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Posts by Liz Benjamin
Mar 3rd - 5:23 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told Republican business leaders last month he would back legislation to provide funds for charter school classroom space if they are kicked out of NYC buildings.
Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos wants to expand Cuomo’s proposed manufacturing tax break to downstate companies – including those on Long Island.
The new chief of investigations for Cuomo’s Moreland Commission, Robert Addolorato, has spent the last seven years working for entities controlled by the governor.
Frank Ferraro, a former assistant director of the New York State Fair and Democratic leader under then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, is in the running to be hired as state fair director.
A collection of labor, farm and business groups in the state’s Southern Tier wants to put a new, less corporate face on New York’s long-stalled fracking industry.
Richmond County Democratic Committee Executive Director Kevin Elkins said the party remains “fully behind” Sen. Diane Savino, one of the five IDC members.
AQE praised Sen. John Defrancisco’s “no malarkey” view of Cuomo’s pre-K funding proposal.
The Senate Republicans conferenced medical marijuana behind closed doors last week. It’s still unclear if the measure will come to the floor for a vote.
The state Health Department says at least 10 hospitals – including Albany Medical Center - are interested in finding out more about Cuomo’s med-mar plan.
Former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno on whether ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s portrait should hang at the Capitol: “He was, what, the 54th governor and you can’t erase that.”
Sen. John Sampson will have a second challenger if he seeks re-election this year: Sean Henry, a former NYC Council candidate, Army veteran and Department of Homeless Services administrator.
Mark Penn, the “rumpled chief strategist” of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, is to become Microsoft’s chief strategic officer with broad powers over marketing, markets and investments.
Veteran NY Post reporter Jeane MacIntosh will soon join Phil Singer’s communications and crisis management firm Marathon Strategies.
Joined by NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and AG Eric Schneiderman, Rep. Jose Serrano announced he’s sponsoring the “Smart Phone Theft Prevention Act” in the House.
“You can bet your favorite pair of Sansabelt slacks that none of these people have “The Anarchists’ Cookbook” on their bookshelves.”
House Speaker John Boehner rejected suggestions that a new condo he bought in Florida is a sign he’s ready to retire, saysaying he’s in a good position to run for speaker again.
The DCCC included three New York congressional candidates on its first list of “Red to Blue” fundraising program.
Former NYC Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu declined to reject a rumor that he might primary Rep. Nydia Velazquez, but he isn’t challenging his own congresswoman, Grace Meng.
RIP Martin Sullivan, State Museum director under former Gov. Cuomo.
Mar 3rd - 1:33 pm
Conservative and Republican leaders in NY-24 have united behind former US Attorney John Katko to face off against Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei this fall.
Katko emerged from a field of seven (it was eight, but Jane Rossi, a Rome businesswoman and the ex-wife of Oneida Indian Nation leader Ray Halbritter, withdrew at the last minute) Republicans who interviewed with party leaders Saturday at the Palace Theater in Syracse. He left his job to run for office, and cited his experience fighting crime – especially gang members – as apt preparation for the campaign trail and D.C. politics.
Today, the Conservative leaders in NY-24, which includes committees from Onondaga, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego counties, issued a statement in support of Katko, although they stressed that he had prevailed over several candidates who all had “excellent qualifications.”
“Mr. Katko aligns with our Conservative principles philosophically and understands the significance of this election,” said Onondaga County Conservative Chairman Chuck Mancabelli. “Mr. Katko has a strong command of the issues and more importantly, an ability to connect with the voters during the campaign. This is a key element for any candidate to be credible in today’s political climate.”
State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long will have the final say on this endorsement, but with both the Republicans and the Conservatives behind him, Katko has a better shot at trying to prevent a GOP primary.
One of his rivals for Row B, John Lemondes, a retired Army colonel from LaFayette, has not yet decided whether he will seek to force a primary. He finished second to Katko during the GOP endorsement process, though Katko received more than 50 percent of the weighted party vote, according to Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey.
So far, only Ian Hunter of Syracuse, who fought with party leaders last year after he passed petitions to run on the GOP and Conservative lines in the mayor’s race, has announced plans to mount a GOP primary challenge. Dadey went to court to kick Hunter off the GOP line, leaving the Democratic incumbent, Mayor Stephanie Miner, without a Republican opponent. Hunter ended up receiving just over 15 percent of the vote on the Conservative line.
Because of the early, court-ordered June primaries in House races, candidates must beging passing petitions tomorrow to gather the 1,250 signatures needed for a spot on the primary ballot.
