Liz Benjamin

This user hasn't shared any biographical information

Homepage: http://nystateofpolitics.com


Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

No public schedule yet from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At 8:30 a.m., the Association for a Better New York hosts panel on what election 2014 means for New York, Westin Grand Central Hotel, 212 East 42nd St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., the PSC and US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hold a conference to discuss issues regarding the installed capacity market and energy infrastructure in New York; New York Institute of Technology Auditorium, 1871 Broadway, between 61st and 62nd streets, Manhattan.

At noon, NY-18 Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney will discuss his “victory” against Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth, who has so far refused to concede though she’s trailing by 2,790 votes, Maloney Newburgh HQ, 320 Front St., Newburgh.

Also at noon, NY-19 Rep. Chris Gibson will host a media availability at his Hudson Street home in Kinderhook.

At 2:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 3:15 p.m., de Blasio holds a public hearing on five bills and then sign three of them into law, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 3:45 p.m., the SUNY Board of Trustees meets, The SUNY Global Center, 116 East 55th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the 2014 LatinoJustice PRDLEF Gala, Hilton New York, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won a second four-year term, defeating his Republican challenger, Westchester County Executive Rob Astotrino, 54-40.6, with the Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Howie Hawkins, receiving close to 5 percent of the vote.

Cuomo easily won re-election, but with what appeared to be a considerably smaller majority than the 65 percent that his father, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, got during his bid for a second term, in 1986. He enters the next four years with less political clout than when the campaign began.

Bill Hammond: “Having run a generally joyless campaign long on expensive attack ads and short on serious debate or fresh ideas, Cuomo retakes office without the clear mandate that the key to the success of his first term. Plus, he faces a Capitol teeming with bruised egos, nursed grudges and burned bridges — things Cuomo seems to accumulate more copiously than the average pol.”

The governor still has a problem on his left. Here’s the statement issued shortly after midnight by WFP State Director Bill Lipton:

“Governor Cuomo promised to take back the state Senate. Instead, he squandered millions on a fake party, and left millions more in his campaign account as New York Democrats in the legislature and in Congress withered on the vine. But he couldn’t sink WFP and we’re not going anywhere, except back to Albany to fight for working families. Our party is needed now more than ever.”

Cuomo’s running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, now becomes the first lieutenant governor from Western New York since Stan Lundine who served under Gov. Mario Cuomo from 1987 to 1995. She becomes the first lieutenant governor from Buffalo since William F. Sheehan in 1892-94.

The Cuomo-Hochul ticket took Erie County, 52 to 43 percent, after 74 percent of the districts reported, just slightly less than the statewide margin. But Cuomo lost lost all other counties of Western New York, just as he did against Republican Carl P. Paladino four years ago.

Voter turnout appeared to hit an historic low of about 30 percent, but we won’t know the final number until all the votes are tallied.

During his concession speech, Astorino seemed to signal he’ll be back for another shot at the governor’s office in 2018. “We have planted a flag,” he said. “And we will be back to claim it, and advance it further.”

Of the many advantages Cuomo had enjoyed heading into his re-election campaign — the heavy Democratic enrollment edge in New York, the visible stage that incumbency provides — few have proved more important than his bank account. He had raised more than $45 million to Astorino’s $5 million as of last month.

Also re-elected – Democratic state AG Eric Schneiderman, who beat his GOP opponent, John Cahill, by 13 percentage points; and Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who had the evening’s largest margin of victory of a statewide candidate – 23 percent – over his challenger, Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci.

The Senate Republicans re-took a clean – albeit slim – 32-seat majority in the chamber, defeating all three of the upstate Democratic freshmen that had been their top targets in this election cycle.

The one bright spot of the evening for the Senate Democrats – Buffalo’s 60th SD, where Marc Panepinto won a four-way race, defeating Sen. Mark Grisanti, who had been trying to hold onto his seat running just on the Independence Party line after losing the September GOP primary.

More >

Extras

Polls are still open for several more hours across the state. If you haven’t yet managed to get out to cast your ballot, now would be a good time to do so. Here are some headlines for you to peruse while we wait for the results to come in…

Asked what he would say to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino after the election, Gov. Andrew Cuomo replied: “Hello.”

Anti-frackers and Cuomo supporters mounted dueling protests outside Cuomo’s polling site.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said a “comfortable margin” is realistic for Cuomo and his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, in Erie County.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio voted against Prop. 1.

Carl Paladino recorded a pro-Astorino robocall for NY2A.

Rep. Charlie Rangel voted for himself for what he says will be the last time.

