Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

The Weekend That Was

President Obama’s pick to replacement retiring US AG Eric Holder, Brooklyn US Attorney Loretta Lynch, has been widely praised as a person of substance, not flash.

Obama said the Senate had overwhelmingly confirmed Lynch twice before for the post of US Attorney and “it’s my hope that the Senate will confirm her for a third time without delay.”

A lawyer for Staten Island Republican Rep. Michael Grimm immediately cited Lynch’s nomination as an indication that the congressman’s prosecution was politicized.

New York elected officials lauded Obama’s selection of Lynch.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio touted his administration’s diversity during a speech to the closing reception of the Somos El Futuro political conference Saturday night, and avoided mentioning his Albany agenda.

While in Puerto Rico, de Blasio met with IDC Leader Jeff Klein and declined to criticize the Bronx Democrat for saying he wants to return to his alliance with the Senate Republicans.

Klein is remaining coy about his plans, saying he’s “not closing the door on any option for the Independent Democratic Conference.” He’s scheduled to meet with Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos next week.

“Jeff and I had a great working relationship, a coalition,” Skelos said during a radio interview this morning. “We helped get the four budgets done on time. I’m sure we’re going to have a fine relationship when we move forward.”

Speaking briefly at Somos on Friday, LG-elect Kathy Hochul pledged that in the next four years, the state’s minimum wage would be raised, the Dream Act would pass and the Women’s Equality Act would win approval.

“No one should be concerned about the agenda being derailed,” Hochul said. “I believe that the governor remains committed to the Dream Act, remains committed to the women’s equality agenda.”

Though he’s still facing a trail on embezzlement charges, Sen. John Sampson is returning to Albany in 2015 and bullish about his future. It’s a moot point as to whether the Democrats would have let him return to their conference, since they have nowhere near 32 seats.

It’s unclear who Cuomo will select to serve out the remained of Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice’s term now that she’s headed to Congress. Candidates for the job have emerged on both sides of the aisle.

Rice’s seat isn’t the only vacancy that needs to be filled on Long Island, since two Republicans – Nassau County Legislator Michael Venditto and Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci – both won seats in the state Senate.

Donn Esmonde is perplexed that Cuomo didn’t win bigger in Erie County, writing: “If a billion-dollar economic boost didn’t buy our overwhelming affection, I wouldn’t count on him showing up with another down payment.”

The Times Union editorializes: “One unquestionable lesson from the campaign of 2014 is that broad and meaningful campaign finance reform needs to become reality in the United States. It can and should start in New York.”

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle says: “Cuomo should make finding new ways to entice New Yorkers to vote a priority as he begins a new four-year term in January.”

The Watertown Daily Times says Cuomo “must exert his influence to see that ideological balance is maintained in the Legislature,” adding: “Interested parties from throughout the nation will be watching to see how he handles this new governing environment.”

Newsday outlines what Long Island needs from Cuomo over the next four years.

A New York City prosecutor has been arrested on charges that he berated and then choked a woman at an Irish bar on the East Side of Manhattan.

Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suggested strongly that he would be open to running for president in 2016.

Did the Democrats’ drubbing in the midterms free up Hillary Clinton to distance herself from President Obama, since everyone else is doing it?

The 43rd president, George W. Bush, said he fully supports brother Jeb Bush running to become the 45th president but added that it’s up to his younger sibling to decide his 2016 aspirations.

After spending at least $55,000 per day since the end of August trying to help the Democrats take control of the state Senate, NYSUT didn’t have much success. Its sole victory, costing $1.14 million, was Buffalo’s Marc Panepinto, who will arrive in Albany with one of the lowest vote victories anyone can remember: 34 percent in a four-way race.

Just about every discussion of the 2015 contest for Erie County executive includes Republican Sen. Pat Gallivan as a potential opponent to incumbent Democrat Mark Poloncarz. But sources close to the senator tell Bob McCarthy he will not run and instead enjoy the Senate’s new GOP majority.

While he had a few noteworthy stumbles, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s use of his vast fortune to push to back “centrist” candidates and those favoring gun control fared well in Tuesday’s midterm elections where conservatives otherwise largely won the day.

An association of freight companies is questioning a central premise of Cuomo’s plan to turn Stewart International Airport into a regional hub for cargo by shifting freight operations from congested John F. Kennedy International Airport.

