Congress

Syracuse Mayor Won’t Run For Congress

Stephanie Miner, the Democratic mayor of Syracuse and one-time state party co-chair, said in a statement on Friday she has considered a run for Congress, but ultimately will not launch a campaign.

“For several months now, encouraged by fellow Democrats locally and nationally, I have considered a run for Congress,” Miner said. “After much thought, I have decided not to pursue a campaign for Congress.”

The central New York area is represented by freshman Republican Rep. John Katko — a district that has reliably flipped between Democrats and Republicans over the last several election cycles.

Miner came to prominence statewide after she began to raise concerns with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approach to cash-strapped cities and their infrastructure needs while serving as the governor’s hand-picked party committee co-chair.

The statement may fuel speculation that Miner has her sights set elsewhere, potentially on a statewide campaign. In the statement, Miner said she is focusing on Syracuse issues.

“I will always be grateful for the support and counsel I have received these past few months,” Miner added. “I feel I am actively involved in a series of issues crucial to the long-term health and vitality of our city. I look forward to continuing to advocate for these issues in the years ahead.”

Pelosi Makes Fundraising Push for Slaughter

Taking a breaking from the budget madness for a moment to focus on the 2016 congressional elections…(yes, I know they’re far away).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent out a fundraising appeal over the weekend on behalf of veteran Rochester Rep. Louise Slaughter, whose near loss in the 2014 general election by her under-funded and little-known Republican challenger, Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini, took Democrats both in New York and across the nation by surprise – especially after Slaughter survived a tough challenge in 2012 from a far better known GOP opponent, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks.

Clearly, the Democrats do not intend a repeat of this experience when they try to re-take the majority in 2016, should the 85-year-old Slaughter seek yet another term. Assini has already signaled an interest in a rematch, and Slaughter has not ruled out running again.

In her email sent Sunday morning, Pelosi said she needed to talk about “my friend Louise,” who “won by just 871 votes last year, attracting the attention of Speaker Boehner and every mega Tea Party donor across America.”

“The first FEC deadline of the year is arguably the most important one, especially after such a close call in November,” Pelosi continued. “Louise’s opponent will be scouring this FEC report for any sign that Louise is weak. She must shatter records before her deadline on Tuesday.”

“Louise needs our help…We need more people like Louise in Congress. But apparently Republicans think we need less—and they’re prepared to put their money where their mouth is. That’s why I’m asking you to help Louise fight back now – before it’s too late.”

According to Pelosi, the DCCC is matching all contributions to Slaughter of $3 or more – yet another sign that the Democrats aren’t fooling around this time, taking this race seriously.

And if Slaughter doesn’t run, they’ll have to defend an open seat. Technically speaking, that should be a fairly easy lift for the Democrats in a presidential year, since they enjoy an enrollment edge in NY-25, but it all depends on who the candidates are – and, of course, you can’t forget that all politics are local.

It’s also worth noting, though this is completely unrelated, that Slaughter is appearing today with US Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is the favorite to succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid as the next Democratic caucus leader in the upper house. The duo is together for a dedication ceremony at the Rochester Main Post office in honor of SPC Matt Glende

Judge Nixes Grimm’s Euoprean Travel Request

A federal judge has rejected frormer Rep. Michael Grimm’s request to modify the terms of his bail so he could travel to Europe this spring for a job opportunity while awaiting sentencing on his tax fraud conviction.

Judge Pamela Chen determined that the ex-Staten Island lawmaker is too much of a flight risk to be allowed to leave the country for a week, which would open the possibility that he would travel still further to a country that does not have an extradition agreement with the US.

“Even though Grimm has posted his home as security for his pre-sentence release bond, the Court does not find that the loss of that property provides sufficient suasion if Grimm decides to leave the United States to avoid a possible prison term,” Chen wrote.

“Obviously, if Grimm chose to flee, he would not need a house in the United States. Furthermore, the Court does not find the reason for Grimm’s motion, i.e., to qualify for a potential job opportunity, sufficient to justify lifting the travel restriction. While Grimm is certainly entitled to seek future employment, his desire to obtain a particular job does not trump the need to ensure his appearance for sentencing.”

Grim faces a maximum prison sentence of up to three years as a result of the guilty plea he entered last December. That plea came after he successfully stood for re-election, defeating former Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Domenic Recchia despite the mutli-count federal indctment hanging over his head.

Ex-Rep. Michael Grimm denied required to modify bail to travel to Europe. by liz_benjamin6490

Independence Party Backs Donovan in NY-11

The state Independence Party has announced its support of Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan’s run to fil the House seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Michael Grimm, giving the Republican candidate three ballot lines in the May 5 special election.

The Independence Party’s decision comes on the heels of an announcement yesterday from the state Conservative Party that it, too, had voted to back Donovan, who will face off against Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile in two months.