Sen. David Carlucci Tweeted a photo of his toddler son to encourage supporters to vote.

Kiryas Joel’s two political parties steered their respective voting blocs to different candidates in races for the vacant Assembly District 98 seat and an empty Monroe Town Board seat.

There was a bomb scare at a polling place in the 41st SD, where the Democrats are seeking to have the ballots impounded.

AG Eric Schneiderman had a little trouble casting his ballot.

The Working Families Party says it received complaints today that the ballot, with its many rows and columns, has been causing confusion at the polls.

Postcards mailed to select voters in Erie County included the names of neighbors and their voting histories in an attempt to use social pressure to get people to the polls.

The most expensive race in California this year isn’t the governor’s race, it’s the race for state education superintendent, and former NYC Mayor Bloomberg is involved.

Bloomberg has poured more than $1.3 million this year into backing state and local candidates who share his vision for education reform – $500,000 of that was spent in California.

How the “a-list” donors spread their cash around (at the national level) this campaign season.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito voted for Cuomo and Hochul on the WFP line, and voted “no” on Prop. 1.

DSCC Chair Mike Gianaris: “I’m not one to get into Jeff Klein’s head. If people  want excuses to act a certain way, they can find them. And if they want to find  a way to work together, they can find that too.”

Residents whose lawsuit against Honeywell was put on hold until the company finished dredging Onondaga Lake will move forward with the suit as early as this week.

This happened.

KJ Leaders Urge Vote for Cuomo on Indy Line

A SoP reader forwarded this sample ballot being handed out in Kiryas Joel, the Orange County village of Hasidic Jews that is routinely courted by elected official and candidates due to the ability of its leaders to deliver large blocs of voters on Election Day.

As you can see, KJ voters are being urged to vote almost entirely on the state Independence Party line – including in the governor’s race, in which the party endorsed Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo hasn’t said much – if anything – this election cycle to encourage voters to support him on the Indy line (currently Row E), even though it’s the second time in four years the minor party has endorsed him for governor. The Indys, like all the other minor parties, need to see Cuomo receive at least 50,000 votes on their line in order to maintain their official ballot status for another four years.

Last year, Cuomo received 146,576 votes on the Independence Party line, but that was just shy of the amount he received on the Working Families Party line, and considerably less than Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino received on the Conservative Party line. As a result, the Conservatives moved up to Row C, and the WFP climbed to Row D, while the Indys dropped to Row E.

Cuomo reportedly met last weekend with KJ leaders. Perhaps he mentioned something to them about needing a solid bloc of votes on Row E today?

Also interesting: This ballot calls for voters to support Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney on the Working Families Party line, which is necessary because Maloney’s GOP opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth, defeated him in a very low turnout Independence Party primary back in September.

It should be noted that KJ has been factionalized for over a decade now, and the minority group – the KJ Alliance – did not endorse anyone for governor this year.

According to the SoP reader who forwarded this sample ballot, there are about 8,100 registered voters in KJ, and leaders there can reliably turn out about 80 percent of those, with the alliance accounting for about one-third.

Manhattan Dems: Democrats Must Vote On Row A

Apparently not all Democrats are on the same page when it comes to which line they want party members to vote on today.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as has been widely reported, has been actively pushing for New Yorkers to vote for him on his newly created Women’s Equality Party line (AKA Row G). In his final email pitch last night, Cuomo informed supporters they could vote for him on Row A (the Democratic line) OR Row G. He made no mention of the other lines on which his name appears – Row D (Working Families) and Row E (Independence).

Some Democrats have publicly disagreed with Cuomo’s WEA push, including Sen. Liz Krueger, who has noted that it could hurt the Senate Democrats’ chances of taking back the majority, since almost none of their candidates are appearing on the WEA line.

Earlier today, the Manhattan Democratic Party, headed by former state Democratic Party Chair and Assemblyman Keith Wright, sent out an email with the subject line: “Manhattan Democrats Must Vote for Democrats.”

“Today, we need DEMOCRATS to vote for democratic party candidates along ROW A,” Wright wrote. “It is extremely important to you locally to stick with your Party’s candidate for Governor.”

“…Due to a combination of election law and state party rules the progressive policies that Manhattan Democrats support are undermined when we abstain from voting for the Democratic candidate for governor on the Democratic line.”

“The elected officials in the New York State and County Democratic Party including state committee members, district leaders, county committee members, and judicial delegates each have a weighted vote based upon the number of votes on the Democratic line for Governor in the most recent election. The more votes that Andrew Cuomo receives on the Democratic line in this election the more influence our Manhattan progressive officials will have within the state party and your local party officials will have within the Democratic County Committee.”