A closer look at how Republican Congressman-elect John Katko defeated Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei in NY-24.

The nine Republicans who will represent New York in the U.S. House next year likely will play an important role helping House Speaker John Boehner marginalize tea party dissidents.

With the exception of Buffalo, Cuomo’s memoir barely mentions upstate in any significant way.

Rep. Charles Rangel blasted Obama’s plan to deploy 1,500 more American troops to Iraq to train local forces battling Islamic State militants.

NYRA announced a healthcare program for jockeys.

Rep. Tom Reed is pressing Cuomo to guarantee funding the local 25-percent cost share for communities in NY-23 whose infrastructure was affected by severe storms earlier this year.

Extras

Brooklyn US Attorney Loretta Lynch is expected to be nominated by President Obama in the coming days to replace outgoing US AG Eric Holder.

Lynch has prosecuted major terrorism, organized crime and political-corruption cases. She would be the first black women in history to be US AG.

Lynch is known in state government circles for her pursuit of corrupt lawmakers including former state Sens. Pedro Espada Jr. and Shirley Huntley, as well as Assemblyman William Boyland.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus “sure as heck” hopes Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate in 2016.

President Obama authorized the deployment of another 1,500 American troops to Iraq, doubling the number of those sent to advise and assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the battle against the Islamic State.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer’s move into the minority party has some elected officials and business leaders in the heavily Democratic New York City area worried about what a GOP Congress may mean for the region’s priorities.

“Star Trek” star George Takei says he’s firmly on Team Hillary.

A federal judge approved Detroit’s plan to exit bankruptcy.

Latino lawmakers are tweaking their DREAM Act strategy after Democrats failed to win the Senate majority, calling on Cuomo to put it in the budget.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that centers on whether the federal government can provide health insurance subsidies to people shopping on the federal exchanges.

Sen. Kevin Parker wants Cuomo, IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos to bring the Senate back to Albany before 2015 to vote on minimum wage.

Voters approved the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act, but there’s no timetable yet for distributing the money.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said his race with Gov. Andrew Cuomo could have been a “nail biter” if he had been able to raise more money.

Astorino is still mad at NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

Kevin Finnegan, political director for SEIU 1199, said: “Jeff Klein is a man of his word and I expect that he’ll stay with the Democrats.”

What Jew Need to Know” about Congressman-elect Lee Zeldin, who will be the lone Jewish member of the House GOP conference.

You can now take a virtual tour of NYS parks and DEC campgrounds.

A new Gallup poll found a slim majority of Americans – 51  percent – favor legalizing the use of marijuana, down from a reading of 58 percent last year.

This guy looks awfully familiar.

“To think that 100 years ago, the governor of New York swinging by a chain coffee joint might never have been seen by anyone besides the lucky few that were there.”

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, back in her native Puerto Rico for Somos, called for federal funds to pay for the dredging and restoring of a three-mile canal on the island.

Here and Now

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

He is not, unlike many of the state’s Democratic elected officials – including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito – going to Puerto Rico for the Somos el Futuro conference.

At 7 a.m., workers deliver Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree, an 85-foot-tall, 13-ton Norway Spruce tree from Danville, Pennsylvania, that will be hoisted into place by crane in preparation for Rockefeller Center’s 82nd tree-lighting ceremony scheduled Wednesday, Dec. 3; 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan.

At 7:15 a.m., Sen. Kathy Marchione will join volunteers serving breakfast to veterans at the To Honor And Serve Veteran’s Day Breakfast, Glen Sanders Mansion, 1 Glen Ave., Scotia.

At 9 a.m., the president of The State University of New York’s SUNY Maritime College who took office Monday, July 14, U.S. Maritime Service Rear Adm. Michael A. Alfultis, will be inaugurated during an 11:30 a.m. ceremony led by the university system’s chancellor, Nancy L. Zimpher, following a 9 a.m. event where administrators will formally mark the opening of the college’s Maritime Academic Center; Maritime Academic Center, Fort Schuyler, 6 Pennyfield Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 9 a.m., Marchione will attend and speak at Genet Elementary School Veteran’s Day ceremony, 29 Englewood Ave., East Greenbush.

