Woolf Won’t Choose Sides in Gubernatorial Primary

From today’s Morning Memo:

Aaron Woolf, the Democratic candidate seeking to replace retiring Rep. Bill Owens in NY-21, declined yesterday to choose a favorite in the upcoming Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Asked if he would be supporting either Gov. Andrew Cuomo or his challenger, Fordham Law School Prof. Zephyr Teachout, Woolf replied:

“I’m going, I’m going to reserve…just as I sought support from many colleagues when there was a possibility of me having a primary and they refused to comment, I think we’ll let the democratic process play out.”

Woolf has drawn some criticism in his successful push to toss his own primary challenger, Stephen Burke, off the Sept. 9 ballot, paying an attorney with ties to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to assist in that effort.

Given his New York City roots and background as a documentary filmmaker focusing on issues like big agriculture, the automotive industry and human trafficking, Woolf might seem like someone who would support Teachout in her long-shot bid to upset Cuomo. Woolf is also a political outsider who has never before run for elected office – much like Teachout herself.

But Teachout is running to Cuomo’s left, and Woolf is trying to position himself as a centrist in a district that – before Owens’ surprise victory in a 2009 special election – was viewed as a GOP stronghold.

The district has a considerable GOP enrollment edge, with 181,832 Republicans to 127,262 Democrats and 90,227 so-called “blanks” who are not affiliated with any political party. Woolf has his own challenger on the left, the Green Party’s Matt Funiciello.

The NRCC has recently been trying to boost Funiciello, highlighting his candidacy in an attempt to bring down support for Woolf and assist the Republican/Conservative in the race, Elise Stefanik.

Allying himself with Cuomo might not be such a great idea for Woolf, either, even though the governor did fairly well in the North Country in 2010 and has been working hard to boost his numbers there ever since (pushing particularly hard when it comes to helping the tourism industry in the Adirondack Park).

Opposition to Cuomo’s controversial gun control law the SAFE Act gets stronger the further north (and west) of Albany you travel, and the rural areas continue to trend Republican, though their vote hasn’t been strong enough to counter Democrat-dominated NYC’s clout.

President Obama carried NY-21 by six points over Mitt Romney in 2012 – two points higher than the president’s national margin.

But the race between Cuomo and his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, isn’t competitive enough to draw anywhere near the kind of turnout a presidential race does, so Woolf is fighting an uphill battle – especially with Funiciello in the race, potential drawing votes away from him to Stefanik’s advantage, (though that’s definitely not how Funiciello sees it).

NYLCV Taps Avella as Pre-Primary ‘Top Priority’

As he faces a tough primary challenge from former NYC Comptroller John Liu, Sen. Tony Avella has picked up the support of the New York League of Conservation Voters, which today will name the Queens senator its top priority candidate in advance of the Sept. 9 election.

In an email to its members, the NYLCV touted Avella’s “tireless work” on some of the organization’s key agenda items, like getting toxic chemicals out of children’s products, promoting clean energy and protecting clean drinking water.

“Whether he was leading the charge on the Child Safe Products Act, or making sure regulations are in place that will safeguard our drinking water from hydraulic fracturing, Tony has kept the environment a top issue in the Senate,” the email states.

“And that’s just what we need if we’re going to make New York safer and healthier for everyone.”

The NYLCV’s support comes with a “significant” five-figure independent expenditure on Avella’s behalf that will include phone banking, door knocking and a GOTV strategy.

Avella can certainly use the assistance. He has been trailing Liu in fundraising, and this primary fight has divided Queens Democrats and organized labor.

A few unions are sticking with Liu despite the deal for the IDC and regular Democrats to reunite after the general election – an agreement that grew out of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s endorsement battle with the labor-backed Working Families Party.

Avella, however, is being supported by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who helped broker Cuomo’s WFP endorsement deal, and the healthcare workers union SEIU 1199.

The WFP initially backed Liu, but is now neutral in this primary battle, along with one in the Bronx, where former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell is trying to topple IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

A source familiar with the NYLCV endorsement process said both Liu and Avella filled out questionnaires and interviewed to receive the group’s nod.

But at the end of the day, the source said, Avella impressed the NYLCV board with his record and “political courage” on the organization’s issues – especially his push for the Child Safe Product Act, even though it never got to the Senate floor for a vote.

