Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Katko: ‘No Regrets’ About Purchase, Theft of Gun

Republican NY-24 candidate John Katko said he has “no regrets” about purchasing a handgun that was subsequently stolen from his truck in 2000 and used in a hold-up and shootout that left two Syracuse men dead.

In a statement issued this morning in response to a Syracuse Post-Standard story about the 14-year-old incident, Katko said he bought the gun – a .40 caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol – as a security precaution against “very real physical threats” against himself and his family during the time he worked in the US attorney’s office. Katko noted he had permission to obtain the weapon and did so “at the urging of the United States Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

“Fourteen years ago I, too, became the victim of a crime,” Katko said. “My protective weapon was stolen from a locked briefcase concealed from view in my locked vehicle. I left the weapon in that vehicle as my wife and I felt uncomfortable taking it into an area church for a required meeting with other Onondaga County Foster Parent Program volunteers – c learly not an appropriate venue to be carrying a weapon of any kind.”

“This incident was fully investigated by the United States Department of Justice and the United States Marshals Service and no wrong doing was found. The stolen weapon was later recovered on a suspect in a double homicide; tests confirmed the weapon was not used in the commission of that crime.”

The Post-Standard story notes that Katko broke no state or federal gun laws, and he was not disciplined by the Justice Department after the shooting. “But a review of the case shows he likely violated federal policies for the safe handling and storage of government-issued weapons.”

Katko has repeatedly insisted the gun was in a locked case in his locked truck. A police report cited by the paper says Katko told police that the gun – loaded with nine rounds of ammunition – was in a green canvas bag that was stolen out of the truck along with his US Attorney’s Office ID card, personal checks and other papers.

Katko, who quit his job as a federal prosecutor to challenge Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei this fall, accused his “opponents” of rehashing this incident in an effort to impact his congressional run. He insists that “many relevant details” were left out of the Post-Standard story.

“People should know that I never back down from a fight,” Katko said. “And I will not allow this story to distract from the needs of Central New York voters regarding jobs, our economy, fairness, and failed leadership in Washington.”

NY-24 GOP candidate statement on use of stolen gun in armed robbery in 2000. by liz_benjamin6490

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area and Massachusetts today with no public schedule. (One of his twin daughters, Cara, attends Harvard University, where she’s a sophomore).

At 6:45 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on Fox & Friends, Fox News Channel.

At 7:25 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on AM970 The Answer with host Joe Piscopo.

At 8 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on “Talk of the Town” with hosts Mark Piersma & Frank Elias 100.7FM WUTQ.

At 8:45 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina delivers opening remarks at City & State’s 4th Annual Education Forum, CUNY Graduate Center – Proshansky Auditorium, 365 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli hosts a breakfast reception with a major law enforcement union and residents, Holiday Inn Syracuse/Liverpool, 441 Electronics Parkway, Liverpool.

Also at 9 a.m., Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout and her running mate, LG candidate Tim Wu, speak at a public education rally, Village Gate Square, 274 Goodman St. N, Rochester.

At 10:30 a.m., Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul meets voters with LG Bob Duffy and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Alton’s Restaurant, 2550 Walden Ave., Cheektowaga.

At 11 a.m., Democratic NY-24 Rep. Dan Maffei will attend the State Fair. He’ll tour the Upstate Neuroscience Research Building at 1 p.m. His GOP opponent, John Katko, will also be on hand.

Also at 11 a.m., Duffy makes an announcement, Blue Bridge Financial, 535 Washington St., Suite 201, Buffalo.

Also at 11 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman makes a public safety announcement, Binghamton Mayor’s Office, Conference Room, 38 Hawley St., 4th Floor, Binghamton.

At noon, Wu holds a press conference, Room 120, LOB, 98 State St., Albany.

Also at noon, public employee labor unions and advocacy groups hold a “Vote Your Dreams” rally against public corruption, West Capitol Park, Albany.

At 12:30 p.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill holds a press conference about the Moreland Commission, 615 Erie Blvd. W., Syracuse.

