2014

For Cuomo And Astorino, Two Different New Yorks

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino see two very different states when it comes to the New York economy.

For Cuomo, it’s a state that’s weathered an economic recession and come out better on the other end. The governor, when promoting his economic record, is in the thrall of statistics, from the lowered unemployment rate, changes made to the state’s tax structure and the improved credit rating.

“Unemployment rate down to 6.2 percent, lowest unemployment rate since 2008 and 511,000 new jobs, which is a very big deal — a half million families who are working,” Cuomo told reporters last week. “So economically, we’re having great news.”

Cuomo points to budgets that have held the line on spending, passed on time and led to upgrades in the state’s credit rating. Last week, Cuomo received an award from the Tax Foundation for changes made to the state’s income tax. Never mind that only two years ago, a top Cuomo aide knocked the organization as a right-wing think tank.

“We streamlined our code dramatically, which is one of the factors they take into consideration and that’s why we went from 25th to fourth,” Cuomo said. “It’s no doubt, they are a conservative organization. It’s no doubt they bring their philosophy to bare.”

As he campaigns around the state, Astorino sees a different economic picture for the state and a governor who hasn’t done enough. Indeed, Astorino, a Republican who is playing up his economic agenda (and not socially conservative stances on abortion and same-sex marriage) prefers illustrating an economic outlook for New York that is far different from Cuomo’s.

Astorino, who is behind Cuomo by 20 percentage points in the most recent poll, believes the governor seeing things through rose-colored glasses.

While Cuomo sees the macro picture, Astorino is trying to show New Yorkers — including the press, voters and anyone who cares to listen — the individual’s experience in the current economic climate.

Astorino frequently invokes anecdotal experiences on the campaign trail of property owners, business owners and farmers who are not seeing, for whatever reason, a recovery.

But the challenge for Astorino is a stark one.

Cuomo has sought to take the tax-and-spend attack Republicans make, a case he made at the state Democratic convention in May.

“The Democratic Party has a new credibility. Remember how our opponents liked to scare people? They’d say if you elect a Democrat, you know what those Democrats are going to do they’re going to raise your taxes because Democrats love big government,” Cuomo said in his convention speech.

Cuomo pushed for and won a cap on increasing local property taxes.

He engineered a change to the state’s tax code that he has alternatively claimed was a tax hike (satisfying liberals who wanted the so-called “millionaires tax” rates re-approved) and, more recently, played up as an income tax cut (only in Albany does something that generate $1.9 billion in revenue toward paying down a deficit become cutting taxes!).

The moderate, or some might say conservative, approach on taxes and spending has alienated Cuomo from the left and he was forced to put down a spirited primary challenge from a little-known Fordham Law School professor, Zephyr Teachout.

This, in part, is why Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins now hopes to potentially move the third-party’s ballot line position up to potentially Row C, campaigning on a tax-the-wealthy, hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour platform.

The Working Families Party considered running their own candidate before the governor agreed to a series of concessions such as allowing local governments to raise the state’s minimum wage on their own through a state-based formula.

Nevertheless, Cuomo insists throughout his book, “All Things Possible,” that governing from the center is the appropriate and more comfortable place for most voters.

He’s dusting off 90s-era Clintonian third-way Democratic politics. While it’s always annoyed liberals, Cuomo hopes it will give him at least 51 percent of the vote next month.

But it’s an agenda that has earned him support from the business community, including the state Business Council. For two years, Cuomo virtually had his own super PAC, the Committee to Save New York, running ads promoting his economic agenda (The group, composed of wealthy business and private-sector interests, folded up shop before new independent-expenditure disclosure laws came into effect).

With monied traditional allies of Republicans — real estate, hedge-fund types — on Team Cuomo, perhaps that is why Astorino has struggled to make a dent on the issue.

The Westchester County executive has slammed Cuomo on mandated spending and regulatory issues and has pledged to change laws businesses find onerous like the Scaffold Law.

But with Cuomo receiving high marks from the business community, Astorino can come close to sounding like a populist when criticizing Cuomo on the economy.

“There’s a difference between Cuomo’s world and the world of New York that we live in,” Astorino said while visiting a hardware store in Saratoga County on Sunday.

He was campaigning with two Republican candidates for Congress and state Assembly, Elise Stefanik and Steve Stallmer.

As he spoke about the state’s tax climate, Stefanik occasionally chimed in with a “that’s right!” while Stallmer at one point interrupted Astorino to note the out-migration from the state.

Astorino in particular points to Cuomo not making a decision on whether to allow high-volume hydrofracking in the state’s Southern Tier, which continues to lag the rest of the state in job growth.

