Congress

NY-3: Martins Backs Ban On Gun Sales For No-Fly List

Republican congressional candidate Jack Martins on Tuesday backed a proposal to bar those who are on then “no fly” list from purchasing a firearm.

Martins, a state senator running for the seat being vacated on Long Island by Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, did not endorse a specific bill that’s before Congress (Republicans and Democrats have proposed differing legislation with the same goal).

But as he runs in a tossup swing district race, Martins indicated he’s open to backing any of those measures.

“There are several different bills aimed at keeping suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from buying guns,” he said. “Any of them is better than the status quo. Congress needs to work together, come to an agreement and pass legislation to strengthen our national security.”

And, in a statement, Martins seemingly sought to strike a different tone than his party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.

“We need to work together to build bridges to solutions, not build walls,” he said.

Martins was among a handful of Republican state senators who backed the SAFE Act, a controversial package of gun control measures sought by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo himself has pushed for a ban on gun purchases for those on the no-fly list.

Democrats in Congress this month held a sit-in protest on the floor of the House chamber to demonstrate against the lack of action on gun control legislation.

Democratic PAC Takes Aim At 23rd Congressional Seat

From the Morning Memo:

Early indications are we could have a competitive race in New York’s 23rd Congressional District – at least the House Majority PAC, a Democrat independent expenditure account, seems to believe so.

Late Monday, the PAC announced media buys in seven new markets, including Buffalo and Elmira. It is spending more than $240,000 to reserve TV advertising slots for the final weeks of the election cycle in Republican Rep. Tom Reed’s district.

“From his out-of-touch record in Congress to his full-throated support for Donald Trump, Congressman Reed has every reason to be worried. NY-23 is very much within reach for Democrats this November,” PAC spokesperson Jeb Fain said.

Reed is being challenged by Democrat John Plumb, a naval reserve commander. During the last presidential election cycle, Reed won by only a few percentage points over then-opponent Nate Shinagawa, a former Tompkins County legislator.

Two years ago though, the congressman shellacked another Democratic opponent, Martha Robertson, another Tompkins County legislator. Reed spokesperson Amy Hasenberg pointed out Robertson was well-supported by the “D.C. establishment” in that race.

She said Reed is seeing even stronger support from his constituents this year. The congressman’s campaign doesn’t seem to be taking this race for granted though, attacking Plumb Monday for repeatedly failing to vote in elections.

“It’s no surprise that Nancy Pelosi’s PAC is trying to save DC John Plumb’s failing campaign. Voters will see through Washington trying to tell them what to think and do,” Hasenberg said.

Plumb’s campaign sees things differently. It believe the candidate is getting outside support because the campaign has momentum.

“They know Commander Plumb has what it takes to protect jobs here in New York while making sure America remains safe from terrorists at home and abroad – unlike Congressman Tom Reed who’s become part of the broken system in Washington that’s left our towns and small communities behind,” campaign manager Jason Robert Henry said.

Republican analyst Vic Martucci said right now the Reed seat has a target on it, but that could change if it becomes clear Donald Trump is doing well in Upstate New York. He said, by the fall, the district could look significantly less winnable for Democrats.

“Keep in mind that it’s early. Priorities can and do change and it’s possible this PAC will cancel the buy and shift resources where they think they have the best chance to win,” GOP analyst Vic Martucci said.

NY-1: Throne-Holst Declares Victory In Dem Primary

Democratic congressional candidate Anna Throne-Holst on Friday in a statement declared victory in her closely waged primary battle with Dave Calone.

The former Southampton supervisor narrowly led Calone on the night of the state’s federal primaries, throwing the contest to paper.

“I am deeply grateful to all who placed their trust and support in me, and I am truly humbled by the privilege it has been to get to know, share the concerns, and my message with so many,” she said in a statement. I want to congratulate Dave Calone on a spirited race, and I share in the respect and support he garnered in the district, as demonstrated by the very close margin and the strength of his candidacy.”

Throne-Holst now faces Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin for the eastern Long Island congressional district in what is expected to be among a handful of key House races in New York this November.

Zeldin, a freshman GOP lawmaker, won the seat two years again by defeating incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop.

“I look forward to working together with Democrats across the district to take back this important seat,” she said. “Lee Zeldin has shown in every way how out of step and wrong he is not only for Long Island, but for the country.”

D-Trip Targets NY-24 In National Ad Campaign

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched a national ad campaign linking House Republicans to presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, with upstate New York’s 24th district among the targeted regions.

The central New York-area seat, held by freshman Rep. John Katko, is especially fertile ground for Democrats given the seat has reliably traded hands between both parties over the last several election cycles since the 2012 round of redistricting.

Incumbent Rep. John Katko unseated freshman Democrat Dan Maffei last year.

This year, Katko faces Democrat Colleen Deacon, a former aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and the winner of a three-person primary last month.