Also at 12:30 p.m., Farina and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio make an announcement, P.S. 307, 209 York Street, Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., DiNapoli speaks at the Firefighters Memorial Ceremony at the Veterans & 9/11 Memorial, New York State Fair, Syracuse.

Also at 1 p.m., Hochul tours downtown Niagara Falls projects with Mayor Paul Dyster, Robert Moses Parkway South and 4th Street, Niagara Falls.

At 2 p.m., DiNapoli presents unclaimed funds checks, State Comptroller’s Unclaimed Funds Booth, New York State Fair, Syracuse.

Also at 2 p.m., Hochul addresses Niagara County Democrats, 1412 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls.

Also at 2 p.m., Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for governor, will tour the area around the Chemung County Landfill with local environmental advocates, meet at Riverside Cemetery, County Route 60, just East of Exit #58 on I86, Lowman.

At 2:30 p.m., Cahill holds press conference about the Moreland Commission, 207 Genesee St., Utica.

At 3 p.m., de Blasio holds a hearing and and signs Intro 449, Intro 292-A, Intro 6, Intro 148-A and Intro 441, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., Teachout and Wu hold a press conference on environmental issues, CyberCafe West, 176 Main St., Binghamton.

At 6 p.m., Hochul attends the Lancaster Democratic Committee’s annual steak roast, Bowen Road Shelter, 3937 Bowen Rd., Lancaster.

At 7 p.m., Hochul visits Buffalo Irish Center’s “Under the Tent Series” with Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder, 245 Abbott Rd., Buffalo.

Headlines…

The New York Times endorsed Zephyr Teachout’s running mate, Columbia Law Prof. Tim Wu, over former Rep. Kathy Hochul for lieutenant governor, saying: “Albany needs an independent voice, someone who can bring fresh ideas to a very stale and often corrupt political culture. Timothy Wu is the one who best fits that bill.”

The paper cited Hochul’s “deeply troubling record on health reform, gun control and environmental deregulation,” said said while Wu (like Teachout) is inexperienced, not much experience is needed for the “feeble” job of LG.

When the WFP was still grooming Teachout for a possible run on its line, the party conducted a private poll to test how well an unknown, oddly named law professor might fare in a Democratic primary. They used the name “Teresa Woodstock,” and she got between 11 percent and 19 percent of the vote.

Five ways Teachout differs from Cuomo on key issues.

Outgoing LG Bob Duffy defended Cuomo’s record over the last four years after the New York Times refused to endorse him, saying the incumbent Democrat doesn’t take enough credit for his successes during the first term.

GOP NY-24 candidate John Katko had his own handgun stolen in 2000 when he was an ADA, and it was used in holdup/shootout that left two men dead.

Cuomo’s campaign promised to pay for his excursion to Israel this month. But the well-stocked re-election fund won’t cover the thousands of dollars associated with the State Police detail that provided round-the-clock security for the candidate.

New York State Fair attendance surged Wednesday, as more than 65,000 people attended throughout the day. Officials attributed that in part to concerts by Carrie Underwood and Joan Jett.

More >

Extras

A Gawker writer castigates the New York Times for its non-endorsement in the gubernatorial primary, saying the paper “is unwilling to endorse the idea of voting for someone to actually defeat Cuomo.”

The Times laments that most readers didn’t really get the purpose of its editorial. “It’s worth pointing out that an endorsement is not the same as an actual vote.”

The Nation endorsed Zephyr Teachout.

In her forthcoming book, US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand reveals a male colleague told her not to lose too much baby weight because “I like my girls chubby.”

When is it appropriate to comment on a colleage’s body? Simple: Never.

Unless the state’s top court intervenes, there will be a Republican primary between incumbent state Sen. Tom. Libous and challenger Denver Jones.

Under fire for walking away from questions on Social Security, Medicare and raising the retirement age, NY-21 GOP candidate Elise Stefanik released a new web ad on the issues.

The NYC Council will hold an oversight hearing next month on an NYPD review of its training procedures following Eric Garner’s death.

New York voters could see as many as 12 parties putting up candidates for governor this fall, with six independent parties petitioning to get onto the ballot.

Introducing the Sapient Party.

