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Posts by Liz Benjamin
Aug 31st - 2:34 pm
State GOP Chairman Ed Cox got an earful in Western NY last week (AKA Paladino Country), where he traveled in hopes of building a donor base to help build a GOTV program to rival the effort already being set up by the RNC.
Cox, who is now backing the “credible” party designee, Rick Lazio for governor, scheduled a sit-down with Assemblyman Jack Quinn, who is viewed as a rising GOP star and one of the party’s best hopes at re-taking a Senate seat this fall (he’ll be facing off against whoever wins the 58th SD Democratic primary…(fixed)).
Imagine the chairman’s surprise when his breakfast meeting at Pano’s, a Buffalo diner eatery on Elmwood Avenue, was crashed by Quinn’s consultant, Brendan Quinn, and Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy (a Carl Paladino supporter), who said he had not received a heads-up from Cox about his impending visit.
“He told people he was out here to build a donor base for the state party and wanted to find 20 people in Buffalo to give $10,000 apiece,” Langworthy told me.
“We have a lot of our own interests out here separate from what’s going on in state committee….it’s not like we have the deep pockets of New York City. I didn’t find out about the meeting until several of my donors called me to say he had asked them for money.”
“…He’s downplaying the ability of the RNC to fund the Victory program,” Langworthy continued. “I think that’s nonsense. He says he needs to do his own program because the RNC is going to be underfunded so they’re not going to be able to support the things they started.”
Aug 31st - 2:16 pm
Our YNN station in Rochester reports:
Five teens were arrested and charged after a confrontation outside of an Orleans County mosque Monday night as worshippers were leaving Ramadan services. No one was hurt.
One of the teens is also charged with firing a shotgun near the mosque last Friday.
Orleans County Sheriff says this is a situation that has escalated the last few days at the World Sufi Foundation Mosque on Fuller Road in Waterport. Two vehicles full of teenagers have allegedly been driving by and yelling at mosque members who were leaving services.
Authorities say the latest incident took place Monday night, with people driving by the mosque, beeping car horns and yelling obscenities during a religious service.
Investigators charged the following individuals with disruption of religious services.
Mark Vendetti, 17; Tim Weader, 17; Dylan Phillips, 18; Jeff Donahue, 18; and Anthony Ogden, 18.
Aug 31st - 1:28 pm
Sorry to pile on Sen. Bill Stachowski today, but more and more traditional Democratic allies are turning on the Buffalo lawmaker by the moment, it seems.
On the heels of the New York League of Conservation Voters’ launch of its “Sack Stach” campaign, in which it put the senator atop its list of people to beat in the upcoming primary, the organization’s national arm – the Legaue of Conservation Voters – has included Stachowski in its first-ever “Dirty Dozen” program.
“From Congress to the state house there has never been a more urgent time to defeat politicians who stand with corporate polluters and block progress on sound environmental policies,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski.
“With the U.S. Senate’s recent failure to act on comprehensive energy and climate legislation, we need strong environmental leaders at the state level to move the ball forward on new energy policies that will put America on the path to a clean energy future.”
The LCV solicited input from its state partners to choose from among hundreds of candidates running for governor and/or state legislative offices.
Aug 31st - 1:18 pm
Democratic AG hopeful Sen. Eric Schneiderman keeps stacking up endorsements, particularly from lefties and women – two voting blocs that are key to the Manhattan Democrat’s primary day strategy.
“Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon, who is no stranger to Albany (she has lobbied for AQE and on same-sex marriage), is headlining a “Women for Schneiderman” event on Monday, Sept. 13 (the night before the primary). There are actually a lot of interesting names on the invite that appears below – from Liz Abzug to Susan Patricof to, of course, Catherine Schneiderman, the candidate’s daughter.
Also, The Nation magazine has endorsed Schneiderman for AG in a lengthy and very laudatory piece penned by editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, who praised the senator’s “commitment to transformational politics and progressive values.” She also addressed the criticism that Schneiderman is too much of Albany to be able to reform it (a concern that is coming straight out of the Cuomo camp), writing:
“(A)t a time when corruption stalks Albany, Schneiderman offers a long history of fighting for a cleaner, more transparent state government.”
