Congress

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.”

NY-22: Babinec Launches Petition Drive

Martin Babinec, the central New York businessman who is launching an independent bid for Congress in the 22nd district, announced Tuesday he had started a petition drive to create a new ballot line, the Upstate Jobs Party.

The party line will bolster Babinec’s spot on the ballot in November.

“If you care about jobs for our families, for our children, for our future we are asking you to come forward, volunteer and join our cause,” Babinec said in a statement.

“The Upstate Jobs Party is about more than just my candidacy, it’s about creating a sustainable political alternative to a two party system dominated by crony capitalism and special interests that has over and over again failed to deliver jobs for our region. If we are successful in bringing volunteers and attention to this line I plan to support its expansion going forward.”

The petitioning process for the line ends Aug. 2. Babinec is required to get at least 3,500 signatures from registered voters of any party or those not registered in the party. Those signing the petition must live in the district and have not signed another petition this election cycle.

The central New York district is being vacated this year by Republican Rep. Richard Hanna.

1199 Rolls Out Congressional Endorsements

The powerful labor union 1199/SEIU on Monday rolled out a pair of endorsements in two key congressional primaries on Long Island, a week before voters head to the polls in battleground districts.

In the NY-3, the union is backing Democrat Steve Stern, who is in a crowded primary field to replace Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat who retires at the end of the year.

“Working families need Congress to start working for New Yorkers, again, and I’m thrilled that 1199SEIU has joined Rep. Steve Israel and so many others in supporting my campaign,” said Stern, a county legislator.

“For decades, 1199SEIU has been at the forefront, fighting for the issues that matter most to New Yorkers: affordable healthcare, raising the minimum wage, paid family leave, and immigration reform. These are the priorities I’ve fought for throughout my career and I look forward to working with 1199SEIU to make sure Congress focuses on middle class priorities and not the special interests.”

In the NY-1 on the eastern end of the island, the union is backing Anna Throne-Holst, who faces Dave Calone in a primary next Tuesday. Both are competing to run against freshman Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin.

“Throughout her life, Anna Throne-Holst has demonstrated a strong and deep understanding of the issues facing Long Island and New York’s working families. As a working mother of four children, a dedicated public servant, and as a candidate for New York’s 1st Congressional District, Anna is a living embodiment of what our union fights for on a daily basis,” said union president George Gresham.

“As a Member of Congress, we know that Anna will work to lead the way forward on our shared priorities. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is proud to endorse Anna Throne-Holst for Congress.”

Both races are expected to be hotly contested general election battlegrounds later this fall.

TWC News To Host Four Primary Debates

Time Warner Cable News will host four congressional primary debates ahead of the state’s federal primary on June 28.

The two Democrats vying for the nomination in the 19th congressional district, Zephyr Teachout and Will Yandik, will face off on June 15 at 7 p.m. The Republican debate for the 19th congressional district nomination featuring John Faso and Andrew Heaney will air June 16 at 7 p.m.

The NY-19 is being vacated by retiring Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican.

In central New York’s 24th district, three Democrats are competing to take on incumbent Rep. John Katko. The debate between Colleen Deacon, Steve Williams and Eric Kingson will be held on June 20 at 7 p.m.

On June 21, TWC News will host a debate between Republicans Claudia Tenney, George Phillips and Steve Wells in the 22nd congressional district. Republican Richard Hanna is retiring from Congress.

All of the debates can be streamed on TWC News’s websites, with no log-in or cable subscription required to watch.

WNY Small Business Owner Announces Congressional Bid

A Western New York small business owner plans to challenge Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, this fall. Republican Sally Schratz, a lifelong Amherst resident, said she believes the government needs to change its path.

“Instead of electing a lifelong politician funded by the lobbyists and special interests, it’s time for a new voice for Western New York, someone who has the proven skills to get the job done, stand up for hardworking taxpayers, implement common sense solutions, and most importantly, someone who will empower citizens rather than government,” she said.

Schratz and her husband own Bing’s restaurant in Amherst and she’s served as a member of the town board. She’s came close to unseating an incumbent county legislator in 2009 but lost by a wider margin in the 2011 rematch.

Higgins has been a member of Congress since 2005 and was challenged by Conservative radio host Kathy Weppner in 2014.

 

Gibson Bill Would Update Toxic Chemicals Law

Rep. Chris Gibson has introduced legislation that would update the Toxic Substances Control Act to include enhanced oversight of commercially used chemicals.

The bill comes after the municipal drinking water in the communities of Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh was found to contain dangerous levels of PFOA, a chemical that had been used in manufacturing, but had a lower threshold for safety in water than public health officials advised.

“Given the frightening experiences of residents in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, where a chemical used in manufacturing has contaminated public water systems and private wells and raised serious concerns about long-term health impacts, I am proud to have joined my colleagues in passing this bipartisan bill to bring EPA standards up to date, modernize the approach to chemical testing, and better protect our people,” Gibson said in a statement.

“This bill affirms what I told the EPA Administrator earlier this year: We need more regular testing of commercially used chemicals to keep pace with scientific advances and provide consumers with the best information possible. What transpired in Rensselaer County is totally unacceptable, and we can’t let it happen in more communities.”

The bill passed the House of Representatives 403-12 and updates the current law by removing barriers to multiple chemical tests and requires safety reviews of chemicals currently in use. It also requires more information be made available to the public and limits animal testing whenever there is a reliable alternative. Deadlines for decisions by the EPA would also be set.

Schumer Says He’ll Still Be Active In NY When He Becomes Democratic Leader

Sen. Chuck Schumer is poised to become the first New Yorker to hold the party’s top leadership position in the Senate when current leader Harry Reid retires at the end of his term.

“There’s never 100 percent safe bet but I have the support of all my colleagues so it seems pretty good,” said Schumer, D-New York.

He’s facing his own challenge in Conservative attorney Wendy Long but right now appears to be more concerned about other races this fall.

“The question is, will it be majority leader or minority leader? Will the Democrats have the majority or minority leader? I’m very hopeful it can be majority leader. I’m working hard to see that but who knows,” Schumer said.

Either way, it will mean increased responsibility for Schumer, but the senator said he will continue to be visible throughout New York state. Schumer’s been prolific when it comes to press conference during his more than 15 years in the Senate.

“I’ll be as active in New York state as ever. I’ll use whatever clout I have to help New York but I’ll still be around. It’s just in my bones,” he said.

Schumer, of course, made this promise from another press conference in Niagara Falls Monday. He said over the weekend he spoke at three Western New York graduation ceremonies.

“I do my job better in Washington because I stay in touch with people and that’s not going to change,” he said. “The one nice thing, God blessed me with a lot of energy so hopefully I’ll have enough energy to do both.”