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Posts by Michael Scotto
Mar 11th - 12:39 pm
The head of the National Republican Congressional Committee is feeling bullish that New York will help the GOP keep and perhaps expand its majority in the House this fall.
“New York, interestingly enough, especially in an off year for Republicans, holds great promise for some pickups,” Rep. Greg Walden said at an event Tuesday at the National Press Club.
Walden seems most excited about regaining the seat being vacated by Rep. Bill Owens, who first won during a 2009 special election marked by nasty GOP infighting. Though Walden said the NRCC isn’t getting involved in the GOP primary between Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny, he did point out the institutional support Stefanik has already accumulated.
“Elise is very poised, has experience and roots in the district as well – got out early, has a lot of endorsements,” Walden said. “They’re going to sort that out,” referring to Republican primary voters.
The GOP may have reason to feel optimistic about the seat. Aaron Woolf, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s pick, used to split his time between the district and New York City and until very recently had never been to Watertown. Woolf is now facing a primary challenge from Steven Burke.
“The Democrats’ recruit is from Brooklyn,” Walden said, referring to Woolf. “That’s a ways. My district is big, but Brooklyn to Watertown is a long way apart.”
Other Democratic seats Walden has his eye on include Rep. Tim Bishop’s, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s and Rep. Dan Maffei’s.
Initially, Walden did not mention Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is facing a rematch against Nan Hayworth, but he said not to read into that.
“No one will outwork Nan Hayworth,” Walden insisted.
Mar 6th - 1:26 pm
Rep. Michael Grimm has a friend in Rep. Gregory Meeks.
The Republican and Democrat teamed up to pass a bill to halt rising flood insurance rates, and at a press conference Thursday, the two tried to outdo each other with their compliments.
“You’re the man,” said Meeks, as he walked into the event.
“No, you’re the man,” replied Grimm.
Grimm went on call Meeks a “true leader” and a “friend.”
Meeks responded by saying, “I want to thank especially my buddy Michael Grimm, who you know, let me tell you – he was relentless in trying to make sure we had a deal here.”
The Queens Democrat has long been a friend of the embattled Staten Island Republican, who is facing a tough reelection against Democrat Domenic Recchia.
We asked Meeks’ office if the Democrat plans on getting involved in the Grimm/Recchia race and are waiting for a response. National Democrats are working hard to unseat Grimm, as they fight an uphill battle to regain control of the House.
Mar 4th - 3:52 pm
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is once again teaming up with President Obama.
The two met for lunch at the White House Tuesday, on the same day the President unveiled his budget, which includes policies aimed at targeting income inequality. Just last week, Bloomberg was at the White House to help the President unveil a new initiative aimed at helping black and Latino boys.
During the lunch, the Mayor expressed his support for Obama’s budget proposal to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps decrease the tax burden on low-income Americans.
Here’s Bloomberg’s statement on his meeting with the President:
“Today, I joined President Obama at the White House for lunch where we discussed his budget proposal, the state of our economy, and his initiative to help young black and Latino men realize their potential, among other critical issues. It was a thoughtful, honest dialogue – the kind we need more of in Washington.
“In his budget submission, the President has smartly included an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults – a program that both the right and the left acknowledge as one of the most effective anti-poverty programs ever created, and one we launched on the local level in New York City.
“Last year, in New York City, we created a pilot program to increase the value of the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit for individuals without children, a first by an American city. Constantly pursuing new and innovative antipoverty initiatives like an expanded EITC is an important reason why New York was the only major American city not to experience an increase in its poverty rate compared to the 2000 Census, and the President is right to see an expanded EITC as a critical element in the fight against poverty, particularly for young men.
“Members of both parties should support expanding the EITC, a program that rewards work, lifts people out of poverty, and reduces dependence on government services. Leadership in both houses of Congress should seize the opportunity for bipartisanship, and pass the President’s EITC proposal this year.”
Jan 28th - 6:42 pm
Rep. Chris Gibson is sitting with a Democrat during Tuesday’s State of the Union address and he wants his donors to know about it.
In a fundraising email titled “Across the Aisle”, Gibson says, “Tonight I’ll demonstrate my commitment to bipartisanship by sitting with my colleague Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) during the President’s speech.”
The email includes a link for supporters to give money to his campaign.
Gibson says he has been friends with Ruiz since 2010, when they met in Haiti during an humanitarian mission aimed at helping victims of the devastating earthquake. The congressman says that while in Congress they have worked on legislation to help veterans.
The fundraising plea comes as Gibson’s opponent, Sean Eldridge, tries to seize on Gibson’s support for a bill that would further restrict the use of federal money for abortions as proof that Gibson is lockstep with the party.