An anti-charter school PAC has debuted a new digital ad promoting former NYC Comptroller John Liu’s primary challenge to Sen. Tony Avella.

President Obama will attend two fundraiser in Westchester this Friday.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his former deputy, Dan Doctoroff, did the ice bucket challenge.

A review of financial disclosures filed by Teachout and her running mate, LG candidate Tim Wu, reveal neither are rich, but both received book advances.

You can read a full transcript of Mark David Chapman’s latest parole hearing here. (His parole request was denied for the eighth time).

Former US Sen. Alfonse D’Amato is pleased Cuomo is finally “free” of the need to curry favor with the AFL-CIO and NYSUT, which didn’t endorse his re-election.

Former President Clinton campaigned in Rhode Island today for Democratic general-treasurer candidate Seth Magaziner - the son of a longtime close Clinton confidante.

Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will headline “the ultimate  women’s power lunch” on Oct. 20 to benefit the DCCC.

Gillibrand on whether Clinton will run in 2016: “Anytime I’ve ever talked to her, I’ve offered every bit of help in the world and she’s never said no.”

Democratic NY-19 candidate Sean Eldridge lashed out at Burger King for supposedly dodging taxes, but his husband, whose fortune is financing the congressional run, stands to benefit from the move.

A Hillary Clinton-inspired clothing shop in Kosovo is very popular.

Woolf Won’t Choose Sides in Gubernatorial Primary

From today’s Morning Memo:

Aaron Woolf, the Democratic candidate seeking to replace retiring Rep. Bill Owens in NY-21, declined yesterday to choose a favorite in the upcoming Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Asked if he would be supporting either Gov. Andrew Cuomo or his challenger, Fordham Law School Prof. Zephyr Teachout, Woolf replied:

“I’m going, I’m going to reserve…just as I sought support from many colleagues when there was a possibility of me having a primary and they refused to comment, I think we’ll let the democratic process play out.”

Woolf has drawn some criticism in his successful push to toss his own primary challenger, Stephen Burke, off the Sept. 9 ballot, paying an attorney with ties to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to assist in that effort.

Given his New York City roots and background as a documentary filmmaker focusing on issues like big agriculture, the automotive industry and human trafficking, Woolf might seem like someone who would support Teachout in her long-shot bid to upset Cuomo. Woolf is also a political outsider who has never before run for elected office – much like Teachout herself.

But Teachout is running to Cuomo’s left, and Woolf is trying to position himself as a centrist in a district that – before Owens’ surprise victory in a 2009 special election – was viewed as a GOP stronghold.

The district has a considerable GOP enrollment edge, with 181,832 Republicans to 127,262 Democrats and 90,227 so-called “blanks” who are not affiliated with any political party. Woolf has his own challenger on the left, the Green Party’s Matt Funiciello.

The NRCC has recently been trying to boost Funiciello, highlighting his candidacy in an attempt to bring down support for Woolf and assist the Republican/Conservative in the race, Elise Stefanik.

Allying himself with Cuomo might not be such a great idea for Woolf, either, even though the governor did fairly well in the North Country in 2010 and has been working hard to boost his numbers there ever since (pushing particularly hard when it comes to helping the tourism industry in the Adirondack Park).

Opposition to Cuomo’s controversial gun control law the SAFE Act gets stronger the further north (and west) of Albany you travel, and the rural areas continue to trend Republican, though their vote hasn’t been strong enough to counter Democrat-dominated NYC’s clout.

President Obama carried NY-21 by six points over Mitt Romney in 2012 – two points higher than the president’s national margin.

But the race between Cuomo and his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, isn’t competitive enough to draw anywhere near the kind of turnout a presidential race does, so Woolf is fighting an uphill battle – especially with Funiciello in the race, potential drawing votes away from him to Stefanik’s advantage, (though that’s definitely not how Funiciello sees it).

