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Posts by Liz Benjamin
Aug 11th - 3:22 pm
Staten Island DA Dan Donovan’s campaign hit back at the state Democratic Party and its LGBT allies following their slam on the Republican AG hopeful for his opposition to same-sex marriage and attempt to cast this as a deal-breaker for anyone seeking to be New York’s top attorney.
Donovan spokeswoman Virginia Lam said the campaign wasn’t surprised to see the party and “political bosses” (ESPA’s Ross Levi? RWDSU’s Stu Appelbaum?) trying to “distract voters from the cesspool of corruption in Albany.”
“However, we were surprised to find that President Obama was not included as a target of this political hit, as he and Dan share the same position of supporting civil unions while holding the personal belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman,” Lam continued.
“Dan Donovan is the only candidate for AG who actually puts politics aside in the interest of all New Yorkers and no amount of demagoguery will change this fact,” she continued.
“To be clear, if the state Legislature, who should be the real target of this attack, passes marriage equality, Dan will protect everyone’s right to marriage and also aggressively prosecute any individuals who impede or infringe upon those rights.”
The president’s ongoing support of civil unions over full marriage equality has caused consternation among his LGBT supporters – particularly in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling last week that overturned California’s Prop. 8.
Aug 11th - 2:37 pm
…that was where AG Andrew Cuomo was when it came to whether or not he should attend Rep. Charlie Rangel’s birthday fundraiser at the Plaza tonight.
On the one hand, he could have jumped ship like other fellow Democrats who all of a sudden recalled pressing engagements elsewhere – particularly if they are facing primary challenges, like, say, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (who has stressed through a spokeswoman that she supports Rangel) or Rep. Ed Towns.
That would have made sense, since ethics – and bringing it back to Albany – is a big part of Cuomo’s gubernatorial platform, and to connect himself with a guy who has been charged with 13 different ethics violations isn’t exactly in keeping with his message.
For an explanation as to why Cuomo would risk muddying the waters of his own campaign, you should look no further state former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who has emerged as an outspoken champion of Rangel – and chief critic of Democrats like Rep. Mike Arcuri who have turned their backs on him.
“Loyalty counts,” McCall told the Times in a recent interview. “They have to live with the fact that they were helped, but when somebody else needed help, they were not there.”
Aug 11th - 1:47 pm
Sen. Chuck Schumer continued today to keep his comments on the controversial mosque proposed for construction near Ground Zero to a bare minimum, refusing to weigh in on the so-called “compromise” plan floated by Gov. David Paterson (and rejected by the developer) that the project be relocated.
“Ok. I’ve already issued a statement on that. I have nothing new to add, and so I’ll get that to you,” said Schumer during a stop earlier today in Syracuse.
“I’d have to know more details. We’ll have to see. I’ve issued a statement and you can call my office and get it, OK?”
I called Schumer’s office to receive a copy of said statement and was told the senior senator has been saying he is “not opposed” to the mosque, and those two words comprise the whole of his position on this issue.
(And, for the record, I believe AG Andrew Cuomo’s LG running mate, Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, was the first to suggest that while the mosque has a legal right to be there, it might be best to move it to a less sensitive site – a position he is trying to clarify today).
Aug 11th - 1:23 pm
The NYT magazine is the latest publication to take a crack at a profile of the Democratic gubernatorial designee, AG Andrew Cuomo, turning out a lengthy report by contributing writer Jonathan Mahler that will appear in this weekend’s edition.
The piece is nicely done, but doesn’t break much new ground that I can see. Mahler, like so many writers before him, lingers on the by turns intense, competitive and fiercely loyal relationship between former Gov. Mario Cuomo and his son.
Mahler got access to both Cuomo pere and fils (heavy on the former, with the AG being unable to prevent himself from calling in from time to time to check on the story’s progress). That produced some rather amusing moments, particularly Mario Cuomo’s take on the AG’s chief campaign spokesman, Phil Singer. (See P. 7 of the 10-jump story).
The most telling quote to my mind comes at the very end of the piece when Cuomo is trying to explain how he will not be the sort of governor that Eliot “Steamroller” Spitzer was and will be able to work with state lawmakers – even after he spent the entire campaign slamming them and promising to clean up Albany.
After quoting numerous anonymous legislators slamming the AG – and Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., who has no trouble going on the record with his anti-Cuomo comments – Mahler kicks with this:
“Everybody is bracing for a confrontation,” Cuomo told Mahler. “I don’t believe there’s going to be a confrontation.”
“The Legislature doesn’t want trouble. They want good news from a P.R. point of view. They need redemption. They need a friend. Eliot could have been their best friend. I think I can be their best friend.”
Aug 11th - 12:58 pm
Sen. Marty Golden, a Brooklyn Republican, has thrown his support to first-time candidate Jay Townsend’s quest to face Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer on Row B this November.
“Jay is extremely talented, well-informed and an excellent speaker who has an outstanding grasp of the issues facing the State of New York,” Golden said in a statement released by Townsend’s campaign.
“He is deeply committed to lifting our economy off its knees and creating an economic climate that provides a good job at a good wage for anybody who wants one.”
Townsend must first get past Gary Berntsen in the September primary. A recent Siena NY poll showed Townsend leading Berntsen, 24-13, with a whopping 64 percent of Republicans undecided.
Aug 11th - 11:52 am
The state Democratic Party teamed up today with LGBT leaders and openly gay elected officials to slam Republican AG candidate Dan Donovan for his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying his position calls into question his ability to serve as the state’s top attorney.
“The issue is a critical one in the race for Attorney General,” the release states.
“Just last week, a federal judge reversed California’s same sex marriage ban thanks, in part, to a brief filed by the California Attorney General Jerry Brown. And attorneys general across the country have played a prominent role in promoting marriage equality, including in New York where Andrew Cuomo has defended the recognition of same-sex marriages performed out of state.
“For years, Donovan has avoided public comment on same-sex marriage, which is not mentioned anywhere on his campaign Website.”
The party’s press release features quotes, which all appear after the jump, from:
Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross Levi, HRC Campaign for New York Marriage strategist Brian Ellner, RWDSU President Stu Appelbaum, Stonewall Democratic Club President Joe Hagelmann, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (Manhattan), Assemblyman Matt Titone (Staten Island), and Queens NYC Councilmen Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer.
Aug 11th - 11:24 am
The primary battle between Buffalo Assemblyman Sam Hoyt and his challenger, Common Councilman Joe Golombek, is taking a negative turn, with a mailer landing this week that slams Golombek for speaking at a Tea Party rally in June.
Here’s some video footage of the rally in question, at which Republican Assemblyman Jack Quinn, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Bill Stachowski, also spoke.
Standing in front of a large orange-and-black “Paladino for Governor” banner, Golombek joked that he wasn’t the only Democrat in the room, noting Rus Thompson, a WNY Tea Party activist and state comptroller candidate on Paladino’s Taxpayers Party line, is, too.
The mailer links the Tea Party to 2008 VP candidate/former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and says it holds “ultra-conservative views like banning abortion, privatizing Social Security, and abolishing the Department of education,” adding: “If Joe Golombek wants to be a Tea Party candidate so badly, he’s not a Democrat we can trust.”
There’s no “paid for” label on the mailer, but it was forwarded to me by Hoyt’s campaign. This is an interesting approach, especially since Buffalo Democrats tend to be on the more conservative side. Hoyt, for example, is very pro-charter school, which won him the support of Mayor Bloomberg.
There’s also a Republican in the race, Brian Biggie.
Aug 11th - 10:59 am
A reader sent over this “special guest” briefing memo from Rep. Charlie Rangel’s office that is being sent to attendees who have confirmed their plans to attend the embattled Harlem congressman’s birthday fundraiser this evening at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
Note that both Sen. Chuck Schumer and AG Andrew Cuomo are expected to speak. Neither Democrat has yet publicly confirmed – either in person or through aides – that he plans to be on hand for this event, which Rangel has been promoting the daylights out of via robocalls, Tweets, traditional snail mail and YouTube.
As recently as this morning, Schumer told YNN during a stop in Syracuse that he had to check with his office about his schedule for this evening. Cuomo’s office didn’t have a definitive answer when I called this morning.
Rep. Joe Crowley is to introduce the “master of ceremonies” Gov. David Paterson, who briefly wavered about sticking to his agreement to participate, but apparently is back on board. Other speakers include: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Mayor Bloomberg, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Paterson is, according to this memo, to acknowledge the presence of former NYC Mayor David Dinkins and his father, ex-state Secretary of State Basil Paterson. And then Rangel speaks. Dionne Warwick will take the stage after the congressman, and then do a “Happy Birthday” duet with Chuck Jackson.
And, there will be cake!
Aug 11th - 8:17 am
Former Assembly Minority Leader and unsuccessful 2006 gubernatorial candidate John Faso was my guest yesterday on “Capital Tonight” following his change-of-heart endorsement of Rick Lazio for governor and call for his fellow Republicans to unite around the ex-Long Island congressman or risk another crushing defeat.
During the interview, Faso called out AG Andrew Cuomo, saying he has not sufficiently engaged in detailing his plans to fix the state and should be going toe-to-toe with his opponents and TV interviewers like myself.
“The state is in such dire shape,” Faso said. “We’re an economic basket case. We’ve got this incredible problem with the cost of government how are we going to grow the economy?”
“And it shouldn’t be good enough for people to just simply hide behind the conference call news conferences or the veneer of $20 million bucks in the bank so you can put 30 second ads on.”
“You should be able to come out meet your opponents head on, go on shows like this, and really explain the substance of his positions.”
Aug 11th - 8:01 am
While many Democrats can’t edge away from Rep. Charlie Rangel fast enough, former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall is not only standing up for the embattled Harlem lawmaker, but calling out others for daring to abandon him.
During the “Wise Guys” segment on NY1 last night, McCall said Rangel is less concerned about who will be showing up to his big birthday fundraiser bash this evening than he is about fellow Democrats turning their backs on him.
Without prompting, McCall offered the following critique of NY-24 Rep. Mike Arcuri, who is so far the only member of the New York congressional delegation to call for Rangel to resign:
“I know Mike very well. He was the district attorney of Oneida County. He called me because he wanted to get on the priority list of funding from the Congressional Democratic Committee.”
“I called Charlie on his behalf. Charlie really made an argument for him, got him the money from the committee. Charlie raised money for him – featured him in his fundraising – this is the kind of guy I want elected and he was elected.”
“Guess what? He’s now calling for Charlie Rangel’s resignation. Some people just don’t value loyalty and that’s what bothers Charlie Rangel is the people who are walking away, people he has helped in so many ways for so many years.”