Nick Reisman

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Molinaro Supportive Of Pilot Program For Hydrofracking

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro on Wednesday said he would be supportive of a “limited, closely monitored” pilot program for hydrofracking in the state’s Southern Tier region.

“I think that the state needs to identify, map and protect water sources,” he said at a news conference in Albany outside the state Capitol. “We don’t do that statewide. I do believe that a closely monitored, DEC-watched, pilot in the Southern Tier is appropriate as suggested before the ban went into place.”

The controversial natural gas extraction process was banned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration in 2015 after he won re-election to a second term. Cuomo had been criticized by environmental organizations and the energy industry alike for what had been a long-standing environmental review of hydrofracking.

Since then, Cuomo has been pushed to do more by environmental groups when it comes to blocking natural gas pipelines that are proposed to run through the state.

Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive, has been supportive of moratoriums on fracking as a state lawmaker, but said Wednesday that was meant to give local governments time to review the process and have a modicum of control.

“I think the process should produce an outcome, not have the governor say what the outcome is and make sure the process supports it,” he said.

Hevesi Becomes First Lawmaker To Endorse Nixon

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi on Wednesday became the first state lawmaker to endorse Cynthia Nixon in her Democratic primary campaign over Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The endorsement was first reported by The Daily News.

“As a lifelong Democrat, I’m proud to endorse Cynthia Nixon for Governor. She’s someone we can trust and work with, she’s been a tireless advocate for better schools, and she cares about the people of New York State,” Hevesi said. “Governor Cuomo, on the other hand, constantly lies to the people of New York. He claims to be fiscally responsible while saddling our children and grandchildren with billions in debt. He consistently pushes policies that hurt vulnerable New Yorkers, the homeless, human trafficking victims, people on public assistance.”

In a statement, Nixon cited Hevesi’s work in combating homelessness and helping low-income families find affordable housing in his role as the Assembly’s housing committee chairman.

“Assemblymember Hevesi has spent decades fighting for New York’s tenants, victims of human trafficking, and low-income families and at-risk children,” she said. “He is a passionate champion of fighting for lower income families and making New York a fairer, more equitable state for everyone. I am honored to have his endorsement and look forward to working with him in the assembly as governor.”

The endorsement is fraught with Shakespearean family dynamics: As attorney general, Cuomo led the prosecution of Hevesi’s father, former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who was convicted as part of a pay-to-play scandal that provided favorable access to invest in the state pension fund.

The younger Hevesi, a Queens Democrat, has been a sharp critic of Cuomo during his time as governor.

Hochul Says Trump Should Be Impeached

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in a radio interview on Wednesday said President Donald Trump should be impeached for his comments made at a press conference this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I think he should be impeached, absolutely, after what he did in Finland,” she said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom.

She added it was important to help Democrats win key House races this fall in case there are impeachment proceedings against the president.

“If there are to be impeachment proceedings or any other measures taken we need to have a Democratic House of Representatives,” she said in the interview.

The comment is a break from what Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday when asked in a conference call if he thinks Trump should face impeachment or censure. Initially, Cuomo said that was up to the Republican-led Congress. Later in the call, Cuomo said Congress should consider whether the president committed an act of “treason.”

During the call, Cuomo’s Democratic primary rival Cynthia Nixon said Trump should face impeachment proceedings.

Trump at the conference indicated he accepted Putin’s denial that Russia sought to interfere with the election in 2016, disregarding the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community.

“Certainly individuals who have done far less have been dragged through the impeachment process,” Hochul said. “It was an appalling, appalling lack of courage, a betrayal of country and our values.”

Hochul, a former member of the House from western New York, is facing a Democratic primary on Sept. 13 against Jumaane Williams, a Brooklyn councilman.

Independence Party Endorses Basile For Senate

The state Independence Party on Wednesday endorsed Republican Tom Basile for the state Senate district being vacated by GOP Sen. Bill Larkin.

The endorsement of the party and securing its ballot line is helpful, given the push by Democrats to flip the district with Assemblyman James Skoufis.

“Our state faces challenges that don’t discriminate by political party,” said Party Chairman Frank MacKay. “That’s why it’s important that we have Senators willing to put people and common sense first and focus on the issues that matter to our families and economy. For decades Senator Larkin served the people of this district in a way that was fair and independent. He worked across the aisle to do the right thing. Tom Basile will represent this district the same way.”

The party has been criticized for its opaque platform and confusing it can sow among voters who believe they are registering as “independents” or blanks without party affiliation, but in reality have joined the Independence Party.

In a statement, Basile, a former official with the state Republican Committee, struck a non-partisan tone with the endorsement.

“More people view themselves as politically independent today because they lack confidence in the two-party system,” he said. “It is an honor to have endorsement of Chairman MacKay and the Independence Party. As Senator, I will be a voice in government for people who want greater independence from a corrupt state government that taxes and spends far too much for people to afford to live here. We’re all in this together. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation or where you come from, you deserve to have the opportunity to make it in our area.”