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

AT 8:30 a.m., Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout and running mate Tim Wu hold a press conference to launch a “whistleblower tour” at the foot of luxury tower One57, 157 West 57th St., New York

At 11 a.m., LG Bob Duffy delivers remarks at Binghamton University’s Smart Energy Research and Development facility groundbreaking, Binghamton University, Innovative Technologies Complex, 85 Murray Hill Rd., Vestal.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Michael Grimm will host a press conference at the home of Staten Island Sandy victim, Kathleen Cole, to highlight failures of NYC’s “Build it Back” program, 1178 Mason Ave., Staten Island.

Also at 11 a.m., GOP gubernatorial candidate/Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will attend the New York State Fair with his wife, Sheila, three children and Senator John DeFrancisco, 581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse.

At 11:30 a.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss joins Port Chester Mayor Neil Pagano and Trustee Joseph Kenner to visit the Port Chester Senior Center, 222 Grace Church St., Port Chester.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul visits the Northwest Buffalo Community Center with Erie County Legislator Peter Savage, 155 Lawn St., Buffalo.

Also at 11:30 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill calls on Democratic AG Eric Schneiderman to “come clean” on his role in the Moreland Commission mess, AG’s Buffalo Regional Office, Main Place Tower 350 Main St., Buffalo.

At noon, Hochul and Savage visit the North Buffalo Community Center, 203 Sanders Rd., Buffalo.

Also at noon, while calling for MTA officials to take further steps to reduce subway noise and vibrations, Assemblyman William Colton discusses provisions of his transit noise abatement legislation passed Monday, June 9, but not signed by the governor to date; 2050 Stillwell Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at noon, NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, joined by the executive director of the Children’s Environmental Literary Foundation, Katie I. Ginsberg, speaks to about 60 public school teachers during a training program about including environmental lessons in classwork; room DE, 19th floor, United Federation of Teachers, 52 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 12:15 p.m., Moss tours Port Chester Main Street area with Mayor Pagano and Trustee Kenner, Main Street, Port Chester.

Also at 12:15 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, NYCHA Lincoln Houses, 60 East 135th St., Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., Tachout and Wu visit fracking wells in Pennsylvania, meet at Price Chopper, 16750 Pennsylvania 706, Montrose, PA. There will also be “whiteblower tour” stops in Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, and Goshen (at 11 a.m.)

At 3 p.m., Hochul tours the Midtown Rising Redevelopment Project with LG Bob Duffy and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, corner of Clinton and Broad streets, Rochester.

At 4:30 p.m., Moss walks door-to-door with state Senate candidate Sue Serino, Poughkeepsie.

At 5:30 p.m., Cahill attends an Erie County GOP fundraiser, Osteria 166, 166 Franklin St., Buffalo.

At 6 p.m., de Blasio delivers renarks at the West Indian American and Caribbean American Heritage Reception 2014, Gracie Mansion, 88th Street and East End Avenue, Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Moss attends and speaks at Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor’s Campaign Kickoff Dinner, The Blue Fountain, 826 Route 376, Hopewell Junction.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Hochul addresses Erie County Democratic leaders, 701 Seneca St., 2nd floor, Buffalo.

Headlines:

In a rebuke to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for failing to deliver on reform promises, the New York Times issued no endorsement in the upcoming gubernatorial primary.

Teachout: “Cuomo likes to present himself as a can-do guy, someone who will twist arms hard to fix a problem. But apparently, whenever Christie is in the room and New York infrastructure is at stake, Cuomo sits silent as our state gets rolled.”

Though it provided a forum for her comments, the DN makes clear it disagrees with Teachout on the now-defunct (killed by Christie) ARC project.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s job approval rating has dropped sharply in the aftermath of the chokehold death of Eric Garner, while NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s has stayed steady, a new Q poll found.

The debate over debates continues, and it is not limited to Cuomo and his primary opponent, Teachout.

Former NYC Comptroller John Liu filed a state Board of Elections complaint about campaign mailings sent by a PAC controlled by IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

Klein and his primary opponent, former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell, sparred during a NY1 debate.

More >

Extras

A new Q poll says New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approval rating has held steady despite a tumultuous summer for the Big Apple.

Black voters continue to like the mayor more than white voters.