When he defected from the so-called “regular” Democrats to join the IDC this past February, Avella was bumped up to vice chair of the Senate’s Environmental Committee from the position of ranking member.

The NYLCV is also increasing its PAC budget this year from $350,000 in 2012 to $385,000 – in part due to greater independent expenditure spending.

Avella isn’t the only candidate the NYLCV is backing in advance of the September primaries. Its full list of endorsed candidates can be found here. There will be another round of endorsements – including in statewide races – in late September.

The pre-primary list includes GOP Sen. Jack Martins, whose support by the NYLCV has sparked a bit of a war between the NYC-based organization and a Long Island environmental group.

The Long Island Environmental Voters Forum protested Martins’ support by the “Manhattan-based” League.

The local group is particularly upset that the Senate never voted on the Long Island Water Quality Control Act, and has expressed support for Martins’ Democratic challenger, Adam Haber.

Honing In on Hochul

Now that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout has survived Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s residency challenge and is assured a spot on the Sept. 9 primary ballot, her campaign is turning up the heat on Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul.

Last night, Teachout and her running mate, Columbia Law Prof. Tim Wu, released a video highlighting Hochul’s voting record and statements – both as the Erie County clerk and as a congresswoman – that they say was compiled by a campaign volunteer identified only as “Tim from Brooklyn.”

The video features Hochul boasting that she had the Conservative Party’s endorsement “every time I’ve run for office,” and also saying that she didn’t support “Obamacare” 100 percent – even voting “many times to repeal it.”

“I’ve become very conservative in my voting record,” Hochul proudly proclaims at one point in the video.

There’s also footage of Hochul touting her backing from the NRA, support for the Keystone Pipeline, and opposition to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s push to let undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses, which is something Wu has been hammering her on for weeks.

“I’ve heard from a lot of Republicans, they think I’m a different kind of Democrat, and I’ll take that as a compliment,” Hochul says. “…I’ve talked to hundreds of people, many, many Conservatives and Republicans, and they are with me on the issues.”

The video concludes by deeming Hochul the “wrong” kind of Democrat for New York, and highlighting Wu as a “progressive” candidate for LG.

Hochul’s past conservative positions are in no small part due to the large GOP enrollment edge in her old district, NY-27, which actually became even more Republican after the last round of redistricting, causing her to lose the seat to former Erie County Executive Chris Collins in 2012.

Since she was tapped in May by Cuomo to run for LG, the former congresswoman has refused to repudiate some of her record – like the opposition to undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses – even as she embraces more liberal policy proposals like the DREAM Act.

Hochul has also said she backs the SAFE Act, which has caused gun rights advocates to call for the NRA to withdraw its support of her.

The Teachout-Wu focus on Hochul is a testament to the fact that there are no set tickets until after the primary, which means Cuomo could end up running with Wu on the Democratic line if Wu somehow manages to beat Hochul on Sept. 9.

There’s ample precedence for this.

It happened in 2010 Carl Paladino, who ended up running with then-Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards, the running mate of Paladino’s vanquished gubernatorial primary foe, former Rep. Rick Lazio, after Edwards beat Paladino’s LG pick, former NYC Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene in the primary.

It also happened to Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, when his preferred LG candidate, H. Carl McCall, lost the primary to Westchester County Executive Al DelBello, who was running with then-NYC Mayor Ed Koch.

Koch failed to defeat Mario Cuomo in the primary, so Cuomo and DelBello became a not-terribly-happy team. They won the general election, but DelBello ended up resigning before his four-year term was through, complaining that the governor hadn’t given him enough to do.

Credico Arrested, Again (Updatedx2)

Comedian-turned-activist Randy Credico, a long-shot Democratic gubernatorial candidate, was arrested yesterday while trying to videotape two white transit officers arresting a black man in the NYC subway system, according to an announcement released on behalf of his campaign.

Credico was en route to Westchester for an interview with Journal News columnist Phil Reisman when he saw the two plain clothes officers in action at the Dyckman Street subway stop, the release said. He did not know at the time that the men were transit officers.

“According to a friend whom he phoned, the police were brutal with his handcuffs, clamping them very tightly, so that Randy lost sensation and feeling in his hands,” the release states.

At the time the release arrived in my in-box (10:30 p.m.) Credico was reportedly being held in the Bronx at the Transit Police office at 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.