Updated: Skoufis in a statement blasted the party and the process for its nomination.

“It’s a shame the Albany Independence Party bosses who feed at Senate Majority patronage jobs like pigs at a trough refuse to let the people be heard. No questionnaire. No interview. Our campaign even submitted nearly 800 signatures – 150 more than our opponent – clearly demonstrating who local Independence Party members prefer to run on their line,” he said.

“Most importantly, however, we are well-positioned to win in November with more ballot lines than our opponent, three times the funds on hand than our opponent, and a significant edge in on-the-ground support. In stark contrast to extremist Tom Basile, we look forward to delivering representation that this Senate District can be proud of.”

Most Voters Undecided In AG Primary Race

The race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general appears to be wide open, according to a Quinnipiac University poll on Tuesday.

The poll found 42 percent of Democratic voters polled are undecided in the four-way race for the nod.

The leading candidate at the moment is New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who received 26 percent of support in the poll. She was followed by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney at 15 percent, Zephyr Teachout at 12 percent and Leecia Eve at 3 percent.

James has received the backing of most of the Democratic Party establishment in New York, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Teachout has sought to mine small-dollar donors, a practice she has used in her previous campaigns for governor and the House of Representatives.

Maloney, meanwhile, has able to raise the lion’s share of campaign funds.

The AG’s post was vacated in May after incumbent Eric Schneiderman resigned in disgrace amid allegations of domestic violence.

Q-Poll: Cuomo Widens Lead Over Nixon

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has widened his lead over his Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon, according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University.

The poll found Cuomo leading Nixon 59 percent among 23 percent among Democratic voters, an uptick from a May 2 poll in which the incumbent governor lead Nixon 50 percent to 28 percent.

The poll is a survey of registered Democratic voters, not likely voters, ahead of a primary scheduled for Sept. 13, a Thursday. The primary was moved from its traditional Tuesday date due to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and the conclusion of Rosh Hashanah

The poll also comes after Cuomo reported a significant fundraising advantage over Nixon and has spent $1.7 million in advertising over the last six months, his campaign finance report made public this week found.

Still, Cuomo has weathered some difficult news in recent days, including the guilty verdicts of prominent upstate developers and the former president of SUNY Polytechnic in connect to bid rigging charges related to the governor’s economic development program for western New York.

At the same time, Nixon supporters have pointed to polling in the race of Democratic House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showing her losing to Rep. Joe Crowley before her surprise victory in the June primary.

But general election voters also give Cuomo a boost when it comes to the dint of his resume: They want someone with experience.

The poll found voters prefers someone with experience to become governor, 59 percent to 30 percent. Cuomo is seeking a third term.

In the general election match up, Cuomo receives 43 percent of the vote to Republican Marc Molinaro’s 23 percent and, should Nixon remain in the race as the Working Families Party candidate, she would receive 13 percent. Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and independent Stephanie Miner are both under 4 percentage points.

Head-to-head with Molinaro, Cuomo defeats him 57 percent to 31 percent.

The poll of registered voters was conducted from July 12 through July 16 of 934 voters. It has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points. Among Democrats, the margin of error is 6.2 percentage points.

Cuomo’s $31 Million War Chest Has Advantages And Pitfalls

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has the resources — money, staff, advertising — to show the fundamentals of his campaign are strong.

He’s raised $6 million in half a year, a pace of $1 million a month, and has spent heavily on TV ads, $1.7 million out of his campaign alone, not counting the advertising budget for the state Democratic Committee.

He’s helped fellow Democrats as well, sending money to state Senate candidates in competitive races in the New York City suburbs and his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, as she seeks a third term.

His main competition — Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon, independent candidate Stephanie Miner and Republican Marc Molinaro — all began their fundraising this year, giving him a huge advantage in the raising for this election cycle.

But Cuomo’s filing this week undergirded arguments being made by his opponents: He’s raising money from people who have business before state and the effort to raise money from small-dollar donors is being aided in part by family members of his staff.

Cuomo’s campaign has continued to insist large donations from major contributors don’t influence government actions.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who have given $130,000 to Cuomo’s campaign this year, had their cryptocurrency approved by state regulators in May. But other donors have not been as successful: Tom Wilmot, another high-dollar Cuomo donor, did not receive any state assistance for his del Lago casino in the Finger Lakes as he’s sought.

Cuomo’s campaign also defended the small-dollar donor campaign, noting Nixon’s campaign also has received donations from contributors with personal connections to Nixon’s staff.

“We rolled out a new low dollar campaign to reach a wide variety of supporters and as part of that effort reached out to our network, just as Ms. Nixon’s campaign has dozens of contributions from her staff and their family members,” said Abbey Collins, a Cuomo campaign spokeswoman. “As the latest filing and poll numbers show, Cynthia’s campaign is on life support, which is why her lines are getting increasingly more combative and desperate.”

