boston Rd., the Bronx.

Also at 11 a.m., 49th SD GOP candidate Terrence Murphy addresses allegations that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is funneling cash into key state Senate races, Yorktown Courthouse, 2295 Crompond Rd., Yorktown Heights.

At 11:30 a.m., de Blasio will join New York Road Runners at a press conference in the Javits Center to kick off the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, 2nd Floor, 11th Avenue and West 35th Street, Manhattan.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver attends news conference announcing technology initiative, Westinghouse, 20th Floor, 150 Broadway, Manhattan.

At noon, Cornell University environmental science professor Toby Ault delivers the keynote address at Business Council’s annual environment conference, The Saratoga Hilton, 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.

At 12:30 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on WYSL/Rochester & WKAL/Utica with host Shannon Joy.

At 1 p.m., Astorino will hold a press conference to “criticize the disdain Cuomo repeatedly shows state employees and pledge to treat employees with respect as the next governor,” Tweed Courthouse, north side, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 2:15 p.m., US Kirsten Gillibrand will tour the Oneonta Job Corps Center and meet with students there, 21 Homer Folks Ave., Oneonta.

At 5 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on WBEN with host Tom Bauerle.

At 5:30 p.m., former President Clinton appears at a rally with Cuomo and Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, 310 W 43rd St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., LG Bob Duffy delivers remarks at the 43North Finalists Awards Ceremony, Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St., Buffalo.

At 6:30 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on the Kris La Grange Show, 94.3 The Shark.

At 7 p.m., Democratic AG Eric Schneiderman and his GOP opponent, John Cahill, face off in their first and only televised debate, hosted by TWC News, Hilbert College, 5200 S Park Ave., Hamburg.

Also at 7 p.m., Astorino will attend a Nassau GOP Rally, Levittown Hall, Levittown Parkway, Hicksville.

At 7:30 p.m., Hochul speaks at a New Castle Democratic Committee rally, Mount Kisco Country Club, 10 Taylor Rd., Mount Kisco.

At 8 p.m., Moss appears live on “Political Party Night” on WSKG TV and Radio Binghamton.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first use of the Moreland Act to investigate failures of electric companies in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy foretold the fate of the short-lived corruption-busting panel he created, meddled with, and the abruptly shut down.

The US health care apparatus is so unprepared and short on resources to deal with the deadly Ebola virus that even small clusters of cases could overwhelm parts of the system, according to an AP review of readiness at hospitals and other components of the emergency medical network.

As Bellevue Hospital Center goes into its eighth day of treating Dr. Craig Spencer, who had worked with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, some of its employees are feeling stigmatized — a harsh consequence of being at the first hospital in the city to deal with an outbreak that has killed about 5,000 people in West Africa.

Facing increasing pressure to publicly outline specific for their mandatory Ebola quarantine policy, New Jersey officials were moving quickly to finalize a detailed set of protocols for handling people returning to the US from Ebola-stricken nations.

With less than a week before the general election, Cuomo stressed his “special relationship” with the Orthodox Jewish community during a visit to Borough Park, Brooklyn last night.

If Syracuse wants a billion-dollar taxpayer-financed economic development package like its Buffalo neighbor, then local officials, academics and business officials need to put together a large-scale job creation proposal with committed private investment, Cuomo said.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli penned an OpEd against Prop. 1, saying it would “maintain the worst aspects of the system we have now and prevent the strong action necessary to create a more fair and transparent redistricting process.”

The Staten Island Advance endorsed embattled GOP Rep. Michael Grimm, though it lamented “the choice we have in making an endorsement in a race that could not be much uglier.”

In the final month leading up to Election Day, Grimm’s Democratic opponent, former NYC Councilman Domenic Recchia, has been all but invisible to reporters on the campaign trail, rarely sending out official campaign releases or holding press events.

The Journal News endorsed Democrat Justin Wagner in the 40th SD, saying he “demonstrates a dedication to (the district) and its residents, and a willingness to work for them and not for party alliances.”

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s asking the state’s hospitals to recommend incentives that the state could offer doctors, nurses and other health professionals who go to Ebola-stricken regions.

Kaci Hickox, the Maine nurse who traveled to West Africa to care for Ebola patients, said that she won’t self-quarantine for 21 days, setting up a possible legal battle with the state.

The WFP turned on Cuomo, its endorsed candidate for governor, for his comments comparing the state’s public school system to a “public monopoly.”

Democratic activist Bill Samuels says it will be Cuomo’s fault if the Senate Democrats don’t succeed in taking back the majority.