At 9:30 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will help honor 60 local veterans as part of a program sponsored by Time Warner Cable and the History Channel. Averill Park Central School Superintendent James D. Hoffman, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, and Sand Lake Councilwoman Chris Kronau will also be on hand, West Sand Lake Elementary School, 24 Meeler Rd.

At 11 a.m., state Education Commissioner John King holds a Q-and-A at New York Library Association conference, Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.

At 11:30 a.m., LG Bob Duffy receives the Human Service Worker of the Year Award from the Federation of Social Workers IUE-CWA 81381, Rochester Riverside Convention Center, Highland Ballroom, 123 E. Main St., Rochester.

At 6 p.m., local and state emergency officials and state National Guard troops lead a session of the governor’s “Citizen Preparedness Training Program”; room 401, Julius and Armand Hammer Health Sciences Center, Columbia University Medical Center, 701 W. 168th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., the SUNY Student Assembly holds town hall meeting, Marano Campus Center, SUNY Oswego, 7060 New York 104, Oswego.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed frustration with President Obama for the poor performance of Democratic candidates in New York, saying his victory fell short of a landslide because of discontent unrelated to the state.

The governor compared this year’s “Republican wave” to the one in 1994, when Newt Gingrich’s House Republicans took the majority. (Though Cuomo did not mention it, 1994 was also the year that his father, Mario Cuomo, was cast out of the statehouse by Republican George Pataki.)

Cuomo, noting that the state teachers union didn’t endorse him in either of his two races for governor, said overhauling the education system would be as important to his legacy for him as winning approval of gay marriage and enacting strict gun-control laws.

Long Island Rep. Steve Israel is stepping down as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, denying a request from Rep. Nancy Pelosi to return for a third term though he is hoping to remain within the Democratic House leadership.

The Somos El Futuro Conference kicked off with some of the state’s top Democrats – including Cuomo, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – visibly absent.

A spokesman for NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she “was disappointed to learn the Somos conference is being sponsored by Herbalife, which has found itself under investigation by several Attorneys General and the FBI for their business practices.”

The NYPD cops who drive around relatively unknown bureaucrats like Stringer — taking them on errands with their wives and enduring verbal abuse — are pulled from a high-level unit that helps prevent terror attacks on the city.

The citywide speed limit on local streets drops to 25 mph today — ­although NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to ease in the new law with public education and warnings before any ticket blitzes begin. Enforcement will rise as more drivers learn about the new limit.

The solar panel factory slated for a former brownfield site in South Buffalo already is five times more massive than originally planned. If the Cuomo administration has its way, the project could get another five times bigger still.

With Sen. Mark Grisanti’s defeat by Democrat Marc Panepinto, the last of the four GOP senators who voted “yes” on gay marriage is departing the Senate chamber.

New York City has secured at least $1.6 billion in federal funds to both repair and protect city public hospitals that were damaged during superstorm Sandy.

More >

Extras

Two sources familiar with the process tell NPR that Loretta Lynch, the top prosecutor in Brooklyn, could be nominated by President Obama as attorney general in the coming days.

Congresswoman-elect Kathleen Rice will be the newest resident of “The Maloney House” in D.C.

Rice says she would like her chief assistant to take over as acting DA until a special election can be held next November.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo conquered what was once viewed as a Republican stronghold, winning the Orthodox Jewish vote in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn by 70 percent.

Cuomo’s ex-counsel Mylan Denerstein has a new job.

NYC Bill de Blasio insisted the beating the Democrats took in this week’s midterm elections won’t hurt the city’s chances of landing the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

If Hillary Clinton runs in 2016, her aides are all preparing for a campaign based in New York – and talks about where to set up shop have increasingly focused on Westchester County.

Women were a smaller percentage of the electorate this year than they were in 2012 or in 2010, but there are now more than 100 women in Congress. Is this a bad thing, or a good thing?

US Sen. Chuck Schumer did not join the chorus of critics griping about Cuomo’s efforts to secure a Democratic majority in the State Senate, arguing that the governor did all he could for the party.

Schumer said he expects the Democrats to recapture the Senate in 2016 after Republicans swept enough races Tuesday to control all of Congress.

The Gaming Commission’s casino siting board plans to meet on Monday in New York City to privately discuss the 16 bids for casino licenses.

The outcomes of several state and local contests have major implications for policy – and your dinner plate. (Not in New York, though).

