Congress

Flynn Lands 1st Labor Endorsement in NY-19 Dem Race

From the Morning Memo:

Brian Flynn, one of seven Democrats vying for the right to challenge freshman Republican Rep. John Faso in NY-19, is poised to announce he has landed the first labor endorsement of the primary battle.

Flynn, a businessman from Hunter, is being backed by the Transport Workers Union, a national labor organization, whose international president, John Samuelsen, (also FORMER president of TWU Local 100 here in New York), said in a statement to be released by Flynn’s campaign that the candidate is “a leader who understands that the economic security of families must be the highest priority of Congress, and that unions are a necessary partner in that mission.”

“From his advocacy to strengthen airport/airline security after his personal loss in the Lockerbie bombing, to his complete grasp of labor struggles, including the expected impact of Janus, Brian Flynn is the ally the entire TWU membership needs in Washington,” added Angelo Cucuzza, chairman of the New York TWU Conference, comprised of locals across the state.

The TWU represents more than 140,000 men and women in the airline, railroad, transit, service, utility and gaming industries across the U.S., and 43,000 of them are members of Local 100 in New York City.

Flynn has a long-standing and very personal tie to this union. One of its founders and first president, Michael Quill, was Flynn’s great uncle. He successfully organized New York City subway workers in the 1930s, and then secured contracts for them that – for the first time – granted them weekends off, pensions and health care coverage.

“To be the first and only candidate endorsed by labor in this race, particularly by an organization that holds such a deep and personal legacy for my family, is a profound honor,” Flynn said. “Unions are a powerful weapon in the fight against inequality, wage stagnation and a system that doesn’t represent the needs of a large majority of American workers.”

“They work to tackle racial and gender inequality by raising wages of women, black and Hispanic workers. I believe in an America That Works For All of Us. That’s why reinvigorating unions is a major tenet of my Plan For the American Worker. At the end of the day, this is about economic justice.”

Flynn is the only candidate in this race – actually, the only candidate in the entire state – whose campaign staffers have unionized, which, apparently is something of a mini-movement at a handful of congressional campaigns (all Democratic candidates) across the country.

So, TWU in New York is, as mentioned, pretty much a downstate entity. But in a Democratic field this crowded, any small leg up – via organizing, or independent expenditures, or phone-banking, or what have you – could make a difference leading up to the June primary.

NY-19: Rhodes Boycotts Sinclair Stations

Democratic congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes on Thursday said his campaign would boycott advertising on Sinclair-affiliated stations amid an uproar over the company’s anchors reading a script blasting perceived bias in the news media.

Sinclair has come under fire for its conservative-leaning commentary and “must run” packages that largely line up with the view of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Rhodes’s boycott of Sinclar will extend to interviews. In the 19th district’s media market, Sinclair owns WRGB, a CBS station that airs in the Capital Region.

“In an era when our nation is increasingly concerned about the spread of fake news, it is unacceptable that a media conglomerate like Sinclair would force our trusted local news anchors to push a one-sided political agenda, valuing partisan politics over informing the American public,” Rhodes said.

“Sinclair’s attacks on our press are dangerous, and I refuse to be complicit in allowing them to continue. That is why I will not advertise on any Sinclair-owned stations until policies are established to end ‘must-run segments’ and to fight the spread of Sinclair’s partisan political propaganda via local news. A free press is a constitutionally enshrined value, and our hard-working local television reporters and anchors deserve to be able to tell the stories that are the product of their own investigative work, not just those pushed from partisan corporate titans.”

Rhodes is not the first candidate to announce a boycott of Sinclair stations. A Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland has announced a boycott of the company and a House candidate in Kentucky pulled her ads from Sinclair stations as well.

Rhodes is among the crowded field of Democrats running in the Hudson Valley House district to take on Republican Rep. John Faso this fall.

Robach Says He’s Considering Congressional Bid

Republican state Sen. Joe Robach in an interview Thursday said he is weighing a run for the congressional seat that was held by Rep. Louise Slaughter, who died last week.

Robach joins another state lawmaker, Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, in considering a campaign for the Rochester-area district.

“It’s a tough call. The idea of Congress is certainly excited, yet I think the work we do here in Albany, putting in the tax cap, I want to make sure we stay that course,” he said. “I’m always trying to focus not necessarily on what my ego may tell me, but where I can have the greatest impact for the people who I have the honor and privilege to represent and I’m going through that process right now.”

Robach’s own district in the state Senate is not necessarily a strong GOP hold should he vacate to run for Congress. Senate Republicans currently hold a narrow advantage in the chamber.

“That continues to be critically important. I do not want one party to be in control of the governor, the Senate and Assembly,” Robach said. “These are all the things I’m trying to balance in talking with people in the know and my family.”

Like Morelle, another consideration is the state budget, due next week, and the petitioning process for the ballot that’s now underway.

“We’re in the throws of the budget right now and it’s critically important that we hold the line on taxes and make sure Rochester gets its fair share,” Robach said.

NY-21: Reform Party Endorses Stefanik

Rep. Elise Stefanik gained the endorsement Tuesday of the Reform Party ballot line, her re-election campaign announced.