“When our country faces so many important challenges, Congressman Gibson and John Boehner are focused on restricting women’s healthcare and reproductive freedom instead of working to move our country forward by rebuilding our infrastructure, investing in job training, or raising the minimum wage,” said Eldridge.
Gibson has long been considered one of the most liberal Republicans in the House.
Jan 15th - 6:41 pm
The entire New York delegation supported the $1.1 trillion bipartisan spending plan that easily sailed through the House Wednesday afternoon.
One of the most striking things about the debate leading up to the vote was the Republican Party’s attempt to distance itself from conservative groups like Club for Growth and Heritage Action.
The two groups urged lawmakers to oppose the spending bill, claiming it was just too big. But in the end, they were only able to persuade 64 Republicans to oppose the bill; 166 supported it.
Before the vote, I caught up with Republican Chris Collins, who defended the bill and accused conservative groups of confusing discretionary spending with mandatory spending.
“Club for Growth and Heritage, I don’t know what world they live in. Our problem is entitlement spending,” said Collins. “This is discretionary. They keep mixing the two together. Their frustration is, as we all have the frustration, that our deficits are out of control, our debt keeps going up, driven by entitlement programs. This is discretionary spending. And it’s spending at an inflation-adjusted level lower than 2009. This should be a celebration by Club for Growth or Heritage Action, and what it effectively is showing the American public is they’re out of touch, they’re extremist.”
Last month, House Speaker John Boehner let loose on the groups, after they first announced their opposition to the budget agreement.
Jan 15th - 11:48 am
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee isn’t wasting any time taking down the presumed Republican front-runner in the race to replace Rep. Bill Owens, who surprised the political world on Tuesday when he announced that he would retire at the end of the year.
In an email blasted out to reporters Wednesday morning, the D-Trip tried to link Elise Stefanik to Rep. Paul Ryan and his attempts to turn Medicare into a voucher system.
“Paul Ryan and the Tea Party have made it clear they have their sights set on the North Country and Elise Stefanik will be their standard-bearer,” said DCCC spokesman Marc Brumer. “As a top national Republican operative, Elise Stefanik engineered the party’s extreme right wing platform that North Country voters rejected in 2012 and cost Paul Ryan the Vice Presidency. Now Paul Ryan is doing everything he can to get his protégé Elise Stefanik elected because he knows she will help him the next time he tries to end Medicare as we know it and raise costs on seniors, just like she did in 2012.”
Stefanik is one of three Republicans who have already declared their intentions to run.
Up until Tuesday, Owens’ race was considered competitive, but there was a sense among Democrats that Owens would be able to hold on to the seat like he had in the past. Now Democrats, who already face an uphill battle to regain the House majority, find themselves scrambling to find a candidate that can win in a district that has a Republican enrollment advantage. It should be noted the district did vote for President Obama.
In response to the DCCC’s criticism of Stefanik, the National Republican Congressional Committee tried to tie the race to the GOP’s favorite bogeyman, Nancy Pelosi.
“Speaking of rubber stamps, the next time the DCCC cuts and pastes one of its generic press releases, they might want to actually consider the dynamics of the district and what people there are concerned about,” said NRCC spokesman Ian Prior. “Elsie Stefanik is a successful small businesswoman from a traditionally Republican district who understands the effect of job killing policies like the medical device tax that were forced on upstate New Yorkers the last time that Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House and Republican candidates like Elsie are trying to get to Congress to make sure that does not happen again.”
Jan 9th - 12:07 pm
Rep. Michael Grimm is standing with Gov. Chris Christie at a time when Republicans aren’t rushing forward to defend the embattled politician and possible 2016 presidential candidate.
In a statement released while Christie’s news conference was still going on, the Staten Island Congressman managed to not only praise Christie but bash President Obama.
“Governor Christie demonstrated true leadership and accountability during today’s press conference,” said Grimm. “I have known Governor Christie since he was a United States Attorney with a distinguished anti-corruption record and I was an undercover agent working a high profile public corruption case with his office. I know him to be a man of unquestionable honor and ironclad integrity, and I take him at his word. In an a time when President Obama and key figures in his administration shamelessly pass the buck and avoid accountability for one massive failure after another, the Governor’s swift and immediate action to dismiss those responsible, commit himself to a full vetting of his staff, and embrace his responsibility as his state’s chief executive is both uncommon and refreshing.”
Update: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is chiming in on Grimm’s statement, as it tries to boot the congressman from office this year.