“…The Manhattan progressive influence relative to the rest of the Democratic party members is strengthened when we vote for governor on the Democratic line and weakened when we vote on the Working Families Party,Women’s Equality Party, or on any party line other than the Democratic line.”

In other words, Cuomo’s effort to have Democrats vote for him somewhere other than Row A also hurts local Democratic officials.

The email was also signed by Domenico Minerva, chair of the New York County Democratic Committee; and Robert Botfeld, district leader in the 69th AD.

All Over But the Voting

From the Morning Memo:

As we gear up for the political junkie’s Super Bowl that is election night, there’s a long list of things we’ll be watching.

Of course, there’s the battle for control of the state Senate – a fight that very well could hinge on a handful of upstate races, some of which are so close that they might go into overtime, and perhaps could end up in court.

And there’s the question of the IDC. Will the conference manage to grow its membership – perhaps thanks to its support of GOP Sen. Mark Grisanti in Buffalo?

And will the results of the elections enable IDC Leader Jeff Klein to back out of his pledge to ditch his power-sharing deal with the Senate Republicans to forge a new alliance with the so-called “regular” Democrats?

He’s already hedging.

Also, we’ll be keeping an eye on the competitive House races taking place across the state.

Despite the fact that Democrats hold a considerable enrollment edge in New York, Republicans appear poised to end up with nine – and possibly 10 seats after the election dust settles.

Here are some of the other things we’ll be looking out for this evening:

- Cuomo’s Margin

Yes, the incumbent Democratic governor is likely going to win a second four-year term, but by how much?

Will unhappiness on his left flank coupled with enthusiasm on the GOP side translate into a better than expected result for Republican Rob Astorino?

Anything above 40 percent will be considered a good showing for the Westchester County executive, while anything in the 50 percent department is going to be viewed as a significant setback for the governor.

Once upon a time, Cuomo, who won 63 percent of the vote against Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino in 2010, was hoping to best his father’s more than 64 percent win in his first gubernatorial run in 1986.

Now, however, the governor and his allies, aides and surrogates are managing expectations, saying a win is a win, no matter how small.

Former GOP Gov. George Pataki (the last Republican to win statewide office) won re-election to a third term in 2002 with 48 percent of the vote.

The high water mark for a gubernatorial candidate was set in 2006 by Democrat Eliot Spitzer, who won 70 percent of the valid votes cast that year.

In 2012, US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand set a statewide record with her 72 percent win against her Republican opponent, Wendy Long.

- Whither Western NY?

Will all Cuomo’s Buffalove over the past four years – plus his selection of former Rep. Kathy Hochul as his running mate – pay off, leading to a win in the WNY region he lost to Paladino four years ago?

If Cuomo puts in a strong showing this time around, it will be bad news for Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, who saw his clout in the party rise, thanks to Paladino’s strong showing in the last election.

Also, what impact – if any – will all the attention Cuomo has lavished on Buffalo have on the four-way 60th SD race, where Grisanti is fighting for his political life on the Independence Party line after losing the Republican primary to attorney Kevin Stocker in September.

Cuomo said just yesterday that he won’t be picking a favorite in this race – a blow to the Senate Democrats and their candidate, Marc Panepinto.

The governor said he owes a political debt to Grisanti for voting “yes” on same-sex marriage, while he’s disappointed that Panepinto doesn’t support the SAFE Act.

- WFP vs. WEA?

The Working Families Party has been working overtime to convince its supporters to hold their noses and vote for Cuomo on Row D, even though he has pretty much renegged on the endorsement deal he made with the labor-backed party back in May.

As you’ll recall, Cuomo promised to help flip the Senate into Democratic hands, and he hasn’t exactly bent over backwards this campaign season to achieve that goal.

Also, the governor has not mentioned a word about running on the WFP line. Instead, he’s urging voters to support him on Row G – his newly-created Women’s Equality Party line, which, of course, is just one letter away from “WFP.”

The WFP needs Cuomo to get at least 50,000 votes on its line in order to maintain its official party status for another four years.

Most observers expect the party will easily meet this threshold, but other minor parties – like the Greens – could very well surpass it in terms of overall votes, which would mean the WFP would lose its hard-won position on Row D.

Also, will the WEA get the 50,000 votes necessary to become an official party for the next four years – potentially providing its chief champion, former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, with a comeback vehicle after losing the NYC mayor’s race to Bill de Blasio?