Cuomo’s campaign late Tuesday afternoon also announced some $534,000 in donations would be donated to causes like hurricane relief for Puerto Rico, groups that support reproductive rights and immigration services. The money was given by developers who were convicted last week of receiving rigged bids connected to Buffalo Billion economic development program.

The contributions themselves were not at issue in the trial.

The Nixon campaign scoffed at the move.

“Just days ago, the Governor ridiculously stated that the Buffalo Billion trial had ‘nothing to do with any campaign donations.’ It took 5 days of pressure from Cynthia Nixon and good government advocates like former US Attorney Preet Bharara for Cuomo to finally admit that the corruption trial had everything to do with his donations and finally return the money,” said Nixon spokeswoman Lauren Hitt.

“The question now is will the Governor return the $400,000 in donations from Crystal Run that are currently under FBI investigation? Or the $64,000 he took from Donald Trump? Or the thousands he took from the vulture funds that devastated Puerto Rico? Or the $800,000 he got from ICE’s landlords? To be fair, when you’re as bought and paid for by Republicans and corporate interests as Governor Cuomo, it’s hard to find where to draw the line.”

In a normal election year, Cuomo’s $31 million war chest would be another sign he’s in good shape to win a third term, alongside public polling that has him up by double-digits.

Blanketing the airwaves and social media ads can suffocate any rival campaign’s message. The year has the potential to be a wave year for Democrats and Cuomo has been pounding an unpopular Republican president.

And yet, the Nixon campaign continues to hold up the example of the upset victory in June of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Rep. Joe Crowley, where small-dollar grassroots campaigning prevailed over an incumbent with money and good poll numbers.

The difference that Nixon will have to demonstrate is winning such a primary on a statewide scale against a candidate who won’t be caught napping with less than a month to go.

Cuomo To Donate Funds From Convicted Developers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign said Tuesday afternoon it would donate the money given by developers convicted of bid rigging last week to organizations that support reproductive rights, immigration policy and Puerto Rico storm recovery.

“Two years ago, the campaign removed these donations and segregated them into a separate account,” said Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Collins. “The money is currently in the process of being donated and will be dispersed in the coming days to groups who do important work on behalf of vital causes: immigrant legal defense, women’s reproductive health rights, and Puerto Rico recovery efforts.”

The money being donated will not impact Cuomo’s overall war chest because it was separated out after the initial indictments.

The statement did not specify which groups will be receiving the money.

The convictions were part of a broader corruption case involving efforts to rig bids to developers in upstate New York, Louis Ciminelli, Steven Aiello and Joseph Girardi. Also convicted was former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros, who had been put in charge of the effort, meant to boost employment in western New York.

Entities and people connected to COR Development alone gave around $250,000 to Cuomo’s campaign through 2016.

All told, the donations total about $500,000 that are being donated.

The money from the developers had been at issue in the governor’s re-election campaign: Both his Democratic opponent Cynthia Nixon and Republican Marc Molinaro highlighted the campaign cash after the convictions.

Molinaro’s Campaign Gets A Boost From Killian

The gubernatorial campaign of Republican Marc Molinaro was loaned $45,000 by his running mate, former Rye Councilwoman Julie Killian, a filing made public on Tuesday shows.

Killian, who also served as deputy mayor of Rye, joined the ticket in May.

Molinaro’s campaign, which formally began earlier this year, has $887,238 in cash on hand and raised $913,975 in contributions during the current reporting period.

The Republican State Committee also transferred in $179,500, the filing shows.

Cuomo Unveils Push To Protect Election Integrity

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced state elections were officials developing plans to counteract potential foreign meddling in New York’s election infrastructure.

The announcement comes several days after Russian nationals were indicted by the Department of Justice, charged with hacking into emails and other sensitive documents of Democratic officials.

The indictment also alleges the Russians were attempting to hack into elections boards in other states, though there is no evidence they were successful.

“While President Trump stands by those who seek to undermine our democracy, New York is taking aggressive action to protect our elections from foreign interference,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“There is nothing more sacred than democracy, and New Yorkers should know that when they cast their ballot that their vote is safe. The groundbreaking cyber security initiative we launch today will harden and protect our election infrastructure from the very real threat of foreign meddling. While the President has abdicated his responsibility to defend this country and left our electoral system open to sabotage by foreign adversaries, New York is fighting back and leading the way.”

The state is spending $5 million to bolster cyber security for elections, including risk assessments, intrusion detection devices and security services.

A risk assessment will be conducted for all county elections boards as will a cyber security training program.

There was no evidence that New York’s election infrastructure, which is decentralized from the state Board of Elections, has been successfully hacked.

This year, New Yorkers will elect the Legislature and congressional representatives in battleground House districts, as well as statewide elected officials.