Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Bill Clinton to Campaign for Rep. Bishop

The Democrats are bringing out the biggest gun they’ve got – former President Bill Clinton – to shore up veteran Long Island Rep. Tim Bishop as Election Day looms.

Clinton will headline a rally for Bishop at 5 p.m. tomorrow at The Staller Center at Stony Brook University along with DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, who has a lot riding on this race, since it’s taking place in his backyard.

The Republicans have been trying to dislodge Bishop for several cycles now, and haven’t yet managed to oust him, despite the fact that his fundraising remains under investigation by the House ethics committee. The congressman is again a top target this fall, and he’s facing a challenge from GOP state Sen. Lee Zeldin.

A Siena poll released early last month found Bishop leading Zeldin by 10 percentage points – a spread the senator’s campaign disputed. The race must be tightening according to the Democrats’ internal numbers, however, or they wouldn’t bother deploying Clinton this far out from the Nov. 4 election.

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg Center poll found that of all the big name Democrats, a nod from Bill Clinton moves voters like no one else – and even he can’t influence a race that much.

An endorsement from the former president makes 38 percent of voters think more favorably about a candidate, the poll found, and 24 percent of voters think less favorably. Former First Lady/Secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton was right behind her husband, with 34 percent saying they would view a candidate more favorably if she bestowed her endorsement upon him or her.

A number of big names on both sides of the aisle have been making appearances on behalf of statewide and congressional candidates in recent weeks.

Just yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden headlined a rally at the airport in Syracuse in support of Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei, who faces a tough challenge from Republican John Katko in NY-24. Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino has received in-person support from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, along with statements and/or email appears from former Massachusetts Governor/presidential candidate Mitt Romney and US Senator/former presidential candidate John McCain.

Gloria Steinem Pitches Cuomo on WFP Line

From the Morning Memo:

Since Gov. Cuomo isn’t pitching himself on the Working Families Party line – especially not with women, a key voting bloc – the labor-backed party has tapped an icon in the women’s movement to do it for him.

The WFP yesterday sent out an email from veteran activist and feminist Gloria Steinem, who implored New Yorkers to join her in voting for Cuomo on Row D, insisting: “This is important for women, for men, for the future of our state.”

Steinem went on to enumerate the WFP’s achievements, calling the party “the anchor of progressive reform across this diverse state that so often is the conscience of the country.”

She made no mention of Cuomo or his record on progressive issues, or his endorsement agreement with the WFP that included a pledge to support the Democrats’ effort to take back the state Senate majority.

“Our votes on the Working Families Party line help elect leaders who have promised to pass a full Women’s Equality agenda as well as a full range of progressive policies that affect every New York woman,” Steinem wrote.

“A strong WFP vote also builds the kind of independent, progressive political power we need to hold those same politicians to their promises after Election Day.”

The irony here is that Cuomo is urging voters to support him on the newly created “Women’s Equality Line” – otherwise known as the WEP, just one letter away from the WFP.

If the governor attracts at least 50,000 votes on the WEP, it will attain official party status and automatic ballot access for the next four years.

Depending on how many votes Cuomo attracts on the WFP line, the party could lose its hard-fought position on Row D, and even – though insiders don’t expect this – lose its ballot line altogether.

Steinem’s email calls the governor’s race “the most important vote in this year’s election.”

It also includes a link to a sample ballot that shows bubbles filled out for the top three statewide Democratic candidates – Cuomo, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – all of whom have been cross endorsed by the WFP.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 8 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell and Council members Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine hold a rally with parents to call for legislation to protect school children from serious harms of construction projects, P.S. 163 main entrance, 163 W. 97th St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan announces a new infrastructure investment, Lincoln Park pool stairs, Albany.

At 9:15 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at at Urban Land Institute’s General Session: The Changing World, Hall E, the Javits Center, 655 West 34th St., Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul joins female student leaders from upstate universities for a Q-and-A about sexual assault on college campuses, Community Room of the Panasci Family Chapel, Le Moyne College, 1419 Salt Springs Rd., Syracuse.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo address an Ebola education session co-hosted by the GNYHA/1199SEIU Healthcare Education Project and the Partnership for Quality Care, Javits Center North, West 39th Street and 11th Avenue, Manhattan. (De Blasio will also speak).

Also at 10 a.m., timed with the 42nd anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Environment New York and its allies release a new report on how the bedrock environmental law has helped protect the Hudson River and other waters around the country, Ossining Boat & Canoe Club, 1 Westerly Rd., Ossining.