Why the Greens’ rise is bad for Democrats.

Writing in The Guardian, Howie Hawkins argues it’s time for American to “take a hard left.”

ICYMI: US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand appeared this week on “The Colbert Report.”

Former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn celebrated the Women’s Equality Party’s achievement of ballot status after her old WFP allies slammed the effort as a cynical way to undermine their left-wing party.

Cuomo said he does not know if the state’s health and environmental studies of fracking will account for the effects of natural gas drilling on climate change.

The state inspector who admitted negligence in monitoring a bungled asbestos-removal project in Buffalo was sentenced to a year of probation.

Tom Wrobleski is ending his 14-year reign as the Staten Island Advance’s political editor to become the paper’s senior opinion writer.

The NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation is facing a $3.2 billion shortfall by the end of de Blasio’s first term, and its plans to close the gap “are at best risky and may prove unachievable,” according to the CBC.

Bubbles, Little Green Army Men and the Rubik’s Cube made it today into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester.

Britney Spears’ likeness was used in a voter registration effort in Clark County, Nevada.

Joe Dillon, the Republican candidate in the 37th Senate District, has conceded in his race against incumbent Democratic Sen. George Latimer.

Westchester Community College is getting its first new president in 43 years. The SUNY Board of Trustees named Belinda Miles, provost at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, to the post.

Schneiderman’s Post-Election Analysis

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is savoring his win on Tuesday night, especially in light of the fact that his race with Republican John Cahill was widely viewed as the most competitive statewide contest of this election cycle.

Schneiderman received about 55.5 percent of the vote to Cahill’s 41.6 percent.

“Since May, the State Republican Party tried desperately to spin a narrative that Schneiderman was vulnerable,” a post-election memo prepared by the AG’s campaign and obtained by CapTon states.

“Republican Super PACs were supposed to spend millions and the polls were supposed to narrow,” the memo continues.

“But the polls never tightened to a point of actual consequence, and Super PAC money never materialized because institutional supporters knew it would be a worthless investment: Attorney General Schneiderman was too strong.”

Schneiderman was viewed as vulnerable in some corners due to his low name recognition and failure to win the sort of national accolades garnered by his larger-than-life predecessors, Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo.

A number of newspaper editorial pages endorsed Cahill, expressing disappointment with what they viewed as Schneiderman’s failure to fully exercise the power of his office.

But the truth is, Cahill, who also suffered from low name recognition – a problem compounded by his lack of campaign cash – never really came close to closing the double-digit gap between himself and Schneiderman.

And once the AG launched his multimillion dollar TV ad campaign, it was hard for Cahill to compete – though he made a serious go of it at the duo’s lone televised AG debate, hosted by TWC News.

In the end, Schneiderman got more votes and a bigger margin of victory than Cuomo’s 54 percent win over Rob Astorino, though state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli – in an ironic twist, given his own vulnerability in 2010 – bested them both with 60 percent of the vote over Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci’s 36.6 percent.

According to the Schneiderman campaign memo, the AG won by a slightly wider margin this year than in his first election, which took place in a good year for Democrats.

In 2010, Schneiderman defeated his GOP opponent, Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, by 13 percentage points. This year – a year that saw losses across the country for progressive Democrats like Schneiderman – he beat Cahill by 14 points.

This year, the memo notes, Schneiderman won Erie County, 52-45, while he lost it 44-45 four years ago. He also added several other counties to his “win” column, including Nassau, Dutchess, Orange and Richmond, (which tends to trend more conservative, though Cuomo carried for the second time this year, albeit by a smaller margin than in 2010).

The memo insists Schneiderman’s win wasn’t solely about money, though it admits the AG’s cash advantage enabled his campaign to tell voters about his record.

Considering his disadvantages, though, Cahill ran a strong race without any significant missteps or career-ending errors. He gained a lot of traction for a virtual unknown former gubernatorial staffer (to ex-Gov. George Pataki) who was running his first-ever campaign for public office.

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio this afternoon will head to Puerto Rico – like much of the state’s Democratic political class – for the annual post-election Somos el Futuro conference. No official word yet on whether Cuomo will attend, but LG-elect Kathy Hochul is expected to be there.