Rob Astorino’s campaign said Castle Cable has agreed to pull the ads that the GOP gubernatorial candidate deemed grossly misleading, from its airwaves.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. makes a cameo in a Spanish-language TV ad for IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

Two New York congressmen won’t have opponents this fall: Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel and Republican Rep. Richard Hanna.

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s effort to get Hillary Clinton on the record on Ferguson can in many ways be traced back to Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign.

A group dedicated to defending Clinton’s record ahead of a possible 2016 presidential bid used Women’s Equality Day to tout her record of promoting women.

Congrats to GOP NY-4 candidate Bruce Blakeman, who got engaged during a trip to Israel.

Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins castigated de Blasio and his bid to  host the 2016 Democratic National Convention in open letter to the New York Times.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos celebrated Happy National Dog Day by posting a photo of his canine companion, Rocky, on Twitter.

Though she often voted with the House GOP majority while in Congress, Kathy Hochul’s former liberal colleagues are coming to her defense as she runs for LG.

DCCC Chair Steve Israel is promising an unprecedented effort to drive out GOP Rep. Michael Grimm and elect his Democratic rival, former NYC Councilman Domenic Recchia.

Atlanta-based IFS Securities hired former Gov. David Paterson as chief strategist of U.S. affairs and chairman of the firm’s advisory board.

Actor Alec Baldwin attended the New York State Fair today to support his mother’s Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Fund.

Rep. Pete King said he and Paterson were touring a damaged home in an Israeli border town when “suddenly the sirens went off” and they were forced to run for cover.

The de Blasio administration has reached a deal to settle the $35 million gender discrimination lawsuit filed by school safety agents.

A vote today on whether to dissolve the WNY Village of Wilson is expected to be close.

“Gasland” producer Josh Fox is backing Democrat Zephyr Teachout for governor.

Success Academy C.E.O. Eva Moskowitz is the subject of a glowing seven-page profile in MORE Magazine, which celebrates women “of style and substance.”

NY1 anchor and theater critic Roma Torre has been diagnosed with colon cancer and will be taking a leave of absence from the news station for surgery and treatment.

After an emergency C-section at the State Fair’s Dairy Cow Birthing Center, PETA now demands that the exhibit be replaced with a more realistic representation of the birthing process on farms.

Thruway Authority spokesman Dan Weiller had a bad experience at a Subway in Bushnell’s Basin.

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

At 10 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will visit Letchworth State Park with his wife, Sheila, and three children, 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile.

Also at 10 a.m., the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group holds a press conference to endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, Diversity Plaza, Jackson Heights, Queens.

Also at 10 a.m., the Chris Gibson for Congress Campaign will be announcing an Agriculture Coalition in support of the congressman’s re-election, 34684 New York 10, Walton.

At 10:30 a.m., Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson announces hr re-election campaign, Bronx Borough Hall.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, Upper Jay Firehouse, 161 Valley Rd., Jay.

Also at 11 a.m., Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci, the GOP state comptroller candidate, will issue a “challenge” to his Democratic opponent, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, west Capitol steps, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Steve Israel promotes legislative proposals that would establish federal and state tax credits to reimburse the cost of college admission exams, placement exams and preparation courses; 64-31 Douglaston Pkwy., Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., the executive director of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, Liz J. Abzug, Manhattan BP Gale Brewer, former Manhattan BP C. Virginia Fields, the executive director of the New York City CFB, Amy M. Loprest, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and state lawmakers take a pledge to register women to vote; steps, City Hall.

At approximately 12:15 p.m., Cuomo receives a briefing on progress on construction on Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, Lake Placid turn, Wilmington.

At 12:30 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on Long Island News Radio with host John Gomez.

At 2 p.m., Teachout and National Organization for Women New York State President Zenaida Mendez hold a press conference to discuss NOW-NYS’s endorsement of Teachout, Eleanor Roosevelt Statue, 72nd St. and Riverside Drive, Manhattan.

Also at 2 p.m., Sens. Patrick Gallivan and Mark Grisanti hold press conference to present grant for alternative to incarceration program, National Federation for Just Communities Inc. headquarters, 360 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.