Stay tuned.

- Greens Ascending?

The Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins ran in 2010, landing the party official ballot status by surpassing the 50,000-vote threshold.

This time around – thanks to a disaffected left that is looking for an alternative to Cuomo and backed his primary opponent, Fordham Law School Prof. Zephyr Teachout, in September – Hawkins is performing surprisingly well, and perhaps could even break double digits when all the votes are counted.

The Greens are looking to solidify their position as the true progressive alternative in New York – a mantle they say the WFP can’t honestly claim when it cross endorses major party candidates like Cuomo.

- Surrogate Power

De Blasio has put a lot on the line in this year’s elections, even though his name isn’t appearing anywhere on the ballot.

Unlike the governor, the NYC mayor has been all in when it comes to helping the Democrats in their quest to win back the state Senate majority. He raised campaign cash and loaned his top aides to the cause.

De Blasio’s involvement provided fodder to the Senate Republicans, who used him as a liberal boogeyman in TV ads and mailers, warning voters against empowering the mayor and his “radical” downstate agenda.

With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, and some observers predicting the GOP could well take the majority outright, the mayor is already managing expectations.

De Blasio said yesterday that 2014 is merely “step one” in the Democrats’ drive to re-take the Senate, and the real action is going to take place in 2016 – a presidential year that will drive up Democratic turnout.

Another top name with skin in the game tonight: Pataki, who spent much of yesterday stumping with his former top aide and state AG contender, John Cahill.

Pataki, who also endorsed a number of state Senate and congressional contenders, has been making noises lately about another potential presidential bid in 2016.

He even traveled to New Hampshire recently to give a speech and stump for candidates there.

It remains to be seen whether the former governor’s name still carries clout in his home state.

- Night of the Living Indicteds

Despite his 20-count indictment, GOP Rep. Michael Grimm appears likely to win re-election in NY-11 tonight against his hapless Democratic opponent, former NYC Councilman Domenic Recchia.

Grimm may very well be convicted on felony charges, which would force him to give up his seat and spark a special election in the Staten Island/Brooklyn district.

Two other lawmakers battling legal charges are also on the ballot today – Democratic Sen. John Sampson (embezzlement), of Brooklyn; and GOP Sen. Tom Libous, of Binghamton.

Both appear likely to win their respective re-election bids, though they, too, may be forced to give up their seats before serving out a full two-year term.

- Battle for the ‘burbs/SAFE Act discontent

Will Astorino be able to carry his home county of Westchester, which also just so happens to be home to Cuomo and his long-time girlfriend, Sandra Lee?

Astorino’s performance in the suburbs, which have become a swing region in New York, will be closely scrutinized in this election. Republicans are counting on his ability to boost turnout and perhaps positively impact some of their close Senate races in the Hudson Valley.

The still roiling anger over Cuomo’s push of the gun control law the SAFE Act through the Legislature could well translate into support upstate for Astorino, though sportsmen and gun enthusiasts have not been known to vote in big numbers in the past.

- DiNapoli’s Dominance

Four years ago, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was viewed as the weakest link in the statewide Democratic ticket. He managed to hold off his self-funding GOP challenger, hedge fund manager Harry Wilson, but just by a few percentage points.

This time around, DiNapoli is cruising to an easy win against his little-known and under-funded challenger, Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci, who didn’t even manage to qualify as the state’s lone participant in a public campaign finance pilot program.

Will DiNapoli see the biggest margin of victory tonight? And how ironic will that be, given his rather rocky relationship with Cuomo?

- Prop Drop-off

Voters may not be aware of the fact that they are being asked to weigh in on three constitutional amendments this year.

These appear on the back side of the ballot, requiring voters to actually flip it over – and dramatically raising already high possibility that many will simply skip this step altogether.

Prop. 1 – the redistricting amendment – is probably the most closely watched of the three. It divided good government groups, and was hotly debated within certain circles over the past several months.

Though Cuomo did the deal with legislative leaders that resulted in this amendment, and purported to support it, he hasn’t done much to encourage voters to back it.

Cuomo has talked a bit more about Pro. 3, the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act, which would allow the state to borrow money to purchase technology for students across New York.

Though a panel appointed by Cuomo recently released a report on how the $2 billion would be spent, opponents say the plan still lacks details.

They also question the intelligence of borrowing so much money to pay for technology that will become obsolete quite quickly.

Prop. 2, which would make the Legislature “paperless” has generated the least amount of controversy and won near unanimous support from state lawmakers.

