2014

Teachout Would Rather Talk About ‘Blowing The Whistle’ Than The Bills

So far Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Zephyr Teachout has focused her campaign on cleaning up corruption in Albany, education, and the economy.  But during a stop in Buffalo it became pretty clear she won’t be spending a lot time talking about the Buffalo Bills.

“I want to keep the focus on tonight.  I want to let everyone know why I’m here and that’s blowing the whistle, breaking the glass ceiling,” said Teachout.

Teachout was a guest of the Buffalo Teachers Federation Wednesday and met with the Buffalo media beforehand.  Teachout was asked several questions about the Bills and if the team needed a new stadium in Western New York.

“I have to look into it further. My biggest focus is on keeping the cost down and that in this area you don’t end up taking on too much of a burden.  So it all depends on cost as well as negotiating the best deal,” said Teachout.  

With the team up for sale and the NFL’s Commissioner repeatedly suggesting a new stadium was needed to keep the team in Western New York, there’s been little talk locally about anything else.  While the gaggle of reporters tried several times to get her to expand upon her initial answer Teachout stayed on message.

“They need their fans and I will be an advocate for all New Yorkers including the fans to make sure that the cost falls in the right place.  If you look at my whole career you’ll see I’ve always fought for an economy that works for all of us and what I look forward to hearing about is what people on the front lines are seeing,” Teachout said.

Governor Cuomo, who’s spent a great deal of his first term trying to win over Western New York, has made keeping the Bills here a central theme of his re-election bid.  Cuomo has been reluctant to commit taxpayer funds to a new stadium but said he would consider it if it was absolutely necessary.

When asked by one reporter if she may look at professional sports and the billions of dollars poured into it differently, Teachout insisted she’s a big sports fan.

“Sports is an important part of my life.  I was the New England Champion of cross country running and a state champion in track and I coached from time to time ‘girls on the run’ because I like to encourage young women to get involved in running.  And one of my core platforms is that we have to see a lot more support for sports in schools as well as arts, and music and counselors,” Teachout added.

Teachout: NYT Non-Endorsement ‘A Rebuke’ Of Cuomo’s Term

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout called the non-endorsement in next month’s primary a “powerful rebuke” of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s record in Albany.

“The New York Times came as close to an endorsement as it possibly could without an actual endorsement. It was a really powerful rebuke to Andrew Cuomo’s four years in office,” Teachout told reporters in New York City this morning. “As they pointed out, the arguments I am making are exactly what Albany needs.”

However, the Times wasn’t impressed with Teachout’s candidacy, either, suggesting she lacked the experience to lead the state. The editorial board ultimately suggested a vote for Teachout in the primary would be tantamount to a protest vote, since Cuomo’s victory in the November general election seems all but assured (The editorial board’s blog today included an explainer on the non-endorsement, insisting it wasn’t akin to a non-vote).

Teachout addressed the notion that her resume as a Fordham Law professor, former director of the Sunlight Foundation and one-time aide Howard Dean’s presidential didn’t qualify her to be governor.

“I am fully ready to be governor of the state of New York,” she said.

Meanwhile, the liberal magazine The Nation endorsed Teachout’s primary bid.

Nader To Campaign For Hawkins

Former presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader will campaign next month in Albany with Green Party gubernatorial hopeful Howie Hawkins.

Nader is due to speak at the Unitarian Church in Albany on Sept. 14 at 4:30, organizers announced.

A donation of $20 is suggested, or $10 for students and the low-income.

In addition to appearing with Hawkins, Nader will also travel about one hour north to appear alongside congressional hopeful Matt Funiciello, one of three candidates running for the NY-21 being vacated by Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.

Hawkins ran for governor in 2010 and achieved automatic ballot status for the Green Party this election cycle.

Cuomo’s 24-Hour Notices Roll In

This week began the official start of 24-hour notices for candidates and committees involved in primary campaigns.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign reported to the state Board of Elections $54,500 in contributions over a 24-hour period.

