Rodriguez to Switch Sides, Endorse Espaillat

Another one of Rep. Charles Rangel’s 2012 supporters is switching sides and endorsing State Senator Adriano Espaillat.

A source tells me that East Harlem Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez plans to formally announce his support for Espaillat next week.

The endorsement is not good news for Rangel, who is is trying to hold onto his seat for a 23rd term.

In 2012, Rangel’s victory in East Harlem proved crucial to his narrowly winning re-election. But back then he had the support of Rodriguez and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was elevated to speaker earlier this year. Now Rodriguez and Mark-Viverito are in Espaillat’s court.

This week Rangel did win the backing of Former President Bill Clinton and the city’s largest municipal workers union, DC 37.

“Throughout his 23 terms in office, Congressman Rangel has always aided our struggles to protect the jobs of public employees and the safety-net services they provide,” DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said in a statement. ”Going forward, we know that with him on our side we can go a long way in our fight against income inequality and our fight for workers’ rights, affordable housing, decent wages, public education, immigration reform and more.”

Rangel is locked in a tough primary fight against Espaillat and Harlem Pastor Michael Walrond.

GOP Tries To Push Maffei Off the WFP Line

The incomparable Bill Carey reports that Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei could lose a key spot on the November ballot if Republican leaders win a new court battle.

Maffei has the endorsement of Democrats for his re-election bid in NY-24. He also has the support of the labor-backed Working Families Party – but the GOP is trying to change that.

The Republicans filed an order to show cause today that seeks to invalidate Maffei’s WFP petitions, claiming a staffer of the congressman who witnessed requirement signatures on the petitions is not properly registered to vote in New York.

The GOP claims William Miller is registered in two other states – North Carolina and Georgia – and they raise questions over the validity of his registration here. Of just over 170 signatures gathered for the petitions, Miller was the witness for 117.

Maffei’s Republican opponent, former prosecutor John Katko, has the GOP, Conservative and Independence Party lines. If this challenge to Maffei’s WFP line is successful, the congressman would only have one line in November – the Democrats’ Row A. (Theoretically, that is, unless he creates a new, independent line to run on).

WFP State Director Bill Lipton blasted Katko and his “Tea Party allies” for filing this suit, which he said “has no merit and is simply an effort to disenfranchise voters.”

“Maffei’s campaign has the endorsement of the Working Families Party and the qualifications necessary to circulate and collect Working Families Party signatures,” Lipton said.

Frank Hoare, an Albany-based Election Law attorney representing Maffei’s campaign, called the challenge “a political stunt” designed to “distract Central New Yorkers from the fact that Katko won’t take a position on tough issues and doesn’t have a plan to create jobs in Central New York.”

“Representatives from the Friends of Dan Maffei Campaign followed the letter and spirit of the law and had the proper qualifications to circulate and collect the requisite signatures to qualify and appear on the ballot,” Hoare said.

A state Supreme Court justice has ordered a show cause hearing on the matter for May 5th.

Republicans try to push Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei off the WFP line. by liz_benjamin6490

Maloney Raises Off Ryan Contribution to Hayworth

The DCCC is using Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, passed last week by the GOP-controlled House, as political fodder against incumbent Republicans seeking re-election and GOP challengers trying to unseat incumbent Democrats.

It’s a bit of a stretch to tie candidates who didn’t actually cast a vote on the budget to the document, especially if – like Sen. Lee Zeldin, who is running in NY-1 – they side step the issue by refusing to endorse anything they haven’t yet read.

But Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has something concrete to link his GOP opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth, to Ryan: A $5,000 contribution from the former VP candidate’s political action committee, “Prosperity PAC.”

Maloney today sent a fundraising email to supporters with the subject line “Paul Ryan’s gift to Nan Hayworth,” noting that the former congresswoman “spent years actively supporting Ryan’s budget, disastrous cuts to Medicare and all.”

“Then just last week she goes so far as to DELETE Facebook messages from New Yorkers demanding she drop her support,” Maloney wrote. “And now her reward: campaign cash from Ryan – and I’m sure more to come from the special interests that support his policies.”

“It’s pretty simple from here – we either match them dollar for dollar, or we lose this seat to the Tea Party. So I need your help….When the attacks start (and it will happen soon), they can’t go unanswered. That’s a recipe for disaster. Thanks for helping me fight back against bad policy and the billionaires who back it.”

Over the next 24 hours, Maloney is trying to match the $5,000 Ryan gave to Hayworth.

The congressman has continued to out-fundraise Hayworth, who is launching a re-match against the Democrat after he ousted her from power two years ago.

According to the latest FEC filings, Maloney raised a little more than $472,000 this past quarter. After expenses, Maloney was left with about $1.5 million in the bank. Hayworth raised nearly $282,000. She has about $663,000 cash on hand.