Stefanik was endorsed by the party that was initially formed in 2014 as a ballot line to protest the Common Core education standards. It since has morphed into a government reform vehicle was taken over in part by Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa and political activist Frank Morano.

“Congresswoman Stefanik is a tireless advocate for government transparency and accountability who consistently puts the North Country first,” said Capitol Region Reform Party Chairman Pat Southworth. “Elise has earned the Reform Party’s endorsement for her policy driven, bipartisan record of results. She has consistently empowered students and teachers in our classrooms, supported the Second Amendment while championing commonsense safety reforms that protect our schools, and has opposed big government mandates like Common Core and the NY SAFE ACT. We are proud to have Elise’s name on the Reform Party ballot this November.”

Stefanik is running for a third term in the sprawling North Country House district that has been considered at times a swing seat for Republicans to maintain.

“I share the New York Reform Party’s commitment to government transparency and accountability, and am honored to have earned their endorsement,” Stefanik said. “From standing against Common Core to supporting responsible, bipartisan gun safety reforms while protecting our Second Amendment rights, I will continue to work hard on behalf of North Country families and small businesses.”

NY-21: WFP Endorses Wilson For Congress

Democratic congressional candidate Katie Wilson on Tuesday received the backing of the Working Families Party in her bid for the 21st congressional district in the state’s North Country region.

Wilson is among a crowded field of Democrats seeking to challenge Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, who is seeking a third term in the House of Representatives.

“WFP is proud to support Katie Wilson for Congress. As a single mother and small business owner, Katie knows well the struggles of working families in the North Country, and is exactly the kind of home-grown Working Families Democrat we need in Congress,” said Karen Scharff, Working Families Party Co-Chair. “Katie will fight for the needs of the North Country instead of tax cuts for billionaires and health care cuts for everyone else. She’s got the right kind of experience combined with the persistence and enthusiasm it will take to be heard in the halls of Congress.”

The WFP’s endorsement comes as Dylan Ratigan, a former cable TV anchor, has entered the race, unsettling what had already been an uncertain field.

An endorsement from the labor-aligned party could be key as she seeks a Democratic nomination ahead of the vote on June 26.

“I’m ecstatic, this endorsement is what my campaign is all about! It’s time to elevate the needs of working families above the needs of Wall Street and the elite. I’m a Working Families Democrat and I’m fighting for the little guy in this David & Goliath moment,” Wilson said.

“The WFP understands that this is not the time to elect wealthy, out of touch candidates who do not understand the everyday struggles facing working people. Now is the time to bring diversity to Congress and that includes socio-economic diversity.”

Stefanik Secures GOP County Nods

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik has secured the endorsements of all 12 GOP county committees in the sprawling 21st congressional district, her campaign on Monday announced.

“I am honored to have earned the unanimous endorsement of every Republican County Committee,” Stefanik said. “I want to thank each of these committees for their dedication on behalf of our campaign.”

Stefanik is seeking a third term this year as a crowded field of Democrats are vying for the nomination to run against here.

“North Country Republicans are united behind Congresswoman Elise Stefanik,” said Shaun Gillilland, Regional Vice Chair of the New York State Republican Party for the North Country. “Elise earned the unanimous endorsement of every Republican County Committee through her tireless work ethic, and her proven record of fighting for jobs, a strong national defense, and government accountability and transparency.”

The Democratic field has clarified somewhat with the entrance of former cable TV host Dylan Ratigan into the race and two candidates dropped their bids. Republicans nevertheless took note of the search for a Democratic nominee, which likely won’t be decided until the June primary.

“While our Party stands united behind Elise Stefanik, Democrats are divided and in dismal disarray,” Gillibrand said. “Every day, liberal Democratic candidates run farther and faster to the extreme left, and away from the common-sense values voters deserve and expect. That may be the right way for Democrats to win a primary, but it’s the wrong way to represent the hardworking taxpayers of the 21st District.”

Reed Senses Fundamental Shift Toward Middle In Both Houses

From the Morning Memo:

Southern Tier Republican Rep. Tom Reed was not happy about the short federal government shutdown, which ended,at least temporarily, Monday.

During a conference call Tuesday, Reed blamed the shutdown on extremist politics on both sides of the aisles.

In particular, he believed far-Right and far-Left members of the Senate affected the decision making of that house’s leadership. But Reed senses both congressional houses are beginning to move away from extreme partisanship.

The congressman said the House’s Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of representatives with a focus on bipartisan solutions of which Reed is chairman, is contributing to that shift.

“During the last few days during the government shutdown, I was proud that we sat in a room for an hour and a half and discussed in a culture of trust, different proposals to address the government shutdown, to address the issue of immigration and the Dreamers as well as border security issues,” he said.

Reed believes the movement is bleeding over to the Senate as well. He pointed to the bipartisan Common Sense Coalition led by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, which is getting credit for breaking the shutdown.

Reed said he believes moderates can help lead the conversations on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, immigration, and possibly avoid waiting until February 8, the next shutdown deadline, to pass another continuing resolution.