Cuomo called criticism of his handling of the Moreland Commission “a lot of political baloney,” and took a swipe at US Attorney Preet Bharara.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is putting off a visit to a Pennsylvania drilling site designed to highlight the benefits of fracking until after the election.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani is appearing in a TV ad for GOP NY-24 candidate and fellow former prosecutor John Katko.

Cuomo appeared today with GOP Rep. Michael Grimm, and insisted he’s supporting Grimm’s Democratic challenger, Domenic Recchia, but wouldn’t commit to campaigning for him.

NRCC Chairman Greg Walden and his deputy will appear at a GOTV rally for GOP NY-18 candidate Nan Hayworth tomorrow.

GOP NY-26 candidate Kathy Weppner says she carries a gun every day. (But not when she visits a school).

As she tries to unseat the only openly gay member of Congress from New York, Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth has a new TV ad featuring an emotional testimonial from her gay son.

Rep. Nita Lowey is among the House Democratic conference’s senior members who are tens of thousands of dollars short on their DCCC dues.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t be voting on the Women’s Equality Line.

David Denenberg and his criminal defense attorney insisted he still is not campaigning despite a press release that said the community “supports Dave Denenberg for New York State Senate.”

The New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation has rleased its 2014 general election voter guide.

Sales of Cuomo’s memoir fell by more than 43 percent to 535 copies in its second week on shelves.

WNY Assemblyman Dave DiPietro is having a Second Amendment/Sportsmans fund-raiser with lots of guns as door prizes.

The Rothenberg Report changed the ratings for four New York House races in the GOP’s favor – NY-1, NY-11, NY-18 and NY-24.

Cuomo announced New York State has been honored with the title of “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Citizens Union released a white paper that shows the deepening effects of partisan gerrymandering in this year’s election cycle.

Long Island Assembly candidate Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat, has his great-uncle Mel Brooks robo-calling on his behalf.

A coalition of business groups that support the Common Core says it would cost the state $280 million to repeal the learning standards, as Astorino has promised to do.

The lawsuit over public school funding in eight small upstate cities has a new trial date – Jan. 21, 2015 – and a new judge, state Supreme Court Justice Kimberly A. O’Connor. (No link).

Maffei Ad Defends Family Against ‘Personal Attacks’

On the heels of a poll that shows he has lost the lead in his re-election bid, Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei has released a new TV ad featuring his wife and newborn daughter that slams his Republican opponent, John Katko, for making “personal attacks on my family.”

“Rep. Dan Maffei grew up in Central New York, on the East Side of Syracuse, and is committed to making the middle class in Central New York stronger,” said the congressman’s campaign manager Kane Miller, campaign manager. “He couldn’t be more proud of his wife Abby, her career, and their daughter Maya. He will continue to stand up for his family and middle class families across Central New York, and will never allow personal attacks from John Katko or anyone else about his family.”

The decision by Maffei and his wife to purchase a $700,000 home in the D.C. suburbs this past spring, coupled with the fact that Abby Maffei split her time between Syracuse and D.C. for her job at CARE, an international humanitarian group that fight global poverty, and that the couple’s daughter was born in a D.C. hospital have all become fodder throughout the campaign for Katko, who has questioned the congressman’s dedication to the district.

Maffei took issue with this line of attack during a TWC News debate in Syracuse this week, saying his wife and daughter should be ”out of bounds” - even though he has included them in his campaign literature and ads (like this one, for example). The congressman said the birth of his daughter in D.C. enabled him to “make every single vote for this congressional district while I was being a good  father.”

He said the baby is now in New York, where he is spending all of his time campaigning to keep the seat he first won in 2008, lost in 2010 (to former Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle) and then won back (from Buerkle) in 2012.

Here’s the transcript of Maffei’s new ad, which starts airing this week on stations across NY-24:

The WFP Vs. Cuomo

The Working Families Party’s attitude toward Gov. Andrew Cuomo has publicly taken a sour turn in the last week.

Now, the labor-aligned party finds itself in the unusual position of trying to get voters to in essence rebuke Cuomo by supporting him on their ballot line.

The WFP on Wednesday released a statement criticizing Cuomo for calling public education a “monopoly” in a meeting with The Daily News editorial board.

In a statement — which was first provided to Capital New York — WFP Director Bill Lipton suggested a vote for Cuomo on Row E would send a message to the governor.

