Archive for May, 2012
May 8th - 7:48 am
Ever since his low-key announcement last month that he’ll run for Senate this fall in the new so-called “super Jewish” district, Simcha Felder has focused on fundraising in hopes of putting up a big enough number come July to scare off any would-be opponents.
Over the last week alone, Felder, who took time off his job as a deputy in NYC Comptroller John Liu’s office to focus on shaking the money trees, received pledges and checks for some $200,000, according to a source familiar with his efforts.
Combined with the $300,000 and change he’s already got in the bank, that brings Felder’s total within spitting distance of the half million mark. And that will only likely grow by the time the July 15 filing is due at the state Board of Elections.
Below is a copy of an opinion obtained in March by Felder’s campaign attorney, Leo Glickman, from the NYC Conflicts of Interest Board that indicates the former NYC councilman is not prohibited from raising campaign cash (on his own time) for a state or federal office the way he would be if he were running for another city post.
Felder’s candidacy has generated a lot of interest because he has been coy about who he’ll support for leader in the event of another closely divided Senate chamber. Officially speaking, Felder says he’ll work with whoever will most help his district.
But City&State has reported while Felder would likely caucus with his fellow Democrats, he would also probably cast a tie-breaking vote – if necessary – for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos over Minority Leader John Sampson.
UPDATE: An astute (GOP) reader notes the tie-breaking issue is moot, thanks to the state’s highest court, which upheld the creation of a 63rd seat.
UPDATE2: Writes a (Democratic) reader: “If without Felder it is 31 to 31, then Felder indeed does have the tie-breaking vote.” The possibility of that seems slim though, thanks to the four-member IDC, which could side with Skelos if the choice is between him and Sampson. Sen. Jeff Klein has made it pretty darn clear he won’t ever back Sampson as majority leader again.
It has also been reported that Skelos will back – most likely tacitly from behind the scenes – Felder over any other Republicans in the race, if any should actually declare once they realize the lack of support for their candidacies.
So far, Felder is the only formally announced candidate running.
But businessman Nachman Caller has expressed interest in running on the GOP line and said (through an advisor) that he’ll seed his campaign with $100,000 of his own cash.
There’s also the question of what David Storobin will do after a victor is finally declared in the too-close-to-call race in which he is battling Democratic NYC Councilman Lew Fidler for ex-Sen. Carl Kruger’s old seat.
May 8th - 7:23 am
After mulling the race for some time, the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a big-spending anti-incumbent super-PAC, has finally pulled the trigger on the 13th CD primary battle, opting to help Sen. Adriano Espaillat in his quest to oust veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel.
“Senator Espaillat’s solid record and proven popular support make him a strong, credible challenger who will work for the people of his district when he goes to Congress,” the Houston-based PAC declared in a press release that will be sent out this morning.
“Adriano Espaillat represents a new generation and brings a fresh perspective sorely needed in Washington.”
“Charlie Rangel has sadly become the model of how some long-term incumbents become too comfortable with the special interests that infest Washington.”
“As chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Rangel was responsible for extending the notorious tax break that allowed GE to pay zero taxes on billions of dollars of profits.”
CPA is reportedly funded by a handful of Texas conservatives and at least one corporation with a rather shadowy history.
The PAC’s goal is to bring “fresh blood” to Congress, and it picks its targets based on their length of service and potential vulnerability, not party affiliation, according to CPA spokesman, Curtis Ellis, (whose name you might recall from his longtime association with perennial WNY candidate and millionaire businessman Jack Davis).
Ellis would not say how much CPA might spend to help Espaillat, but he did acknowledge the NYC media market tends to be more costly than elsewhere in the country.
In other words, expect ads on cable and targeted mailers, not massive air buys, which would likely be ineffective in a House race anyway.
May 8th - 7:04 am
President Obama makes his third trip to the Capital Region – and his sixth stop upstate – since he became president in January 2009, visiting the NanoTeach Complex in Albany.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said he’s “very excited” about Obama’s visit, will be on hand to hear the president’s speech – along with a slew of local elected officials and tech business leaders.
In his speech, Obama will lay out an election year “to do” list for Congress, urging lawmakers to take another look at proposals to promote job creation and help families refinance their mortgages.
Rep. Paul Tonko will fly on Air Force One with Obama. Cuomo aides wouldn’t say if he’ll be meeting the president on the tarmac or speaking at today’s event.
