Liz Benjamin

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Back in Feburary, Gov. Andrew Cuomo “became visibly angry, raised his voice and stormed out” of a restaurant where he was having an off-the-record meal with NYT reporters and editors.

But after 25 blocks of reiterating there would be no questions for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio at the Columbus Day Parade, de Blasio was made available – briefly – and again was asked about Rachel Noerdlinger.

Women Speak Out PAC, partner of the Susan B. Anthony list, launched a $25,000 radio campaign slamming NY-21 Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf’s “extreme” positions on abortion.

Predictably, Sen. Lee Zeldin used the “friggin’ mailman” line against his Democratic opponent, Rep. Tim Bishop, in a debate.

The race for the 55th state Senate district is becoming a battle of the news anchors.

An excerpt of the index of Cuomo’s new memoir.

NewsChannel 13′s FOIL requests seeking detailed spending information for Cuomo’s “unity tour” of Israel was denied.

Donald Trump trash talked the Pegulas on Twitter.

Cuomo’s Columbus Day statement doesn’t actually mention Christopher Columbus.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched a challenge inviting U.S. cities to develop temporary public art projects that enhance cultural and economic activity.

Central New York voters consistently rank the economy and jobs as the top issue in congressional elections, including this year’s NY-24 race between Rep. Dan Maffei and John Katko.

NY-4 GOP candidate Bruce Blakeman’s campaign is revisiting criticisms of his Democratic opponent Kathleen Rice’s voting record – an issue first raised during her 2010 primary run for state attorney general.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins has entered the Common Core fight,  saying he wants to get rid of statewide standards – and standardized testing – altogether.

The DCCC’s latest salvo against Republican Rep. Michael Grimm features NY-11 constituents saying he’s “not the guy” they thought he was.

New York politicians are courting the growing Asian-American vote.

The Buffalo Sabres were named host of the 2016 NHL draft.

Hillary Clinton may not have the luxury of waiting until early next year to declare her intentions to run for president in 2016 if the Democrats lose the US Senate.

Fitch has upgraded the Erie County government’s credit rating outlook from “stable” to “positive” and affirmed its “A” rating in preparation for an upcoming bond sale to finance its 2014 capital projects.

New York City is preparing to end its ban on cellphones in schools, dooming an industry that sprang up near dozens of schools where teens could park their phones in a van for a dollar a day.

A man and woman tested negative for the Ebola virus after they went to Bellevue Hospital.

This happened.

House Majority PAC Sticks With Robertson In NY-23

The DCCC may have abandoned Democratic Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson in her quest to unseat Republican Rep. Tom Reed next month, but she isn’t completely going it alone.

The House Majority PAC just announced it is releasing new TV ads in 10 congressional districts across the country – including NY-23, where the House Democrats’ political arm, led by Long Island Rep. Steve Israel, recently cancelled two weeks worth of reserved air time so it could rededicate resources to protect incumbent Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is in a tight re-election battle with his 2012 opponent, former GOP Rep. Nan Hayworth, in NY-18.

The ad, which appears below, is airing in the Elmira market only starting tomorrow. And the buy isn’t terribly large – $49,138 – although that goes a lot further in the Southern Tier than, say, the NYC media market.

And, something is definitely better than nothing, from Robertson’s perspective – especially when you consider the fact that another Democratic House candidate recently abandoned by the DCCC, Aaron Woolf, didn’t make the House Majority PAC cut. In fact, the PAC cancelled $300,000 worth of air time it had reserved on Woolf’s behalf just before the national Democrats also decided to pull the plug on his.

The House Majority PAC has also purchased $58,472 worth of air time in Central New York’s NY-24 to benefit Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei. The ad, which can be seen below underneath the anti-Reed spot, slams Maffei’s Republican opponent, former prosecutor John Katko, for being “too conservative” for New York - particularly when it comes to women’s issues.

A GOP source insisted that these buys are not new and have been reserved for some time now. But considering the fact that money is being shifted around all over the place, it’s a safe bet these candidates consider it a win to have managed to hold on to their planned time slots.

Gibson’s Latest Validator: His Mom

Rep. Chris Gibson’s latest TV ad features a variety of people – including his own mother – praising him for “keeping his word” when it comes to protecting seniors and veterans.

The spot, which will air in all four media markets of NY-19 – Albany, Binghamton, New York City and Utica – mainly stars Chatham resident Anne Marie Mink. She tells the story of her father, local World War II veteran Tom Spierto, and her family’s quest to get him the medals he earned while serving in the military 60 years ago.