The DCCC is launching two ads — one called “Standards” and another “Sidekick” which is targeted at women specifically by linking congressional Republicans to Trump’s bombastic and unorthodox presidential campaign.

“Whether House Republicans stand with Donald Trump or refuse to stand up to him, the point is the same: they are putting their party over our country and have betrayed the values and standards that Americans hold dear. House Republicans have allowed a man who freely attacks people and intentionally divides our nation to be their standard-bearer without lifting a finger to stop him,” said DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan. “As general election voters tune in with distress about the Republican party’s nominee, this ad campaign makes clear how unacceptable it is for these Republicans to fall in line with Donald Trump.”

The Trump targeting isn’t unusual: On Wednesday, the DCCC released statements linking Katko, Rep. Elise Stefanik and Republican candidate John Faso in the 19th congressional district to the businessman’s controversial statements crediting Saddam Hussein with killing terrorists.

None of those Republicans are close to being considered “Trump Republicans” in either tone or ideology. Indeed, one House Republican running as a Trump supporter — Rep. Chris Collins — is not facing a difficult re-election fight this year.

NY-22: Tenney Says Clinton Email Saga ‘Insider Cronyism’

Republican congressional candidate Claudia Tenney was one of the first GOP House candidates in New York to blast the recommendation by the FBI to not pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email serve.

While critical of Clinton’s usage of multiple servers during her time as secretary of state, in which emails containing confidential and top secret information were transmitted, FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday said a recommendation for criminal charges was not going to happen.

The announcement, while good for Clinton’s presidential campaign, is also providing fuel for her opponents on the right.

In a statement, Tenney said the announcement suggests there is a “double standard” within the criminal justice system.

“It conveys a clear message to the American people: there is one set of rules for the political elite and one for everyone else. This is exactly the type of double standard that destroys public trust in government officials, and reinforces the fact that politicians in both parties are out for themselves, not us. This type of insider cronyism is exactly what I have been fighting in Albany,” Tenney said.

“Anyone else would have been prosecuted under laws design to punish gross negligence in the handling of classified information. There are people that have been prosecuted under these statues, but they weren’t running for President.”

Tenney is seeking the central New York congressional seat held by Rep. Richard Hanna, a Republican who is retiring at the end of the year.

An Assembly lawmaker since 2010, Tenney faces Democrat Kim Myers after winning last week’s congressional primary.

NY-1: Zeldin Touts Two Years In Office

Freshman Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in a video message released this weekend formally announced his re-election bid to one of the state’s top battleground districts on eastern Long Island.

The video is a re-introduction of sorts into the resume and biography of Zeldin, including his military service as well as his time in elected office, which included three terms in the state Senate.

Zeldin was first elected in 2014 to the seat held by unseating Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in a hotly contested Suffolk County district.

This year, Zeldin will face yet another stiff challenge from either Anna Throne-Holst or Dave Calone. Throne-Holst narrowly led Calone after last week’s Democratic congressional primary — a development Zeldin’s campaign hailed as a sign the opposition has “split” in the effort to defeat him this November.

Still, Zeldin is running in a seat that has been closely watched by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a potential pick up this year as more Democrats head to the polls ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Zeldin has been a vocal New York supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

NRCC Questions Deacon’s Independence

Now that the congressional primaries have passed and the general election battles are set, (for the most part), candidates in contested races across the state and their respective supporters have turned their attention to the opponents against whom they’ll be facing off in November.

That includes the NRCC, which today slammed Colleen Deacon, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand who won a three-way Democratic primary in NY-24 on Tuesday, suggesting that she’ll be ltitle more than a rubber stamp for the Democratic conference and its leader, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, if she succeeds in ousting freshman Republican Rep. John Katko.

NRCC spokesman Chris Pack noted that Deacon’s campaign has so far received $18,700 in contributions from “Pelosi & Company.” During the primary, Deacon was endorsed by the DCCC and a number of so-called “establishment” Democrats – including her former boss – while one of her opponents, Prof. Eric Kingson, was viewed as the candidate of the party’s liberal wing, backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Pack also pointed out that during a Capital Tonight interview back in April (watch it here), the candidate said the following when I asked her whether she would be able to break from the Democratic leadership if she makes it to D.C., and if so, then on what:

“…a lot of what the Democratic platform is what I stand for so I don’t know necessarily why I would break away from, umm, why I would want to break way from any of the issues, you know, anything specifically.”

That sort of blind loyalty is just the sort of thing that voters in the closely divided NY-24 have demonstrated a dislike for, throwing out former Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei (the first time), for example, when he failed to demonstrate a sufficient degree of independence from his fellow House Democrats.

On the flip side, Katko has tried hard to portray himself as a pragmatist who is willing to work across the aisle to get things done, and he is struggling not to ally himself too closely with the GOP’s controversial presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, refusing to formally endorse him. Of course, the Democrats are making things difficult for Katko by pointing out at every turn that he’ll be running on the same ticket as Trump in November.

