Brindisi To Donate Franken Money

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi will donate the $1,500 he received for his congressional bid from Sen. Al Franken, who is the latest prominent man to be accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.

“Sexual harassment is never a joke. Plain and simple,” Brindisi said in a statement. “I am sending my donations from Al Franken to Planned Parenthood of Mohawk Hudson and Family Planning Services in South Central New York.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee had called on Brindisi during the day Thursday to return the Franken donation after a radio news host accused Franken of groping her backstage at a USO show in 2006, before he was elected to the Senate. A photograph also emerged of Franken touching the woman’s breasts while she slept on a plane.

Franken apologized and backed the calls for an ethics investigation into the incident.

Brindisi is running for the 22nd congressional district, a battleground seat held by Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney.

Suozzi: Stop Giving Money To Republicans Who Back Ending SALT Deduction

Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi called on New Yorkers to end donations to Republicans or GOP-backed organizations that support ending the deduction of state and local taxes.

“New Yorkers must unite. Anyone who cares about our state needs to work together and send a message that we won’t allow New Yorkers to be taken advantage of,” said Suozzi, a Nassau County lawmaker. “Let’s stand together and say, ‘enough is enough.’”

The call, released by his campaign, comes as Republicans in the House of Representatives on Thursday plan to vote on a tax overhaul plan that would limit deductions for property taxes and mortgage interest. Limiting those deductions at $10,000 and $500,000 respectively would still impact high-tax areas like the New York City suburbs.

Rep. John Katko, a Republican from the Syracuse area, signaled Wednesday he would back the House GOP bill.

The Senate, meanwhile, could vote as early as next week on a tax plan that completely eliminates deductions for state and local taxes.

“I call on all New Yorkers not to give another dollar to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senate Committee, or any Republican who is willing to sell out New York’s middle class,” Suozzi said. Anyone that supports getting rid of the state and local tax deduction does not have the true interests of New York at heart and should not be rewarded for their betrayal of New York’s middle-class families.”

He made an exception: Rep. Peter King, who is opposed to the measure. Suozzi said for those who don’t back the plan “then do what you feel is right, and if you choose to support them, donate to them personally and not via the Republican Party.”

D-Trip Links NY Republicans To Moore Scandal

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday sought to link a half-dozen Republicans in battleground House districts in New York to the growing scandal surrounding Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Moore, a former top judge in the state, is accused of unwanted sexual contact by women who allege Moore acted inappropriately with them while they were teenagers. The most serious of the allegations was leveled on Monday by a woman who alleged Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday said Moore should bow out of the Senate race. Moore has refused to do so.

The DCCC, meanwhile, released statements targeting Reps. Lee Zeldin, John Faso, Claudia Tenney, Tom Reed, Chris Collins and John Katko.

“This should be a no-brainer for Representative Zeldin,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske. “Faced with multiple credible allegations that Roy Moore sexually assaulted underage girls, Zeldin’s own Republican colleagues have made clear that Moore is unfit to serve. Zeldin’s continued silence is speaking volumes.”

If anything, the statements are a signal that Democrats don’t view the issues swirling around Moore to be confined to Alabama or the U.S. Senate.

Spano Says He’s Considering Senate Bid

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in a phone interview Monday said he is considering running for the Senate seat being vacated by Westchester County Executive-elect George Latimer.

“In its early stages, it’s very early, there’s still a lot of conversation that has to happen,” he said. “It’s certainly something that I’m considering.”

Asked if he was the preferred candidate of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Spano said, “I haven’t gotten that sense.”

“I’m a big fan of the governor’s and I support his agenda,” he said. “I have not had a conversation with the governor. He is one of the people I would reach out to when I want to make a decision.”

Spano’s brother Nick held a neighboring seat in the chamber until 2006, when he was unseated by Andrea Stewart-Cousins, now the Senate minority leader.

But Spano, a former Republican turned Democrat, said he would support Stewart-Cousns as leader and push for a unified Democratic conference when asked about joining the Independent Democratic Conference. The IDC, a bloc of eight Democratic lawmakers, has come under pressure to form a new alliance with mainline Democrats in the Senate.

“My goal for us would be for us to have a unified Democratic caucus,” Spano said. “We have a lot of challenges presented to us by Washington. If I’m in the Senate, I would be supporting Senator Stewart-Cousins.”

Spano is term limited from seeking another four years as the mayor of Yonkers, a post he’s held since 2013, when he was elected out of the state Assembly.