Construction workers at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering are getting paid for two days of work even though they were told to stay home Monday and Tuesday in preparation for the president’s visit.
Cuomo said there’s “no reason” he’s never been to the original site for Obama’s visit, GlobalFoundries in Malta.
Sources familiar with the change-of-venue decision say Cuomo lobbied for it. The governor neither confirmed nor denied this.
Said Sen. Chuck Schumer, ever the pragmatist: “I discussed with the White House about the great opportunity of coming to Albany, but I told them both would be great locations. And in fact, I recommended they do both.”
The RNC will be playing up the change, and noting that Abu Dhabi owns GF.
Obama will be standing with Cuomo, who has been widely hailed for pushing gay marriage through the Legislature, at a time when he’s under pressure on that topic himself.
State Education Commissioner John King writes in the TU: “The President’s visit brings attention to the many benefits that high-tech STEM jobs can provide to individuals and communities. Just as importantly it brings attention to the fact that we are producing far too few graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to fill these jobs.”
May 7th - 9:05 pm
The Empire State Pride Agenda will host it’s Equality and Justice Day on Tuesday. This year, they’re focused on the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. But the event also comes amid renewed discussion of same-sex marriage at the national level. ESPA interim director Lynn Faria discusses the new developments.
May 7th - 9:04 pm
On Monday, Governor Cuomo announced legislation aimed at protecting the developmentally disabled from abuse by caretakers. The bill calls for creating a new agency with investigative powers. But advocate Michael Carey is concerned it does not do enough to ensure that incidents are reported to the appropriate authorities.
May 7th - 9:03 pm
President Obama will make his third visit to the Capital Region this week to speak about the economy. The White House ended up changing the locaiton of his speech from the Globalfoundries plant in Malta to the SUNY Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Congressman Chris Gibson says the site change was an issue of logistics, and Globalfoundries will still be very involved in the event.
May 7th - 6:01 pm
Sen. Chuck Schumer will NOT be in Albany for Tuesday’s presidential visit.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a nanotech enthusiast, praise the venue for the president (Silver’s former top aide works there now).
Waggish signs like this one must be greeting the Secret Service everywhere these days.
For Capital Region residents, here are the travel advisories for all the, ahem, fun the prez’s motorcade will cause.
Sorry, MMA fans.
The CIA thwarted what’s being described as “an upgrade” from the December 2009 underwear bomb plot. Yet, it still involved underwear.
Freddy Ferrer backed Adriano Espaillat’s effort to unseat Rep. Charlie Rangel.
The White House doesn’t want to take a position on the Rangel race.
City Councilman Dan Garodnick is fundraising at a quick pace for NYC comptroller.
Beer-drinkers rejoice: Schumer and state lawmakers are pushing for tax credits for breweries.
The Senate’s deadline for unlimited bill introduction is Wendesday at 9 p.m. (just make sure the state dog bills are introduced by then).
Republican Aurelio Arcabascio has filed a campaign committee to take on Democratic Sen. Mike Gianaris in the SD-12.
Is the media officially bored with the Occupy movement?
Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown may be a Red Sox fan, but he surely loves New York when it comes to campaign cash.
Here’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Saturday morning appearance on “Up With Chris Hayes”:
May 7th - 5:34 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t see anything too significant about President Obama switching his Capital Region travel itinerary from GlobalFoundries to Albany’s nanotech complex, telling reporters this afternoon that the commander-in-chief “couldn’t have picked a better site.”
“I think we’ve been speaking to his people. I don’t think you could pick a better site than the nanotech site, but obviously the site selection is up to the president’s people,” Cuomo said. “GlobalFoundries I believe is invited to the event.”
He added, “It’s extraordinary and it’s a national example of what I believe is an exciting economic partnership.”
He also didn’t find anything unusual about the president’s third visit to the Albany area since taking office in 2009. New York is not a swing state and typically presidential candidates only travel to the city raise campaign cash.
“I don’t think there’s any surprise the president’s coming to New York,” Cuomo said. “We’re one of the most important states in the nation, obviously. A lot of friends for the president here.”
Still, Cuomo is not seen as a fan of GlobalFoundries. A Maggie Haberman tweet served to remind that the administration balked at serving up major state support for a second chip fabrication plant at the Malta site.
The so-called optics of the president traveling to a foreign-owned facility may have played a factor as well.
Cuomo, mentioned endlessly as being in the 2016 mix for president, said he would campaign for Obama as surrogate if asked.