Those donors include a Long Island-based development company that contributed $10,000 and a $14,500 contribution from Jay Snyder, a businessman and Democratic donor who served on Cuomo’s transition team.

Cuomo this month reported $32.4 million in cash on hand.

Along with his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, Cuomo faces a primary on Sept. 9 from Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor. Also on the ballot is Randy Credico, a comedian and political activist.

Meanwhile, the national office of the Communications Workers of America pumped $398,700 into the political action committee of its New York affiliate, one of the key labor unions in the state.

Schneiderman 2014 Video Highlights Foreclosure Help

A video from the re-election campaign of Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released Wednesday points to his office’s work on providing legal aid to homeowners facing foreclosure.

Today’s video, the third in a series of online profiles released by the campaign, highlights I-Asia White, a Troy resident whose home was facing foreclosure following her daughter’s medical expenses made it difficult to keep up with mortgage payments.

White says she was able to avoid foreclosure and keep her home after receiving legal assistance and counseling from the AG’s office.

“I was able to get legal assistance and homeowner counseling. I am truly thankful and grateful for Eric Schneiderman, because without his program, I would not be in my home today,” she says in the video.

The consumer and homeowner relief aspect of the attorney general’s office is one of those bread-and-butter topics the Schneiderman campaign has been seeking to highlight in the incumbent Democrat’s efforts to win a second term.

He faces former Pataki aide John Cahill this November.

Abortion-Rights Groups Endorse DiNapoli

Two groups that support abortion rights on Tuesday endorsed Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The groups, Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York and NARAL, issued a joint endorsement, calling DIanpoli a “tireless advocate for women and families.”

The groups sought to link women’s health with the decidedly fiscal focus of the comptroller’s office.

“Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli understands that birth control and preventive care are economic issues and has always fought for economic equality to ensure all women had access to critically needed reproductive healthcare, both as a member of the Assembly and as our Comptroller,” said Tracey Brooks of Planned Parenthood Advocates. “Our state has a reputation for ensuring fairness and equality for all its citizens and, thanks to the efforts of our New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, this legacy has continued. This endorsement is confirmation of Comptroller DiNapoli’s work on behalf of New York State’s women and families.”

DiNapoli, like the other statewide Democratic candidates, is running on the Women’s Equality Party ballot line, one that was created with the backing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign to both promote the 10-point women’s agenda as well as garner more women voters.

“Throughout the course of Tom DiNapoli’s distinguished career in public office, he has remained steadfast in his support for women’s health, safety and equality. Tom’s record on choice is impeccable and his commitment, unwavering,” said NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Andrea Miller. “As with every year Tom DiNapoli has run for public office, NARAL Pro-Choice New York is privileged to endorse him.”

Asked About Debates, Cuomo Again Demurs To Campaign

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a politician not exactly known for delegating authority, again on Tuesday said he’ll delegate the decision on debating his election-year rivals to his campaign.

Cuomo, in Upper Jay to speak at a rebuilt firehouse that had been damaged by Hurricane Irene, told reporters there his campaign will be speaking to the other campaigns about a debate.

“I’m going to leave that to the campaigns to work through and my campaign will be talking to my rivals’ campaigns and they’ll figure it out, I’m sure,” Cuomo said.

Asked if he’ll debate potentially after the Sept. 9 primary, Cuomo again demurred to his campaign.

“More than anything, I’m leaving it to the campaigns to have that conversation,” said the famously hands-on governor.

Time Warner Cable News and NY1 have invited Cuomo and his Democratic primary rival, Fordham professor Zephyr Teachout, to a televised debate, along with a TV debate with their running mates, former Rep. Kathy Hochul and Columbia professor Tim Wu.

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino has also called for debates with Cuomo and is holding a radio debate with Teachout on WNYC on Sept. 4.

De Blasio For Espaillat

Citing his support for pre-Kindergarten funding and affordable housing programs, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday endorsed Sen. Adriano Espaillat’s re-election.

