Mar 7th - 4:39 pm
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has bucked the GOP establishment in his endorsement of George Demos over Sen. Lee Zeldin in the battle for the right to face Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in NY-1 this fall.
In a statement released by the Demos campaign, Giuliani called the candidate “a fiscal conservative who says what he believes and believes what he says.”
“As a former prosecutor, he knows the good guys from the bad,” the former mayor continued. “He will rattle the cages of the establishment. He’ll make a difference. And George would never support Obamacare. His voice will be heard in the halls of Congress, and I predict, throughout America.”
“I am impressed with George, his passion, his intellect, and his integrity. I am proud to endorse his candidacy and prouder still to call him a friend. George Demos is one of us. And it’s time for George Demos for Congress.”
In backing Demos, Giuliani is not only at odds with the majority of Republican and Conservative leaders in NY-1, who have lined up behind Zeldin, but he’s also on the same side as former Gov. George Pataki – an early supporter of Demos, who worked for Pataki when he was in office.
Pataki and Giuliani have not always seen eye to eye over the years, either on politics or policy, though their relationship improved markedly after 9/11 and toward the end of the governor’s tenure in Albany.
The state GOP has been vehemently opposed to Demos’ candidacy (sometimes a little too vehemently). The party is very keen on putting forward a united front against Bishop, who came close to losing his seat in 2012 and continues to be the subject of an ethics investigation in connection with his campaign fundraising.
Division within the party – and between Republicans and Conservatives – has previously weakened candidates’ chances of unseating Bishop.
UPDATE: A knowledgable reader notes that Demos’ campaign is run by two consultants: Jake Menges and Rob Cole. Giuliani is longtime Menges client, Pataki a longtime Cole client. So, there’s a certain element of doing some political favors here that is worth noting.
Mar 6th - 1:26 pm
Rep. Michael Grimm has a friend in Rep. Gregory Meeks.
The Republican and Democrat teamed up to pass a bill to halt rising flood insurance rates, and at a press conference Thursday, the two tried to outdo each other with their compliments.
“You’re the man,” said Meeks, as he walked into the event.
“No, you’re the man,” replied Grimm.
Grimm went on call Meeks a “true leader” and a “friend.”
Meeks responded by saying, “I want to thank especially my buddy Michael Grimm, who you know, let me tell you – he was relentless in trying to make sure we had a deal here.”
The Queens Democrat has long been a friend of the embattled Staten Island Republican, who is facing a tough reelection against Democrat Domenic Recchia.
We asked Meeks’ office if the Democrat plans on getting involved in the Grimm/Recchia race and are waiting for a response. National Democrats are working hard to unseat Grimm, as they fight an uphill battle to regain control of the House.
Mar 6th - 1:16 am
It appears Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins will have a challenger for this fall’s midterm election. The Erie County Republican Committee confirmed Wednesday Night that Kathy Weppner will announce her candidacy in New York’s 26th Congressional District, Friday morning.
The former conservative radio talk show host will make it official during a press conference at Amherst Town Hall. A well-known caller, Weppner was given her own weekend show on WBEN before leaving the station in November of 2012.
Weppner announced on her website this week she’d be challenging Higgins:
“I want you to join me in a fight to take back Washington and return it to the people. This is not a Republican, Democrat, Conservative or Independent fight. This is an American fight and we better rise up together before it is too late! Elect me to represent you and I will fight for the liberty, freedom and prosperity that brave Americans have fought and died for. All of our futures and the future of those we love depend on us to do this.”
Taking on Higgins won’t be easy. The incumbent Democrat has name recognition and a significant Democratic enrollment advantage in the district.
Weppner may even have to win over some in her own party. Several well-known Western New York Republicans have not only supported the South Buffalo Democrat, they’ve raised money for him.
Higgins has not made an official announcement but his supporters are already passing out petitions.
Mar 3rd - 1:33 pm
Conservative and Republican leaders in NY-24 have united behind former US Attorney John Katko to face off against Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei this fall.
Katko emerged from a field of seven (it was eight, but Jane Rossi, a Rome businesswoman and the ex-wife of Oneida Indian Nation leader Ray Halbritter, withdrew at the last minute) Republicans who interviewed with party leaders Saturday at the Palace Theater in Syracse. He left his job to run for office, and cited his experience fighting crime – especially gang members – as apt preparation for the campaign trail and D.C. politics.
Today, the Conservative leaders in NY-24, which includes committees from Onondaga, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego counties, issued a statement in support of Katko, although they stressed that he had prevailed over several candidates who all had “excellent qualifications.”