For Astorino, the argument is the individual New Yorker isn’t seeing the fruits of the economic turnaround.

“The average person is getting pummeled with taxes, cannot afford to live in this state anymore,” Astorino said. “Businesses are closing, people are moving, that’s the reality of New York right now — other than the privileged few, the well-connected that write $50,000 checks to this governor and get a little break in their taxes from him.”

In other words, Astorino’s saying, Cuomo is out of touch on the individual economy, no matter the stats he can throw out there.

Astorino also took a swipe at Cuomo for traveling to the Caribbean to appear with officials in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Astorino began his own campaign in the Bronx, which as a county has the highest unemployment in the state.

“While he’s in the presidential palace in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, I was in the south Bronx,” he said.

Moss Says Astorino Administration Would ‘Defund’ SAFE Act

Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Chris Moss laid out the GOP ticket’s public safety platform on Friday that includes repealing the SAFE Act, though he acknowledged that it’s more likely to be “defunded” first.

Meanwhile, Republicans support re-opening some of the shock prison camps that were closed in recent years as well as potentially revisiting the Rockefeller-era drug laws.

Any effort to repeal the 2013 gun control law passed in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school shooting would require agreement from the state Legislature and, even if Republican Rob Astorino defeats Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo next month, the Assembly would likely still be led by Democrats.

“Obviously, it’s going to be tough,” Moss, the Chemung County sheriff, told reporters in Albany today. “It would probably be defunding the act first to figure out how we’re going to stop it from the ground up. If you take the money out of the SAFE Act, obviously it’s going to be harder to enforce.”

Moss said an Astorino administration would seek to pass gun legislation that would address mental illness and illegal firearms winding up in the hands of criminals.

A number of provisions in the SAFE Act address mental illness issues, as well as illegal guns. Moss added that he’s not opposed to all components of the measure, saying that a provision that increases penalties on those who shoot at first responders would be kept.

“Our legislation needs to be against the bad guys, and not against the good guys,” Moss said while addding, “We’re not opposed to gun legislation, but let’s gear it where it needs to be — not at taxpayers, law abiding citizens, property owners. Let’s actually have the legislation geared toward criminals, to keep guns out of their hands.”

Moss said that re-opening shock incarceration camp closed by the Cuomo administration — including Camp Monterey in Schuyler County — would provide local governments with minimum-risk inmates to perform small-bore tasks around the community as well as training skills.

Asked if the state should revisit the mandatory sentencing laws laid down by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller that were scaled back in 2009, Moss said “definitely.”

“We’re not being tough enough on individuals who not only sell but sometimes use drugs,” Moss said. “I mean, how many chances do you get before you actually do some time? It looks like people are getting several chances. I think that’s part of the reason why you see DOCCs numbers down.”

Advocates opposed to strict sentencing guidelines have long criticized the drug laws for overcrowding prisons, making for a heavy expense on state government in the process, while doing little to curtail crime.

In Ad, Astorino Knocked On Tax Disclosure

A TV ad from the state Democratic Committee on Tuesday blasted Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino for not disclosing five years’ of tax returns.

Astorino has disclosed one year of taxes, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign says the “bare minimum” of disclosure is at least five years.

The ad also notes Astorino has taken $100,000 in outside pay while county executive.

Here’s the script:

“For decades, candidates for Governor have released at least five years of taxes. Governor Cuomo has released twenty. Rob Astorino just one, refusing to release the previous four even though he was a County Executive. What is Astorino hiding? He has taken $100,000 in outside income, even from a company that does business with the county. His hand-picked Board of Ethics has failed to review Astorino’s deals, as required by law. How can Astorino clean up Albany when he won’t come clean himself?”

Cuomo, of course, has been criticized for lacking transparency himself. And the governor has benefited from non-governmental pay through his book deal with Harper Collins, which netted him at least $700,000.

Astorino earlier today called on Cuomo to release his book contract.

Astorino On Cuomo’s Book: ‘I Don’t Read Fiction’

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino won’t be picking up a copy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “All Things Possible” anytime soon.

“I’m not going to read his book, because I don’t read fiction,” Astorino said while attending a Columbus Day event on Sunday. “I wish him well.”

Cuomo’s forthcoming memoir will be released on Tuesday.

In it, Cuomo is said to have written about his relationship with his father, his centrist Democratic politics, his experience in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage and his relationship with the press.

Some reading Astorino would like to do is the contract Cuomo got for the book, which he revealed in a financial disclosure form to be worth at least $700,000.