At 8:30 a.m., MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast discusses the agency’s five-year construction plan while delivering a keynote speech during The General Contractors Association of New York’s “GCA NY Transportation and Infrastructure Breakfast Series”; The Cornell Club New York, 6 E. 44th St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., LG Bob Duffy delivers remarks at Penn Yan Academy’s 5th Annual Veteran’s Appreciation Ceremony, 305 Court St., Penn Yan.

At 10:30 a.m., US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Paul Tonko will tour the Hill & Markes, Inc. wholesale distribution facility and meet with employees, 1997 State Highway 5S, Amsterdam.

At 11 a.m., de Blasio and US Sen Chuck Schumer will make an announcement, Coney Island Hospital lobby, 2601 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., state Education Commissioner John King and Regent Betty Rosa visit LGA College’s Bridge to College and Careers Program, 29-10 Thomson Ave., Queens.

At 5:30 p.m., Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hosts a welcome reception at the Somos El Futuro conference, Condado Plaza Hilton, San Juan.

At 7 p.m., San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz holds a welcome reception for the Somos El Futuro conference, Museo de Artes, San Juan.

Also at 7 p.m., a virologist from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Leslie Lobel, speaks during an event titled “Combating Ebola: BGU Scientist Leads the Search for a Cure”; Beacon Hall, lower level, Hotel Beacon, 2130 Broadway, Manhattan.

Headlines…

The Republican takeover of the state Senate will affect New York’s two most powerful men differently, weakening Mayor Bill de Blasio and jeopardizing his 2015 Albany agenda while handing Gov. Andrew Cuomo a familiar scapegoat and bipartisan partner.

Cuomo emerged from his Election Day victory with an unencumbered path, and perhaps a renewed validation, for the kind of centrism that has long been his political brand.

Republicans, after beating back de Blasio’s efforts, are unlikely to approve any of his agenda items, including the DREAM Act to help immigrant students and allowing the city to set its own minimum wage.

De Blasio won’t be supporting an effort to extend or lift the number of charter schools that can open in New York. Advocates are mobilizing to extend the cap or eliminate it entirely, with help from the charter-friendly Cuomo.

One Democrat said the Senate GOP and the IDC were already negotiating a change in Senate rules to permit the continuation of the IDC as a stand-alone group, with various perks, including staff, offices and committee chairs but with less power than it has had in the last two years.

“What happened yesterday was the result of an historic wave throughout the country and in New York as well,” said Queens Democratic Sen. Mike Gianaris, who has guided the conference’s campaign strategy. “For whatever reasons, our voters stayed home.”

Democrats are nursing their wounds in the sunshine (and at the bar) at Somos.

One source involved in the battle for control of the state Senate said the Cuomo camp dragged its feet when asked for things like an endorsement announcement or even something simple such as a candidate picture with the governor.

Cuomo lost seven of the eight Western New York counties that voted against him in 2010 again on Tuesday, even with Buffalo’s Kathy Hochul as his running mate. And while Erie County landed in the Cuomo column, the governor claimed upstate’s biggest prize with 52 percent of the vote.

Twenty-eight years after Gov. Mario M. Cuomo’s sweeping re-election victory, his son has reprised the feat on several fronts, both substantive and superficial.

In court papers this week, Sen. Tom Libous sought to have the federal charge against him dismissed, saying the case should have been filed in Albany where FBI agents interviewed him, that the single charge improperly cites seven allegedly false statements, and the indictment preamble is prejudicial.

The 2014 election results, which put the US Senate firmly in the hands Republicans, were a rude awakening for New York’s Senate Democrats Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Aides to former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted passage of a background check ballot initiative in Washington state and wins by two gubernatorial candidates on an Election Day that saw heavy losses for backers of tougher gun laws.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer didn’t dump his NYPD security detail — they asked for a transfer because he made them drive his wife to work and chewed them out for being late, sources close to the detectives told The Post. (A Stringer spokesman called this story “a complete fabrication”).

More >

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won re-election with what is probably the fewest number of votes of any New York governor since Franklin Roosevelt in 1930.

Cuomo won only eight upstate counties while Republican Rob Astorino won 42 counties. Four years ago, Cuomo won 37 upstate counties, leaving Republican Carl Paladino only 13.

Democrats were routed in the state Senate in areas where Cuomo won markedly less support than in his 2010 campaign.