Spano is not the only Democrat considering a run for the seat. Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, a Yonkers lawmaker, is also weighing a run. Kat Brezler, a White Plains teacher and Bernie Sanders supporter, is fundraising.

The suburban district includes parts of Yonkers and runs to the shore of Long Island Sound in Westchester. Spano said the next lawmaker does not have to come from Yonkers, but shoul be a “global perspective” for the district.

“Obviously I have previous experience at the state Capitol,” he said. “I’m a mayor of a local government and I know now first hand what the effects are both hand that can be felt in a city like Yonkers or one of the towns and villages.”

Brezler Sends Out Fundraising Email For Senate Bid

Democrat Kat Brezler on Monday released a fundraising email in her bid for the state Senate district being vacated by Westchester County-elect George Latimer.

“I am running because we need universal health care, we need to ensure a quality education for every child, and we need to create real campaign finance reform on the state level,” Brezler wrote in the email. “I am a public school teacher and a lifelong activist. I’m proud of what I have accomplished but I know to affect real and lasting change in our community, I have to demand our message be heard in Albany.”

Brezler is a teacher and a co-founder of People for Bernie, a pro-Bernie Sanders organization.

Her fundraising email comes as Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer has expressed an interest in running for the seat. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is also considered a potential candidate for the suburban district.

Should be a special election to replace Latimer, the party nominees would be selected by committee members rather than in an open primary. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is yet to schedule one.

Brezler signaled her campaign would have an outsider flavor.

“I’ll be taking on the corrupt political system who funds Democratic campaigns,” she wrote. “I need your help.”

Gillibrand Praises #MeToo

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday in central New York praised victims of sexual harassment and abuse for coming forward, saying she hopes the movement will spur change.

“God bless them all, because it’s horrible to have to explain your story publicly,” she said.

Over the last several weeks, a flood of allegations leveled against powerful figures in Hollywood, the media and in government have surfaced. The initial spark began with accusations of assault and rape against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and, just this week, drew in U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama and comedian Louie CK.

Gillibrand said more needs to be done, especially for the structures that allowed serial harassers to continue.

“All of these institutions have spent so much effort protecting the most powerful by undermining the rights of the most vulnerable by undermining those who have been attacked or harassed or assaulted,” she said.

“This kind of transparency is going to change things. We just have to keep pushing back in all forms, whether it’s the military, on a college campus or it’s your boss.

Democrats See Gains Coming In 2018

From the Morning Memo:

Democrats are excited about next year’s elections after winning a string of victories Tuesday — predicting an even more successful year in 2018 in the process.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a call with reporters this week said it was a repudiation of President Donald Trump and Republicans.

“They rejected Trump,” Cuomo said. “They rejected the Republican philosophy of savaging health care.”

But Democratic victories could also be chalked up to other factors, such as high union member turnout that quashed the constitutional convention.

“I think the unions did an excellent job in mobilizing their members so you’ve got some of that effect, too,” said Bruce Gyory, a former gubernatorial advisor who is now at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.

And while it’s hard to judge what will happen next year based on one election, Democrats hope the party will be galvanized by the president and a Republican Congress. In New York, all 213 seats of the Legislature are up for election, as are all statewide offices, including the governor.

“Democrats should have a good year next year because when you have a unified Democratic Party and with independents added in, it has the makings of a big year up and down the ticket,” Gyory said.

But mainstream Democrats could face a challenge too, from a liberal wing of the party that is hungry for change.

“There’s a mobilized, active, volunteer force ready to go out there and work on campaigns,” said Billy Easton, the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, a group that has pushed Cuomo to spend more on education aid, especially in poorer school districts.

Cuomo could face a primary challenge or an opponent in the general election from the political left. Former state Senator Terry Gipson has already filed to run for governor and actress and education advocate Cynthia Nixon has also expressed an interesting in

“I would think people would look at this and think there’s an opening,” Easton said. “A lot of unexpected things happened on Tuesday both in terms of people winning and margins being larger than expected.”

Nixon is expected to expect to appear at a fundraiser next week for the Alliance for Quality Education.

Dems, GOP See Hope For Senate Control Next Year

Suburban politics will once again be a major factor in the battle for control of the state Senate.

That much Republicans and Democrats can agree on as they vie for control of the narrowly divided Senate chamber next year.