“I think what you’ve got to do is build off the foundational cultural shift that’s represented by the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House and the Common Sense Coalition in the Senate and through those relationships, have good faith negotiations to deal with the issues of the day,” Reed said.

In general, the congressman said both houses could benefit from a decentralized leadership model. He said he expects the Problem Solvers Caucus will release a proposal soon with solutions about how to fund military and non-military budget lines on a more long-term basis.

Tenney Does Not Think Texas’s Farenthold Should Resign

Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney in a Capital Tonight interview said she does not believe Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold should resign after it was revealed he used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settlement harassment complaints leveled against him by a former aide and questioned whether the accusations against him fit the definition of sexual harassment.

Tenney also warned against using harassment allegations as a “weapon” against both Democrats and Republicans.

“I think we have to be very careful. We could be going down a very dangerous road to make every furtive glance or everything become sexual harassment,” she said. “What you’re doing is hurting the real victims of true sexual harassment — victims who have been oppressed and had sex used against them in the workplace.”

The full interview airs this evening on Capital Tonight.

Farenthold, who announced this month he would not seek re-election, was accused of making inappropriate comments to a former press aide, telling her that he had “wet dreams” and “sexual fantasies” about her. The aide said she was later fired after she complained about the comments.

Tenney, however, said the incident does not constitute sexual harassment.

“I think Blake Farenthold is not an example of sexual harassment,” she said. “From what I know he made some off-handed comments that were inappropriate, that were just boorish.”

Tenney said sexual harassment is a “a civil issue. It’s legally defined by statute. It’s a prolonged attempt to use power and control to use sex against a person.”

A range of prominent lawmakers in Congress have resigned or announced plans to step down after allegations of harassment surfaced against them in recent weeks, part of a broader national reckoning with harassment in the workforce.

“We have good people who are being vilified maybe because they were at a party and acted inappropriately once or they made an off-hand remark,” she said. “That doesn’t mean you should resign from your job and be stricken and people publicly chastised. I think there’s a fine line, but we do have to take it seriously with the legislation I’m supporting.”

A former state lawmaker, Tenney said the accusations leveled against members of the Legislature in Albany in recent years was useful in developing proposals to combat harassment in Congress, which she has sponsored.

“I think it was helpful,” she said. “I think it provided for us to have a clear way of running our offices and having that dynamic.”

Slaughter, Faso Back Bill To Honor Hinchey

Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter and Republican Rep. John Faso are backing legislation that would name a post office in Saugerties after the late former Rep. Maurice Hinchey.

Hinchey, a Democrat who served in the House of Representatives until 2013, died in November.

“Maurice Hinchey was a remarkable public servant who had the courage to take on the tough issues,” Slaughter said. “We served four years together in the New York State Assembly and 20 years in Congress. I watched him do what he did best: defend the constituents and land he represented. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to rename the post office in Maurice’s hometown in honor of his extraordinary legacy.”

Hinchey was considered a staunch environmentalist while in office, haven been credited for support of the Clean Air Act and bolstering protections for the Hudson River. He also served in the U.S. Navy.

“Maurice Hinchey was a fierce defender of the environment who was a steadfast advocate for the causes he believed in and the people he served,” Faso said. “I was proud to serve alongside him in the State Assembly. Naming his hometown post office after Maurice will be an enduring recognition of his lifetime of service to the people of Saugerties and Ulster County.”

Syracuse Man Arrested For Threatening Katko Over Net Neutrality

A 28-year-old Syracuse man has been arrested for allegedly threatening U.S. Rep. John Katko, federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced.

Patrick D. Angelo faces charges of interstate communication of a threat and threatening a federal official, which carry a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Angelo is alleged to have left a message on Katko’s voice mail expressing displeasure over the issues surrounding net neutrality, regulations over Internet speed and access the Federal Communications Commission is expected to loosen formally next month.

“Listen Mr. Katko, if you support net neutrality, I will support you,” Angelo is accused of saying in the recording.

“But if you don’t support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill…you…all. Do you understand?” The message continued: “I will literally find all…of…you and your progeny and t- just wipe you from the face of the earth. Net neutrality is more important than the defense of the United States. Net neutrality is more important than free speech. Net neutrality is more important than health care. Net neutrality is literally the basis of the new society. That even if you don’t understand, how important it is, net neutrality is literally the basis of the new…free…society. So if you don’t support it, I am willing to lay down my li- (recording ends).”

The message was left on the lawmaker’s office voicemail and sent to the U.S. Capitol Police, which investigated it with the FBI.

Katko, a Republican, was first elected in 2014, and is a former assistant U.S. attorney. Security around Katko has been increased as a result of threat.

“While citizens are certainly entitled to communicate their views on issues of importance to them to their elected officials, there are and must be bounds to the manner in which such views may be expressed, said U.S. Attorney James Kennedy of the western district of New York. “We will respond aggressively to those who overstep those bounds and seek to influence the making of Federal policies and legislation by making threats to the lives of those entrusted with such tasks and their families.”