At 10:32 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on “Live from the State Capitol with host Fred Dicker,” Talk 1300 AM.

At 11 a.m., Onondaga County Comptroller and GOP state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci is interviewed on Gomez at TX99.

Also at 11 a.m., Astorino will unveil the Astorino/Moss Empowerment Plan with Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., in front of Lincoln Hospital, E 149th Street and Morris Avenue, the Bronx.

Also at 11 a.m., the Assembly committees on Children and Families and Oversight, Analysis and Investigation hold a roundtable to examine the practices of the Statewide Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment, Room 711-A, LOB, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., the GOP leadership of the City Council will endorse state Senate candidate Joe Dillon, Cacace Center Footbridge, outside Yonkers City Hall.

Also at 11 a.m., Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins will ask Cuomo why he “tampered” with a fracking study, 2013 E. Genesee St., Syracuse.

At 11:30 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill discusses his plan for combatting heroin addiction in New York, outside the Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice, Albany.

At noon, LG Bob Duffy delivers remarks at Buffalo State College’s inauguration ceremony for President Katherine Conway-Turner, Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.

At 1 p.m., anti-frackers discuss the letter they sent to 500 of Cuomo’s top campaign donors, calling for a halt to the DOH’s review of the health impacts of drilling, 44 Hawley St., Binghamton.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul joins a discussion with Brockport College students following a screening of “Brave Miss World”, Center for Select Respect, The College at Brockport, SUNY, 350 New Campus Dr., Brockport.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Cahill, joined by Dutchess County Legislator Rob Rolison, discusses his heroin addiction plan, City Hall, Corner of Civic Center Plaza and Mill Street, Poughkeepsie.

At 2 p.m., Women for Marc Panepinto, NARAL Pro-Choice NY and Planned Parenthood of NY stand with the candidate in support of the Women’s Equality Act, Niagara Square, in front of City Hall, Buffalo.

At 4 p.m., Chemung County Sheriff and LG GOP candidate Chris Moss appears live on the Tom Bauerle Show, WBEN 930 AM, Buffalo.

At 6 p.m., Astorino will host a Countdown to Victory event with special guest former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Marriott Hotel, 670 White Plains Rd., Tarrytown.

Also at 6 p.m., Hawkins makes a campaign top at Muhammad’s Barber Shop, 1207 Park Ave., Utica.

At 6:30 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli holds a fundraising reception with special guest de Blasio, The Park Lane Hotel, 36 Central Park S., Manhattan.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Antonacci attends the Clay Committee Meeting, Syracuse.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio delivers remarks at Community Service Society’s Step Up New York Reception, Edison Ballroom, 240 West 47th St., Manhattan.

Also at 7 p.m., Moss delivers remarks at the Seneca County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Rumseyville Sportsmen’s Club, 32 Ridge St., Seneca Falls.

Headlines…

The New York Times, which made no endorsement in the Democratic primary, has reversed course and backed Gov. Andrew Cuomo for re-election – with caveats. It wants him to devote himself to cleaning up Albany, and passing campaign finance reform, for the next four years.

The paper said GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino “does not have broad experience and, on many issues, is out of step with most New Yorkers and the needs of this state.” It called the candidacy of Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins “unrealistic,” but a useful goad to Cuomo from the left.

Cuomo said the federal government should “seriously consider” banning some flights in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, reversing his comments from earlier this month. He also said the Port Authority did not have the power to put such a ban in place.

New York City officials are stepping up training and outreach this week to thousands of city employees and emergency workers who would be among those involved, even if only peripherally, in the response to any Ebola cases.

The Cuomo administration has still not released details of its plans to test first responders should a case of Ebola be reported on a New York City subway.

High school students, for the first time, would be able to take a career or arts exam in place of the history test under a long-awaited plan to make the state’s graduation requirements more flexible and more relevant.

Transportation experts welcomed Cuomo’s announcement of a design contest to remake La Guardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport, saying that the Big Apple’s aviation hubs have long languished behind those in the world’s other great cities.

However, some of the most vocal critics of the conditions at the city’s airports wonder what took Cuomo so long to act.

Cuomo’s airport improvement plans include new START-UP NY zones at Newburgh’s Stewart Airport and Long Island’s Republic Airport.

More >

Extras

Monica Lewinsky has joined Twitter, and already has many thousand followers.

Lewinsky broke a decade-long silence to announce her campaign to end cyberbullying and today’s toxic culture of internet shaming.