“I am proud to support State Senator Adriano Espaillat for re-election,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “From fighting hard for universal pre-kindergarten funding, to standing up for affordable housing and tenant protections, to pushing for critical pedestrian safety measures, Adriano Espaillat has represented his constituents with energy and determination. I am wholly committed to working with him to move our city forward.”

Espaillat is running in a Democratic primary against former city Councilman Robert Jackson, an ally of Rep. Charlie Rangel, who was victorious in his June primary against Espaillat and several other candidates.

De Blasio’s endorsement is interesting considering his push for a friendlier state Senate in Albany. The mayor, along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, helped broker an agreement between the Independent Democratic Conference and the mainline conference of Democrats in the Senate.

De Blasio’s backing for Democrats taking full charge of the chamber has been a Republican talking point in various Senate elections, especially in the upstate regions.

Espaillat, in a statement, noted he backs “advancing” de Blasio’s agenda in Albany.

“I am committed to advancing Mayor de Blasio’s progressive vision for New York City at the state-level,” Espaillat said. “We have been able to achieve incredible gains this year, including the successful push for pre-kindergarten funding, and the speed limit reduction that will save lives in Upper Manhattan and on the West Side. In the coming year, we can build on these achievements, and fight for New York City students, tenants, pedestrians, and low-income families.”

State Dems Up In Arms Over Astorino’s Gun Comments

Over the weekend, Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino appeared a firearms festival in Sullivan County and made supportive statements of the organizers’ efforts to teach marksmanship and firearms training for kids.

Time Warner Cable News, which covered the event, has Astorino on tape saying, “Fishing and hunting has always been a part of our culture in America and very strongly here in New York. And because some bad people do some very bad things with guns doesn’t mean we should change our whole society and way of life.”

But for the state Democratic Committee, Astornio’s appearance at the event was far more troubling, seizing on his support for gun-training programs in schools, especially when it comes to providing training to kids with discipline problems:

“When New Yorkers think about ‘back to school’ shopping, guns are not what come to mind. With these shocking comments, Republican Rob Astorino has proven once again that his ultraconservative views are dangerously out of step with mainstream New Yorkers. The people of this state have the right to know why a candidate for Governor thinks we need more guns in our schools,” said NYSDC spokesperson Peter Kauffmann.

In context, Astorino is backing programs that teach kids how to handle guns safely. TWC News reporter Eva McKend — whose story the state committee linked to in its news release — found people at the event who emphasized proper training.

Nevertheless, Democrats feel they have a trump card of sorts with Astorino’s anti-SAFE Act stance. In this heavily Democratic state, gun control legislation remains broadly popular, and the SAFE Act, controversial though it may be for gun owners and Second Amendment supporters, is one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature legislative achievements in his first term.

Astorino faces a Catch-22 in that regard: He needs these conservative voters to support his candidacy for governor, but also needs to move a broader electorate that is not attuned to a firearms culture to back him over the better-funded, better-known Democratic incumbent.

Updated: Astorino campaign spokeswoman Jessica Proud responded.

“County Executive Astorino said he would support marksmanship programs in communities that want them,” she said. “These programs have taught proper rifle safety to youngsters in rural communities for generations. Mr. Cuomo should lay off the hyperbole and stop attacking the sportsman culture.”

Gibson And Eldridge Agree To Debate

Republican Rep. Chris Gibson and his Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge have agreed to a debate on Time Warner Cable News set for Oct. 22.

The debate, to be held at the TWC News studio in Albany, will put a spotlight on one of the more expensive and competitive congressional races in the state this year.

The NY-19 is a district that comprises the Hudson Valley region.

Gibson is a two-term incumbent and retired Army colonel. Eldridge is a wealthy investor and husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

Republicans have sought to cast the first-time candidate Eldridge as an inexperienced carpetbagger, while Democrats have pointed to Gibson’s support from large business PACs and his ties to the tea party.

In other words, should be an interesting debate.