Still, the governor, insisted that he is keeping politics and governing as separate as possible. He is attending a DACC fundraiser on May 19, as Liz scooped earlier today.
Cuomo explained his position, saying he will still work to help preferred candidates (as he did last year) but doesn’t want to spoil his relationship with Republicans at the Capitol.
“I’m attending a fundraiser for the Assembly Democrats. I want to do as little politics as possible because I don’t find injecting politics particularly helpful to the process of getting legislation passed … so a general rule I try to do as little politics as possible. It doesn’t mean I don’t help people. I help candidates. I took positions in races, I took positions in special elections. I’ll continue to do that. To the extent that you can separate politics from government, it works better.”
The governor is also a would-be author, planning to write a book with former aide-de-camp Steve Cohen.
Cuomo said that his tome won’t be a “diaries book” but lay out his vision for government.
“This is at one point,” he said. “There will be a point where I’d like to do a book on government, on the philosophy, why we’re doing what we’re doing, what else should be done.”
He also joked to reporters, “I’ll use it to comment on your coverage. Little notes.”
We at CapTon have no idea what he’s referring to.
May 7th - 3:59 pm
Rich Azzopardi, the Ewok-like spokesman for the Senate Independent Democratic Conference, is moving from the fifth floor to the second floor of the Capitol, becoming a deputy press officer for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Azzopardi will start his new job later this week, said Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto who confirmed the news this afternoon.
He replaces David Doyle, who will become the new spokesman at the State University of New York’s central administration.
Azzopardi is a Long Island native who flacked for Sen. Craig Johnson before a nail-biting loss to Jack Martins in 2010 and was a reporter at The Daily Gazette in Schenectady. He is a ubiquitous presence around the Capitol, quick to defend his bosses or dish about local Albany politics.
He’s also the hero of a very scary incident that took place late last year when a knife-wielding Azzopardi chased off a young woman’s early morning attacker outside of his Center Square home.
Update: IDC Sen. Jeff Klein released a statement congratulating Azzopardi and announcing that Eric Soufer was promoted to communications director
“Rich played a vital role in the Independent Democratic Conference’s launch, and has been a much-valued part of our team. He works hard, performs at the highest levels and will be missed. Senator Savino, Senator Valesky, Senator Carlucci, and I wish Rich well. We have every confidence that he will excel at his new position in the Cuomo administration.”
May 7th - 2:56 pm
GOP Senate hopeful Rep. Bob Turner sharply criticized the US. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the ongoing and complicated Westchester County housing settlement, an announcement that was quickly met with a rebuke from rival Republican George Maragos.
Turner’s team quickly returned fire, calling the criticism “bizarre.”
Turner, who held a news conference at the Larchmont MetroNorth station this morning, tied Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to the ongoing effort to require affordable housing in wealthy communities.
“President Obama should be ashamed for calling Westchester racist,” Turner said in a statement. “The bombastic rhetoric and severe government intrusion is divisive and uncalled for. The housing challenges in Westchester are economic, not racial, and the Obama Administration would be better served trying to fix the economy and create jobs for all New Yorkers, rather than attempting to socially engineer communities.”
But the statement was met swiftly with criticism from Maragos, the Nassau County comptroller, who said raising the issue will inflame tensions over the issue. And he accused Turner of deploying “crude and potentially racially insensitive language.”
“It also exemplifies all that is wrong with Washington and politicians,” Maragos said in a statement. “They prefer to make accusatory and inflammatory statements in public rather than to find solutions through compromise.”
Maragos, a genial former businessman, had refrained so far from making attacks on his fellow GOP candidates, including Wendy Long, a conservative Manhattan lawyer running her first campaign.
But Maragos had staked his appeal at the Republican state convention in March of an immigrant success story. Maragos, who was born in Greece, pitched himself as the embodiment of the American dream, noting that his success as a Republican candidate could help transform the party’s image.
But Turner’s campaign responded, calling Maragos’s statement “ignorant.”
“George Maragos is either so ignorant that he doesn’t understand the massive federal government overreach that is occurring in Westchester or he is defending the Obama Administration’s attempts to trample over individual and property rights,” said Turner spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “If he read the newspapers, he’d realize the significance of the issue Congressman Turner raised today. Obama’s HUD called this housing suit a “grand experiment” and if he can steamroll Westchester, he’ll be coming for Nassau and Suffolk Counties next. Which is it, George?”