In a statement announcing the endorsement, state Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay said Donovan “has proven time and again that he puts people before politics,” adding:

“His integrity and commitment to public service is unparalleled. With all of the important issues facing our city and nation right now, I know Dan is the right man for the job. We are proud to endorse him as the next congressman for the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn.”

When he ran for state attorney general in 2010, Donovan removed his name from consideration for endorsement by the Independence Party after his office received “several allegations of misconduct” by MacKay. The DA said he was withdrawing his name “to preserve the integrity of my office and the integrity of any possible investigation undertaken.”

Donovan later cleared MacKay in a probe that involved a candidate seeking the Independence Party endorsement in a NYC Council special election whose company had loaned $10,000 to a software company run by MacKay’s wife, Kristin.

The Independence Party ended up backing a placeholder candidate, Long Isdland attorney Steve Lynch, and then replacing Lynch with then-state Sen. Eric Schneiderman after his won the five-way Democratic state AG primary. Schneiderman went on to defeat Donovan in the November general election. (In order to get Lynch off the ballot, the Monroe County Democrats agreed to nominate him for a state Supreme Court judgeship, which he did not win).

Conservatives Back Donovan in NY-11

The state Conservative Party announced today it “enthusiastically” and officially voted at an executive committee meeting today to back Republican Staten Island DA Dan Donovan in the May 5 special election for the seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Michael Grimm.

“Dan Donovan will bring an extensive background in public service to Congress,” said Brooklyn Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar. “Like the Conservative Party, he is an advocate of pro-growth economic policies through tax cuts and spending caps.”

“And when it comes to foreign policy, Dan places America’s interests first backed by a strong national defense. I am very pleased the State Conservative Party has nominated him for election to Congress.”

Staten Island Conservative Chairman Harold J. Wagner, Jr. called Donovan “home grown,” a candidate who knows the district and its people.

“He has served his community for over 25 years with honor and distinction,” Wagner continued. “He possesses the political skills to navigate Washington and will know how to advocate for the 11th Congressional District. Knowing Dan for a long time, I have always found him to be attentive to his constituents, and I believe he will reflect the will of the people.”

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long also cited his longstanding relationship with Donovan, and said he believed the DA’s “knowledge of the issues will be his strength” in representing the district in D.C.

The state Conservative Party backed Donovan in his failed state AG bid in 2010 against the current Democratic incumbent (but then state senator) Eric Scheniderman. In fact, the Conservatives endorsed Donovan even before his own party did, holding their state convention in late May, while the Republicans gathered a few days later (in early June).

Donovan hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with the local Conservative Party, however, In 2011, the Staten Island Democrats snubbed Donovan, endorsing Democrat Michael Ryan rather than the incumbent DA, who was seeking a third term.

The move was widely seen as the result of Donovan’s falling out with his onetime mentor, former Staten Island BP Jim Molinaro, which was caused by the DA’s call for a special prosecutor in a 2006 case involving Molinaro’s grandson. The borough president denied that charge, though he personally backed Ryan as well.

Donovan handily won re-election in the 2011 November general election, defeating Ryan by a wider margin than he had four years earlier, even though he lacked the Conservative line.

The Republicans picked Donovan, who is perhaps best known as the prosecutor in the Eric Garner case, as their candidate to replace Grimm long before Gov. Andrew Cuomo even called the special election. (Actually, Cuomo’s hand was forced by a lawsuit).

After seeing their preferred candidates – former Rep. Michael McMahon and Assemblyman Michael Cusick – take a pass on the race, the Democrats just recently settled on Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile as their candidate.

Schedule Set For Special Elections

The state Board of Elections on Friday released a schedule for the special elections in the 43rd Assembly district and 11th Congressional district.

Key dates include: Certificate of nominations are due March 2, ballots are certified March 13 and the first campaign finance disclosure date is April 6.

In the NY-11, Republicans back Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, while Democrats are eyeing Vincent Gentile, a New York City councilman, to run for the seat vacated by Republican Michael Grimm.

Memo-Calenar-Proc-for May 5 2015 Special Election.pdf by Nick Reisman

Special Elections Set For May 5

As expected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning set May 5 as the date to hold special elections in both the 11th congressional district and a newly vacant Assembly seat in Brooklyn.

Cuomo had been under a court order to set the date for the special election by noon today, or a federal judge would have automatically scheduled one himself.

The 11th congressional district, which covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, is an open seat following the resignation of Republican Michael Grimm, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

Brooklyn’s 43rd Assembly district became open last night following the resignation of Democrat Karim Camara, who is joining the governor’s administration in order to lead faith-based outreach programs.

The proclamation from Cuomo’s office can be viewed here.

Tonko Recalls ‘Honorable’ Interactions With Silver

From today’s Morning Memo, ICYMI…

Since former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest, any number of people – even some of his former allies – have expressed shock and even disgust at the charges levied against him by Bharara.