There’s also a photo of the congressman in fatigues, highliting his own 29-year military service. The ad closes with the Gibson’s mother, Barbara Gibson, who says her son “kept his word” to protect Social Security, Medicare and veterans benefits. Barbara Gibson also appeared in a 2012 ad with much the same message – that Gibson would protect federal services for his elderly constituents.

Two years ago, Gibson defeated his Democratic challenger, former prosecutior and ex-Ulster County Democratic CHairman Julian Schreibman, winning about 53 percent of the vote in the redrawn NY-19, which had been altered in redistricting to include more Democrats and independent voters.

This year, Gibson is facing off against another Democratic newcomer, Sean Eldridge. A recent Siena poll showed Gibson leading by 24 percentage points.

Here’s the script for the new ad…no word on the size of the buy, or how long it will run:

“Anne Marie Mink: I have a 91-year old Dad, he’s a World War II veteran. Chris and his office worked really hard to get him his medals that he never had. When he sees my Dad – any of the veterans, World War II, Korea, Vietnam – he gives them the respect they deserve. And he gets the respect from all of us.

Announcer: In Congress, Chris Gibson always protects Social Security and Medicare for our seniors.

Barbara Gibson: He kept his word, like I knew he would.”

Hawkins Gets Jim Owles Club Nod

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins yesterday received the endorsement of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club – the first time the NYC LGBT club has backed a non-Democrat for governor in its 10-year history.

Club President Allen Roskoff, a frequent critic of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, called Hawkins a “true progressive.”

“We will not endorse someone just because they are registered in the party when they do not uphold the ideals and progressive principles of the party,” said Roskoff.

“On economic and equity issues Governor Cuomo acts more like a Republican than a Democrat. For those of us who believe in economic justice we thought it would be unconscionable to endorse Andrew Cuomo.”

Roskoff cited a number of problems Cuomo, including the Moreland Commission mess, his failure to issue a fracking decision, refusal to debate before the September primary and reluctance to use his powers of clemency – the subject a of recent rally organized by Roskoff outside the Westchester County home the governor shares with his girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee.

The Jim Owles Club also endorsed Cuomo’s Democratic primary opponent, Fordham Law School Prof. Zephyr Teachout.

The club is the second NYC-based liberal organization to support Hawkins’ campaign. The first was the Village Independence Democrats, which also broke with tradition by backing a third party candidate for governor for the first time in its 57-year history.

VID, which supported Teachout and her running mate, Columbia Law School Prof. Tim Wu, in the primary, (rescinding its previous support for Cuomo’s running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, in the process), also backed Hawkins’ running mate, Green Party LG candidate Brian Jones.

A recent Q poll showed Hawkins receiving 9 percent of the vote, which the candidate said during a CapTon interview surpassed his own campaign’s goal of 5 percent.

Conservative Chair: Vote ‘No’ On Grisanti

State Conservative Chairman Mike Long weighed in on one of the state’s most hotly contested Senate races, urging conservative voters to reject GOP Sen. Mark Grisanti’s long-shot re-election bid on the Independence Party line.

During a CapTon interview last Friday night, Long said he is “no fan” of Grisanti’s, accusing the senator of “breaking faith” with conservatives when he voted “yes” on same-sex marriage and the SAFE Act.

“I’m not looking to champion his re-election as a state senator on the Independence line,” Long said of Grisanti.

“I would encourage Conservatives to send a very clear message for Albany – conservative-minded Democrats, conservative Republicans – vote for the Conservative Party candidate for state Senate, vote for someone who believes in the principles that they believe in.”

The Conservative Party candidate is attorney Tim Gallagher, who was tapped to run on Row C back in May. At the time, Gallagher was believed to be a placeholder, but the party has made no effort to remove him from the ballot.

Long’s comments are a blow to the Senate Republicans, whose leader, Sen. Dean Skelos, has endorsed Grisanti, despite the fact that the senator lost the September GOP primary to Kevin Stocker.

Skelos said last week that he doesn’t know Stocker, and the candidate hasn’t reached out to the Senate GOP for assistance. Stocker has repeatedly refused to say if he would caucus with his fellow Republicans – or support Skelos for leader – if he’s elected next month.

The SRCC recently released a TV ad that blasted the Democratic candidate in this four-way race – Marc Panepinto – but didn’t support any of his opponents.

Long insisted that he supports a Republican takeover of the Senate, saying it will be a “very dark-looking state if the Democrats gain control, total control of the Senate.”