This is the brainchild of Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, who says it will ultimately save the state millions of dollars in paper and printing costs.

For a good cheat sheet on the three propositions – what they say, and who’s for and against them – click here.

Here and Now

Election Day has arrived!! Polls open at 6 a.m. and remain open until 9 p.m. You can find your polling place here.

In New York, all four statewide seats are up for grabs, as well as all 212 state legislative seats. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is widely expected to win a second four-year term, though the question is: By how much?

Will his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, be able to hold Cuomo under 50 percent – a serious setback for an incumbent governor who once hoped to post a big win to boost his national aspirations?

Cuomo won 63 percent of the vote in 2010 against his GOP/Conservative opponent, Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino. There were early reports this campaign season that he hoped to best his father’s 1986 high water mark of over 64 percent of the vote.

GOP AG candidate John Cahill is seen as the Republicans’ best shot at a statewide victory tonight in his race against incumbent Democratic AG Eric Schneiderman. But polls showed Cahill trailing by double digits heading into today, and he has been vastly outspent by his opponent.

A New York Republican hasn’t won a statewide political contest since 2002, when George Pataki earned a third term as governor.

Will state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who four years ago was viewed as the Democratic ticket’s weakest link, post the biggest win tonight against his little-known GOP challenger, Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci, who didn’t even manage to qualify as the sole participant in the state’s pilot public campaign finance program?

Will the Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Howie Hawkins, break double digits in the final tally? And will the Greens succeed in their quest to bump the Conservative Party from Row C in the ballot line-up?

Will the Working Families Party hit that magic 50,000-vote threshold necessary to maintain its official party status – and its ballot line – for another four years?

And will the governor’s newly-created Women’s Equality Party manage to garner 50,000 votes and be officially recognized?

Will the voters remember to flip their ballots over to find the three constitutional amendment proposals – redistricting reform (Prop. 1), a proposal to make the Legislature “paperless” (Prop. 2) and the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act (Prop. 3)?

In the state Senate, a handful of races – most of them upstate, including: SD60 (Grisanti, Paneptino, Stocker, Gallagher); SD55 (O’Brien, Funke); SD46 (Tkaczyk, Amedore); SD41 (Gipson, Serino); and SD40 (Wagner, Murphy) – will determine who controls the chamber.

We’re also watching: SD37 (Latimer, Dillon); SD7 (Martins, Haber); SD 8 (Denenberg, Venditto, though Denenberg is on the ballot, but supposedly not campaigning); and SD3 (Esposito, Croci).

Despite the Democrats’ significant enrollment edge, New York has a handful of contested House races.

We’ll be watching the battles for: NY-24 (Maffei, Katko); NY-21 (Stefanik, Woolf, Funiciello); NY-19 (Gibson, Eldridge); NY-18 (Maloney, Hayworth); NY-11 (Grimm, Recchia); and NY-1 (Zeldin, Bishop).

Also worth keeping an eye on, though far less competitive: NY-23 (Reed, Robertson); and NY-4 (Blakeman, Rice).

Nationally, the Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats in order to take the majority – an uphill quest in which they are widely expected to fail. Things are much tighter in the US Senate, where the Republicans need just six seats to claim the majority, and they’ve got a pretty good shot at doing so.

Here in New York, the candidates will be voting in their respective home towns, and then attending last-minute events before heading to their respective watch parties to await the results.

Cuomo will vote at 10:15 a.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco. Tonight, he and his fellow statewide Democratic candidates – Kathy Hochul (LG), Schneiderman and DiNapoli – will be in New York City tonight at The Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, 811 7th Ave., Manhattan.

Astorino and his running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, will be at the Crowne Plaza, 66 Hale Ave., White Plains.

Cahill will be at Rosie O’Grady’s, 800 7th Ave, 2nd floor, Manhattan.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rallied supporters in the heart of Manhattan and across upstate New York yesterday, while his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, hunted for votes across New York City and its northern suburbs, as time waned on a campaign with little suspense anywhere but in the State Senate.

In a sharp slap to Cuomo just hours before the polls opened, national teachers union president Randi Weingarten told her members that she’s voting the Democratic ticket, but bypassing the governor. “If I lived in another state, I’d be starting with governor — but not in New York,” she said.

Weingarten called her decision “painful,” and also said she’ll be voting on the WFP line.

New York Republicans are hoping a wave of discontent with President Barack Obama and incumbents in general will carry them to wins in a handful of congressional districts, even as they struggle to compete statewide.

More >

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed local governments for “these damn property taxes,” and pledged to make it his “mission” to “attack” them if he’s re-elected to another four-year term.