“Mr. Katko aligns with our Conservative principles philosophically and understands the significance of this election,” said Onondaga County Conservative Chairman Chuck Mancabelli. “Mr. Katko has a strong command of the issues and more importantly, an ability to connect with the voters during the campaign. This is a key element for any candidate to be credible in today’s political climate.”
State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long will have the final say on this endorsement, but with both the Republicans and the Conservatives behind him, Katko has a better shot at trying to prevent a GOP primary.
One of his rivals for Row B, John Lemondes, a retired Army colonel from LaFayette, has not yet decided whether he will seek to force a primary. He finished second to Katko during the GOP endorsement process, though Katko received more than 50 percent of the weighted party vote, according to Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey.
So far, only Ian Hunter of Syracuse, who fought with party leaders last year after he passed petitions to run on the GOP and Conservative lines in the mayor’s race, has announced plans to mount a GOP primary challenge. Dadey went to court to kick Hunter off the GOP line, leaving the Democratic incumbent, Mayor Stephanie Miner, without a Republican opponent. Hunter ended up receiving just over 15 percent of the vote on the Conservative line.
Because of the early, court-ordered June primaries in House races, candidates must beging passing petitions tomorrow to gather the 1,250 signatures needed for a spot on the primary ballot.
Maffei has been a top target for the Republicans and Conservatives ever since he was bounced from his seat in a tight race by Ann Marie Buerkle in 2010. Maffei defeated Buerkle in a re-match in 2012, and she briefly mulled running against him yet a third time, before opting out of the race last September. Buerkle was appointed by President Obama to a $155,00-a-year, five year term as a commissioner on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the spring of 2013.
Feb 27th - 12:45 pm
Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs announced today that he will not pick a favorite from among the candidates vying for retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s seat, and urged party committee members to back whomever they feel is the strongest contender to win in the November general election.
Jacobs wrote the following email to county committee members, and also released it to members of the press:
“Dear County Committee Member:”
“As you know, there is the possibility of a primary contest for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 4th CD. As both candidates have deep roots in the County Committee and both are long-serving public officials who have run on our Party’s line multiple times, I have decided NOT to take a position in this race, should there be one.”
“Accordingly, I leave it to each member of the Committee to make their own judgment and support the candidate of their choosing.”
Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice is widely viewed as the frontrunner in race for the Democratic line, and she has been endorsed by McCarthy, who is opting not to seek re-election due to health concerns.
Rice’s decision to run may have caused other Democrats to think twice about throwing their respective hats into the ring. But Nassau legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams remains interested, He’s raising money to see if he can fund a campaign.
DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, who hails from Long Island, has said he hopes there won’t be a primary, but in the event that there is one, he urged candidates to avoid going negative and focus their criticism for the Republicans.
On the GOP side, Bruce Blakeman, the former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, has announced his intention to seek McCarthy’s seat. Blakeman also ran an unsuccessful bid for the US Senate in 2010, finishing dead last in a three-way Republican primary, and an unsuccessful campaign for state comptroller in 1998.
Blakeman is an attractive candidate to the Republicans due to his local name recognition and ability to self fund. He already has the support of Rep. Pete King, but he’s facing a potential primary battle with New Hyde Park attorney Frank Scaturro.
Petitioning for congressional races starts next week, thanks to the court-ordered June primary date for House races.
Feb 25th - 11:30 pm
The “Kids Before Cons Act.” It’s the name of a new piece of legislation introduced by three New York Congressmen on Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by Republicans Chris Collins, Tom Reed, and Chris Gibson, would prohibit the use of federal taxpayer dollars to provide a college education to convicted criminals. The measure is a response to Governor Cuomo’s proposal to provide free College Education to inmates at 10 state prisons.
“The Governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals using taxpayer dollars is an insult to law abiding citizens all across our state,” Collins said.
All three GOP sponsors said the Governor’s plan sends the wrong message.
“College students in New York leave school with an average of nearly $26,000 in student loans, a huge undertaking for any family,” said Reed.
“We can do better than spend federal taxpayer dollars on the education of convicted criminals when our hardworking New Yorkers need the assistance themselves,” Gibson said.
Collins plans to take action during the House Appropriations process to ensure no funds in any particular bill are used to fund college courses for convicted criminals. Collins says the “Kids Before Cons Act” does not ban states from using federal dollars to support GED or work training programs in prisons and correctional facilities.
“We must put our college kids before cons,” Collins added.
The Governor’s office provided no immediate response the congressional proposal.
Feb 25th - 10:18 am
From the morning memo, in case you missed it:
A day after Republican Chris Day launched his Congressional bid, longtime Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey is kicking off her own re-election campaign to keep the suburban House seat she first won in 1988.