“I believe we have a shot to win the Senate; I believe we can do that without Grisanti,” the chairman said.

“I’m doing everything I can to help any candidates throughout the state of New York that’s running on the Conservative-Republican line.”

Thanks to his gay marriage vote, Grisanti didn’t have the Conservative line in the 2012 election. (The Erie County Conservatives backed a Democrat, while the Niagara County Conservatives continued to back the senator).

Grisanti managed to win that fall with about 50 percent of the vote, but – unlike this year – he had both the GOP line and the Independence Party line.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 9:40 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will attend the Great to Live in Harrison Parade, Halstead & Thatcher avenues, Harrison.

At 10:30 a.m., Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins holds a teleconference with members of the media to discuss his recent fracking tour in Dimock, Pa.; his position on education, and the recent endorsements.

At 11:30 a.m., Cuomo marches in the New York City Columbus Day Parade, 46th Street and 5th Avenue, Manhattan. Astorino will also march, as will NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

At 1:30 p.m., Astorino will attend and deliver remarks at the National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club Awards Luncheon, 1 UN New York Millenium Hotel, entrance on 44th near 1st Avenue, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks at the NYPD Columbia Association, St. Ignatius Loyola Church, E. 84th Street and Park Ave., Manhattan.

At 2:30 p.m., Hawkins will discuss the Common Core, hydrofracking and energy, corner of Grand & Broadway, Newburgh.

At 5:20 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on Newsmax TV.

At 9:30 p.m., Astorino will attend Sukkos holiday celebrations, 13th Avenue and 48th Street, Brooklyn.

At 10:30 p.m., Astorino will attend Sukkos holiday celebrations, Kingston Ave, Crown Heights, Brooklyn.


Since the start of the general-election race in mid-September, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has relied heavily on leveraging the advantages afforded him by his incumbency to campaign for re-election.

Joel Siegel says Cuomo’s personal revelations in his new memoir are a “stunning departure” for a man “known as headstrong and confident and rarely given to public self-criticism and self-doubt.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate and potential 2016 contender, rips Cuomo as “a typical corrupt New York politician” in a tough fund-raising letter being sent today by Rob Astorino’s campaign for governor.

Cuomo dipped into his campaign account at least twice over the past two years to buy gifts for the State Police officers who guard and fly him, according to political expenditure records and interviews.

After several years of keeping his distance from fellow Democrats in the State Senate, Cuomo ventured into somewhat unfamiliar territory, endorsing a Democratic candidate – Adrienne Esposito – in Suffolk County. But he wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about it.

A Manhattan woman who was a witness on hundreds of nominating petitions for the Astorino-created Stop Common Core ballot line says she didn’t actually watch people sign them. She also signed as a witness on petitions for GOP state Senate candidate Joe Dillon.

Some $5.7 million is sitting in 100 different campaign accounts of former state legislators — including felons and the dead, according to a NYPIRG analysis.

The State Education Department is taking the unprecedented step of opening up a new round of charter school proposals specifically for the City of Buffalo. Local teachers plan to challenge the decision in court.

When new owner Terry Pegula walked with his family onto the Ralph Wilson field 20 minutes before kickoff yesterday, Bills fans gave him a standing ovation and chanted “Terry, Terry” until Pegula begged them to stop, reminding them “We have a game to play.”

More >

The Weekend That Was

A health-care worker who cared for the Ebola patient who died last week in Dallas has tested positive for the disease, the CDC confirmed, in what is likely to have been the first known transmission in the U.S.

Ebola screenings began on Saturday at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for travelers coming from the most-affected West African countries, in an effort to curb the spread of the disease in the U.S.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo may travel to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as soon as next weekend, building on a recent flurry of overseas travel as he runs for re-election next month.

The governor sought to make his Women’s Equality Party push personal, rolling out an ad featuring his three daughters and girlfriend, TV chef Sandra Lee. It’s the first time Lee and his children from a prior marriage have appeared in a political ad.

While making a Women’s Equality Express tour stop on Long Island this weekend, Cuomo said: “The Republican Party is being pulled by ultra-conservatives and the ultra-conservative tail is wagging the Republican dog.”

Sen. Liz Krueger called the Women’s Equality Party Cuomo has launched a “mistake” that could marginalize female Democratic voters.

Cuomo is running for a second term without having to face the political fallout from big decisions on fracking and new tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge.