The officers decided to hold him rather than issue an appearance ticket, claiming he has an outstanding warrant stemming from a 2012 disorderly conduct arrest. (Credico claims this isn’t true). Credico was held overnight, and is scheduled to be arraigned today.

This is hardly Credico’s first arrest – or even his first arrest for trying to document the activities of law enforcement. He’s not exactly the meek and mild type, so it’s possible there’s more to yesterday’s incident than what has been released so far. We’ll get a better idea when more details are available.

UPDATE: Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins issued a statement calling for Credico’s “immediate release” and the dismissal of all charges against him.

“Americans have the constitutional right to videotape cops in public places,” Hawkins said. ”

Such taping is critical to help reduce the problem of police violence against citizens, particularly people of color and those who politically dissent. Such as the recent videotaping of the police killing Eric Garner.”

“In addition the New York Police Department Patrol Guide states that ‘taking photographs, videotapes or tape recordings’ is not cause for arrest or detention so long as the activity does not jeopardize the safety of officers or others.”

Again, despite Hawkins’ comments on behalf of Credico, (who is technically Hawkins’ opponent, although it’s nearly a sure thing that he won’t make it past the September primary and onto the November ballot), we don’t yet know the details of the incident, and they will surely paint a more robust picture of what took place.

UPDATE2: Credico spoke to the NY Post’s Fred Dicker this morning, calling into Dicker’s radio show from his holding cell and deeming this situation like “something out of a Dostoevsky book.”

Capital NY’s Jimmy Vielkind reports an NYPD spokesperson confirms Credico was arrested and was charged with menacing a police officer, obstructing government administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. She also said Credico was “yelling and cursing” at the two officers and “menacing” them with an umbrella after being told to back away from the situation.

Regarding the outstanding warrant, which the NYPD confirmed to Vielkind, Credico says it’s for someone named “Gredico.”

NYLCV Backs 1st GOP Senator This Cycle (UPDATED)

The New York League of Conservation Voters has announced several legislative endorsements today, and on its list of preferred candidates is Long Island Sen. Jack Martins – the first Republican the organization has backed so far this election cycle.

The NYLCV said it based its decision in part on the fact that Martins was a supporter of all three of its top priorities in this past session: the Community Risk and Resiliency Act; the Child Safe Product Act; and reforms to the Brownfield Cleanup Program. He also co-sponsored the Long island Water Quality Control Act to establish a commission on clean water and aquifer protection.

In addition, the NYLCV said, Martins had pledged to renew and improve programs to clean up contaminated land and grow the Environmental Protection Fund, which protects open space, safeguards drinking water and creates jobs on Long Island and across the state.

“The environment has a true ally in Senator Jack Martins,” said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn. “We are particularly encouraged by his passionate advocacy to improve the quality of drinking water and our local waterways. We are proud to endorse Jack Martins and we encourage Nassau County residents who care about clean water and environmental progress to vote for Jack Martins for State Senate.”

This endorsement is a blow to the Senate Democrats and retired Wall Street trader Adam Haber, who is challenging Martins after losing his largely self-financed primary battle against former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi last year. Suozzi went on to lose the general election to the Republican who had toppled him in 2009: Nassau County Exeutive Ed Mangano.

Martins, the former mayor of Mineola, was first elected in 2010 when he defeated Democratic Sen. Craig Johnson in a very tight race (a 451-vote margin), and then re-elected in 2012 by 4,452 votes . Democrats are eager to try to win back this seat. The district has a decisive Democratic enrollment edge – 86,965 to 67,470 with 53,342 so-called “blanks” or independents who are unaffiliated with any political party.

Dan Hendrick, spokesman for the NYLCV, confirmed that Martins is the first Republican to receive the organization’s nod so far this year, and said there’s usually a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans receiving the endorsement. He said the league is “proud” of its Republican endorsements, and more announcements will be coming soon.

Also today, the NYLCV announced its support of Michael Blake, a former Obama administration/campaign operative who is running in the 79th Assembly District in the Bronx. (The seat is currenly vacant, and two of the district’s last three assembly members have left office due to bribery charges, including, most recently, Eric Stevenson, who was convicted in January of accepting bribes).

The NYLCV is also backing Rodneyse Bichotte, a Democratic district leader who unsuccessfully challenged Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs in 2012, and is running for her seat again this year now that she has announced her retirement.