But one of his former conference members – ex-Assemblyman-turned-Congressman Paul Tonko – has only good memories of his time working in the Silver-dominated chamber. Tonko said during a CapTon interview Wednesday night (the day before Silver was formally indicted on corruption charges) that the interactions he had with the former speaker were “honorable.”

The former assemblyman also took issue with rank-and-file members’ complaints that Silver was too controlling and ruled the chamber with an iron fist.

“I was surprised by the allegations,” Tonko said. “I know that as Energy (Committee) chair, I was given gray latitude and support by the speaker to initiative energy reforms that I think have transitioned us to a pretty good spot in the national scene. This state is looked to often times for sound energy reform and transformation, innovation. That happened because he enabled us. He delegated.”

Tonko said he disagrees with Bharara’s painting of Albany as a big cesspool of corruption, saying:

“It’s a broad brush that is paining everyone here. I served with a number of people who were devoted public servants, who made this their No. 1 priority, and they did it squeaky clean. They were great to work with, and I would suggest that was the majority of folks.”

“…If some of these situations occur, let’s work on a system that provides for the transparency,” the Capital Region Democrat continued. “But to just suggest that everybody is not honorable in the system can take us into such broad interpretation of the fix that’s rehired that you might scare away from very good minds and heats that would serve the public well.”

Maloney: Pass Rail Safety Legislation

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, Friday, continued to call on Congress to pass rail safety legislation he introduced just hours after a Metro-North train collided with a vehicle in Westchester County Tuesday night.

The crash killed six, including five passengers from the train and the woman operating the vehicle.

Maloney’s legislation, the Rail Crossings Safety Improvement Act, would improve safety at rail crossings and also invest in positive train control – a method of being able to remotely control a moving train.

“People want answers to why these incidents keep happening and I think that’s very fair,” Congressman Maloney, a Democrat, said at a talk at Marist College Friday. “There are good solutions that we know will make the train safer.”

The legislation would be part of a $100 million federal grant program that would help local communities invest in safety improvements at rail crossings. It would invest $100 million per year over the next four years. That funding would not be limited to New York State – it would be available nationally.

“Sometimes it means putting a bridge over it, putting a tunnel over it, moving the rail crossing,” Maloney said. “Local communities can’t afford to do this. They need help”

Republican Congressman Chris Gibson, who also attended the talk at Marist, says he’s throwing his support across the aisle behind the legislation.

“I’ve been looking at some of the data and these types of incidents, these types of tragedies are declining significantly in our country, but not in New York,” Gibson said. “We have to look at ‘what is going on here in our state?”

Last year, there were 31 train accidents in New York State according to the Federal Railroad Administration. The year before that, there were 43, and in 2011 there were 34 accidents.

“It’s just too bad it takes a terrible strategy like this to focus on a common sense step,” Maloney said.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet determined what details led to the crash.

3rd Time’s A Charm? Powell Declares For Rangel’s Seat

Former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV is formally declaring his intention to run for a third time for the seat occupied by veteran Harlem Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has said the two-year term he is currently serving will be his last in Congress.

“This is not an exploratory committee,” Powell wrote in an email sent by his campaign committee just before 6 p.m. this evening. (Sort of strange timing, given the fact that much of the political world is prepping for the President’s State of the Union tonight and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State/budget address tomorrow). “I’ve been exploring this district for over 20 years. It’s time to run.”

“I know this congressional district as well as anyone. From El Barrio to Harlem to Washington Heights & Inwood to the Bronx, I’ve represented various parts of this district in the City Council and in the State Assembly. Most of the leaders in these various neighborhoods are people I know and have worked with throughout the years. I hope you pray for me and join me in this exciting journey.”

Powell also noted his long-standing history with the district (albeit in a different, pre-redistricting configuration), pointing out his father, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., created the seat and served as New York’s first black member of Congress from 1944-1970 – the year he was ousted by Rangel.

“We need a progressive voice to preserve the rich history of these last 70 years,” Powell continued. I intend to run for that seat.”

This isn’t a big surprise. Powell recently told the NY Observer that he would likely take one more shot at a congressional run when the 84-year-old Rangel’s current term ends in 2016. He lost primary challenges to Rangel in 1996 and 2010, but endorsed him in 2012 and 2014 when the congressman fought off multiple primary challengers.

Powell, who is now a lobbyist, has said he believes he can win in the district despite the fact that a majority of its residents are now Latino.

It’s a safe bet that the race for Rangel’s seat – assuming he makes good on his pledge and does not seek re-election – will be quite crowded. Assemblyman Keith Wright, the Manhattan Democratic chairman, has long been mentioned as a potential Rangel replacement, and perhaps the top candidate in the congressman’s eyes, should he be able to select his own successor.

Also mentioned: Sen. Adriando Espaillat, who came close to beating Rangel in the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries; former Gov. David Paterson, Sen. Bill Perkins, NYC Councilwoman Inez Dickens, and the Rev. Michael Walrond, who ran in the 2014 primary and received 8 percent of the vote.