Of note: Trying to generate a sense of urgency, Maloney’s email claims the State of Politics report on Ryan’s contribution to Hayworth “just” came out, which is technically not true. Michael Scotto filed that report several days ago.

Maloney Outraises Hayworth

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney continued to bring in more campaign cash than his rival Nan Hayworth.

According to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission, Maloney raised a little more than $472,000 this past quarter. After expenses, Maloney was left with about $1.5 million in the bank.

Hayworth raised nearly $282,000. She has about $663,000 cash on hand.

Maloney and Hayworth are locked in a contentious battle this election season, as Hayworth tries to regain the congressional seat she lost to Maloney in 2012.

Maloney’s haul included a little more than $113,000 from political action committees. About $56,000 of Hayworth’s total contributions came from PACs, including $5,000 from Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Prosperity PAC.”

You can bet the Maloney campaign is going to seize on that fact, as they try to attach Hayworth to Ryan’s budget proposal, which calls for drastic cuts to government spending.

Hayworth did not report loaning her campaign any of her personal fortune in the period ending March 31.



Cuomo To Skip Nassau Dems’ Dinner Tonight

The legislative budget debate, which is expected to drag on into the night, is preventing Gov. Andrew Cuomo from attending a Democratic dinner in Nassau County where he was scheuled to co-headline a tribute to retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs said he received a call from Cuomo aide Joe Percoco a little over an hour ago with the bad news. But Jacobs also received a heads up last night that the way things were shaping up at the Capitol, it was possible Cuomo would need to stay in Albany to make sure the budget vote went smoothly.

Jacobs and Cuomo have been at odds lately, thanks to the chairman’s call for the governor and his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, to reject the Independence Party’s endorsement in hopes of starving it out of existence.

Astorino, who was unlikely to receive the party’s nod anyway, quickly heeded Jacobs’ call. But Cuomo has hedged, preferring instead to let Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano blast Jacobs at an unrelated Red Room press conference.

During a brief telephone interview this afternoon, Jacobs, a former state Democratic Party chairman, insisted his difference of opinion with Cuomo on the Independence Party has nothing to do with the governor’s decision to skip tonight’s dinner.

“We knew going in when we picked this date that there was a distinct possibility that the governor would not be able to attend because budget wrangling would be going on in Albany,” Jacobs said. “And as I understand it, there is a lot of budget wrangling going on in Albany.”

Jacobs said Pelosi is still scheduled to attend the event, as are a number of McCarthy’s congressional colleagues, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

McCain To Headline Zeldin Fundraiser

US Sen. John McCain will headline a fundraiser in support of state Sen. Lee Zeldin’s congressional run on April 22 in New York City.

Tickets to the event is being held at a private residence on E. 70th Street in Manhattan (which happens to be the building where Christopher Cox, son of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, is listed. Ed Cox and his wife, Tricia, are listed as hosts). Tickets start at $1,000 and run as high as $5,200.

McCain, a senior senator from Arizona and the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, endorsed Zeldin last October, saying his “service in the military, as a federal prosecutor and in state government demonstrate his deep commitment to advancing causes greater than his own self-interest.”

Zeldin is seeking the GOP nod to challenge Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in November. He is being challenged for the GOP line by George Demos.

MoveOn Pressures Gibson, Grimm With Minimum Wage Poll

MoveOn today released a series of PPP polls of 13 “vulnerable” GOP House districts – including two in New York – that show a majority of voters in each support the idea of raising the federal minimum wage, which has been a top priority of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

The NY-19 poll, which appears below, shows 60 percent of Rep. Chris Gibson’s constituents support raising the hourly wage at the federal level from $7.25 to $10.10, while 36 percent are opposed and 4 don’t have a position.

Fourty-four percent said they would be less likely to vote for Gibson if he voted against raising the wage, while 27 percent said they’d be more likely to vote for him and 26 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference.

Gibson is facing a challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge this fall. MoveOn members plan to demonstrate outside Gibson’s Cooperstown offices at noon tomorrow to demand he support an increase in the minimum wage also to deliver petition signatures from constituents.

Similar actions are scheduled outside the offices of every House member whose district was polled, including Gibson’s Republican colleague, Rep. Michael Grimm, in NY-11. Grimm is facing a challenge this fall from former Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Domenic Recchia.

NY 19 Minimum Wage Polling Results by MoveOn_org

NRCC Slams Maffei For Second Home Purchase

Rather predictably, the NRCC is taking aim at Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei for buying a $699,000 second home in Virginia, saying the purchase shows he’s out of touch with his constituents back home in Central New York, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet.

The GOP’s statement notes that Maffei lost his seat in year – like this one – when there isn’t a presidential race to boost turnout in this Democrat-dominated state. The congressman is apparently back in the Republicans’ crosshairs now that local GOP and Conservative leaders have settled on a challenger, former federal prosecutor John Katko, to take on Maffei in the general election. (Katko does face a primary challenge from Syracuse businessman Ian Hunter).