Flanked by VP Joseph Biden, Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out a plan to revamp New York City’s airports – in part by having Newburgh’s Stewart Airport focus less on passengers and more on freight.

Cuomo was quick to playfully jab at Biden’s comment comparing La Guardia Airport to a third world country.

Cuomo engaged in a little expectation lowering, saying he would consider 51 percent of the vote a satisfactory win on Election Day.

The 2005 party at which AG Eric Schneiderman is alleged to have snorted cocaine was a benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims headlined by Al Franken. Attendees said there were no drugs at the event.

Activist Randy Credico, who made the allegations about Schneiderman’s drug use, now says he was “hoodwinked” by the NY Post, and he’s not happy about it.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the production of a controversial opera about the death of an American Jew at the hands of Palestinian terrorists, while broadly denouncing attacks on Jews throughout the world.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined the fight to stop the Metropolitan Opera’s showing of “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

Former Democratic LG candidate Tim Wu will give a speech on political corruption and the First Amendment at Columbia J-School tomorrow.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer: “Mark Warner is the culinary Cousteau for senators hoping to find new hip places in Washington.”

Cuomo brushed off the tidal wave of lousy Amazon reviews of his new memoir, arguing he didn’t have the time to do a proper book tour to make people love the book.

Research from Cornell University shows that a candidate’s physical attractiveness was perceived differently based on political affiliation.

The CBC urged New Yorkers to vote “no” on the Smart Schools Bond Act.

De Blasio rejected a request from JPMorgan Chase for more than a $1 billion in tax incentives from the city and state to keep its headquarters in New York City.

While in his hometown of Chicago, President Obama engaged in a little early voting.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins is not rich.

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. is defending his endorsement of GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.

De Blasio criticized the boyfriend of his top aide, Rachel Noerdlinger, for dropping First Lady Chirlane McCray’s name while fighting parking tickets in court.

New York students will have more ways to earn a high school diploma under a change approved by state education leaders.

Now in his 10th year in the House, Rep. Brian Higgins of Buffalo remains an anomaly: a lawmaker who is every bit as unnoticed in Washington as he is revered back home.

The NRCC had some fun at Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei’s expense with Biden’s visit to NY-24 today.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will headline a fund-raiser for Astorino in NYC Wednesday morning.

Senate GOP Keeps the Heat on Denenberg

Technically speaking, Democrat Dave Denenberg isn’t running anymore for the Long Island state Senate seat once held by former GOP Sen. Chuck Fuschillo. The Nassau County legislator dropped out of the race in late September, after a lawsuit by his former law firm accused him of defrauding a client of more than $2 million by billing for “fictitious” services that he never performed.

But Denenberg’s name remains on the ballot after Nassau County Democrats decided against the only option available to them to remove him from their line – nominating him for a judgeship. Though Denenberg isn’t actively campaigning against his GOP opponent, Nassau County Legislator Michael Venditto, Senate Republicans aren’t taking any chances, launching another attack ad that highlights his legal troubles, both past and present.

The GOP needs to hold all its seats on Long Island, including the 8th SD, which was left vacant by Fuschillo’s abrupt retirement on New Year’s Eve 2013, as part of its strategy for winning back control of the chamber. The Democrats viewed Denenberg as their best chance for a pick-up on the side, but have since transferred their attention to Adrienne Esposito, who is battling Republican Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci for another open seat – the one being vacated by state Sen. Lee Zeldin, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in NY-1.

Another active race on Long Island pits businessman Adam Haber, a Democrat, against Republican Sen. Jack Martins. Denebger’s implosion freed up time and resources for the Senate Republicans to spend on defending Martins.

A Long Island GOP source says there’s a “shadow campaign” pushing Denenberg, who continues to serve in his capacity as county legislator, despite calls – most notably, from former US Senator-turned-lobbyist Al D’Amato – for him to step down.

Here’s the script for the new anti-Denenberg ad, which hits the airwaves today and is similar to a past ad that said the Democratic attorney would “fit right in” with the string of Albany lawmakers busted on corruption charges:

Announcer: “There’s no other way to put it, Dave Denenberg is a criminal. First Denenberg is arrested and convicted for fraud and deceit. Then Denenberg is fired from his law firm for stealing $2 million from his clients, creating fake bills for work he never did. The kicker: Denenberg forges more than one judge’s signature to cover it all up. We already have too many criminals in Albany. Do we really need another one. No, Mr. Denenberg, we don’t.”