Maffei has been a top target for the Republicans and Conservatives ever since he was bounced from his seat in a tight race by Ann Marie Buerkle in 2010. Maffei defeated Buerkle in a re-match in 2012, and she briefly mulled running against him yet a third time, before opting out of the race last September. Buerkle was appointed by President Obama to a $155,00-a-year, five year term as a commissioner on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the spring of 2013.
Mar 3rd - 12:45 pm
This is an updated version of the second item in today’s Morning Memo:
The Journal News reports that Virginia Perez, a Westchester County legislator, is giving “serious consideration” to a primary challenge against Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and has had “several” conversations about her potential run with Klein.
While Perez is still weighing her options, she seems like a good fit for the IDC, which is co-controlling the Senate through a power-sharing agreement with the Republicans. Consider this:
Perez, who was first elected in 2011, is a supporter of bi-partisan coalitions. She joined with another county Democrat last December to form a partnership with Republicans in the county Legislature — similar to the structure in the state Senate.
“Being bi-partisan is the best way to serve the public,” she said. “We don’t need gridlock. Extreme partisanship doesn’t get us anywhere.”
This news comes on the heels of last week’s surprise announcement by Queens Sen. Tony Avella that he would be departing company with the regular Democrats to join forces with the IDC.
Almost immediately, there was talk of a potential primary challenge against Avella, who has less than $3,000 in his campaign account. Avella shrugged off such talk, saying he’s not worried about any political payback for his decision.
He also called a mini protest (four people holding signs) that materialized outside his appearance at a Queens public school last Friday “ridiculous.”
The possible Perez vs. Stewart-Cousins primary also comes after months of speculation that former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell might challenge Klein himself this fall. Koppell has been ratcheting up his public criticism of Klein and has met with DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris to discuss a possible primary. But he has not made any formal announcements – or formed a campaign committee, or started fund-raising – to date.
Klein praised Perez to the Journal News through a statement released by his spokeswoman, saying she “has a very bright future, and has the talent, experience and drive to make a great senator.” He also noted he has “deep ties throughout Yonkers,” which he has represented for many years.
A spokesman for Stewart-Cousins and the regular Democrats declined comment.
UPDATE: AS of mid-January, Stewart-Cousins had $250,621 on hand in her personal campaign account, but, of course, would have access to DSCC funds, should she need them. Perez had $2,817, but would probably be able to rely on some assistance from the IDC, should she decide to run.
Also, Perez has at least one black mark against her: She filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy back in 2012, citing unmanageable debt. She said at the time that her situation was “nothing to be ashamed of,” and one that many people in her district can related to, so perhaps it gives her a “real person” talking point, but it could also be used against her in a campaign.
Mar 3rd - 12:21 pm
ICYMI, here’s the lead item today’s Morning Memo:
The New York City-based war over charter schools will reach a head in Albany tomorrow, as hundreds from either side descend on the state Capitol for dueling rallies.
On one side: Former NYC Councilwoman and charter school operator Eva Moskowitz, who is furious with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for reversing co-location decisions by his predecessor, former Mayor Bloomberg, that would have allowed for the expansion of three schools operated by her Success Academy network.
Moskowitz has cancelled school tomorrow at all 22 of her charters, and plans to bus angry parents, students and teachers to Albany to protest de Blasio’s decision.
On the other side: De Blasio and his allies, who had already planned to be in Albany Tuesday to rally for his ever-more-out-of-reach plan to let the city tax wealthy residents to expand pre-K and after school programs in the five boroughs. De Blasio last week fanned the flames still further by calling Moskowitz’s rally a “sideshow,” insisting he would not be deterred by her plans.
There is a belief among de Blasio backers that that Moskowitz has launched her competing rally with the tacit approval – if not outright encouragement – of the pro-charter Cuomo administration, which is at odds with the mayor over pre-K funding.
Just last week, Cuomo was praising the charter school movement and its departed “champion” (Bloomberg), while refusing to weigh in directly on the co-location argument.
A Cuomo spokesman did not return an email seeking comment Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos told the NY Post he’s prepared to fight on behalf of charter schools during the ongoing budget negotiations with Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and IDC Leader Jeff Klein.
Skelos called de Blasio’s co-location decision “unconscionable.” He also expressed concern about the administration’s effort to redirect a $210 million construction fund used to build space for charter schools toward pre-K, and its plans to charge better-financed charter schools rent.