“D.C. Dan Maffei apparently loves the Washington life so much that he decided to put down roots there,” said NRCC spokesman Ian Prior. “Maffei will certainly have lots of time to spend in his new $700,000 home after November 4th when Central New Yorkers tell him he can stay in Washington, just not as their representative.”

According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, Maffei and his wife, Abby Davidson Maffei, split their time between Washington, D.C. and Syracuse to accomodate both of their work schedules.

The couple had been renting an apartment near the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and also owns a home in Syracuse’s Valley neighborhood, which they purchased last year after selling a house in DeWitt to Joan O’Donnell Dadey, wife of Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey.

Maffei told the Post-Standard that rents in the D.C. area are so high that it made more sense, financially speaking, for him to rent. He and his wife are expecting their first child in June.

Members of Congress receive a base salary of $175,000. As of last June, Maffei was one of the least wealthy members of Congress, thanks to his student loan debt.

Crowley for Rangel

Though a number of high-profile Democrats have defected from Rep. Charlie Rangel’s side to back Sen. Adriano Espaillat’s second primary challenge to the veteran Harlem lawmaker, at least one powerful party leader/elected official is refusing to turn his back on his long-time congressional colleague.

Rep. Joe Crowley, who is also chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, sent out a combination fundraising/endorsement email on Rangel’s behalf this morning entitled “Keep Him in Congress.” Crowley noted that he serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee with Rangel (actually, Rangel chaired the committee, once upon a time).

“I’ve made it my mission to boost the Democratic Party, first in Queens, where I’m the Democratic county leader, and now across the country as the Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in Congress,” Crowley wrote. “We need leaders like Charlie Rangel who know how important it is to create good, middle-class jobs, improve healthcare, and build a better America.”

“Instead, though, Republicans have spent their time, sitting on their hands, blocking Democrats from making progress. They’ve held dozens and dozens of votes to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. They’ve blocked votes on the minimum wage, on the DREAM Act and immigration reform, on investing in our infrastructure. On so many important issues, Republicans have opposed progress.”

Crowley also announced in the email that he’ll be headlining a fund-raiser for Rangel this Thursday at Antun’s in Queens Village (a popular political spot). Also expected to attend: Former Gov. David Paterson, Rep. Greg Meeks, and Assemblywoman Vivian Cook.

Oddly, Crowley concludes his email by saying that the Republicans are trying to defeat Rangel. But the Harlem congressman’s bigger problem is the June primary, in which he faces both Espaillat and the Rev. Michael Walrond.

AsCapital NY’s Azi Paybarah notes, Crowley’s decision to stick with Rangel is particularly interesting because of the growing Latino presence in Crowley’s district – something about which the Queens congressman has always been particularly sensitive, worried about a potential primary challenge of his own.

Crowley also backed Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick over Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito in the NYC Council speaker’s race, and ended up picking the wrong horse. Mark-Viverito won that battle, becoming the first Latina ever to hold the speaker’s office. She also recently endorsed Espaillat over Rangel in the NY-13 primary, after supporting Rangel against the senator in 2012.

WFP Backs Rice in NY-4 (Updated)

The Working Families Party this morning announced its support for Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice’s bid for the Long Island House seat of retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy.

“Kathleen Rice has been resolute in her fight to take on a corrupt culture of pay-to-play politics in the state and give average New Yorkers a voice,” said Bill Lipton, state director for the Working Families Party. “As a prosecutor, she has a proven record of delivering bad apples to justice and she’ll bring that same determination to her work on behalf of Long Island’s working families.”

WFP’s Long Island Political Director Jess Carrano also cited Rice’s support for the so-called “Raise the Age” campaign (the push to stop trying some youthful offenders as adults) and campaign finance reform – especially the creation of a publicly funded system.

Rice was one of the three co-chairs of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s corruption-busting Moreland Commission, which recommended (though not unanimously) public campaign finance as a remedy for the never-ending corruption scandals in Albany and NYC. Rice stepped down from her commission post after announcing her congressional campaign.

Much of the labor and Democratic establishment has lined up behind Rice in this race. But she’s not the only Democrat in the running.

Nassau Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams is also seeking the party’s nod to run in the November general election.

The Nassau County Democratic Party is remaining neutral in the June primary. Ditto the DCCC, whose leader, Rep. Steve Israel, is also a Long Islander. UPDATE: Daily Kos notes that the DCCC has put Rice on its “Red to Blue” fundraising list, which certainly qualifies as support.  But I haven’t seen a formal endorsement from Israel himself…perhaps I missed it? UPDATE: Israel is personally supporting Rice, but he’s also not discouragin Abrahams from mounting his primary bid.