Watch Here >>

With Eye Toward 2016, Pataki Pitches ‘More Freedom, Less Gov’t’ (Updated)

Former Gov. George Pataki, who is reportedly toying yet again with a White House run, is hitting the airwaves with a new TV ad that slams Washington and calls for a “new America” with less government, and “more freedom.”

The entire ad, launched through a Super PAC called “Americans for Real Change,” features Pataki in a jacket, but no tie, speaking straight to the camera and saying:

“When America’s economy is struggling, and Washington is booming, it’s time for a new America.”

“Big government benefits the rich and powerful. They can afford to play the game; you can’t. It’s time for a new America, with much smaller federal government. Washington can’t run he economy, and shouldn’t try to run our lives.”

“Less government. More freedom. Log on. Join us.”

The ad was announced in an email that doubles as a fundraising pitch signed by Pataki, who says: “Now is the time for us to take the initiative and present a proactive agenda that addresses, head on, Americans’ perception that the deck is stacked in favor of the rich and powerful.”

According to the email, the ad is airing across the nation. But no information was provided as to exactly where, and for how long.

Pataki says the goal of the ad is to “launch a renaissance in Conservative thought.” But it’s also clearly an effort by the moderate New York Republican to reintroduce himself as a fiscal conservative.

An apparently unrelated 501(c)4 called “Americans for Real Change” was created in 2012 by GOP consultant Jake Menges, an advisor to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Vincent Balascio, who worked for Pataki.

At the time, the PAC’s focus was trying to to force out Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his controversial handling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment case. Supposedly, the PAC was going to raise and spend as much as $1.5 million and make NYC mayoral candidates “take a stand” on whether Silver should still be speaker.

But it doesn’t appear to have done any spending, and, according to a filing with the FEC, was terminated in 2013.

Despite ongoing attempts by various Republican candidates – including GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino – to make hay of the Lopez scandal, Silver is still speaker, and does not appear in any imminent danger of losing that post.

UPDATE: A source familiar with the former governor’s effort says this ad is airing in New Hampshire to correspond with Pataki’s visit there – he’s appearing at Politics and Eggs tomorrow, and spent the weekend campaigning with local NH candidates. The ad is also airing nationwide on FOX News.

McCain Makes a Fundraising Plug for Astorino

US Senator and former GOP presidential candidate John McCain is the latest big name Republican to lend his name to a fundraising pitch for gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, touting the Westchester County executive’s tax-cutting record.

In an email sent to potential Astorino donors (and members of the media) today, McCain calls Astorino “a man of honesty and integrity,” and says his record “speaks for itself.”

“As Westchester County executive, he cut or froze the property tax levy each year he has been in office,” McCain writes.

“He also reduced the once-bloated county budget by 5.2 percent over four years by making the commonsense, responsible and tough decisions needed to put the county back on the right track.”

“At a time when many economies were hurting, Westchester saw 30,000 private sector jobs created under the leadership of Rob Astorino. Imagine what he could do at the state level. Rob Astorino is exactly what the Empire State needs, and right now he needs your support.”

The McCain email includes several links to the fundraising page on Astorino’s campaign website.

With this pitch, McCain is following in the footsteps of another ex-GOP presidential contender, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; as well as a number of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both of whom have made in-person appearances in New York on Astorino’s behalf.

Other prominent Republicans backing Astorino include former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former New Jersey Gov. and ex-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

All these efforts highlight the fact that Republican Governors Association Chairman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another possible GOP candidate for the White House in 2016, has declined to support Astorino’s campaign, saying he doesn’t want to invest in a “lost cause.”

Gillibrand Emails For Schneiderman

AG Eric Schneiderman is getting a boost in the final weeks of the general election campaign from New York’s junior US senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, who says a win by the Republicans next month would be “simply unacceptable.”

An email blast going out later this morning focuses on abortion rights – a wedge issue the Democratic candidates from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on down are again using to blast their GOP opponents in this Democrat-dominated state.

Gillibrand calls Schneiderman a “lifelong pro-choice advocate” and “the ONLY (her emphasis) candidate for Attorney General who represents the values of New York women, especially when it comes to reproductive rights.”

“As a public interest lawyer, Eric defended reproductive health clinic workers,” the senator wrote. “As a state senator, he led efforts to pass the Clinic Anti-Violence Act and a law requiring emergency contraception to be made available to victims of sexual assault.”

“As attorney general, he successfully fought to protect and expand buffer zones around health clinics so that families would be safe from intimidation and harassment.”