UPDATED: Apparently, this endorsement has caused a dust-up on Long Island, where a loal group – the Long Island Environmental Voters Forum – slammed the “Manhattan-based New York League of Conservation Voters” for its support of Martins.

The forum is not impressed with Martins’ record on the environment, calling it “unacceptable.” The group is upset that the Senate never voted on the Long Island Water Quality Control Act, which passed the Assembly in a vote of 112-24, and said it had warned Martins that he would not even be eligible for its support if he did not vote in favor of this measure.

Also, though Martins sponsored the Child Safe Products Act, that didn’t come to the floor for a vote, either, even though it apparently had enough votes (given the 24 sponsors) to pass.

“Thoughtless and unsupportable endorsements such as that for Senator Martins undermines Long Island’s environment, economy and quality-of- life,” Long Island Voters Forum President Richard Amper said in a statement. “Water contamination affects the water we drink, cook with and bathe in – and the dramatic increase in contamination of our bays, beaches, rivers and streams cannot be tolerated, let alone endorsed by a responsible environmental group.”

The Long Island Voters Forum is scheduled to meet next week to endorse Martins’ challenger, Haber.

NY-21 Dem Woolf Plays Up Bipartisanship In 1st TV Ad (Updated)

Democrat Aaron Woolf this morning released his first TV ad of the NY-21 race, in which he pledges to work in a bipartisan fashion to represent the GOP-dominated district if he’s elected in November to replace outgoing Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.

“Our citizens deserve a Representative who will continue the region’s tradition of independent leadership and hard work,” Woolf said in a statement that announced the ad.

“I’ve traveled across our district and met thousands of citizens to listen to their concerns and hopes for the future. My first commercial lets voters know that, in Congress, I will walk across the aisle to fight for their interests and get things done.”

The ad, “Walk Across the Aisle,” makes no mention of Woolf’s party affiliation. Woolf’s campaign did not release much in the way of details about the buy, other than to say it is “substantial” and started airing today on both broadcast and cable.

Woolf, a documentary filmmaker and part-time Manhattan resident, is facing another political newcomer, Republican Elise Stefanik, a former Bush White House aide who won a GOP primary against businessman Matt Doheny in June. That race featured a lot of outside cash (spent on Stefanik’s behalf).

Until now, we hadn’t seen much in the way of general election ads, but it’s still early yet – mid-August, and most voters aren’t really paying attention to politics.

Also in the mix in NY-21: Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello, a long-time business-owner and founder of the Rock Hill Bakehouse in Glens Falls.

The GOP is very keen to win back this seat, which it held for over a century until Owens won a special election in 2009, thanks to the departure of former Republican Rep. John McHugh, who resigned to take a position as secretary of the Army with the Obama administration.

The Cook Political Report rates the NY-21 race a “Democratic toss-up,” while Rothenberg says it’s a “pure toss-up.”

UPDATE: The NRCC responded to Woolf’s ad by dinging him – yet again – on his personal wealth, and the Daily News story on the health violations lodged against his Brooklyn organic food businesses.

“For someone who has made his living producing documentary films, it’s ironic that Manhattan Multimillionaire Aaron Woolf would leave so many crucial facts out of his first television ad,”NRCC spokesman Ian Prior said.

“For example, Woolf left out that he was a member of a liberal organization that tried to stand in the way of 550 jobs in the North Country. He didn’t mention that his Brooklyn grocery store and restaurant are better known for mice, flies, and roaches than they are for food. And, most importantly, Woolf never disclosed his controversial position that middle class families need to pay more for food.”

Here’s the script of Woolf’s ad:

Aaron Woolf figures he’s already walked hundreds of miles during his campaign for Congress.

And he thinks all that walking will come in handy. Because if he’s going to fight for farmers and small businesspeople looking for a little economic fairness, women who happen to think equal work should mean equal pay…

…and veterans waiting months just to see a doctor…

…he’s going to need to make the most difficult walk of all.

Across the aisle.

And he intends to bring his walking shoes.”