Often-late NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio missed a massive get-out-the-vote rally in Times Square on Monday for Cuomo and the rest of the Democratic ticket.

At least five celebrities who appeared in the ‘Lil Jon “Turn Down for What” GOTV video about voting in the midterm elections didn’t vote in the last midterm elections.

Cuomo received $200,000 in donations on Friday from contributors affiliated with a brand management company that represents his girlfriend, Sandra Lee.

In a robocall, retiring GOP Sen. Greg Ball asks New Yorkers to do him a “personal favor” and vote for Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in NY-18.

IDC Leader Jeff Klein started publicly backing away from his pledge to dump the Senate Republicans in favor of his fellow Democrats during a Oct. 25 interview with former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky.

The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club has some humorous mailers touting its unusual line-up of endorsed candidates.

Some of Brooklyn’s most prominent conservative voices rejected Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin’s recent assertion that New York City residents are  too “lazy” to go to the polls tomorrow.

Not surprisingly, de Blasio does not think NYC voters are lazy.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino believes embattled Rep. Michael Grimm will be cleared of a 20-count indictment.

De Blasio unveiled his administration’s long-awaited plan to improve 94 of the city’s lowest-performing schools in a major policy speech.

The matchup between Assemblyman Gary Finch and his Democratic challenger, first-time candidate Diane Dwire, has become the most expensive state race in the Central New York area.

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin says it’s NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s turn to “sit down, shut up,” and write a check to Astorino.

Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei has asked a state Supreme Court justice to issue an order impounding all voting machines and paper ballots immediately after polls close tomorrow.

The Staten Island Advance endorsed Schneiderman. saying his opponent, John Cahill, “has done nothing to distinguish himself as the superior candidate for AG.”

NY-21 GOP candidate Elise Stefanik’s first foray into politics came at Albany Academy for Girls, where she ran for student council secretary in sixth grade on a simple premise - bringing in a snack machine.

There are some rather amusing Mike Bloomberg-inspired .NYC domain name registrations.

The Independent Majority Group is spending $45,000 (note $450,000) on an attack ad targeting NY-4 Democratic candidate Kathleen Rice.

Sullivan County economic development officials are running an ad urging the state to approve both projects for the county.

RIP Tom Magliozzi, one of public radio’s most popular personalities, who died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 77.

The outcome of the last 22 votes on general obligation bond issues is evenly split, with 11 proposals passing and 11 failing. (The 23rd appears on tomorrow’s ballot).

Hillary Clinton, Robert De Niro and Tony Bennett are among those being honored at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights annual gala on Dec. 16.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer made a gaffe in Suffolk County over the weekend, which was smoothed over by the county Democratic chairman, Rich Schaffer.

Luminaries of the fashion, entertainment and media worlds packed a Manhattan church today for the private funeral of legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta.

Greens Cry Foul Over GOP Senate Candidate’s Mailer (Updated)

The Green Party is up in arms over a mailer sent out by Terrence Murphy, the Republican running for retiring Sen. Greg Ball’s Hudson Valley seat, that links the candidate to Green gubernatorial hopeful Howie Hawkins.

The mailer, which does not indicate – as required by law – who is responsible for sending it, informs voters who want to protect the environment and stop hydrofracking that they only have “one choice” – to support the Green Party’s candidates in tomorrow’s elections.

It features photos of both Hawkins and Murphy, saying the gubernatorial candidate is “100 percent” against fracking, while the Senate candidate “voted against” fracking (in his current position as a member of the Yorktown Council).

The mailer also accuses Murphy’s Democratic opponent, attorney Justin Wagner, of representing “one of the largest fracking companies” whose natural gas flows through the Algonquin pipeline, which is slated for expansion in Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties.

The firm that employs Wagner represents ExxonMobil; the candidate himself is on the record opposing fracking in New York “at this time.”

There has also been some debate during the campaign over Murphy’s position on fracking, which appears to have evolved to the point where he is on the record in support of a moratorium – not the full out ban the Greens have been seeking since 2010.

The pipeline has been an issue in the 40th SD race for some time now.

Murphy won a Green Party primary by 50 votes back in September as a write-in candidate. State Green Party Co-Chair Michael O’Neil called the Republican’s write-in tactic “reprehensible” and “potentially unconstitutional,” accusing him of using the Opportunity to Ballot process to “steal” Row E for this election.