Not everyone in the charter community is at war with de Blasio. Twenty-three charter organizations have signed onto a Feb. 27 statement calling Moskowitz’s competing rally “not the right approach at this time,” and refusing to participate.
“Tuesday is not a day to be divided,” the letter reads. “Those rallying in Albany next week should stand together with the city and advocate – side by side – for our children, particularly the most underserved, and all of whom are public school students.”
Mar 3rd - 6:21 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.
At 11 a.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, AG Eric Schneiderman and Rep. Jose Serrano make a public safety announcement, Office of the Attorney General, 120 Broadway, 25th Floor, Manhattan.
At 11:30 a.m., state Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky will deliver remarks on international bank regulation at the Institute of International Bankers’ 25th Annual Washington Conference, Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
At noon, NYC Public Advocate Tish James joins parents pushing for de Blasio’s UPK agenda, at The Tweed Courthouse, at 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.
Also at noon, religious officials hold a prayer vigil outside the governor’s NYC office to express opposition to his budget proposals for the next fiscal year, including planned tax reductions, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement in the Blue Room at City Hall, Manhattan.
Also at 1 p.m., the Alliance for Quality Education and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity offer the results of their 16-school tour investigating the needs of fiscally strapped districts, Room 836, LOB, Albany.
At 5 p.m., James and others attend the LICH Communities Healthcare Meeting, at the SUNY College of Optometry, at 33 West 42nd St., Manhattan.
At 5:30 p.m. Assemblywoman James Corwin raises campaign cash at the Fort Orange Club, 110 Washington Ave., Albany.
At 6 p.m., the “regular” Senate Democrats host their winter reception at Taste, 45 Beaver St., Albany.
At 6 p.m., Sen. Cathy Young and Sen. George Maziarz have non-related events at the Fort Orange Club, 110 Washington Ave., Albany.
6 p.m. Assemblyman Edward Ra and Assemblyman Philip Palmesano have non-related events at the University Club, 141 Washington Ave., Albany.
At 7:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito delivers greetings at the Bronx Museum Annual Spring Gala, 102 North End Ave., the Bronx.
The Assembly is set today to discuss – and perhaps vote on – a bill that would delay the use the Common Core testing standards on students’ grades and teachers’ evaluation.
Cuomo is poised to release a new statewide TV ad this week that pushes his Common Core reforms so students won’t unfairly be hurt by test scores under the new standards. “While the state’s new Common Core curriculum is heading in the right direction, testing on it is premature,” the governor says in the ad.
Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos vowed to address the plight of charter schools — which have been denied classroom space and capital dollars by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio — as part of state budget talks, calling the mayor’s actions “unconscionable.”
De Blasio’s plan to double the number of middle-school students in after-school programs would provide more than 95,000 slots in a total of 512 schools, according to a report to be officially released today.
Fred Dicker reports Cuomo aides “have been secretly using state resources to ‘crowd-build’ turnouts at public events” for the governor’s new and supposedly all-volunteer Citizen Preparedness Corps, which responds to natural disasters.
Sen. Martin Dilan is calling for five dissident Senate Dems — who have teamed with the Republicans to run the chamber — to be booted from the party. He said the IDC members are “not Democrats, no matter what they say.”
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein is reportedly on the short list to be tapped as lieutenant governor. “It’s the worst kept secret in New York state politics,” Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus says.
More than 160 women who are elected officials or hold other leadership posts have written to New York’s top elected officials – all men – urging them to enact public campaign financing.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who is expected to announce this week whether he’ll challenge Cuomo, says: “I’d rather lose a race and stand on my principles than win a race and cave and give in to something I’m not.”
Members of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester are headed to Albany today, where they’ll rally in support of the Compassionate Care Act.
Mar 2nd - 6:21 pm
Attendees at the unveiling ceremony included Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.
People close to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer say he has no plans to have his portrait hung with the other governors at the Capitol and doesn’t envision having such plans, calling the prospect “very unlikely.”
The state Assembly has introduced legislation to delay the use the Common Core testing standards on students’ grades and teachers’ evaluation. The bill is expected to pass Monday.
US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand thinks she has the votes to pass legislation that would remove commanders from sexual assault investigations, and says a vote could come as soon as this week.
Five months after Democratic congressional candidate Martha Robertson raised big bucks off an unproven claim that Republicans tried hacking her website, GOP operatives are accusing her of fraud.