Poloncarz ‘Partially’ Blames Kennedy For Dem Losses in Erie County

A war of words between two of the most high-profile Democrats in Erie County continues to escalate. The latest shot came from Executive Mark Poloncarz who told Liz Benjamin, Monday that State Senator Tim Kennedy is partially to blame for Democratic losses at the polls

“Tim created an enemy himself last year when he, working with (former Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman) Steve Pigeon and his associates, put in nearly $100,000 into Steve Pigeon’s PAC which was used against candidates who were running on the Democratic line for the Erie County Legislature,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz said he endorsed Kennedy’s opponent, Erie County Legislative Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant, not only because he feels comfortable with her but because he believes Kennedy’s actions “partially” cost the Democrats the Majority in the Legislature.

“Betty Jean Grant was the Chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature, in the Majority, until we lost the Majority last year partially because of the money Tim Kennedy put in to run against other Democrats,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz denied the endorsement was political payback and said he would ultimately support the winner of the primary. Kennedy narrowly defeated Grant in a primary for the 63rd State Senate District two years ago. Poloncarz did not make an endorsement then.

“I could have sat back and did nothing but I truly believe Betty Jean Grant would be a better State Senator to the people of this district,” Poloncarz said.

Kennedy, for his part, has not been shy about firing back at Poloncarz.  Last week he called the Poloncarz endorsement “irrelevant” and given by “failed leadership in Erie County.”

Kennedy’s office elaborated on that statement Monday Night and suggested the County Executive’s endorsement is a response to Kennedy shedding “needed light on major deficiencies within Erie County government.”  Specifically, Kennedy’s camp highlighted what it called problems in Erie County Child Protective Services.

“The glaring flaws that New York State uncovered have helped bring about new statewide reforms prompted by Erie County’s failures. The County Executive remains resentful that Senator Kennedy called for this needed state intervention in county government, and as a result, he is backing his opponent.”

As far as Kennedy’s contribution to the WNY Progressive Caucus, Kennedy’s Campaign defended the move.

“Senator Kennedy contributed to a PAC that supported strong, progressive Democrats who vowed to bring change and a hardworking mentality to Erie County government and who could win against Republicans in the November elections.”

Teachout Goes to Court

Years ago, a good friend of mine ended up as the lead item on Page Six for something he probably should not have done ( although the infraction was minor by today’s standards ). To this day, he still jokingly brings up the calm yet brutally honest way I described the situation for him when he called for my reaction that day which was, “well…it’s not good.”

I was reminded of that story while sitting in court this morning listening to former State Senator Martin Connor  ( on behalf of the Cuomo team ) question Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout about her residency.

By law, Teachout needs to have lived here in New York for the last five years in order to run for governor. Connor called Tecahout as his first witness and proceeded to ask about her various addresses over the time period. Fairly quickly it was established that Teachout obtained a Vermont Driver’s license in 2009 – the first year she would have had to be living here to meet the requirement. Teachout then traded in her Vermont license for a New York one in May 2014, or right around the time she was deciding to run for governor.

During her early days in New York, Teachout lived with a friend in the East Village and didn’t obtain a residence of her own until 2011. She often cited her parents address in Vermont as her permanent address, and received her mail at her Fordham University office.

As late as 2013, after being stopped for a traffic infraction, Teachout provided the police officer with a Vermont address.

There are very few bills with New York addresses ( if any ) to prove New York residency, and for the last three summers she has lived in a cabin in Vermont where she participated in musical theater productions. Some of this was first reported last month. Also this past May, Teachout apparently visited her accountant and amended tax returns to reflect a permanent New York presence.

To top it all off, her cell phone has a Vermont area code.

Finally, and this was my favorite point, the only property Teachout has owned recently was in New Hampshire where she “flies hang gliders,” according to her testimony.

Now, in fairness, the defense has not yet had the opportunity to present its case. And we are told Teachout’s mother, a Vermont judge, will be testifying tomorrow on her daughter’s behalf.

But it was a little surprising to see the candidate on the stand trying to deflect all of these facts that were skillfully drawn out by Connor while her lawyer mostly just sat there. Teachout has said that the Moreland Morass has greatly changed the dynamic of the race in her favor, but if she can’t successfully push back against this challenge, there will be no race to speak of.

NYLCV Backs Jackson Over Espaillat (Updatedx2)

The New York League of Conservation Voters has announced its support of former NYC Councilman Robert Jackson over incumbent Sen. Adriano Espaillat in the upcoming Democratic primary in September.