Joanie Mahoney, the Republican Onondaga County executive, traveled to NYC to attend Cuomo’s election night victory party.

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.: “So as long as the Republicans need my vote to stop the Cuomo radical agenda, I will be with them.”

Astorino said his campaign sent a “clear and powerful message”, and again signaled his plan to return in 2018.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Benjamin Tucker as the new first deputy commissioner, making the former Obama and Clinton aide the highest ranking black official in the department.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins says he won’t be running for for elected office again.

NY-25 Rep. Louise Slaughter issued a statement declaring victory: “This is a win in what was a very tough environment for Democrats.”

New York State has officially added two new ballot lines: the Women’s Equality Party and the Stop Common Core Party.

DCCC Chair Steve Israel: “I have no comment on Governor Cuomo’s effect on this election. Quote me on that.” (Israel is writing a novel; he may soon have more time for that endeavor).

State GOP Chair Ed Cox floated Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis as a potential replacement for Rep. Michael Grimm should the indicted representative step down.

Grimm more than doubled his margin of victory this year over 2012, despite his many issues – including a 20-count federal indictment.

After rumored courting by both ABC and NBC, Pippa Middleton is reportedly inking a deal to become a Today Show correspondent.

Tracey Brooks, CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York, cautioned against leaping to any conclusions about th Women’s Equality Act given the GOP’s takeover of the Senate.

President Barack Obama asked Congress for $6.2 billion in emergency funds to confront Ebola at its source in West Africa and to secure the US against any possible spread.

NYC officials announced that a person under quarantine because of contact with a doctor being treated for Ebola will be allowed to move around, though monitored.

Voters in Washington state backed universal background checks on firearms purchases, a solid win for gun control advocates like former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Bill Gates.

Gun rights groups believe they were able to make gains in the New York Legislature, though none of their statewide candidates made the cut.

Now that he’s back running the company that bears his name, Bloomberg is asking his employees to wear their IDs so he can learn their names.

B-list celebrities didn’t fare so well in the House races.

Update In NY-25

Last night’s big surprise was the near upset in NY-25, where little known Republican Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini was within 605 votes of toppling 14-term veteran Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter.

Our colleagues at TWC News Rochester tell us there are 3,300 absentee ballots, which does include the hand count ballots (military ballots submitted online, then subsequently printed out and mailed in).

Local elections officials counted about 2,500 of the 3,300 absentees last night, but those votes were NOT included in the unofficial total.

Also, there are roughly 2,100 ballots that will be released today that were secured as part of the 55th SD race – the one in which Republican Rich Funke defeated Democratic freshman Sen. Ted O’Brien – which is inside NY-25. Those ballots will be counted today. O’Brien’s campaign successfully sought an impoundment order that prevented those ballots from being counted last night.

So, all told there are roughly 5,400 ballots outstanding that once all of them have been counted, reviewed and verified, will eventually be added to the final voter turnout results. This process could be completed by the end of the week. UPDATE: We’re now told that most of the absentee ballots will be opened at 2 p.m. today, and the counting will start at 4 p.m.

Slaughter last night insisted she is the winner in NY-25, and she remained unconcerned by both her slim lead and the several thousand votes that are yet uncounted.

Assini refused to concede the race. Observers attributed his stronger than expected performance to a wave of anti-incumbent (especially Democratic incumbents) sentiment that swept the nation yesterday and helped Republicans both expand their majority in the House and re-take control of the US Senate.

While insiders and observers were surprised by the strength of Assini’s campaign, he did not seem at all taken aback by it, saying: “I knew, but I don’t think the other side knew it until the end. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of heart and a lot of people supporting us, and the voters gave me a chance.”

Two years ago, after NY-25′s district lines were redrawn to include all of Monroe County, Slaughter was faced her strongest challenge in decades from Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, a Republican whose name recognition in her base equals that of the veteran congresswoman.

Millions of dollars were spent on that race, Slaughter won handily with 57 percent of the vote. This year, the nonpartisan Cook Political Reports rated the district as one of 161 solidly Democratic House seats around the nation.

Hayworth Concedes In NY-18

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s campaign announced that the Democratic congressman’s Republican opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth, has conceded the NY-18 race.

It’s Hayworth’s second loss in a row to Maloney. He also defeated her in a close race two years ago when she was the incumbent and her was the upstart challenger, bouyed by a boost in turnout in a presidential election year.

