Nick Reisman

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Katko Launches Bio Video

Republican John Katko launched a video on his campaign website on Friday providing an 7-minute biographical overview of his personal and professional life.

Katko runs through his roots in central New York, work as a prosecutor alongside his wife Robin.

The first-time candidate is a former federal prosecutor in Onondaga County who is challenging Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei.

The video serves an introduction for voters to Katko, who is making his first run for public office this year in the NY-24.

Maffei, who will be a guest on Capital Tonight this evening, is running for a third term after winning his seat back from Republican Ann Marie Buerkle in 2012.

Eldridge Campaign Hits Back On Gibson’s Energy Tax Pledge

The campaign of Democratic congressional candidate Sean Eldridge is knocking Rep. Chris Gibson for signing on to a “no climate tax” pledge that is supported by Americans For Prosperity, a group founded by industrialists David and Charles Koch.

Gibson on Capital Tonight Thursday knocked Eldridge’s stance on energy taxes, saying it’s more evidence that he’s out of step with the congressional district.

“My opponent criticizes me for opposing energy taxes, he shows he’s not from here,” Gibson said.

Eldridge’s campaign, though, says this line is a reference to the AFP pledge.

“Politician Chris Gibson claims in an election year that he is in line with his constituents on the environment, but the Real Chris Gibson signed the Koch Brothers pledge and has an 33 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters,” said spokesman Morgan Hook. “If Chris Gibson is so proud of his record in Washington – as he says – then why doesn’t he just come clean to New Yorkers about his commitment to the Koch brothers to take no meaningful action on climate change? Voters in NY-19 know where Sean Eldridge stands on the issues, including his opposition to hydro-fracking and his efforts as a former board member of Scenic Hudson to protect our environment and prepare communities in the Hudson Valley for climate change and sea level rise.”

The Koch brothers and their political activities, of course, remain useful foils for Democratic candidates around the country, Eldridge’s campaign not being an exception.

Astorino Blasts Jobs Report

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino in a video release knocked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for this week’s Department of Labor jobs report that showed a 0.1 percent increase in the March unemployment rate.

For Astorino, the report went to the heart of his “winning or losing” argument he’s been using on the campaign trail.

“You don’t need yesterday’s jobs numbers to understand the answer. You just have to ask your neighbors wherever you live in New York. They know and so do you probably,” Astorino says in the video.

Astorino also seized on an Empire Center analysis that showed 90 percent of the jobs created in the last month came in the downstate region.

The Department of Labor said the uptick in the unemployment rate was due in part to a “growing labor force.”

The state’s unemployment rate is at 6.9 percent, while the national rate is 6.7 percent.

The Westchester county executive also knocked Cuomo’s touting of a Tax Foundation report that was complimentary of a reduction and overhaul of the corporate tax rate, nudging New York from 50th to 48th nationally in terms of tax climate.

“Maybe his book will have a chapter on that,” Astorino says sarcastically.

Astorino on NY’s Job Growth Crisis from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.

Senate’s Break Extended To April 28

The state Senate will extend its spring break and not meet for two days next week, a Republican conference spokesman confirmed.

Senate lawmakers were due to return next Wednesday and Thursday. Now, the plan is return on April 28, the same day the Democratic-led Assembly will hold a session day.

“The Senate will reconvene on April 28, which matches up with the Assembly and better accommodates Passover, which ends on the evening of April 22nd,” said the spokesman, Scott Reif.

The sixth-month session is due to conclude June 19.

The Senate hasn’t convened since approving the $138 billion budget plan a day before the April 1 deadline.

The Assembly, however, returned for two days last week.

The initial Senate and Assembly session days showed the chambers scheduling an unusual number of days apart in Albany.

Gibson: Ryan Budget Vote ‘Wasn’t Necessary’

Rep. Chris Gibson, facing a well-funded challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge, questioned the point of voting on the latest budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, suggesting that it was a mistake for the House leadership to do so.

“Yes. It wasn’t necessary,” Gibson said when asked if he thought the Ryan budget vote was a mistake. “We already have a budget. We should be focusing on the appropriations bills.”