“I do want to see his contract,” Astorino said. “He made a million dollars to write that book, so I think we have every right to see that contract.”

The Cuomo campaign has knocked Astorino on disclosing more information on his tax returns, and has criticized him for only releasing a year’s worth of returns, not five.

Astorino also blasted Cuomo for taking out-of-state trips, which are planned now for the Dominic Republican and Puerto Rico, which he said was a sign the governor holds New Yorkers “in contempt.”

“He would rather fly to the Dominic Republican and or wherever instead of campaigning right here in New York should tell you all you need to know about him,” Astorino said.

Asked if he felt the book tour was really about Cuomo launching himself for a run for higher office one day, Astorino scoffed.

“I don’t see how there would be any interest in a losing governor to run for president,” he said.

Read Romney’s Letter For Astorino

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a fundraising letter for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino says there is an “astounding” difference between the GOP candidate and incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

“Mr. Cuomo, a typical corrupt New York politician, is trying to sell his story that “New York is open for business” by using millions of taxpayer dollars to fund his ludicrous Start-Up New York campaign,” the letter says. “The unfortunate truth is New York has the highest taxes in America. The state has the worst economic outlook in the country, and since Governor Cuomo took office, 400,000 people have relocated to states offering more opportunity.”

The fundraising email was first reported by The New York Post.

Romney is only the latest Republican former governor to lend Astorino a hand on fundraising appeals. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential candidate for president in 2016, released a letter for Astorino earlier this month.

Romney, as the party’s presidential nominee in 2012, lost New York to President Obama 63 percent to 35 percent.

Astorino: Cuomo ‘Playing Games’ On Debates

The debate over debates in the race for governor continued on Thursday, with Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino insisting on more forums being scheduled with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In a video released by his campaign this morning, Astorino accused Cuomo of “playing games” on the debate issue by not agreeing to a one-on-one televised debate.

The Cuomo campaign has accepted a televised debate in Buffalo and a WNYC radio debate one-on-one.

Astorino, who has accepted the Buffalo TV debate that will include the Green Party and Libertarian candidates, says he is still holding out hope for two additional TV debates from WABC in New York City and Time Warner Cable News/NY1.

“So, let’s talk this week. You and me. Let’s stop the games and finalize this once and for all and give the voters what they deserve: A good, honest discussion on the issues,” Astornio said in the video.

The Cuomo campaign has said the two debates it agreed to strike the right balance.

Cuomo himself on Wednesday said it was surprising that Astorino turned down a debate on WNYC in New York City.

“I think two debates were sufficient,” Cuomo said. “He’s declined, he only wants to do one.”

“It’s a little surprising. He was first I believe wanted debates. We then agreed to debate and then he didn’t want to debate,” Cuomo added.

Debates from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.

Debate Settled, Cuomo And Astorino Spar On Circumstances

Though the campaigns of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Republican rival Rob Astorino have tentatively agreed to a television debate, the two candidates continued to spar on Wednesday over the circumstances.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, insisted in a Talk-1300 radio interview that Cuomo was too afraid to debate.

“He’s a coward on this,” Astorino said in the interview.

Astorino confronted Cuomo at the state Business Council’s annual meeting last month and asked about debating. Astorino said he could tell Cuomo was afraid when he “looked him right in the eye.”

Cuomo, meanwhile, blamed Astorino for there be only one debate instead of the two that his campaign accepted.

“I think two debates were sufficient,” Cuomo said. “He’s declined, he only wants to do one.”

The Cuomo campaign announced it had agreed to a televised debate in Buffalo including the Green Party and Libertarian candidates.

Astorino’s campaign had not been consulted on the terms or structure of those forums before Team Cuomo announced it had accepted those debates.

In the aftermath, Astorino said he wanted a one-on-one TV debate with Cuomo, not a radio forum.

“That’s his decision to drop out,” Cuomo said today. “It’s a little surprising. He was first I believe wanted debates. We then agreed to debate and then he didn’t want to debate.”

Astorino’s campaign has agreed to the Buffalo TV debate.

Eldridge Campaign Launches Two New Ads

Two new ads from the Sean Eldridge campaign will hit airwaves Wednesday, the campaign said in a statement Tuesday evening.

Both ads focus on the issue of hydraulic fracturing, a gas-drilling process better known as fracking. They both claim that incumbent Republican Congressman Chris Gibson took donations from the oil and gas industries and has since “voted to continue billions in tax subsidies for his oil and gas donors.”