Since then, Maloney has focused on building a record as a pragmatist who is willing to both vote against his party when necessary and reach across the aisle to work with Republicans to get things done. A number of Republican elected officials – including state Sen. Bill Larkin, a veteran GOP lawmaker and well-respected military veteran – crossed party lines this year to endorse Maloney.

(To be fair, Hayworth had her share of party line-crossing Democratic endorsers – most notably Gwen Johnson, an African-American Dutchess County legislator from the city of Poughkeepsie. Johnson appeared in an ad for Hayworth during the campaign and also attended her election night watch party).

Polls showed the NY-18 battle would be a tight one heading into yesterday, with both sides – and their respective outside supporters – spending millions of dollars on TV ads and mailers (many of the negative) in an effort to influence the outcome.

Hayworth had an early win when she defeated Maloney in a very low turnout September primary for the Independence Party line. A SoP reader who has been keeping track of votes in the Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel in Orange County said it looks like the support for the congressman by one of the village’s two political factions netted him about 5,000 votes (in other words, more than Maloney’s margin of victory – this number has been fixed).

Maloney declared victory last night after the initial count showed him leading Hayworth by 2,790 votes, but the former congressmanwoman initially refused to concede. Maloney scheduled a noon press conference today to discuss his win, but the event was moved back to 12:45 p.m. The congressman’s campaign confirmed Hayworth’s call was the reason behind the delay.

Despite New York’s Democratic voter enrollment edge, there were a number of contested congressional contests both this year and in 2012 – thanks to the slightly less gerrymandered redistricting map created by a court and not state lawmakers. Republicans have picked up three seats here - Long Island’s NY-1, where state Sen. Lee Zeldin ousted Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop; Central New York’s NY-24, where former federal prosecutor John Katko defeated Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei; and the North Country’s NY-21, where Elise Stefanik became the youngest woman ever elected to the House.

Three seats is the biggest one-state pick-up the House GOP accomplished as it easily retained control of the majority and expanded its reach, wining 14 seats – and counting. There might be another upset win here in New York, too, if Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini defeats veteran Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter in Monroe County’s NY-25 in what’s currently a too-close-to-call race.

The GOP’s success in the home state of DCCC Chair Steve Israel is a pretty big embarrassment to the Long Island congressman.

Election Day Losers

From the Morning Memo:

- Senate Democrats.

This is an obvious one.

Though they talked a good game, the Democrats had a number of difficulties this election cycle – from a cash disadvantage to Cuomo’s obvious reluctance to make good on his pledge to help them re-take the majority.

Also a problem: The Republicans, generally speaking, fielded stronger candidates. Why the Democrats decided to run not one, but two challengers with election fraud convictions is anyone’s guess.

Of course, one of those two – Marc Panepinto – ended up being the lone bright spot of the night for the Democrats, winning the four-way 60th SD race in Buffalo.

Now it appears IDC Leader Jeff Klein is also hedging on his pre-election pledge to ditch his GOP power-sharing partners to form a new coalition with his erstwhile Democratic colleagues.

If the IDC doesn’t re-up their deal with the GOP it could be difficult for the Republicans to lead with such a slim margin in the chamber. Though it has been done before, and they are considerably more disciplined than their Democratic colleagues.

The Democrats and their allies are already looking ahead to 2016, when a presidential election will no doubt boost turnout to their advantage and perhaps put the majority in their hands once again.

It will be a long and potentially uncomfortable two years in the minority until then, however.

- NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the “progressive” agenda.

The downstate mayor went all in to assist the Democrats in what we now know was a failed effort to re-take the Senate majority, believing that a change in leadership would give him a better shot at getting his progressive agenda passed in Albany.

Now, of course, de Blasio is going to have to contend with a GOP majority that used him as a foil in its upstate races, running ads that warned voters against restoring the NYC-dominated Democrats and their radical liberal friends to power.

Two big fights loom this year in Albany that concern de Blasio considerably: Mayoral control of the NYC school system and the NYC rent laws, both of which are set to expire in June.

Charter school interests that was to see de Blasio’s power over the school system weakened and real estate interests that want to see the status quo maintained in the rent laws spent big money to help the Senate Republicans and Cuomo in this election cycle.