“We endorsed the governor because of his commitments to raise the minimum wage, fight for public financing of elections, the full Women’s Equality Act, the DREAM Act, and decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana,” Lipton says. “But we’ll never hesitate to criticize him when he’s wrong, as he is on this issue. A vote on the WFP line for Governor is a vote to get those crucial progressive policies passed and to strengthen the WFP.”

Of course, the WFP needs Cuomo to do well on their ballot line. After all, the party is facing some competition this election cycle.

In April, Cuomo allies in a conference call with WFP leaders sought to make the case that the governor was on their side.

As the party considered the unprecedented step of backing a stand-alone candidate, Cuomo supporters — including Assemblyman Keith Wright and 1199 SEIU political director Kevin Finnegan — pointed to a host of liberal friendly accomplishments over the last four years.

It was in that conference call that the idea of Cuomo backing a Democratic takeover of the state Senate was raised.

At the same time, Finnegan warned WFP leaders that not endorsing the governor would lead to the party losing leverage with Cuomo in his second term.

Cuomo staved off a challenge from Zephyr Teachout at the WFP’s convention later that month.

Emboldened, Teachout nevertheless launched her primary bid on the Democratic line, creating a headache the governor did not want.

But after securing the party’s nod, Cuomo created a new ballot, the Women’s Equality Party. While feminists and liberals are scoffing at the need for a gender-based party, the focus on women’s issues is a boon for Cuomo this election season, who is crushing his GOP opponent among female voters.

With the rival ballot line comes the concern, however, that the WFP could sink in prominence on the statewide ballot.

Combined with liberal unrest for Cuomo that’s been simmering over the last four years and surging Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins (who has a former WFP staffer running his campaign) the WFP has made a concerted effort to remind liberals to back their ballot, if not the governor.

Indeed, it would be fascinating to see what would have happened had Teachout received the WFP nod.

The party last week released a video featuring prominent women in politics to promote the WFP. Today, the party released another video highlighting its support from Latinos.

Cuomo himself has been less than effusive about voting for the WFP, saying the women-centric ballot line is just one of several options for voters this election season.

The governor and left-leaning advocates have rarely seen eye-to-eye on economic issues. Cuomo believes most voters are with him on his spending caps, an education policy that emphasizes results not more cash and a liberal social agenda.

Cuomo this week blasted the statewide teachers union’s mail campaign aimed at helping Senate Democrats.

He hasn’t ruled out supporting a Republican lawmaker in Buffalo who lost his GOP primary and is running in a district the mainline conference wants to flip (Cuomo is even appearing in an independent expenditure campaign’s mail and TV ad being run on Grisanti’s behalf).

What did the WFP get for their endorsement of Cuomo? Mainly, a general election focus on preserving their ballot position.

Cuomo Decries ‘Political Baloney’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday in an interview on Fox Business decried what he considers “political baloney” over the criticism of shutting down the Moreland Commission and spending money on TV ads promoting Superstorm Sandy recovery.

Cuomo reframed the controversy of the demise of the Moreland Commission — shuttered in April following an agreement on ethics legislation in the state budget — as being generated in part by newspaper editorial boards upset over public financing of political campaigns.

“The controversy over shutting down the panel is some editorial boards didn’t like the law that I accepted,” Cuomo told host Maria Bartiromo. “They wanted something called public finance. I couldn’t get public finance.”

Cuomo and state lawmakers did agree to a comptroller-only version of public financing for this year, which incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli has criticized for coming in the middle of an election cycle. He is not participating in the program, but his Republican opponent, Bob Antonacci, is enrolled and is struggling to receive matching funds.

Cuomo also insisted that it was his plan all along to shutter the commission once ethics legislation was agreed to.

He then took a veiled swipe at U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who is investigating the commission’s demise and work.

Cuomo pointed to his own experience as attorney general and as a lawyer in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

“The prosecutors are a lot better at starting investigations,” Cuomo said when asked when the inquiry might end. “You often don’t hear about closed investigations. But whatever he thinks is right, is right.”

Summing up the headaches generated by the commission, Cuomo said, “It’s all a lot of political baloney as we say here in New York.”

Similar “baloney” is the criticism raised — mostly by Republicans — for spending funds promoting the rebuilding of the New York City area post-Sandy. Today is the two-year anniversary of the storm.

“Again, we’ll put that in the category of more political baloney, Maria,” Cuomo said. “It makes no sense.”


Teachout Contributes $28K To Senate Democrats

As expected, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout is putting her money where her mouth is.

The Fordham Law School professor who challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a primary last month has contributed $28,000 to the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, a 24-hour notice filed with the state Board of Elections shows.