Here’s part of the script from that ad highlighting the process:

Think you know Chris Gibson? You might be surprised to learn that since he’s gone to Washington, he’s been siding with his campaign donors instead of us. He’s taken thousands from gas drillers and now supports fracking, which could pollute our drinking water. He even voted to continue billions in tax subsidies for his oil and gas donors.

While Gibson does support fracking, he has said in the past that the process should be well-researched before its given the green light. The process is currently under a moratorium in New York, pending an environmental review with no end date in sight.

Meanwhile, during a debate in Lake Katrine Monday, Gibson criticized Eldridge for having investments in the oil and gas industry. Eldridge says his family’s investments are handled by a third party and are not directly controlled by himself or his husband. Eldridge is against fracking.

Gibson has said that fracking could provide much-needed jobs to parts of his district, mostly near the Southern Tier where natural gas is found in large reserves, underground in the Marcellus Shale. Eldridge believes that jobs can be created without fracking by investing in renewable resources, such as solar and wind energy.

Eldridge is also pro-choice, an issue he’s highlighted in past ads and repeats in this new set. One of the new ads again calls out Congressman Gibson for claiming to be pro-choice, while he’s voted against abortion rights during his tenure.

That is partly true. Congressman Gibson voted to support a measure banning abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy regardless of the circumstances, and has voted against funding for Planned Parenthood in the past. However, late last year he voted against a measure that would have given any company the right to deny women preventative-health coverage for almost any reason for a one-year period.

As of early September, Gibson held a 24-point lead over Eldridge. The two will appear in a debate on Time Warner Cable News Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.

Cuomo’s Big Dollars Versus Astorino’s Small Dollars

Nearly half of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign war chest this election cycle have come from just 331 donors, according to an analysis from Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

The NYPIRG analysis found that 49 percent of Cuomo’s money have come from donations of $40,000 and more — accounting for $22.1 million of the nearly $45 million he has raised this cycle.

Cuomo’s small-dollar donors are relatively few, especially when compared to his GOP opponent: Only 1,257 donors have given under $100, or less than a full percentage point of his overall cash raised.

By contrast, Republican challenger Rob Astorino, who began his campaign earlier this year, has raised the bulk of his $4 million from small dollar donors as he struggles to compete with Cuomo on the fundraising battle.

Astorino has received contributions from 3,767. Of those contributors, 3,002 were donors of $100 or less.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, has 17 donors who have given more than $40,000 this election cycle, accounting for about 19 percent of his money raised so far.

Real-estate development Leonard Litwin remains Cuomo’s biggest donor. Through his holdings and LLCs, Litwin has donated $1 million to Cuomo’s re-election campaign and an additional $470,000 to the Democratic committee and running mate Kathy Hochul.

NYPIRG Gov Fundraising 10 7 2014 by Nick Reisman

Astorino Advisor: Senate GOP Didn’t Speak Against Silver

From the Morning Memo:

A top advisor to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino criticized Senate Republicans on Monday for not forcefully denouncing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s handling of his chamber’s sexual harassment cases over the years.

“I didn’t see any of the Senate Republicans coming out and calling for his resignation,” said Astorino advisor Bill O’Reilly on State Of Politics Live. “They went completely quiet because what you have in Albany is this deal to protect the status quo. You have a single party up there — the incumbency party.”

Astorino’s campaign on Saturday trailed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s multi-city bus tour.

Cuomo, campaigning on the Women’s Equality Express, was followed by Astornio’s “Shelly Silver Express” — an explicit nod at the sexual harassment scandals that have occurred in the Democratic-led Assembly during Silver’s tenure.

“There are good men and women up there who looked the other way,” O’Reilly said. “They let these women get abused, they looked the other way and they let the perpetrators get away.”

O’Reilly is no stranger to criticizing Senate Republicans in Albany and even contemplated running for open seat earlier this year before bowing out.

O’Reilly dismissed criticism of the anti-Silver bus tour coming over Yom Kippur weekend, saying Silver remains a focus of criticism before and after the Jewish holiday.

The Astorino campaign needs to rely on such public actions in order to gain some traction — and ground in the polls, for that matter — against Cuomo.

For now, O’Reilly says the strategy over the next four weeks to is run a “scrappy” campaign.

“We need to work harder everyday and we need to be scrappy,” he said. “If you look at Rob’s schedule, he is out everyday meeting with individual people.”

He also insisted the long-shot bid to beat Cuomo, who has more than $23 million in the bank compared to Astorino’s $1.5 million, can succeed based on working hard.

“Basically, we have to outwork the Cuomo campaign and I think we’ve done that,” he said. “We’ll do that right up until 9 p.m. on Election Day. There’s just no other way to do it.”