In an email to supporters, Lowey touted her recent accomplishments, including $60 billion in Sandy disaster aid and funding for a replacement to the Tappan Zee Bridge.
“As the highest ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, I served on the bi-partisan House-Senate conference committee that broke the gridlock in Washington and passed a budget in the fall to end the Tea Party shutdown,” she added in the email. “Just last month, we enacted important legislation to improve our economy and quality of life through restoration of federal investments in infrastructure, early education, homeland security, medical research, and much more.”
Day, the son of Rockland County Executive Ed Day, announced he would challenge Lowey in the 17th Congressional District at a breakfast meeting of Westchester County Republicans on Sunday.
Lowey faced Republican Joe Carvin in 2012, who at one point was a U.S. Senate candidate.
“In one short week, hundreds of supporters will begin a month-long canvass to collect petition signatures so that I can qualify to run for re-election. I know that I can count on you to help and to advise me throughout the campaign,” Lowey wrote. “I am proud to call the Hudson Valley home, and it is an honor to serve you in the United States Congress.”
Feb 21st - 1:37 pm
As former Rep. Nan Hayworth mounts a rematch campaign against Democratic incumbent Sean Patrick Maloney, a fundraising appeal from her campaign acknowledges there’s a fundraising gap.
In the note, she writes that Maloney — the Democrat who unseated her in 2012 — has raised “3 times as much money” as her campaign.
From the email sent to supporters on Friday:
“Sean Maloney is raising a lot of money – nearly $2 million – from his special interest friends and lobbyists as he tries to run a smear campaign and distract voters from his failed record.
Maloney’s attack machine has raised 3 times as much money as our campaign has raised – we need your help to bridge the gap.
Please contribute today… this election is too important to allow Maloney and his cronies the chance to buy our government.
Hayworth formally announced she was running once again for the Hudson Valley House seat earlier this month.
Maloney’s filing last month showed raised $354,000 in the past fundraising cycle, bringing his cash on hand total to $909,000. UPDATE: Actually, those are Maloney’s third quarter numbers. He raised $381,000 in the fourth quarter and had $1.2 million on hand.
Hayworth’s fourth quarter campaign finance filing showed she had contributed $50,000 of her own money for the effort. She has has $496,188 in cash on hand for the potential comeback, having raised $87,117, which includes her own personal donation. She has $496,188 in cash on hand.
UPDATE2: Maloney spokeswoman Stephanie Formas responded:
“Nan Hayworth’s re-run Tea Party campaign is about giving her fellow multi-millionaires huge new tax breaks, while ending traditional Medicare and defunding Planned Parenthood. Sean Patrick Maloney is getting results and creating jobs by passing an historic farm bill, rebuilding the Port of Newburgh and working across the isle to bring disaster relief to hard-hit Hudson Valley families – all areas where Congresswoman Hayworth failed.”
Feb 19th - 6:54 am
After weeks of silence on whether he would run a third time in NY-21, Republican Matt Doheny has announced he intends to challenge the party favorite, Elise Stefanik, for the GOP line.
“I was honored that more than 120,000 voters chose me to represent them during the last election,” Doheny said in a statement released early this morning.
“Many told me they appreciated my real-world experience in tackling tough problems and working together with competing interests to find common ground. That approach and real-world experience is sorely needed in a Congress too full of career insiders.”
“…“I was humbled by strangers who stopped me in the grocery store or at the gas station and urged me to run again. Several friends I met on the campaign trail called and offered an encouraging word.”
“I’m going to be out there every day working hard to get elected and be a good representative for them in Congress.”
Doheny twice tried – unsuccessfully – to unseat Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, first in 2010 during a three-way race in which Conservative Doug Hoffman reduced his chances of success, and then again in 2012, when he had the Independence, Conservative and GOP lines, but still came up short in the GOP-dominated district.
Each time he ran, Doheny spent hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of his own cash on his campaigns.
There has been consistent talk that Doheny was mulling a third congressional run ever since Owens’ abrupt announcement last month that he would not seek re-election this fall.
That talk intensified when a polling firm that has long worked for Doheny released the results of a survey that showed him with a significant lead over former Bush White House aide Elise Stefanik, who announced her candidacy back in August – long before Owens even decided not to run.
Doheny did not return calls seeking comment after the poll surfaced, and he said not a public word when the majority of the GOP county chairs in NY-21 announced they had selected Stefanik as their candidate.
At least one NY-21 GOP chairman is standing firm behind Stefanik. Franklin County Chair Ray Scollin released the following statement last night in response to “actual or potential Republican late-comers” to the race:
“From the very first day of the 2014 election cycle, Franklin County Republicans have worked to identify a solid candidate from the ground up. Myself, and the county committee, know we have found one in Elise Stefanik.”