As Cuomo spends down a $1 billion pledge to Buffalo that is reviving the once-struggling city, state lawmakers and regional development officials said they are hopeful that other parts of the state will gain a similar focus this year.
Republicans in the 24th Congressional District have designated former federal prosecutor John Katko to challenge Rep. Dan Maffei in November. It’s unclear if he’ll face a primary in June.
Writing in the Times Union, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (FDR’s granddaughter) pressured Cuomo on public campaign financing.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has upset some members of the Irish community by failing to appoint an Irish liaison, taking on the Central Park carriage industry and choosing the gay-friendly St. Patrick’s for All parade today over the Rockaway parade – among other things.
If Buffalo adopts a system that allows the mayor greater control over the school district, it would not be the first time.
Connecticut and New York have found a way around federal farm bill cuts: bump up home heating assistance a few million bucks in return for preserving more than a half-billion dollars in food stamp benefits.
The top attorney at the nonprofit Legal Aid Society who for three decades has been a hard-charging advocate for poor New Yorkers will take the reins of New York City’s welfare agency.
The Staten Island Advance is not pleased the local GOP didn’t allow it access to the convention at which Rep. Michael Grimm was formally nominated to run for re-election.
A Hamptons official who spoke out against a sweetheart land deal involving billionaire Ronald Lauder says he got shafted.
The NYT says the Legislature “would do well” to follow the Board of Regents recommendation to increase school aid by $1.3 billion, with $125 million of that going to establish an instruction professional development fund that could address Common Core issues.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is expected to announce this coming week whether he will challenge Cuomo, but he already sounds like a candidate.
Douglas MacKinnon, a former White House and Pentagon official, thinks Hillary Clinton would be wise to watch out for Marylannd Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has made no secret of his desire to run for president in 2016.
Kathy Weppner, aka “Kathy from Williamsville” of WBEN Radio fame, will assume an even bullier pulpit in the months ahead as the Republican candidate for Congress against Democratic incumbent Brian Higgins of Buffalo.
New York State regulators conducted a series of inspections over the last week at the Port of Albany and on rail tracks in Albany and Buffalo to increase the safety of the surging oil-by-rail business.
NYC Councilman Danny Dromm promised to investigate his former Council colleague and charter-schools founder Eva Moskowitz if she pulls kids out of class this week for a protest in Albany.
NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray has added a special assistant on top of her $170,000-per-year chief of staff.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will speak at 2 p.m. on March 10 in Daemen’s College Wick Campus Center Social Room as part of the college’s newly established Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series. He will be introduced by Rep. Chris Collins.
Feb 28th - 6:11 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
At 7:45 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito distributes leaflets on the mayor’s universal pre-K plan, 116th St. and Lexington Avenue, Manhattan.
At 10:30 a.m., representatives of the state Education Department and the Atlanta-based inBloom Inc. are scheduled to testify about how students’ personal information is disclosed to, stored and used by third-party vendors during an Assembly Education Committee hearing, Assembly Hearing Room, Room 1923, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 11 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the NYPD promotion ceremony, One Police Plaza, Madison Street, Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., IDC Leader Jeff Klein and school officials announce a $100,000 direct aid grant that will fund the 1:1 Technology Initiative, Office of the Superintendent of Pelham Public Schools, 18 Franklin Pl., Pelham.
Also at 11 a.m., the Alliance for Quality Education, Campaign for Fiscal Equity and others visit the Copiague School District on a one-week “Fact-Finding Tour” of school funding, Copiague School District Central Offices, 2650 Great Neck Rd., Copiague.
At 11:30 a.m., Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Mark-Viverito hold a press availability as he campaigns for Congress at the Covelo Senior Center, 312 East 109th St., Manhattan.
At noon, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis joins former NYC mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis to discuss philanthropy and announce contributions towards the Staten Island Zoo at New Dorp High School, 465 New Dorp Lane, Staten Island.
Also at noon, students, elected officials, labor groups and advocates gather to call on the state Senate to bring the New York DREAM Act to a vote, Buffalo State College, Campbell Student Union Lower Lobby, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.
Also at noon, Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York host a community resiliency forum with Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort and others, Fulton Montgomery BOCES, 2755 New York 67, Johnstown.
At 12:15 p.m., de Blasio makes an announcement, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., members of the NYC Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations and Committee on Oversight and Investigations hold a joint oversight hearing to discuss a December report by the city Department of Investigations about the NYC Board of Elections; committee room, City Hall, Manhattan.