For Democrats, the victories in the county executive races in Westchester and Nassau counties by George Latimer and Laura Curran spell the potential for a wave next year. Republicans, however, see institutional and historic advantages: They generally pick up seats in a gubernatorial election year.

Democrats, potentially as early as March in a special election, will have to defend the seat being vacated by George Latimer, the county executive-elect in Westchester.

The seat was redrawn in 2012 by Republicans and designed with one GOP candidate in mind: Bob Cohen. But Latimer was able to hang on in a series of costly elections. Republicans in part hope that with Latimer out of the equation, the district will flip to the GOP side.

Sen. Mike Gianaris, the Democrat who chairs the conference’s fundraising efforts, expects the seat will stay in the Democratic column.

“This has made clear that the suburbs are the crest of the Democratic wave that’s moving throughout the country,” Gianaris said in an interview. “To see both Latimer and Curran win their county exec races means the typical Senate races in those areas are headed in our direction.”

Republicans hope to play offense with two seats held on Long Island by Democrats: Sens. Todd Kaminsky and John Brooks.

Kaminsky, elected to fill the chair held by disgraced former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, won a special election and won a full term in a presidential election year.

Brooks was narrowly elected and unseated a Republican lawmaker whose father had been arrested in a county corruption probe.

“Senate Republicans have strong records of achievement on issues that are critical to New Yorkers’ quality of life, such as good-paying jobs, tax relief, and protecting families from gang violence and terrorism,” said Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif. “Our Senators are strong, and as we have in the past two gubernatorial elections, we fully expect to grow our majority by winning seats in 2018.”

For Democrats, the seats they will target will include those districts held by Sens. Elaine Phillips, Carl Marcellino and Kemp Hannon. All three districts have been in the sights of Democrats before, but have been tough nuts to crack in previous election years.

Hanging over it all is the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference, which has grown in size over the last year. Senate Republicans maintain a numerical majority with the help of Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder who is not an IDC member.

Still, the IDC remains an important bloc in the Senate and has gone through cycles of pressure campaigns from liberal groups to form an alliance with mainline Democrats.

“This is not the time for Democrats to be empowering Republicans,” Gianaris said. “Hopefully those who are doing that see the writing on the wall and work with us.”

Poll Shows Nail-Biter Race In Syracuse

The five-way race for mayor of Syracuse is coming down a nail-biter contest between Independence Party candidate Ben Walsh and Democratic contender Juanita Perez Williams, a poll released Sunday found.

The Spectrum News/ found Walsh with 36 percent of vote and Perez Williams with 34 percent — well within the 4.3 percent margin of error.

The remaining candidates in the crowded field are in the single digits.

Republican Laura Levine received 7 percent of support in the poll, while Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins has 5 percent. Joe Nicoletti, who is running on the Working Families Party line, has 6 percent (Nicoletti has suspended his campaign after the Democratic primary and urged voters to back Perez Williams).

Twelve percent of voters in Syracuse are undecided, the poll found.

Walsh remains the more popular candidate in the race, with a 66 percent to 16 percent favorable rating. Perez Williams has a 51 percent favorable rating compared to 32 percent who have an unfavorable view of her.

Incumbent Democrat Stephanie Miner is barred by terms limits from seeking re-election.

The poll of 620 likely Syracuse votes was conducted between Oct. 29 and Nov. 1.

SyrMay1117 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Savino Blasts Shuttering Of Local News Sites

Staten Island Sen. Diane Savino knocked the decision by businessman Joe Ricketts to shuttering the local news sites in New York City that he owned just days after its staff voted to unionize.

The abrupt decision to end the websites DNAinfo and Gothamist led to the firing or more than 100 reporters in New York City and other communities in the country that provided hyper local coverage of neighborhoods.

Savino, who has been critical of the press when it comes to its coverage of her and the Independent Democratic Conference, blasted Ricketts for engaging in “union-busting tactics” that are un-American.

“Joe Ricketts took a sledgehammer to destroy two news outlets whose reporters decided to collectively stand together for their rights,” said Savino, a former union official before she was elected to the Legislature.

“While Gothamist and DNAinfo reporters weren’t always kind to me, or my colleagues, I will always defend the rights of these journalists who rightly decided to unionize. What has happened to them is downright un-American. To retaliate in such a brutal fashion against people exercising their constitutional right to band together for mutual aid and protection is an assault on all of us. Shame on Joe Ricketts and everyone associated with his company.”