“(B)ut he is *not* a Green Party Candidate from the perspective of the Green Party of NY State,” O’Neil continued. “We abhor his use of opportunity to ballot and this mailer to confuse voters…On the mailer, Murphy attempts to align himself with Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for governor who is currently polling around 10 percent statewide against Andrew Cuomo. The Hawkins campaign was not notified at all about this mailer and has not endorsed Murphy.”

“…This is plain and simple dirty tricks politics to make voters believe Murphy is part of a Green movement to which he is actually fundamentally opposed. It is the kind of cynical prevarication that turns people away from electoral politics and only the latest example of why Opportunity to Ballot and ‘fusion voting’ should be abolished in New York State.”

Murphy also has the Conservative, Independence and Stop Common Core lines, while Wagner’s name will appear on just two lines – Democrat and Working Families.

(Like a handful of his fellow Democratic Senate candidates, Wagner’s effort to petition his way onto the governor’s Women’s Equality Party line failed).

UPDATE: A SoP reader set me straight on the disclaimer question, writing:

“Candidates for state office in New York have no legal obligation to include a ‘paid for’ disclaimer anywhere. This stems from the Duryea decision in the mid 1970s. Perry Duryea, and several Democrat and Republican legislators were indicted for doing mailers without disclaimers, which supported third party candidates whose success would have been beneficial to the candidates whom the legislators supported.”

“The courts threw out the indictments, claiming that anonymous political speech was synonymous with free speech. As a result, there is no requirement for a disclaimer on state campaigns – from governor down to Assembly.”

Wrong WNY Number?

A Democratic SoP reader who lives in the Democrat-dominated city of Buffalo reports receiving a robocall over the past several days from Republican Rep. Chris Collins, reminding him to vote tomorrow for GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino “and our entire Republican ticket.”

“As governor, Rob will cut taxes and grow our economy to create good-paying jobs. He’ll move forward with clean, safe natural gas exploration, and he’ll repeal Common Core. And most importantly, Rob will end the corruption in Albany by implementing term limits. Again, this is Congressman Chris Collins, and I ask you to join me in voting for Rob Astorino on November 4th, so we can make New York great again. Paid for by Astorino for governor.”

The SoP reader, who forwarded a recording of this call, questioned the intelligence of spending resources to have a Republican congressman call voters in an area where he lost big in the November 2011 election when he was ousted from the Erie County executive’s office by Democrat Mark Poloncarz.

In a county with 140,000 more Democrats than Republicans, Collins won 39 of the 44 municipalities, but Poloncarz won the 5 remaining -most importantly the City of Buffalo, by a margin of 81 percent to 19 percent.

Collins went on to oust the current Democratic LG candidate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, from her House seat in the 2012 election. (She had been the first Democrat to represent the district in more than 40 years). His victory was due in no small part to the fact that the district had been redrawn to eliminate a number of Democratic strongholds – including Buffalo.

Cuomo has focused heavily on winning over hearts and minds (and votes) in Western New York after losing the region to his GOP/Conservative opponent, Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, in 2010. He and Hochul made a strong showing there in the September primary, even as the governor did not do terribly well in other upstate counties against his opponent, Fordham Law School Prof. Zephyr Teachout.

The centerpiece of Cuomo’s strategy to revitalize the WNY economy has been the Buffalo Billion – a program Astorino has criticized and pledged to rescind if he’s elected. Cuomo said during the lone televised gubernatorial debate that the Buffalo Billion will be stopped “over my dead body,” adding: “That would be saying, ‘Drop dead Buffalo.’”

Here and Now

The frenzied final countdown to Election Day begins. It’s all about rallying the base and rounding up those final votes.

Today will feature a rare joint appearance by the entire statewide Democratic slate, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who will be in New York City, Albany and Erie counties.

The schedule of events is pretty lengthy as candidates at all levels make their respective last dashes around the state and/or district, so it appears at the end of this post instead of the beginning.

Headlines…

New Yorkers’ relationship with their governor is hardly warm or enthusiastic, despite broad agreement with his policies, according to more than three dozen interviews conducted by the NY Times over the past week in New York City and on Long Island.

The author of the so-called “social pressure” letter warning Democrats the state party would be keeping tabs on whether they vote tomorrow is reportedly Neal Kwatra, appointed by Cuomo to be the party’s chief campaign strategist this cycle.

Cuomo’s new memoir, his plans to travel to China, Italy and Israel, and his campaign vow to serve a full four-year term if re-elected are the early stages of an under-the-radar strategy for him to run for president in 2020, not 2016, according to Fred Dicker. This assumes Hillary Clinton runs in two years and loses to a Republican.