Gibson has supported one spending plan proposal made by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who was the party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2012 and a potential candidate in 2016 as well.

Since then, Gibson has supported a variety of budget compromises he has framed as having far more bipartisan support.

In a Capital Tonight interview, Gibson called the latest Ryan plan “a political messaging document.”

“The Senate does the same with their particular issues,” Gibson added.

Despite Gibson’s no vote on the Ryan budget, Eldridge has still criticized Gibson for basically wanting it both ways, noting that he backs aspects of Ryan’s proposals, but still gets to claim his opposition.

Gibson has sought to stress his moderate credentials in the Hudson Valley congressional district, which was redrawn in 2012 by a federal judge during the re-apportionment process.

He once again noted that Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, “married well” as he first did with Politico.

“He married into money,” he said. “He did well on that score.”

Gibson added that Eldridge is trying to buy the congressional seat.

“The only reason why this guy is the candidate is money,” Gibson said. “It’s money. That’s the only reason.”

Eldridge, has contributed roughly $900,000 to his own campaign, but has emphasized his small-dollar donations when reporting his campaign contributions.

His campaign, in turn, has criticized Gibson for accepting money from political action committees.

Republicans, as well as Gibson, are also continuing to paint Eldridge as a carpetbagger in the district with little experience.

“He has relatively no experience,” Gibson said. “He has no ties to the district. It shows he’s out of touch in the district.”

Miner: No Plans To Run For Governor

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who stepped down from her post as Democratic Party co-chair, will not accept the Working Families Party line for governor if offered by the union-backed organization.

Miner resigned as co-chair on Thursday following a publicly rocky relationship with her patron, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The resignation, a month before Democrats meet in Suffolk County for their state convention, fueled talk among Cuomo’s liberal critics that she could potentially challenge the governor with the WFP line, which has not ruled out granting the spot to someone other than Cuomo.

In an interview with WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom on Friday morning, Miner laid that theory to rest.

“I’m a Democrat, I have great friends in the Working Families Party,” she said. “But I’m a Democrat.”

A spokesman for Miner went further with Time Warner Cable News’ Bill Carey, telling him of a potential run for governor by the mayor “No. It’s not happening.”

While advocacy groups with a liberal bent as well as unions remain restive over Cuomo’s fiscal policies, most self-identified liberal voters tend to give the governor high marks, polls have shown.

At the same time, Miner’s qualms with Cuomo don’t match up with what critics on the left have lobbed at Cuomo.

Miner’s original foray into criticizing Cuomo was leveled at his pension-smoothing proposal, which she didn’t go far enough in combating the financial woes of upstate cities. In other words, her issues stem from relieving local governments from Albany mandated cost drivers.

Lately, she had been clashing with the state, as well as Cuomo ally Joanie Mahoney, the Onondaga County executive, over a new sports arena in her city.

Liberals, on the other hand, remain upset over Cuomo’s tax policies, specifically those aimed at businesses.

Miner in the radio interview added that she remains focused on the job of being Syracuse’s mayor, calling it a 24-7 job.

“You don’t have the luxury often of thinking five years down the road,” she said.

“No. It’s not happening.”

Spano’s Board of Elections Appointment Raises Eyebrows

To fill a vacancy on the state Board of Elections, Gov. Andrew Cuomo turned to an old foe of his likely Republican opponent this fall: Former Westchester County Executive Andy Spano

It’s an appointment that is raising eyebrows from both Rob Astorino, who unseated Spano in 2009 for the county executive post, as well as good-government advocates.

“It’s just another one of the many political tricks and gimmicks that this governor does,” Astorino said in a radio interview this week on Talk-1300.

Spano will have a vote on a board that regulations how elections are conducted.

The appointment is the all more intriguing, given that Spano’s former deputy is now a top aide to Cuomo, Larry Schwartz. At the same time, Spano has said he hopes Astorino is defeated this year against Cuomo.

“Clearly even in his public comments that I hope I lose then he needs to recuse himself from the Board of Elections decisions on anything that comes before him in the governor’s race,” Astorino said in the interview.