There’s at least one thing Terry and Kim Pegulas’ billions couldn’t buy this week: a Buffalo Bills win over their longtime AFC East nemesis New England Patriots.

If anyone can win running only on a minor party line it’s Sen. Mark Grisanti, WNY observers say, but he’s lagging significantly in the fundraising race.

Cuomo is interested in the idea of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills, but recognizes it would be very expensive for both the state and Erie County.

The Village Independent Democrats endorsed Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins.

This year’s biggest lobbying spender – a pro-charter-school group that reported almost $6 million in New York state lobbying expenditures through August – hasn’t had to reveal a single benefactor.

While speaking to North Country business leaders, Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul called the regional economic development councils created by the governor a “real game changer.”

Former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn called Hochul’s pro-choice record “perfect”, even after the ex-congresswoman’s tax returns showed a one-time donation to an anti-abortion preacher.

Mike Lupica: “(NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio) was hired to run the city. Only there are times, in the nine months or so, when he has looked as overmatched as an actual manager as another progressive, President Obama, has. And, worse, like others are running him.”

The principal of a long-struggling high school in Brooklyn handed in his resignation this week — and offered de Blasio’s Education Department one of its sternest public rebukes yet.

De Blasio skipped a Columbus Day parade in The Bronx at his own peril today, as residents chided him for showing off his ethnic pride only when it suits his political ends — and not marching this year to hide from the recent controversy over one of his top aides.

NYC City Comptroller Scott Stringer blasted the Department of Health for “widespread deficiencies” in its response to rodent infestations throughout the five boroughs.

It has been nearly four months since the legislative session ended and still there are more than 250 bills awaiting Cuomo’s stamp of approval. The legislature passed 658 bills last session and so far the governor has signed 400 of them.

Former President Bill Clinton is heading to Massachusetts to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Martha Coakley.

With barely three months left in his tenure, voters in heavily Democratic Maryland have grown weary of Martin O’Malley, and show markedly little enthusiasm for a presidential bid he is preparing to launch.

Cuomo’s First Senate Dem Endorsement: Esposito

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today bestowed his first general election endorsement on one of the Senate Democrats’ candidates, announcing his support of Long Island environmental activist Adrienne Esposito.

“We need Adrienne Esposito in Albany to fight for Long Island and to help continue moving New York forward,” Cuomo said in a press release.

“Adrienne will be a partner in our efforts to grow the economy, lower property taxes, invest in our schools, protect the environment, and ensure equal rights for women. I am pleased to support her campaign for State Senate.”

Esposito is running for the 3rd SD seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Lee Zeldin, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in NY-1.

The Republicans are running Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci in Zeldin’s stead. He wasn’t their first pick. That was Islip Town Board member Anthony Senft, but he dropped out of the race after getting embroiled in a toxic dumping scandal at a local park.

A recent Siena/Newsday poll showed Croci leading Esposito 56-29, in part because she has been struggling with name recognition while he’s drawing cross-party and independent support.

Senft wasn’t directly involved in the scandal, but he served as the Town Board Liaison to the Park’s Department.

The same poll found Cuomo leading his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, 51-28, and showed the governor with a 52-45 favorable/unfavorable rating. So his endorsement in this district could prove to be a benefit, which can’t be said of every Senate district – especially the further upstate you travel.

Cuomo’s endorsement came during the second weekend of the Women’s Equality Express bus tour he’s taking along with his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul.

Esposito appeared with Cuomo at the tour’s stop on Long Island earlier today, according to NY1′s Zack Fink, who was on the bus. The governor told the crowd: “We need to make her Senator Esposito.”

The governor promised to support a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate by his fellow Democrats as part of his endorsement deal with the labor-backed Working Families Party this past spring.

Cuomo has transferred several million dollars into the state Democratic Party’s coffers, about $1 million of which has been used to help Senate Democrat candidates, according to his campaign spokesman.

But the fact that he hadn’t yet made any formal endorsements – and kept appearing at various government-related events with Senate Republicans – sparked questions about Cuomo’s commitment to flipping the chamber into Democratic hands.

The fact that Cuomo’s first endorsement is of a female candidate dovetails nicely with the Women’s Equality focus of his re-election campaign.

Ironically, Esposito petitioned to run on the Women’s Equality Party line that Cuomo has created, but – like many of her fellow Senate Democratic candidates – failed to make the cut.


At 18, GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino struck people as an unusually mature – and conservative – activist, inviting comparisons to Alex P. Keaton, the teenage Republican played by Michael J. Fox on “Family Ties.”