At 3 p.m., Astorino will hold a press conference continuing his state tour unveiling the Astorino/Moss jobs plan, Cobbs Hill Reservoir Overlook (near Cobbs Hill Monument), Reservoir Rd., Rochester.

At 6 p.m., NY-24 GOP candidate John Katko holds a town hall-style meeting, Palace Theater, 2384 James St., Syracuse.

At 6:30 p.m., supporters of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages hold a demonstration near Gracie Mansion; East End Avenue and 88th Street, Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss attends and speaks at the Queens Village Republican Club Meet the Candidates Rally, Knights of Columbus, St. Annes Council, 263-15 Union Turnpike, Glen Oaks. (GOP AG candidate John Cahill will also attend the rally, arriving at 8 p.m.)

At 8:45 p.m., Moss attends and speaks at the Bay Terrace Community Alliance Meet the Candidates Night, Bay Terrace Jewish Center, 1300 209th St., Bayside, Queens.

Headlines…

Former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn, who has kept a low profile since losing the mayoral race last fall, was tapped by Cuomo to organize the women’s party, which the governor formed this summer to energize female voters.

The GOP may challenge the governor’s Women’s Equality Party petitions – just one of several independent party challenges pending at the state Board of Elections.

Also back: Jimmy “Rent is too Damn High” McMillan.

More >

Extras

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed Sen. Gustavo Rivera in his Democratic primary battle with NYC Councilman Fernando Cabrera.

An emergency c-section was performed at the State Fair’s live birthing exhibit. The mother cow lived; sadly, the calf did not.

NY-21 GOP candidate Elise Stefanik pledges to “work with anyone” in her first TV ad of the general election campaign.

More than three times as many Massachusetts Democrats would vote for Hillary Clinton if she ran for president in 2016 than would back the state’s senior senator, Elizabeth Warren, according to a new poll.

Whoopi Goldberg, who suffers from glaucoma, is not covered by New York’s medical marijuana law, but hopes it will be expanded soon.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a possible 2016 contender, is preparing to dispatch more than two dozen campaign staffers to other states with competitive elections this year – including Iowa and New Hampshire.

De Blasio previewed the city’s $145 million after-school expansion, announcing that 78,000 middle schoolers will have access to the programs by the end of the upcoming school year.

De Blasio sent a letter to regulators pushing them to require broader Internet access and enforce net neutrality in the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.

In the 13 states that passed laws allowing for the use of medical marijuana between 1999 and 2010, 25 percent fewer people die from opioid overdoses annually.

NY-4 GOP candidate Bruce Blakeman is in Israel.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand among the visiting authors at UAlbany’s Writers Institute.

Zephyr Teachout and Rob Astorino will hold a radio debate on Sept. 4 — with or without Gov. Cuomo.

Rob Astorino is sending a “cease and desist” letter to TV stations asking them to not air a Cuomo ad that he says is inaccurate.

Bummer.

NYLCV Taps Avella as Pre-Primary ‘Top Priority’

As he faces a tough primary challenge from former NYC Comptroller John Liu, Sen. Tony Avella has picked up the support of the New York League of Conservation Voters, which today will name the Queens senator its top priority candidate in advance of the Sept. 9 election.

In an email to its members, the NYLCV touted Avella’s “tireless work” on some of the organization’s key agenda items, like getting toxic chemicals out of children’s products, promoting clean energy and protecting clean drinking water.

“Whether he was leading the charge on the Child Safe Products Act, or making sure regulations are in place that will safeguard our drinking water from hydraulic fracturing, Tony has kept the environment a top issue in the Senate,” the email states.

“And that’s just what we need if we’re going to make New York safer and healthier for everyone.”

The NYLCV’s support comes with a “significant” five-figure independent expenditure on Avella’s behalf that will include phone banking, door knocking and a GOTV strategy.

Avella can certainly use the assistance. He has been trailing Liu in fundraising, and this primary fight has divided Queens Democrats and organized labor.

A few unions are sticking with Liu despite the deal for the IDC and regular Democrats to reunite after the general election – an agreement that grew out of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s endorsement battle with the labor-backed Working Families Party.