Good government groups have long derided the Board of Elections for having an equal number of Republicans and Democrats for calling the shots and failing to promulgate any meaningful regulations. Governor Cuomo says that could ultimately change with the creation of independent enforcement counsel. The counsel would be appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate and Assembly.

“We passed the Public Trust Act that accomplished what we set out to accomplish last year: Real enforcement at the Board of Elections, change the bribery laws so the district attorneys have a tool to enforce, more dislcosure laws, etcetera,” Cuomo said after the budget was approved.

But ethics reformers say tapping Spano for the post only confirms their criticism of the Board of Elections.

“I think it continues what we’ve seen at the Board of Elections. It’s a partisan entity that’s designed to protect the political parties and protect many of the incumbents who are currently in office,” said NYPIRG’s Bill Mahoney.

And it’s not just Democrats that try to stack the Board of Elections, Mahoney points out. Republicans, too, install their own people at the board, but the effect is the even number of party members cancel each other out.

“People who are there are there because they’re party loyalists,” he said.

Grisanti Fundraises Off Peralta, Moya Knocks

After DREAM Act supporters in the Legislature blasted his first TV ad that highlighted his opposition to the bill, Buffalo Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti is using the statements as a fundraising tool.

In a fundraising email with the subject line “That didn’t take long…” (Some could say the same thing on the quick turnaround time with the email after we reported on the statements here), Grisanti’s campaign says he’s already being targeted by “the liberal NYC attack machine.”

The 30-second TV ad released this week highlighted Grisanti’s opposition to the Dream Act, which provides tuition assistance to the children of undocumented immigrants, as well as public financing of political campaigns and the scuttled, Cuomo-backed plan to provide college classes to prison inmates (the governor is now turning to private sources for the funds).

DREAM Act sponsors in the Legislature, Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya subsequently blasted the ad.

“As soon as I started standing up for Western New York, the liberal NYC attack machine kicked into overdrive,” the campaign writes. “Donate Now To Fight Back Against New York City! They want to use your tax dollars to give college degrees to convicts and free college education to people who broke the law and are here illegally. I’m standing up to them, but I need your help.”

Independence Party Questions Stefanik’s Paltry Signatures

The state Independence Party questioned the low number of petition signatures for the third-party’s ballot line by Republican Elise Stefanik’s congressional campaign, saying it was a sign she was “not ready for prime time.”

Stefanik, the party’s vice chairman Tom Connolly said, filed 137 signatures of Independence Party members while the law requires 1,222.

The party has previously indicated its preference for Matt Doheny, her Republican primary challenger in the NY-21.

“That is why today we are reiterating our support for Matt Doheny,” Connolly said in the statement. “Matt is North Country through and through, what you see is what you get. He is a straight talking, hard–working family man with a deep knowledge of the issues that confront the 21st CD. When he is elected to Congress there will be no games, no political insiders – just what’s right for the North Country. “

The timing, of course, comes as the state Conservative Party’s executive committee voted Stefanik its preferred candidate over Doheny.

Chairman Mike Long in an interview with The Post-Star indicated that the Conservative Party expects Stefanik to win her primary against Doheny, a comment that the latter’s campaign quickly rebuffed.

State Unemployment Ticks Upward

The unemployment rate in New York grew last month by 0.1 percent to 6.9 percent, according to new figures released by the state Department of Labor.

Overall, the state’s private-sector job count remained essentially flat at 7.5 million, which remains an all-time high for March, the Labor Department said.

In the last year, the state’s economy has added 108,200, a growth rate of 1.5 percent.

“The state’s economy held steady in March 2014. Looking over the past year, the state has added more than 100,000 private sector jobs. In addition, the state’s jobless rate has declined by 1.0 percentage point over the past 12 months, which is a steeper rate drop than in the nation as a whole over the same time frame,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the Division of Research and Statistics.

The Labor Department attributed the increase in unemployment in part to the state’s “growing labor force” which has expanded by 22,900 people between February and March.

Nationally the unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in March.