Here’s what Pack had to say, officially, on Deacon’s ties to Pelosi:

“It should alarm voters that Colleen Deacon could not think of a single issue where she would break from Nancy Pelosi to work in a bipartisan fashion for Central New York. If Colleen Deacon and Nancy Pelosi had it their way, they would undo all of the bipartisan accomplishments that John Katko has secured for Central New York during his short time in office.”

NY-3: Martins Campaign Blasts Pidot’s Court Maneuvering

It’s a tale of not only two campaigns, but two legal realities.

In one corner is state Sen. Jack Martins, whose campaign insists he’s the rightful Republican nominee in the third congressional district on Long Island.

In the other is Philip Pidot, who was qualified for the ballot, but not in time to run for the nomination in Tuesday’s federal primary vote.

Martins camp says it’s case closed. Pidot says not so fast.

The ongoing legal maneuverings in the third congressional district, a seat being made vacant by the retirement of Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, spilled over into frustration as Martins’s campaign on Wednesday accused Pidot’s team of “more lies” on the state of the race.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Pidot campaign framed a court ruling from a federal judge as a victory, given the legal battle is not yet over and a new hearing has been scheduled for July 11. At the same time, the state Board of Elections is yet to certify a general election candidate in the district (It should be noted the BOE hasn’t certified any of the federal election ballots).

“I am enormously grateful that Judge Bianco ruled that I demonstrated clear Constitutional merit in my argument before the court, and my co-plaintiff and I are enormously grateful that our case will proceed accordingly,” Pidot said. “The right of Long Island and Queens Republicans to choose between two equally validated congressional candidates in a primary must be safeguarded and exercised. This is a good day for American democracy.”

Too little, too late, argues the Martins campaign, which suggested in a statement the court battle by Pidot has gone beyond quixotic, given Pidot is yet to gain ballot status.

“I am amazed that someone who claims to be a fraud investigator would continue the lies. I was in court. I heard the judge ask, ‘why are we here after the rulings in state court?’ And I also heard the fringe candidate admit his mistake in delaying the legal process saying, ‘you can’t play morning quarterback,” said O’Brien Murray, a top Martins advisor.

“The process was 78 days and the former candidate sat on his hands for 29 days. He was never on the ballot and that continues today,” he added. “When will he learn the rules apply to him?”

NY-22: Babinec Camp Says It Has The Reform Line

Lost a bit in the shuffle on primary night is the confirmation that the race for the 22nd congressional district will be a three-way contest.

Businessman Martin Babinec has secured the Reform Party ballot line, his campaign confirmed, setting up a race between Democrat Kim Myers and the victor of the Republican primary, state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney.

“Thanks to strong grassroots support, Martin Babinec tonight secured a ballot spot in November on the Reform Line defeating Claudia Tenney,” said Babinec campaign spokesman David Catalfamo.

Babinec had previously sought the Independence Party’s ballot line, and had gained the party’s endorsement, but failed to qualify.

The Reform Party line was first organized in 2014 by Republican gubernatorial nominee Rob Astorino, who had initially formed it as the Stop Common Core ballot line. The name change came after the election to reflect a broader range of issues, including term limits for elected officials.

The 22nd congressional district, which covers parts of central New York, the Mohawk Valley and the Southern Tier, is being vacated at the end of the year by Rep. Richard Hanna.

NY-3: Court Rules On Ballot Access (Updated)

Republican congressional candidate Philip Pidot says he has won a court battle to receive ballot access in the coming primary for the third congressional in Nassau County.

Updated: The campaign of Jack Martins sees this differently, saying in essence the ruling means there won’t be a primary next week.

“We look forward to November when the voters can send Jack Martins to Washington so he can fight for more jobs, lower taxes, and to protect our families,” said E. O’Brien Murray, a Martins senior advisor.

The hitch, however, is the primary is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Republican consultant Bill O’Reilly, who is working for Pidot’s campaign, said in an email on Friday the judge in the case would not order an election on Tuesday because the Board of Elections has no time to include Pidot’s name on the ballot.

“This is now totally up in the air,” O’Reilly said. “Pidot will go to federal court of need be to demand a new primary date.”

The challenge to the ballot was made by his Republican opponent Jack Martins, a state senator.

“After two months of legal chicanery and delay tactics by Jack Martins and the Nassau County Republican Machine, my candidacy for Congress in New York’s 3rd Congressional District has been validated in court, as I’ve always maintained it would be,” Pidot said in a statement.

“I entered this race to challenge the corrupt machine politics that have steered New York off a cliff — financially and ethically. This primary is a referendum on those practices, particularly on Long Island, and my opponent is the poster child for the type of backroom politics and deal making in Albany that have made our state the highest taxed state in the nation and the worst place to do business.”