Avella, however, is being supported by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who helped broker Cuomo’s WFP endorsement deal, and the healthcare workers union SEIU 1199.

The WFP initially backed Liu, but is now neutral in this primary battle, along with one in the Bronx, where former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell is trying to topple IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

A source familiar with the NYLCV endorsement process said both Liu and Avella filled out questionnaires and interviewed to receive the group’s nod.

But at the end of the day, the source said, Avella impressed the NYLCV board with his record and “political courage” on the organization’s issues – especially his push for the Child Safe Product Act, even though it never got to the Senate floor for a vote.

When he defected from the so-called “regular” Democrats to join the IDC this past February, Avella was bumped up to vice chair of the Senate’s Environmental Committee from the position of ranking member.

The NYLCV is also increasing its PAC budget this year from $350,000 in 2012 to $385,000 – in part due to greater independent expenditure spending.

Avella isn’t the only candidate the NYLCV is backing in advance of the September primaries. Its full list of endorsed candidates can be found here. There will be another round of endorsements – including in statewide races – in late September.

The pre-primary list includes GOP Sen. Jack Martins, whose support by the NYLCV has sparked a bit of a war between the NYC-based organization and a Long Island environmental group.

The Long Island Environmental Voters Forum protested Martins’ support by the “Manhattan-based” League.

The local group is particularly upset that the Senate never voted on the Long Island Water Quality Control Act, and has expressed support for Martins’ Democratic challenger, Adam Haber.

Honing In on Hochul

Now that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout has survived Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s residency challenge and is assured a spot on the Sept. 9 primary ballot, her campaign is turning up the heat on Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul.

Last night, Teachout and her running mate, Columbia Law Prof. Tim Wu, released a video highlighting Hochul’s voting record and statements – both as the Erie County clerk and as a congresswoman – that they say was compiled by a campaign volunteer identified only as “Tim from Brooklyn.”

The video features Hochul boasting that she had the Conservative Party’s endorsement “every time I’ve run for office,” and also saying that she didn’t support “Obamacare” 100 percent – even voting “many times to repeal it.”

“I’ve become very conservative in my voting record,” Hochul proudly proclaims at one point in the video.

There’s also footage of Hochul touting her backing from the NRA, support for the Keystone Pipeline, and opposition to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s push to let undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses, which is something Wu has been hammering her on for weeks.

“I’ve heard from a lot of Republicans, they think I’m a different kind of Democrat, and I’ll take that as a compliment,” Hochul says. “…I’ve talked to hundreds of people, many, many Conservatives and Republicans, and they are with me on the issues.”

The video concludes by deeming Hochul the “wrong” kind of Democrat for New York, and highlighting Wu as a “progressive” candidate for LG.

Hochul’s past conservative positions are in no small part due to the large GOP enrollment edge in her old district, NY-27, which actually became even more Republican after the last round of redistricting, causing her to lose the seat to former Erie County Executive Chris Collins in 2012.

Since she was tapped in May by Cuomo to run for LG, the former congresswoman has refused to repudiate some of her record – like the opposition to undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses – even as she embraces more liberal policy proposals like the DREAM Act.

Hochul has also said she backs the SAFE Act, which has caused gun rights advocates to call for the NRA to withdraw its support of her.

The Teachout-Wu focus on Hochul is a testament to the fact that there are no set tickets until after the primary, which means Cuomo could end up running with Wu on the Democratic line if Wu somehow manages to beat Hochul on Sept. 9.

There’s ample precedence for this.

It happened in 2010 Carl Paladino, who ended up running with then-Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards, the running mate of Paladino’s vanquished gubernatorial primary foe, former Rep. Rick Lazio, after Edwards beat Paladino’s LG pick, former NYC Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene in the primary.

It also happened to Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, when his preferred LG candidate, H. Carl McCall, lost the primary to Westchester County Executive Al DelBello, who was running with then-NYC Mayor Ed Koch.

Koch failed to defeat Mario Cuomo in the primary, so Cuomo and DelBello became a not-terribly-happy team. They won the general election, but DelBello ended up resigning before his four-year term was through, complaining that the governor hadn’t given him enough to do.