“She has put in both the miles and the hours to prove to everyone interested that she deserves our endorsement, and we proudly confirmed that tonight at our monthly meeting.”
“When incumbent Bill Owens was still in the race, Stefanik was doing the hard work of earning the support of grassroots Republicans, town and county committees, local business leaders and elected officials throughout the district. This is the hard work we expect from our future representatives in Washington.”
“Political opportunists are unfortunately a dime a dozen, while principled, energetic representatives are few and far between. I believe we could do with a little more earnest enthusiasm, and a little less ambulance chasing.”
In this morning’s statement Doheny stressed that while he had to leave the North Country temporarily “to continue my career, this will be my home for the rest of my life.” He said he wants to improve the district for the “next generation,” including his seven-month-old son, Declan.
Neither Stefanik nor the Democrats’ candidate, documentary filmmaker Aaron Woolf, is a North Country native.
Stefanik recently relocated into the district, to which her family has long had ties. Woolf, who has not made any public appearances since his selection by the Democratic county chairs last week, owns a house in Elizabethtown, but also has a residence in New York City.
Doheny, 43, grew up in the North Country and graduated from Alexandria Central School. He graduated from Allegheny College and Cornell Law School.
After practicing law in Syracuse, Doheny worked at Deutsche Bank, and later, for Fintech Advisory, a money management firm. He left Fintech in 2010 and started his own business, North Country Capital LLC, which is based in Watertown, where he lives with his wife, Mary.
Doheny said he intends to also seek the Independence and Conservative lines this year.
The Democratic line is not quite settled, either. There has been persistent talk that former state Sen. Darrel Aubertine will enter the race.
Aubertine, who left his post as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s agriculture commissioner last fall and now works for state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, has confirmed he’s considering a run, but has not yet made any announcements.
Feb 18th - 3:49 pm
Democratic NY-19 candidate Sean Eldridge is again trying to cast his GOP target, Rep. Chris Gibson, as an ultra-conservative who is out of touch with his constituents by linking him to a purportedly nonpartisan organization founded by one of his former staffers.
Earlier today, Eldridge’s campaign slammed Gibson for attending a forum tonight hosted by Upstate New York Taxpayers Advocates, or UNYTA, which bills itself as nonpartisan, but also says on its website that it was created ” by concerned North Country citizens who decided to take action to support true fiscal conservative candidates for public office and to speak out against wasteful government spending.”
“All are invited who believe that it is our moral duty to get our fiscal house in order,” the site reads. “You could argue it is the greatest moral challenge America has faced since slavery. And it starts here at home. We invite you to join us.”
Eldridge’s campaign noted that former GOP VP candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – an outspoken conservative and Tea Party darling - once compared the US debt to slavery, claiming that young Americans would be shackled by the country’s out-of-control spending habits.
UNYTA was co-founded by Mark Westcott, who currently sits on the organization’s executive committee. Westcott was Gibson’s campaign director for his 2012 re-election bid and the former deputy director in his district office. He was paid $43,869 by Gibson’s campaign that year.
“Tonight’s forum is classic Chris Gibson: Organized by his political donors and long-time allies who hold an extremely conservative world view, so that he can talk about how bipartisan he is. Is anyone buying this?” said Eldridge’s campaign manager Mike Reid.
Gibson spokeswoman Stephanie Valle said Westcott was paid in 2012 for work he did as the congressman’s campaign manager, but noted that had nothing at all to do with UNYTA, which was not formed until after Wetscott had already left the Gibson payroll. And then she fired off this response:
“First, Congressman Gibson regularly meets and speaks with respect to individuals and groups across the political spectrum – a skill Sean Eldridge clearly has not yet mastered or even attempted. ”
“Furthermore, after months of hiding from taking a position on anything, it’s good to know that Sean Eldridge actually stands for something. New Yorkers can know that a vote for Sean Eldridge is a vote for unrestrained spending, taxing and borrowing that will reverse the trend of lower deficits and our work toward a balanced budget.”
“Sean Eldridge does not think our country is facing a fiscal crisis, so future generations can count on Sean’s representation bringing more unsustainable debt that will cripple our economy, threaten our national security, and crowd out spending on the essential safety net programs the federal government supports. Given that Sean lacks an affiliation with Upstate New York and identity with the need to actually budget, such a viewpoint is not surprising.”
It is worth noting that while his opponents have tried to cast Gibson as an extreme conservative pretty much since the day he was elected, the congressman insists he’s a pragmatic and middle-of-the-road Republican – in other words, a member of that increasingly rare class of GOP moderates. The National Journal, which annually ranks House and Senate members from most liberal to most conservative, agrees with that assessment.