In the press release announcing its decision, the NYLCV cited Jackson’s record of environmental justice during his tenure representing Northern Manhattan on the Council. As chair of the Education Committee, (he’s perhaps best known as his role as an education reformer, and lead paintiff in the CFE case), Jackson fought to get PCBs out of classrooms and to phase out dirty boilers that polluted the air. He was also a strong advocate for creating open space and waterfront access in his dsitrict.

The organization didn’t mention anything about Espaillat’s record on the environment, or even acknowledge in its release that he’s running. (Not surprising, given the focus is supposed to be on the guy they’re backing, not the guy they passed over).

“Robert Jackson is a remarkable candidate to create a greener New York,” said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn. “We are proud to endorse Jackson for his dedication to our issues and look forward to working with him as a state senator in Albany.”

Espaillat is seeking re-election after failing for a second time to unseat Rep. Charlie Rangel in the June congressional primary. Beacuse the Legislature hasn’t been able to agree on a date on which both the federal and state primaries can be held, legislators who try and fail to run for Congress have, for the past several campaign cycles, had the option of running for their old seats as a Plan B.

Just yesterday, NYC Public Advocate Tish James, who was one of Rangel’s strongest supporters leading up to the June primary, announced her support for Espaillat. Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell Jr., also a longtime Rangel supporter, is also backing the congressman’s former rival.

As of last month, Jackson had both out-raised and out-spent Espaillat, and the two Democrats were neck-and-neck when it came to cash on hand, with just under $20,000 each.

UPDATE: The Espaillat campaign sent the following statement, basically saying that the senator would have been a contender for this endorsement, but was too tied up with his unsuccessful primary challenge to Rangel to seek it:

“Senator Adriano Espaillat has been a passionate voice in the fight against hydrofracking and a leader on environmental justice issues. Because of the May deadline for LCV’s state-level endorsement, which fell in the midst of 13th district Congressional Primary, the Espaillat campaign did not have the opportunity to even seek LCV’s support. There is no doubt that Espaillat’s proven record on the environmental would have received an enthusiastic endorsement had this option been possible.”

UPDATE2: And now there’s this response from the Jackson campaign to the Espaillat campaign’s response: (I swear, this is the last one I’ll be entertaining on this post).

“Actually the interviews were in mid-July. But given that NYPIRG reported that Espaillat had the worst attendance record in the entire state Senate, missing 60 percent of the votes, failing to be there for the people he is paid to represent, I’m not surprised he ignored the leading voice for New York’s environment.”

Senate Dems All In With Party-Switching Marcellino Opponent

Emboldened by the recent setbacks experienced by the Senate Republicans, the Senate Democrats are expanding their reach to support challengers to veteran incumbents previously believed to be nearly impossible to dislodge – including Long Island Sen. Carl Marcellino.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris will be on hand tomorrow afternoon when Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy – a Republican who only recently joined up with the Democrats – formally kicks off his campaign against the 71-year-old Marcellino, who has held his seat since 1995.

Kennedy had been slated to challenge Democratic Assemblyman Charles Lavine – as a life-long member of the Republican Party. He was officially nominated by the Nassau County GOP (run by former state GOP Chairman Joe Mondello), and everything.

But the local Republicans pulled their support of the mayor after the Conservative Party objected to the fact that Kennedy had, in his mayoral capacity, officiated over two same-sex marriages and refused to repudiate the 2011 Marriage Equality Act (passed with the assistance of four “yes” votes from Republican senators) that made gay marriage legal in New York.

Kennedy was upset that Marcellino failed to speak out on his behalf, or even attempt to intercede with party leaders after they yanked their support for the mayor’s Assembly campaign. “I was abandoned by the party,” Kennedy told the North Word News. “Why would I want to be a part of a party that deems me unfit for obeying the law?”

Kennedy also said that his values “as they relate to human rights do not reflect views of the Nassau County Republican leadership,” and he believes elected more Democrats to the Senate would be good for Long Island residents because they “tend to be more in touch with the middle class.”

Democrats have a slight enrollment edge in the 5th SD, with 78,515 enrolled members to the GOP’s 74,250 as of April 1, according to the state Board of Elections. There are also 3,133 enrolled Conservatives, 9,917 members of the Independence Party, 731 Working Families Party members and 58,088 “blanks” who are not affiliated with any political party.