“In fact, he wrote and sponsored the most sweeping ethics reform legislation to pass the legislature in a generation. And despite opposition from his party’s leadership, he also led the effort to remove a State Senator convicted of a domestic violence crime – the first state legislator to get the boot in 90 years.”
Aug 31st - 12:45 pm
Fight Back NY is out with a radio ad (which I learned about via text message) that slams Sen. Bill Stachowski for collecting his $171-a-day per diem stipend for food and lodging while he was unable to collect his regular paycheck in the absence of a budget deal.
Never mind the fact that nearly all the state lawmakers did the very same thing – some of them even came up to Albany on days the Legislature wasn’t in session under the pretense of working out of their Capitol offices and collected per diems on those days, too.
Fight Back, as you’ll recall, is a political action committee that was created with the sole purpose for ousting senators who voted “no” on gay marriage last December – particularly the eight Democrats who joined the entire 30-member GOP conference in opposing the bill.
(One of those, expelled ex-Sen. Hiram Monserrate, is already gone, replaced by “yes” voter, former Assemblyman Jose Peralta).
Stachowski is one of Fight Back’s top targets – along with Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. And he has been responding with robocalls that cast the PAC as a “single-issue, out-of-state” organization. (It does fit the bill on the first half of that statement, although not the second).
The script for the ad appears in full after the jump, and you can listen to the ad below. UPDATE: There’s also an e-mail fundraising appeal from Fight Back to its supporters seeking cash to keep the ad on the air. That’s after the jump now, too.
Aug 31st - 12:22 pm
On the heels of an attack ad released yesterday by his GOP primary opponent, Matt Doheny, Doug Hoffman is out with a slam-spot of his own that plays up his Conservative Party support and hits Doheny on a number of fronts – from his position on earmarks to how he made his “millions.”
All this adds up, in Hoffman’s opinion, to a lack of “leadership”, which is, of course, what it’s going to take to lead the people of NY-23 (assuming he defeats the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Bill Owens, this time around).
Here’s the script of the ad, which started running on cable systems throughout the district today…and here’s a link to the backup documentation:
“It’ll take leadership to change Congress. But that’s not Matt Doheny’s idea. Ending wasteful earmark spending? Sorry. Doheny said everyone else should stop first.”
“One of us? Nope. He’s Wall Street millionaire whose firm invested in mortgages you had to bailout. Doug Hoffman has pledged to end earmark waste. A true conservative, he opposed the Wall Street bailout.Republican Doug Hoffman. The conservative choice.”
UPDATE: A response from the Doheny campaign appears after the jump.
Aug 31st - 9:35 am
Democratic state Senate candidate Tim Kennedy has launched his first campaign ad – an unusual spot that includes not a single spoken word.
Instead, the ad features a close-up of a hand-held device with the pro-Kennedy “script” delivered entirely via text message. The point is to highlight Kennedy’s push to make texting-while driving ban a primary offense in Erie County as a local legislator.
(A statewide law made it a secondary offense, which means law enforcement officials can only penalize drivers for it if they’re first pulled over for something else).
Kennedy unveiled the ad along with Kelly Cline, whose son, A.J. Larson, was texting when he was killed in a car accident in 2007. Cline has since become an outspoken advocate against so-called “distracted” driving.
“We’re hoping that our television commercial will spark further conversation about the dangers of texting while driving,” Kennedy said in a press release. “My campaign ad is much different than the others out there.”
Kennedy is one of three Democrats trying to knock Sen. Bill Stachowski from his perch in the upcoming Sept. 14 primary. All four candidates are scheduled to square off in a YNN debate this afternoon. We’ll be bringing you highlights of that later. Stay tuned.
Aug 31st - 9:11 am
Things are heating up in the 49th SD GOP primary, with East Syracuse Mayor Danny Liedka slamming his opponent, Andrew Russo, for his spotty voting record in a new YouTube video.
The Syracuse Post-Standard reported last December that Russo didn’t vote in any races between Nov. 5, 2001 – when he registered to vote – through 2008.
(As an aside: Is it something in the water in NY? What is it with all these candidates failing to vote?)
Russo, a concert pianist, said he had been out of the country for much of that time period. He said he had voted in 2006 by affidavit because he had moved to a new address, but there was no record of that at the Onondaga County Board of Elections.
Liedka said he had been hoping to run a positive campaign but feels the need to respond to “anonymous phone calls, the push-polling, the half-truths and the thinly-veiled threats directed at my supporters,” adding: “I’m nobody’s punching bag.”
He cast Russo, who has the support of local and Albany Republicans and has out-fundraised his opponent, as “the anointed candidate of the back-room bosses” who run the SRCC and accepted two turncoat Democrats – ex-Sen. Hiram Monserrate and Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. – into their ranks during the ’09 Senate coup.
Whoever wins the GOP primary in two weeks will go on to face Democratic Sen. Dave Valesky (who is already on the airwaves with his own campaign ad) in the November general. Here’s the Liedka video script:
“Andrew Russo registered to vote for nine years, but he never bothered to vote until 2009 – after he decided he should be our next senator. He said he was living mostly overseas. Well, Andrew, a lot of Americans spend time living overseas in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re not playing the piano, they’re fighting for our freedom. But they make sure they vote. It’s called an absentee ballot, Andrew, and all you have to do is ask for one. Wherever you are. Andrew Russo. He doesn’t vote. He doesn’t care. On primary day, Sept. 14th, Danny Liedka, Republican for state senator.”
Russo’s campaign just sent this response from the candidate.
“It’s sad and unfortunate that Dan Liedka has once again decided to go back on his word and take his dead-end Senate campaign in a negative direction, rather than talk about the need to win back this seat from the New York City Democrats,” Russo said.
“Mayor Liedka has no money and no message, so it’s not surprising that he would stoop to this level. While I am doing everything possible to ensure a resounding victory on September 14, my focus remains on defeating tax-and-spend Albany incumbent David Valesky in November.”
Aug 31st - 8:24 am
Political newcomer Sean Coffey has landed the support of the Post in his quest to succeed Andrew Cuomo in the AG’s office, with the tab’s editorial board lauding the fact that he is “unencumbered by entanglements with New York’s political establishment” and therefore best suited to clean up Albany.
“He sees the AG’s office both as a bully pulpit and as an investigative unit against Albany’s inbred culture of corruption,” the Post wrote.
“…To be sure, we have differences with Coffey – most notably on the stop-and-frisk database bill, which he supported. And it’s disquieting that his law firm got millions in pension-fund-related work after making hefty donations to the past three state comptrollers.”
“Still, Sean Coffey is the only credible reform candidate on the AG ballot. We urge enrolled Democrats to support him on Sept. 14.”
Aug 31st - 8:07 am
Today’s Q poll reaffirms that the majority of New Yorkers – 71 percent – would prefer to see the backers of a mosque/Islamic center proposed for construction near Ground Zero voluntarily relocate the project to a less sensitive site in deference to the wishes of some 9/11 victims’ family members.
At the same time, voters agree by a 54-40 percent majority that the constitutionally protected freedom of religion grants the developers the right to build wherever they wish. That sentiment is overwhelmingly shared by voters across party and regional lines.
Seventy-one percent of those polled said the Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner, AG Andrew Cuomo, should investigate the financing of the controversial project – even though fundraising has not yet begun in earnest. Even Democrats say 65-25 percent that Cuomo should look into the mosque’s financing.
That’s a victory for Cuomo’s GOP/Conservative opponent, Rick Lazio, who has been repeatedly calling for the AG to probe the project’s funding. (In fact, he’s talked about little else for weeks now). Cuomo has said he’ll look into a criminal case, if one develops, but also insists Park51 is about religious freedom and should be built.