“It’s comes as no surprise that Congressman Michael Grimm who is currently being investigated by the FBI himself, would be the first elected official in the country to come to Chris Christie’s defense,” said DCCC spokesman Marc Brumer. “Maybe they can they can carpool to federal court together. Only Congressman Michael Grimm would use a scandal in another state to try to divert attention from his own scandal plagued tenure in office. Another day, another desperate attempt by Congressman Grimm to distract New Yorkers from his failed record.”
Update: The National Republican Congressional Committee is now getting into the mix, putting out a statement going after Grimm’s opponent, Domenic Recchia, and the D-trip.
“Speaking of traveling to federal court, when Domenic Recchia went there last month to plead leniency for Colombo crime boss Carmine Persico’s mobster son-in-law, did Carmine pay for Domenic to get there in a fully stocked stretch limo? And while we’re talking about traffic in New York, let’s not forget that the DCCC’s anointed candidate Recchia voted for a plan to charge drivers $8 to enter Manhattan below 60th St. which would have cost Staten Island drivers millions. So ‘traffic talk’ is probably not a winning conversation for Recchia and his Washington surrogates,” said NRCC spokesman Ian Prior.
Jan 2nd - 9:38 am
One of the men looking to beat Rep. Charles Rangel this year doesn’t even live in New York.
According to paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission, Pastor Michael Walrond, a Democrat running against Rangel, lives in New Jersey.
Walrond confirmed his address to me this week, but said he will be ditching his Garden State rental home this month for a place in Harlem.
Technically speaking, Walrond doesn’t have to live in the district in order to run for the seat; federal law only requires congressional candidates to reside in the state they want to represent “when elected.”
A person associated with Walrond’s campaign brushed off the candidate’s New Jersey address, saying that the candidate has done “tireless work” for the district, despite having never lived in it.
Walrond is a top leader in Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and the senior pastor at Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church.
A Long Island native, Walrond moved back to the New York area nine years ago, after a stint in North Carolina.
He told me that his two kids, who are now in college, played a big role in his decision to settle in the suburbs and not New York City, saying that moving from the relative calm of North Carolina to Manhattan would have been “too much” for them.
Right before Christmas, Rangel officially announced he would seek a 23rd term. In addition to Walrond, Rangel is also likely to face State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who came close in 2012 to ousting the longtime dean of New York’s congressional delegation.
Update: A spokesman for Rangel commented on Walrond’s New Jersey address by only saying, “this election is about Charlie Rangel, what he has done and who can do more for the district in the next two years. There is no contest on that point.”
Dec 27th - 4:19 pm
One of Rep. Charlie Rangel’s 2014 challengers is starting to raise money for his fledgling campaign.
Walrond is the pastor of Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church and a top leader in Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
On his website, Walrond does not mention Rangel by name, but says he’s running because “the 13th Congressional District of New York needs a leader who can see beyond our current challenges and who believes that, as a community, we are empowered to pursue unlimited possibilities.”
We reached out to Walrond’s campaign, but have not yet heard back.
It’s unclear how much cash Walrond will be able to raise. So far his twitter account has just 116 followers.
That said, Walrond’s presence in the race could end up hurting Rangel and helping State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who came close to beating Rangel last year and is expected to challenge the 22-term congressman next year.
Update: Walrond’s campaign tells me the website is not “officially” up and running; it’s only a flash site that allows people to make donations.
Dec 12th - 9:35 pm
For the first time in a long time, a budget plan passed the House with huge bipartisan support.
But three New York lawmakers were among the 94 members who voted “no”
Reps. Yvette Clarke, Louise Slaughter and Nydia Velazquez opposed the plan because it does not extend beefed up unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the year.
Slaughter, who is the ranking member on the Rules Committee, tried to get the extension added to the budget bill, but was blocked by Republicans.
“It is really appalling to me that we can fix anything here, but we can literally let children, veterans, people unable to work, the disabled, and the people who lost their jobs, that we can say to them, ‘it doesn’t matter here in the House of Representatives if you’re hungry, if you’re cold, if you’re going to lose the place that you live’” Slaughter said Thursday afternoon.
That sentiment was shared by Velazquez and Clarke.
“This is not the American way. We took care of the doctors, we took care of big farmers,” Velazquez said on the House floor. “At a time when the economy is still struggling in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, we should not be revoking needed economic assistance from job seekers while millions of Americans are fighting to get back to work.”
“Unfortunately, this proposed budget fails to fulfill our commitment to the millions of Americans who want to work, but cannot find a job,” Clarke said in a statement. “It is a cruel irony that, in the Holiday Season, millions of people will become ineligible for the unemployment benefits without which their families will become destitute, unable to afford even the basic necessities.”
House members are now at home for the holidays, which means they will not get around to unemployment insurance until January at the earliest. Without a benefits extension, unemployed New Yorkers will see their checks stop after 26 weeks instead of 63.