Also at 1 p.m., Sen. Tony Avella and representatives of business the city expects to relocate from the site of the planned Willets Point Development in Queens criticize compensation offers proposed by city officials; Avella’s district office, Suite C, 38-50 Bell Blvd., Queens.
At 3 p.m., Assembly Cities Committee Chairman Felix Ortiz and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner will answer questions at the site of a water main break at the intersection of Montgomery and East Water Streets (outside City Hall), Syracuse.
At 4:30 p.m., education-funding advocates hold press conference following school tour, Binghamton High School, 31 Main St., Binghamton.
At 5:30 p.m., Westchester County executive Rob Astorino delivers keynote address at Broome County GOP dinner, Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, 225 Water St., Binghamton.
Also at 5:30 p.m., DC37 holds its Annual Black History Finale Gala, 125 Barclay St., Manhattan. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Tish James and others are expected to attend.
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Assemblyman Ron Kim, Jersey City, N.J., City Councilman Rolando R. Lavarro Jr., Rep. Grace Meng and Community Board 11 Treasurer Edward Santos speak during a free “Forum on Politics and Governance: Lessons from the Experience of Elected Asian American Leaders”; The Philippine Consulate General in New York, 556 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., 6the second annual “NY State Brewer’s Convention” takes place as part of the New York City Brewers Guild’s sixth annual “New York City Beer Week”; The New York Beer Company restaurant, 321 W. 44th St., Manhattan.
Unnamed sources tell The Buffalo News that Cuomo has been quietly promoting the idea of giving a few mayors – include those in Buffalo and Yonkers – new powers over their school districts.
Told by appraisers a property Cuomo covets for a Peace Bridge project was worth less than $2 million, the state drove a process that will cost up to $27 million in public funds.
Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who wants to be the first Dominican-born member of the House, chose to announce his second primary challenge to Rep. Charlie Rangel on Dominican Independence Day.
Rangel, who has served in Congress for 44 years, is hiring big-name consultants for his re-election bid and plans to fight hard for his political life. He unsuccessfully tried to convince one of his opponents, the Rev. Michael Walrond, not to run.
Rangel rolled out his first labor endorsement from the Plumbers Union, Local 1, which has 6,000 members in NYC.
Danya Perry, a former assistant US attorney who was hired by the Moreland Commission last summer to root out legislative corruption, is ready to resign. Sources say she’s “frustrated” by the governor’s interference and infighting among commissioners.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced seven principles that he said will increase New York Police Department officers’ sensitivity while interacting with the people they protect, especially while conducting the controversial street tactic known as stop and frisk.
De Blasio continues to press what appears to be a losing case for his tax-the-rich-for-pre-K plan in Albany because he’s holding out for more cash in the final budget deal.
State lawmakers are trying to ensure they have some role in determining how the first half of the state’s $8 billion Medicaid waiver will be spent, after Cuomo’s preliminary budget granted his administration a virtual blank check to allocate the federal funds.
Two top Senate Republicans said they will consider changes to the property tax freeze in Cuomo’s $2 billion tax cut plan.
Mayor Stephanie Miner and state Assembly Member Felix Ortiz, who chairs the Committee on Cities, will tour the site of a recent water main break outside city hall today.
Feb 27th - 5:00 pm
The Clintons’ $52,809 property tax bill is nearly twice what their New Castle neighbors, Sandra Lee and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pay.
LG Bob Duffy would not say if he wanted to stay on the ticket for a second term, and suggested an announcement would come in May.
Former Gov. David Paterson is “humbled” to be adding his portrait to the Hall of Governors, and hopes his ex-boss, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, does so, too.
NYC Councilwoman Annabel Palma won’t primary Rep. Jose Serrano.
Rep. Richard Hanna picked up a key subcommittee assignment that will give him oversight of the FAA and policies affecting unmanned aircraft systems, or drones.
Rep. Chris Collins donated his $4,000 paycheck from the government shutdown last fall to the Greater Niagara Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts.
Assemblyman John T. McDonald III joined other Democratic lawmakers questioning Cuomo’s plan to freeze local property taxes for two years as part of his $2 billion tax-cut plan.
IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj are forming a new political club in the Bronx.
US Attorney General Eric Holder was briefly hospitalized after experiencing faintness and shortness of breath during a morning meeting with staff members.
The Republican plan to revamp the federal tax system would hit wealthy New Yorkers hard – especially those working on Wall Street.
US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is going to bat for New York’s bees.
A bill that would allow New Yorkers to register to vote while applying for a hunting and fishing license was laid aside in the Senate without a formal vote.
NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito explains why she ditched Rep. Charlie Rangel in favor of his primary challenger, Sen. Adriano Espaillat.
Actress Cynthia Nixon launched an on-line MoveOn petition in support of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tax-the-rich-for-pre-K plan.
There was no verdict today in Kerry Kennedy’s drugged driving trial.
Is Bill O’Reilly secretly campaigning for Hillary Clinton to be president?
Phew. Bottomless brunch is safe, thanks to a loophole in a little-known state law.
Feb 27th - 1:53 pm
A reader reports that a friend who lives in IDC Jeff Klein’s district received a telephone poll call that included a question designed to gauge support for former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell is he decides to make good on his threat to challenge Klein in a primary this fall.
The PPP poll call came yesterday – the same day Klein triumphantly announced the addition of a new member to his band of renegade Democrats: Sen. Tony Avella, a former NYC councilman from Queens. The call also included questions about Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
During a brief telephone interview, Koppell said he did not commission the poll, though he is planning on polling soon. He said he had heard about the polling call, but had not received it.
Since I had him on the line, I asked Koppell whether Avella’s announcement changes his calculus at all as he’s mulling possible run against Klein, who has been empowered by the growth of his conference from four members back to five. (Remember: Sen. Malcolm Smith was once an IDC member – the lone member of color – but he was ousted after his indictment on federal corruption charges).
“It’s not a welcome development,” Koppell said. “The whole situation is outrageous, as far as I’m concerned. These people get elected as Democrats and then empower the Republicans; it’s simply disgraceful….But I’m not running against five people – if I run – I’m running against one. So it doesn’t make much of a difference in that sense. There are people who think the whole thing collapses if Klein is defeated. That’s likely, but not certain. I don’t think one more people in the IDC makes much of a difference.”
Koppell said the IDC “seduced” Avella into leaving the so-called regular Democrats by offering to move his bills and promising to give him a committee chairmanship (Social Services, it was announced today, not Aging as predicted by Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.; Aging whet to another IDC member, Sen. Dave Valesky).
“They basically bribed him to come over, but the end result is to empower (Senate GOP Leader) Dean Skelos,” Koppell said. “…The Democrats want to do something, while the Republicans don’t care if nothing gets done. That has historically been true for the whole 40 years that I’ve been around. So, the fact that Skelos has veto power means something to the Democrats. The fact that Klein has veto power doesn’t mean much to the Republicans, because they don’t have much they want to do.”
I also reached out to DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris, who has met with Koppell to discuss his possible primary challenge to Klein, and asked whether the Senate Democrats might be behind the PPP poll. He told me the DSCC generally doesn’t comment on whether or not it is behind particular polls – which isn’t a “yes,” but isn’t a “no,” either.
Feb 27th - 12:45 pm
Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs announced today that he will not pick a favorite from among the candidates vying for retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s seat, and urged party committee members to back whomever they feel is the strongest contender to win in the November general election.
Jacobs wrote the following email to county committee members, and also released it to members of the press:
“Dear County Committee Member:”
“As you know, there is the possibility of a primary contest for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 4th CD. As both candidates have deep roots in the County Committee and both are long-serving public officials who have run on our Party’s line multiple times, I have decided NOT to take a position in this race, should there be one.”
“Accordingly, I leave it to each member of the Committee to make their own judgment and support the candidate of their choosing.”
Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice is widely viewed as the frontrunner in race for the Democratic line, and she has been endorsed by McCarthy, who is opting not to seek re-election due to health concerns.
Rice’s decision to run may have caused other Democrats to think twice about throwing their respective hats into the ring. But Nassau legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams remains interested, He’s raising money to see if he can fund a campaign.
DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, who hails from Long Island, has said he hopes there won’t be a primary, but in the event that there is one, he urged candidates to avoid going negative and focus their criticism for the Republicans.
On the GOP side, Bruce Blakeman, the former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, has announced his intention to seek McCarthy’s seat. Blakeman also ran an unsuccessful bid for the US Senate in 2010, finishing dead last in a three-way Republican primary, and an unsuccessful campaign for state comptroller in 1998.
Blakeman is an attractive candidate to the Republicans due to his local name recognition and ability to self fund. He already has the support of Rep. Pete King, but he’s facing a potential primary battle with New Hyde Park attorney Frank Scaturro.
Petitioning for congressional races starts next week, thanks to the court-ordered June primary date for House races.