The Senate GOP’s victory last night, coupled with de Blasio’s rocky relationship with the governor do not bode well for the mayor in the 2015 legislative session.

Things don’t look so good either for de Blasio’s left leaning allies – particularly the Working Families Party, though the labor-backed party did thwart Cuomo’s attempt to kill it by creating the Women’s Equality Party.

In his victory speech last night, Cuomo hit the high points of a progressive agenda – the DREAM Act, another minimum wage increase, public campaign financing, education reform, the Women’s Equality Act.

But none of those things – particularly not public financing and the full WEA (with the controversial abortion-rights plank) – are likely to fly with the Republicans in control of the Senate, giving Cuomo cover if he fails to deliver on his promises.

The lack of movement on progressive issues will no doubt give the left plenty of fodder for 2016. But again, that’s a long way off.

- Women and the pro-choice movement.

Women’s rights – particularly choice – were front and center in this election cycle, with both Cuomo and the Senate Democrats making them a hallmark of their respective campaigns.

The abortion rights issue also played a role in the state attorney general’s race, where Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman handily defeated his anti-choice Republican opponent, John Cahill.

But as long as the Republicans maintain control of the Senate majority, the likelihood of the governor’s full 10-point Women’s Equality Act making it to the floor for a vote is next to nil.

And though Cuomo appears to have succeeding in creating his Women’s Equality Party, his effort divided progressive women voters, many of whom didn’t see the need for a single issue party founded by a man.

The WEP’s achievement of ballot status is a political win for Cuomo, and also for former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has become the face of the new party and used it as her ticket back onto the public stage after she lost the 2013 NYC mayor’s race to de Blasio.

But all last night’s results really achieved is an assurance that the controversial and divisive issue of abortion rights sticks around for another two years, and likely becomes an issue in the 2016 fight for control of the Senate.

- NYSUT and other pro-Senate Democrat labor unions.

The statewide teachers union spent big money to assist the Democrats in their quest for power in the Senate, angering many people – including some Democrats – with its controversial mailer that featured a photo of a battered woman and the claim that Republicans wouldn’t protect domestic violence victims.

NYSUT did see one big win, thanks to Panepinto’s victory in the 60th SD. The union invested heavily in that race, even spending prior to the GOP primary in an (apparently successful) attempt to portray the Republican incumbent, Grisanti, as too liberal.

But generally speaking, NYSUT and the other unions that put their money into the Democrats’ failed effort to win the majority, came up short.

Needless to say, they’re not terribly happy with Cuomo, who they think failed to follow through on his WFP endorsement deal that included a pledge to help his fellow Democrats in their quest to win back the Senate.

But, in the case of NYSUT, the union and Cuomo already weren’t on the best of terms, leading the teachers to take a pass on endorsing him (or anyone else) in the governor’s race for the second election cycle in a row.

Cuomo’s pre-election comments that he plans to break what he views as the state’s “public monopoly” by pushing for even stronger teacher performance evaluations and continuing to champion charter schools did not bode well for NYSUT over the next four years.

It probably didn’t help matters that a number of local teachers unions backed Cuomo’s primary opponent, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout, and then transferred their support to Hawkins after Teachout lost in September.

NYSUT and other unions did see two bright spots last night in the big re-election wins of the other two statewide Democratic contenders – Schneiderman and DiNapoli. Labor will no doubt continue to try to strengthen their relationships with the AG and state comptroller as they battle with the governor.

- NY-25 Rep. Lousie Slaughter.

We went into last night knowing that there would be at least one surprise, but this one really came out of left field.

Slaughter, an 85-year-old, 14-term Democrat, survived a tough challenge two years ago from Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks in a re-drawn district that supposedly improved the GOP’s chances of ousting her.

After Slaughter survived that knock-down, drag-out race, insiders believed she would cruise to an easy victory this year over her little-known and under-funded GOP challenger, Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini.

Boy, were they wrong.

Now just 605 votes separate Slaughter and Assini, with some 2,800 absentee votes yet to be counted. The congresswoman declared victory last night, insisting that she’s confidence the paper will fall her way. But Assini refused to concede.

There were supposed to be tight House and state Senate races that went into overtime last night, but this wasn’t one of them.

And other than NY-18, where Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has declared victory though his Republican opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth is refusing to concede, the NY-25 battle was really the only significant cliffhanger.