Clinton campaigned for New Hampshire Democrats over the weekend, and thanked voters there for teaching her about “grit and determination” during her 2008 presidential campaign, reaching for her family’s old political magic to help fellow Democrats.

A host of Democrats say Cuomo has managed in the waning days of his reelection campaign to widen — not heal — his rift with the liberal base of the party.

Cuomo defined himself as a feminist, adding: “If you define it as a supporter of female rights, then yes, but I think different people define it differently.”

With only days until the election, candidates for state and federal office made their final pitches to voters over the weekend in hopes of changing a few minds and shoring up their bases.

Cuomo campaigned in the Bronx, Harlem and Brooklyn yesterday afternoon with Governor Alejandro García Padilla of Puerto Rico, who opposes same-sex marriage.

Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino attended a Baptist Church yesterday morning in search of votes, and was stood up for half an hour by the pastor, who was down the street endorsing Cuomo.

Astorino claimed he’s “being attacked viciously with 40 million (dollars) in TV ads because I’m a Christian and what I believe in, adding: “When (Cuomo) says that about me, he’s saying that about you, too.”

Repeating a formula he has often cited on the campaign trail, Astorino said low voter turnout in New York City coupled with wins in large suburban Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties were key to his victory.

NY1 gave Astorino the final word during a special weekend show, citing Cuomo’s refusal to more televised debates.

Investigative journalists say they have encountered a culture of secrecy and lack of transparency in covering state government under the Cuomo administration, and that goes beyond public records requests to the executive branch.

“They will tell you all kinds of ways they can come back at you,” said Newsday’s Mike Gormley of Team Cuomo. “They’ll freeze you out. I’ve been frozen out so many times I couldn’t tell you right now if I’m frozen out or not.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s hopes for a Democratic takeover of the state Senate rest on a handful of hotly contested races far beyond the five boroughs. Heading into tomorrow, the battle for control of the chamber is still too close to call.

De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton ripped the NY Post for telling “flat-out lies,” about the supposed bad blood between Bratton and a departed top department official and how the mayor’s wife never wanted Bratton as the city’s top cop. More here.

The official in question, former Chief of Department Philip Banks, broke his silence on his abrupt resignation, saying he stepped down because he believed a promotion to first deputy commissioner would have taken him away from “police work and operations.”

Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey expressed disappointment that Cuomo isn’t being more outspoken about Prop. 1, saying: “Given that he was the architect of this deal, I am surprised that he’s not championing this as an important reform.”

The 60th SD fight is one of the most expensive state Senate races Western New York has ever experienced – with total primary and general election spending now well over $3 million – and counting.

Bob McCarthy calls the four-way brawl for the 60th SD a “contest of extremes.”

Independent expenditure committees have spent $17.8 million during this election cycle, with roughly $14 million on key State Senate races, according to disclosure filings with the state Board of Elections.

Three legislators accused of federal crimes – Sen. John Sampson, Sen. Tom Libous and Rep. Michael Grimm – are likely to handily win re-election tomorrow.

At a campaign stop outside the Fairway Market on the Upper West Side, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman won US Sen. Chuck Schumer’s endorsement and lost the spotlight.

AFT President Randi Weingarten attributed Cuomo’s characterization of public education as a “monopoly” to last-minute campaign rhetoric and called on teachers angered by the governor’s comments not to vote for Astorino as an alternative.

Cuomo personally pitched Latino voters in a City & State OpEd.

How much Tappan Zee tolls will increase to pay for the new bridge remains a mystery, but clues in documents obtained by The Journal News seem to indicate tolls collected from Thruway drivers statewide will help cover costs.

Occupy activist Cicely McMillan released a video endorsement of Green Party candidate for Governor Howie Hawkins, LG candidate Brian Jones, and AG candidate Ramon Jimenez.

Key directors of the New York Racing Association last month seemed eager to expand the Saratoga race meet to 54 days but reportedly dropped the notion after some stakeholders expressed deep concerns.

Today marks the first day at work for the skyscraper’s first group of office workers, 175 employees of publishing giant Condé Nast.

The now-infamous rift that developed between former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and education powerhouse Diane Ravitch — the former wife of ex-LG Richard Ravitch — occurred after he declined to hire her longtime partner, Mary Butz, to head the new Leadership Academy to train principals, Klein notes in his memoir.

The region’s purest, most protected source of drinking water could become contaminated and infused with saltwater if New York City and a Nassau County water district are able to pump from the ancient Lloyd aquifer under Long Island, local officials and experts fear.

Happening today…

More >