“And in response to the Supreme Court’s troubling Hobby Lobby ruling this year, Eric proposed the Reproductive Rights Disclosure Act to force employers to disclose to women if they plan to change their contraception coverage.”

“We need an attorney general who unequivocally supports a woman’s right to choose, and Eric is the only candidate in this race who meets that basic standard.”

Schneiderman’s Republican challenger, former Pataki administration official John Cahill, is a practicing Catholic who is personally opposed to abortion and has expressed opposition to the abortion rights plank of Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act.

But Cahill has also pledged to uphold the law regarding abortion if he’s elected attorney general on Nov. 4, as well as any other potentially controversial laws – including same-sex marriage.

Gillibrand’s email does not specifically mention Cahill by name.

NRCC Invests In Hayworth (Updated)

As the closely watched NY-18 race enters its final weeks and continues to tighten, the NRCC is entering the fray on behalf of Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth, who is trying to win back the seat she lost to Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney two years ago.

The NRCC is out with what I believe its its first TV ad on Hayworth’s behalf. It’s a positive spot (no word yet on how long it will run or the size of the buy), that features a Democrat who crossed party lines to back the former GOP congresswoman.

Democratic Dutchess County Legislator Gwen Johnson, of Poughkeepsie, narrates the ad and is prominently featured in it. She calls Hayworth “loving,” “kind” and “not a typical politician,” making no mention of Maloney.

Maloney has been touting his support from local Republicans in NY-18, including state Sen. Bill Larkin, who appeared in a web video calling the congressman a “decent, honest gentleman” and lauding his work on behalf of the district’s veterans.

A September Siena poll found Maloney leading Hayworth by 8 percentage points.

But an internal poll conducted for the Hayworth campaign earlier this month – the results of which have not been disputed by Team Maloney – showed the race as a statistical dead heat, with just four percentage points separating the two candidates.

The DCCC recently reallocated resources from other races in the state to assist Maloney in an attempt to prevent his ouster next month.

UPDATE: The NRCC makes clear that this isn’t an independent expenditure, but rather coordinated funds (of about $93,000, and usually coming in the form of TV ads) that has been made available to a variety of GOP House candidates, including: John Katko (NY-24), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Chris Gibson (NY-19) and Sen. Lee Zeldin (NY-1).

Here’s the NRCC ad script:

Johnson: “Nan is not a typical politician. She is loving. She is kind. She is supportive. Nan is a public servant. She’s always responsive; she’s only a phone call away.

Nan is a genuine person, and she actually really does care for our seniors, the working families. She’s always here. That’s why I’m supporting her.

I’m a Democrat, I’m supporting Nan Hayworth because we have to cross party lines for the best person.

Hayworth: I’m Nan Hayworth, and I approve this message.”

NYLCV Hits Airwaves For Grisanti, Announces Statewide Slate

With just two weeks remaining until Election Day, the New York League of Conservation Voters is poised to announce its third and final top priority candidate: Sen. Mark Grisanti.

The League is launching a new TV ad on behalf of the Western New York Republican, which highlights the fact that he is no longer running on the GOP line after losing his own party’s primary to attorney Kevin Stocker, and instead will appear solely on the Independence Party line.

Grisanti joins two other candidates – Democratic freshman Sen. Ted O’Brien, of Rochester, facing off against Republican Richard Funke; and Andrienne Esposito, a Democratic environmental activist who running against GOP Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci for the Long Island seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Lee Zeldin – as the NYLCV’s top priority candidates this season.

The League also went all in for Queens Sen. Tony Avella, a member of the IDC, in his successful campaign against his Democratic primary opponent, former NYC Comptroller John Liu.

The NYLCV is on track to spend $700,000 worth of independent expenditures to assist candidates on both sides of the aisle this year – more than double the $300,000 it spent in 2012.

That cash goes to cover mailers, TV ads, GOTV campaigns and door-to-door canvasses for its priority candidates.

The NYLCV has two ads out for O’Brien – a negative spot that slams Funke; and a positive spot that focuses on O’Brien’s support for the Child Safe Products Act, which made it out of the Senate Environmental Committee and had enough sponsors to pass, but never got to the floor for a full house vote.

The League’s main goal is to defend allies who advance its agenda in the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, which Grisanti chairs. O’Brien is the committee’s ranking member.

The NYLCV is also announcing its support of the re-election campaigns of two statewide Democrats – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

When it comes to the state attorney general’s race, however, the League is splitting the baby, taking the unusual step of endorsing both candidates: Incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman and Republican John Cahill.

Here’s the Grisanti ad: