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Posts by Nick Reisman
Oct 26th - 7:00 am
From the Morning Memo:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday night pushed for a Democratic takeover of the state Senate, telling a gathering at a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee fundraiser he needed the chamber to flip in order to enact a range of liberal policy goals.
But at the same time, Cuomo acknowledged mainline Democrats will likely have to “compromise” and form a majority coalition with the five-member Independent Democratic Conference — a move he compared to the practical considerations of a marriage.
Mainline Democrats will have to be “smart enough and flexible enough to form a partnership with the IDC,” he said.
Cuomo’s comments come as he has sought this month to play an increasingly prominent role in down-ballot elections including key battleground races for the state Senate, which is narrowly led by Republicans.
Cuomo told the fundraiser that while he’s achieved measures ranging from same-sex marriage to more recently a $15 minimum wage and paid-family leave, other goals have been bottled up — which he blamed on Republicans in Albany.
Those measures include the DREAM Act, criminal justice reform, increasing the age of adult incarceration and a “campaign finance system that actually works.”
Cuomo said he also wants “probably most important a real ethics package that cleans up Albany once and for all.” That includes a limit to the amount of money lawmakers can earn outside of their government work, a bill that had been blocked in the Legislature this year.
“The only that’s going to happen is if we elect good Democrats to the Senate who support these positions and these policies and are going to take the state forward,” Cuomo said.
The governor has come under criticism from liberals for not having committed in the past to a Democratic state Senate. As late as the summer, Cuomo was being prodded to back the chamber flipping, later sitting down with the Democratic leadership to discuss how to help.
Now the state Democratic Committee has moved to back a field, phone banking and digital operation for the mainline conference’s efforts in the chamber, even as some grumbling remains Cuomo could use some of his $19 million war chest as long as he doesn’t earmark transfers to specific races.
Still, the efforts from Cuomo to bolster Democrats — appearing at fundraisers, contributing to campaigns — has been more robust than in previous years, underscoring the fractious nature of the election cycle at the top of the presidential ticket that could drive party turnout.
“If you had predicted this,” Cuomo said speaking of the election season, “you really could have made a fortune.”
Oct 26th - 6:30 am
From the Morning Memo:
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo is playing nice with Senate Democrats, Republicans on Tuesday fired a warning shot across his bow.
In a statement from GOP Senate hopeful Chris McGrath, Cuomo and the Democratic incumbent he recently endorsed, Todd Kaminsky, were paired together.
“The Governor who once bragged about reforming Albany is now running the most corrupt administration since Tammany Hall,” McGrath said. “And, Todd Kaminsky is his partner in crime.”
McGrath is running for a second time for the Long Island Senate seat vacated by disgraced former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a district won by Kaminsky in an April special election. McGrath is now challenging Kaminsky’s bid for a full term.
McGrath is not an outlier candidate, but one who has been backed by the Senate GOP’s leadership. While not an incumbent lawmaker who would still have to work with Cuomo, McGrath’s comments underscore what could be a riff for Cuomo and a Republican conference with which he has developed a strong working relationship.
Cuomo this month endorsed Kaminsky and contributed $11,000 to his campaign. But the effort dovetails with a broader push to elect Democrats running in key down-ballot Senate races, especially on Long Island, which has been a GOP stronghold for the Senate.
In the statement, Cuomo is knocked by McGrath for the bid-rigging and bribery allegations facing the governor’s former top aide, Joe Percoco as well as for having “lied about what he knew” in the Bridgegate scandal (claims made that Cuomo and his office strenuously deny).
“If there was ever any doubt, Todd Kaminsky is now officially the candidate of Cuomo and de Blasio, who represent the corrupt status quo,” McGrath said. “I’m with the hardworking taxpayers and families of Nassau County who want stronger ethics laws, and to bring real and sweeping change to their government.”
Oct 25th - 12:57 pm
The state Democratic Committee is planing a “robust” operation to aid Democrats running in down-ballot state Senate races.
The committee, which is essentially controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will be committing resources for the party’s Senate candidates in key and competitive districts.
The effort includes field and phone banking work as well as digital-based advertising.
“At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state party will be undertaking a robust coordinated campaign to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, particularly in hotly contested state senate and congressional districts,” said Basil Smikle, the state Democratic Committee executive director, in a statement to Capital Tonight.
It’s unclear how much money the state committee will ultimately spend.
Liberals have been skeptical of Cuomo’s previous efforts for Senate Democrats after he has worked well with Republicans in the chamber for the past several years.
And he’s still being pushed by the labor-aligned Working Families Party to spend from some of his own campaign war chest.
“The jury’s still out on whether Cuomo will spend even $1 million of his $19 million war chest on behalf of a more progressive New York,” WFP Executive Director Bill Lipton told The New York Times.
Smikle, however, disputed Lipton’s assertion Cuomo was not helping the Senate Democrats’ cash efforts.
“The Governor has been forcefully and effectively raising money for and contributing to Senate Democrats, including the maximum amount allowed by law from his campaign account,” Smikle said.
“Bill Lipton’s comments that he should break campaign finance rules by exceeding maximum allowed campaign finance limitations is disturbing — particularly for someone who spends so much time talking about campaign finance reform.”
The state Democratic Committee last reported having $125,183 in cash on hand.
But the purse strings are being loosened at a critical time for the mainline Democratic conference in the narrowly divided chamber. Democratic challengers are pressing to win seats in Long Island districts, many of which are in Nassau County and the Hudson Valley.
On Monday, Cuomo was on Long Island to personally endorse Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Democratic candidate Adam Haber, who is running for an open Senate seat. At the same time, Cuomo pushed for the election of Democrat Jim Gaughran, who is running against incumbent Sen. Carl Marcellino.
The involvement from the statewide Democratic apparatus dovetails with the efforts from Cuomo in recent weeks to bolster Senate Democrats. The governor is appearing at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee as well as incumbent Democrats in Westchester and Nassau counties.
Oct 25th - 11:16 am
The super PAC allied with House Democrats on Tuesday released its latest TV ad in the 24th congressional district that once again seeks to tie Republican Rep. John Katko to Donald Trump.
In the ad, Katko is shown saying that Trump “wants to keep the country safe” and “has a lot of good principles.”
Katko, to be clear, has not endorsed Trump and hasn’t ruled out voting for an independent candidate for president.
But the independent expenditure group, the House Majority PAC, is spending up to $370,000 in airtime in the central New York district to push the point, even as a TWC News/Siena College poll show Katko leading Democrat Colleen Deacon by a wide margin.
“For Congressman Katko, it’s all about politics before principles,” said House Majority PAC Communications Director Jeb Fain.
“While Donald Trump laid out a dangerous agenda for our country, Katko parsed words and has even offered praise to his presidential ticket-mate. Central New Yorkers deserve better than a politician who couldn’t take a principled stand against the dangerous, divisive demagogue leading his party’s ticket.”
Katko and Deacon will appear in a TWC News debate from Syracuse at 7 p.m.
Oct 25th - 10:14 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo later this evening will appear at another fundraiser for the Democratic presidential ticket, according to a copy of an invitation obtained by Capital Tonight.
Tickets to the event, to be held in New York City, range from $2,700 to $25,000.
Cuomo is appearing as a special guest with vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine as well as the actor Liam Neeson.
The email was sent out to Clinton supporters by former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Monday evening.
“There are just fifteen days left until Election Day — and we are all working hard to make sure Hillary Clinton is our next President,” Quinn wrote in the email.
Cuomo earlier this month held a fundraiser with Kaine in New York City, part of an overall push for Democrats running up and down the ballot this cycle.
Oct 25th - 6:14 am
From the Morning Memo:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a pitch for down-ballot Democratic candidates at a local fundraiser in Suffolk County last night, singling out state Senate hopeful Jim Gaughran as being particularly needed in Albany.
“We have a number of candidates running for the state Senate who are great,” Cuomo said to applause at the dinner. “We have a superstar in Jim Gaughran who has to go to the state Senate.”
The governor’s full-throated endorsement of Gaughran in a battleground Senate district held by longtime incumbent Republican Carl Marcellino comes as Democrats hope for unexpected wins on Long Island next month, helping them to retake control of the Senate.
Suffolk County is also home to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who is seeking a full term at the top post after succeeding the scandal-scarred former Sen. Dean Skelos as GOP leader last spring.
Cuomo for the last several weeks had rolled out plans to fundraise for Democratic incumbents like Sens. George Latimer and Todd Kaminsky, who are running in competitive suburban races in Westchester and Nassau counties, respectively. At the same time, Cuomo is maxing out his contributions to Democratic candidates.
Yesterday, Cuomo took square aim at incumbent Republican Marcellino, who was not previously thought to be on the Democrats’ top target list, but thanks largely to the controversial candidacy of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, many more seats are now believed to be in play.
“We should break our rear end for him,” Cuomo said of Gaughran. “He is what it’s about.”
Cuomo also told a lengthy and somewhat PG version of a story in which he was stranded at a rest stop and was solicited by a prostitute, whose offer he turned down. The story was related in conjunction with the governor’s effort to tout construction of a new welcome center on Long Island that includes a State Police presence.
Cuomo didn’t mention Marcellino, the Senate Education Committee chairman, by name. But he expressed a general frustration with some of the incumbents in Albany, even though he has declined in past campaigns to pull out all the stops in helping fellow Democrats challenge the GOP-controlled Senate.
“Albany has its share of political hacks, I’ll tell you the truth,” Cuomo said. “And it’s a bipartisan hackdom.”
Cuomo yesterday campaigned for state Senate Democrats in competitive races on Long Island and Nassau County in particular, where Republican County Executive Ed Mangano – a onetime Cuomo ally – is facing corruption charges. That’s a development the Seate Democrats also hope will contribute to their improved chances on Election Day.
The governor reportedly now believes that a GOP-controlled Senate is no longer a handy foil, but rather an impediment to achieving aspects of his progressive agenda – particularly additional ethics reforms, which have taken on new urgency thanks to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s most recent public corruption case that reaches into Cuomo’s own inner circle.
Senate Democrats say they are happy to have Cuomo’s support this time around. But Working Families Party members, who have been burned by the governor in the past, remain skeptical about just how helpful the governor plans to be before Nov. 8.
“The jury’s still out on whether Cuomo will spend even $1 million of his $19 million war chest on behalf of a more progressive New York,” WFP State Director Bill Lipton told the New York Times.
Oct 24th - 3:17 pm
Senate Republicans on Monday criticized the Democratic leadership in the conference for voting against legislation that would recall an elected official who is indicted for a felony.
In a statement, Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif pointed to votes against the bill by Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and her deputy, Sen. Mike Gianaris.
“When the two highest ranking members of the Senate Democrat Conference oppose a measure to give the public a mechanism to remove a corrupt statewide official or County Executive from office, you know they’re not really serious about reform,” Reif said.
The statement is the latest front in the ongoing battle for control of the state Senate, which Republicans narrowly control thanks to an alliance in part with Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder.
Democrats have sought to be on the offensive with reform policy proposals, including a recall measure that would be triggered if an official is accused of corruption that impacts the financials of a municipality or government.
The recall bill backed by Republicans and sponsored by Sen. Sue Serino, would allow for the removal of any governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, state lawmaker or local-level government leader if they are indicted for a felony or convicted of a misdemeanor.
Oct 24th - 1:22 pm
The Hudson Valley is once again playing host to a costly and hotly contentious congressional race.
The race includes charges like these, from Republican John Faso, speaking of his opponent, Democrat Zephyr Teachout: “I have a free-enterprise, market-based approach. My opponent is a socialist. She wants the government to do everything,” Faso said.
For her part, Teachout has blasted Faso’s resume as a state assemblyman and, for the last decade, a prominent lobbyist in Albany.
“People aren’t looking for a lobbyist to take on corruption in Washington and he’s sort of the ultimate insider,” Teachout said.
Both candidates will face off in an exclusive debate on Time Warner Cable News at 7 p.m., live from the Woodstock Playhouse.
But the race has also focused on policy: Faso has pledged to reign in taxes and regulations in Washington, and criticized Teachout’s stance in opposition to the state cap on property tax increases.
“It matters because it shows the general philosophy. She’s going to raise taxes on middle class New Yorkers,” Faso said.
Teachout says she’d rather see a circuit-breaker, which links tax relief to a household’s income.
“There are people who are paying 10 percent, 20 percent of their income, on property taxes,” Teachout said. “It really affects our seniors, it really affects people who have property in their family a long time and it’s something I’m really committed to pushing for.”
Faso says he wants to continue the legacy of outgoing Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, who is retiring this year after three terms. Two years ago, Gibson fended off a well-funded challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge. Like Faso this year against Teachout, Gibson knocked Eldridge for his tenuous ties to the district, applying the carpetbagger label to the first-time candidate.
“I want just like Chris Gibson has done, who’s endorsed me, just like he’s done, we need to work across the aisle to figure out how do we solve the problems of our country,” Faso said.
And Teachout says that if elected she’d focus on aiding small businesses, not large corporations.
“You hear a lot about independent businesses who are really struggling and have been struggling for a while,” Teachout said. “The big businesses are doing fine. The big corporations are doing fine.”
Both candidates do have at least on thing in common: Running for governor. Faso sought the job in 2006, losing to Eliot Spitzer. Teachout unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination against Andrew Cuomo in 2014.
Oct 24th - 1:16 pm
The state Republican Committee on Monday released a web ad that knocks Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the recent corruption arrests and for his name coming up in the “Bridgegate” trial of former aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The ad is the first of what are expected to be a range of salvos from state Republicans over these issues.
In the 30-second spot, Cuomo is criticized for his the arrests of his aides, though only one former top Cuomo administration official was arrested: Joe Percoco, a longtime ally of the governor. Another state official, former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros, is also facing bribery and bid-rigging charges.
Meanwhile, the ad knocks Cuomo for helping on the “coverup” of the effort to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which prosecutors in New Jersey allege was out of political revenge by Chris Christie’s administration.
The claim relies on the testimony of David Wildstein, a key witness in the Bridgegate case.
Cuomo’s office has strenuously denied the governor played any role in case or discussing a never-released report that would have given an alternative reason for the lane closures, calling Wildstein an unreliable source given his own plea deal with prosecutors and that he heard the information second-hand.
Updated: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi responds.
“This is yet another pathetic attempt by Ed Cox and his Nixonian henchmen to distract from the fact that he, Rob Astorino and the rest of the New York GOP machine are all in for Donald Trump and his sinking anti-woman campaign for president. Peddling lies based off hearsay testimony from a convicted felon is shameful, but not surprising from this crowd.”
Oct 24th - 12:53 pm
Carly Fiorina’s roll out of congressional endorsements continued on Monday with a nod for Republican Jack Martins.
Fiorina, the former presidential candidate and ex-Hewlett Packard CEO, praised Martins as being able to “get America headed back in the right direction.”
“More importantly, he has shown an ability to back up his words with actions; cutting taxes, controlling spending, creating jobs and growing the economy in New York State. He is exactly the type of person we need more of in Congress and I’m proud to support him,” said Fiorina.
Martins, a state senator, faces Democratic former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi next month.
“Carly Fiorina is an intelligent, successful business leader who cares more about delivering results than playing politics,” Martins said. “Like so many of us, she knows our country is on the wrong track and has been fighting for change. Doing that requires Washington to focus on the important priorities; cutting taxes, reducing debt, creating jobs and strengthening our security. Just as I’ve done as a State Senator, I will work in a bipartisan manner to deliver on those priorities and I appreciate Carly’s support and confidence in my ability to do so.”
On Sunday evening, the campaign of Republican Claudia Tenney announced in a fundraising email she had been endorsed by Fiorina.