Also, the NYT dug up some old footage of Astorino playing reporter in a campaign video.

Astorino said Cuomo should be investigated for “bribery” for openly offering the Working Families Party incentives for an endorsement.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins believes Row C is “certainly within our reach.”

Oct. 21 is the deadline for Cuomo to act on the bill that would make yogurt New York’s official snack.

Sen. John DeFrancisco: “I bet if there was a quiet moment, and you had a glass of wine with Governor Cuomo and he opened up…he’d be much more comfortable” with a Republican or IDC-GOP controlled state Senate.

But since Primary Day, Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul has practically shunned New York City, campaigning almost exclusively north and east of the five boroughs.

Hochul’s tax returns show she and her husband donated to the ministry of Charles Swindoll, a Texas-based evangelical radio preacher with strongly anti-abortion views.

Dan Janison examines how Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s pro-Cuomo TV ad stretches credibility.

GOP AG candidate John Cahill would take a steep pay cut if elected.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership endorsed Cuomo and Hochul.

Occupy Wall Street protestor Cecily McMillan was found not guilty on Friday of charges stemming from her latest run-in with the authorities.

The NYPD added to its memorial wall in Battery Park City the names of 12 police officials who died from 9/11-related illnesses between 2003 and 2013.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s embattled aide Rachel Noerdlinger and her convicted killer boyfriend were busted in 2011 after driving the wrong way in a car that reeked of pot smoke - with an underage passenger in the backseat.

De Blasio press secretary Phil Walzak said the mayor continues to support Noerdlinger.

Republicans are accusing Democratic NY-21 candidate Aaron Woolf for being sexist by accusing his opponent, Elise Stefanik, during TWC News’ debate of never having done manual labor.

Former Rep. Nan Hayworth insists she’s not a member of the Tea Party. “If you apply a narrow label to something, or someone, you miss all the folks we’re helping. I’m here for everybody.”

Rex Smith takes on Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.

The Jewish Sentinel endorsed state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for re-election.

The union representing nurses in New York State has thrown its political clout behind state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

While federal investigators probe what led to the fatal plane crash that killed Larry and Jane Glazer, the family is evaluating legal options and whether to dispatch a private search team to recover the wreckage.

After Martins Complains, Cablevision Pulls Haber Ad (Updated)

Cablevision has pulled one of Democratic state Senate candiate Adam Haber’s TV ads after Haber’s opponent, GOP Sen. Jack Martins complained the spot violates an FCC requirement.

The ad in question slams Martins for opposing the full 10-point Women’s Equality Act, saying he opposes everything from abortion rights to pregnancy employment discrimination protections and pay equity. As Nick noted earlier this week, these claims aren’t entirely accurate, since the Senate GOP has passed nine of the 10 WEA provisions, refusing only to put the controversial abortion plank onto the floor for a vote – either as a stand-alone bill or as part of the act as a whole.

Truth bending – or, at the very least, omitting context – is standard operating procedure for political ads. But that wasn’t the basis for the Martins campaign’s complaint.

The senator’s beef was of a technical nature, specifically that the Haber ad did not fulfill the FCC requirement that the disclaimer portion of any political spot last for four seconds and take up 4 percent of the screen. Cablevision agreed, and the as a result, the ad is no longer running, having been replaced by an older Haber ad.

Not surprisingly, the Martins campaign is making hay of this victory.

“Adam Haber spent $2 million of his own money in his failed campaign for county executive last year, including on TV ads,” said Martins campaign advisor E. O’Brien Murray. “Someone seeking their 3rd office in 12 months knows the rules.”

The ad is also running on Viamedia. The Martins campaign has lodged a similar complaint the the cable station and is awaiting a reply.

The Haber-Martins race on Long Island is one of a handful of contested contests taking place across the state that are being closely watched as the Democrats and Republicans battle it out in a re-match for control of the Senate. A recent Siena poll showed Martins leading Haber by 25 percentage points.

UPDATE: Haber campaign spokesman Jacob Tugendrajch sent the following response:

“It appears there is no limit to the lengths Jack Martins will go to hide his record of anti-women votes. He is now grasping at technicalities in an attempt to fool voters who he hopes won’t realize that his anti-choice views are out of step with Nassau County, and that he has consistently voted against women including voting against pay equity.”

According to the Martins campaign, Viamedia has also heeded the call for the ad to come off the air. The Democrats say a new version will be back up and running by the end of the day.