Teachout told me in a Capital Tonight interview this week that her focus wasn’t on the race for governor, but on helping Democrats take full control of the Senate.

With the mainline conference in charge of the chamber, Teachout believes that offers the best chance to enact public financing of political campaigns and a ban on hydrofracking.

“Mike Boland, my campaign manager, and I are still working together,” Teachout said in the interview. “I’ve been busy working on the book tour, but he’s been more focused on figuring out ways we can help Senate Dems more directly and we’re planning on making financial contributions to figure out ways to win back the Senate.”

Teachout has also been critical of Cuomo’s efforts to help Democrats take back the state Senate.

Cuomo has endorsed candidates running in key races.

But he is also being featured prominently in a mailer and TV ad campaign backing Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti, who is running on the Independence Party line.

Jobs For NY Spends $323K On Senate Candidates

The latest filings with the state Board of Elections show the independent expenditure committee backed by New York City landlords has spent $323,782 on key upstate Senate races.

The filings show the group Jobs for New York is spending $35,190 on radio ads for Republican Sue Serino, who is running against Democratic Sen. Terry Gipson in the Hudson Valley.

Next door in the 40th Senate district, the group is spending $56,810 on radio ads for Republican Terrence Murphy, who is running for open Senate seat against Democrat Justin Wagner.

Jobs For New York is also investing $67,500 in a digital media campaign for Serino, Murphy and Republican former Assembly George Amedore, who is running in a rematch against Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk.

And the group is spending $10,400 on calls in the Amedore and Serino races.

Jobs for New York is backed by the Real Estate Board of New York. A filing posted last week showed the group in the last three weeks has spent $1.4 million backing Republican Senate candidates.

Schneiderman Endorsed By Tonko, Distances Himself From Moreland

Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday in a radio interview insisted he kept the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption at arm’s length.

Schneiderman, talking to Susan Arbetter on The Capitol Pressroom this morning, said he felt it was important to deputize the commission members in order to help them fight corruption.

But after that, the commission to him was an independent entity, Schneiderman said.

“After that, I treated it as an independent commission,” Schneiderman said in the interview.

The attorney general’s Republican opponent, John Cahill, has sought to tie Schneiderman to the reported involvement in the commission by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose office sought to block or direct subpoenas from the commission.

The handling of the commission by the governor’s office, as well as any information the panel generated, is not the subject of an inquiry by the U.S. attorney’s office.

Schneiderman would not answer whether he was aware the commission was set up so Cuomo could exact a degree of leverage over state lawmakers in order to have them agree to new ethics and anti-corruption laws.

“I’m not going to jeopardize a criminal investigation by commenting,” he said.

Meanwhile, Schneiderman will be endorsed today by Rep. Paul Tonko, who represents the Capital Region.

“New Yorkers have been well served by Eric Schneiderman as their Attorney General,” Tonko said in a statement. “Eric’s commitment to holding Wall Street accountable and ensuring fair and sound settlements for families impacted by the mortgage crisis is without equal. Eric has also proven that a hands-on approach, working with local law enforcement and understanding the needs of our communities can lead to stronger outcomes in reducing crime and improving quality of life for all New Yorkers. I am proud to support Eric for re-election as the peoples’ lawyer.”

Both Schneiderman and Cahill will debate on Thursday on Time Warner Cable News and NY1 at 7 p.m.

Sheila Astorino To Cuomo: ‘You’ve Really Gone Too Far’

The campaign of Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino on Wednesday released a video featuring the candidate’s wife blasting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s negative advertising.

In the minute-long video, Shelia Astorino criticizes Cuomo for ads that decry her husband’s support for firearms training in schools. The TV ad, plus a mailer, was paid for by the state Democratic Committee, which is controlled by the governor.

“The racial stuff, the soup ad,” she says in the ad. “We’ve seen it all. Do you really like trying to scare seniors? But now you’ve really gone too far for this mom and school teacher. Telling people my husband wants guns in classrooms? Guns in classrooms — you can’t be serious. You used an extracurricular rifle safety program in a rural Upstate county to make it sound like Rob would threaten the safety of school children? How dare you.”

Sheila Astorino up until this point has not played a large role in her husband’s campaign. She says at the outset of the video that she’s “not political.” She did make a humorous appearance in a video produced for the LCA Show by Astorino’s campaign.

But the focus on Sheila comes as Astorino faces a large gap in support from women. A Siena College poll found Cuomo leading Astorino among female voters by more than 40 percentage points.

Sheila Astorino: Cuomo’s Dishonest Attack Ads are Unforgivable from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.