AD-72: De La Rosa Gets Nods From PAC, Mark-Viverito

Democratic Assembly candidate Carmen De La Rosa this week racked up a series of endorsements, with nods from the city Council speaker and a political action committee backing the passage of the Child Victims Act.

“The continued failure of Albany to pass legislation to protect victims of sexual abuse is unacceptable,” said Carmen De La Rosa, who is running for the 72nd Assembly district in a primary next month.

“As a mother of a young daughter, I will fight for our children and ensure strict accountability measures are established to punish past and future child abusers. We must enhance the rights of those whose experiences have left deep scars throughout their lives, enabling them to pursue the justice they deserve.”

Earlier in the week, De La Rosa was endorsed by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, backing that dovetails with other high-profiled endorsements from elected officials, including congressional candidate Adriano Espaillat.

“We need more women of color in positions of leadership and I can think of few more capable than Carmen,” Mark-Viverito said. “Her experience, energy and fresh perspective will benefit upper Manhattan residents tremendously and I am proud to endorse her candidacy for Assembly.”

De La Rosa is running for the Democratic nomination in the district led by Assemblyman Guillermo Linares.

SD-58: DiNapoli To Make Senate Dem Endorsement

From the Morning Memo:

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli next Monday will throw his support behind Democratic Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke, her campaign announced.

DiNapoli’s endorsement is expected to take place at a fundraiser in Corning at the United Steel Workers Union Hall. Danks Burke is challenging Republican Sen. Tom O’Mara this fall for the Southern Tier-area Senate seat.

“As the state’s top fiscal watchdog, Comptroller DiNapoli is expected to make the case for Danks Burke as the best choice in November to help local farms, encourage small business growth, and ensure quality, affordable education for all families,” the Danks Burke campaign said in a statement.

The endorsement of Danks Burke by DiNapoli comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled he would help Democrats gain majority control of the state Senate this election cycle.

Cuomo has been criticized in the past for not doing enough to aid Democratic candidates and the party in taking a full majority in the chamber, which Republicans have narrow control of in part due to their alliance with Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder.

SD-31: Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats Endorse Lasher

A prominent LGBT Democratic organization on Wednesday endorsed Democratic state Senate hopeful Micah Lasher, who faces a hotly contested primary for the seat being vacated by Adriano Espaillat.

The Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats gave their nod to Lasher, a former aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and later Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“Micah has been an unwavering friend of the LGBT community for over a decade, and his support for critical legislation that would ensure equal rights for all New Yorkers makes him an ideal candidate to succeed State Senator Adriano Espaillat,” said GLID President Anthony Hayes.

The group pointed to Lasher’s work in the attorney general’s office as well as the legislative affairs director for Bloomberg in their endorsement announcement, saying he’s worked on key issues for the LGBT community, such as a bill that would ban so-called gay conversion therapy.

“Micah knows the legislative process better than anyone, and he knows how to get things done to help advance LGBT rights and protect the gains we’ve made in recent years,” Hayes said in a statement.

Espaillat is running for the Senate seat held by Rep. Charlie Rangel after winning a crowded Democratic primary in June.

The race to replace him in the Senate includes Democrats Marisol Alcantara and former city Councilman Robert Jackson.

SD-33: Rivera Campaign Questions Rivals Donation

From the Morning Memo:

The campaign of Democratic Sen. Gustavo Rivera is calling on rival Democrat Fernando Cabrera to explain the use of campaign funds seemingly designated for the general election for use in next month’s primary.

The Rivera campaign in particular is pointing to contributions of $7,000 and $11,000 from businessman Roger Hertog, a conservative philanthropist who has been bankrolling efforts against Democratic legislative incumbents this year.

State election law requires that donations are capped at $7,000. But the Rivera camp says Cabrera’s closing balance in a pre-election filing shows a balance of $2,931 — suggesting some of the larger contribution was used.

River in a statement called for a Board of Elections investigation.

“It is no secret that Fernando Cabrera is willing to break the law and ignore the values of Bronxites to try to advance his own political career and his right-wing ideals,” River said. “He is not only taking money from an individual that is notorious for funding right-wing attacks on Black Lives Matter, criminal justice reforms and anti-poverty programs, but he is also illegally using these funds.”

Messages left with the Cabrera campaign were not returned.

Report Knocks Billionaire Ties In Legislative Races

From the Morning Memo:

A report being released on Tuesday is sounding the alarm over the myriad independent expenditure groups that are seeking to play a role in legislative races for both the Assembly and Senate this year.

The report, being released by the liberal Hedge Clippers group, points to the millions of dollars being funneled to super PACs in New York through donations from Paul Singer, Paul Tudor Jones and Dan Loeb.

Those committees, in turn, have engaged with vendor Herd Media, an entity that has ties to Republican political operative Karl Rove and billionaires David and Charles Koch.

The Hedge Clippers report suggests the wealthy donors are pushing not just to influence issues such education reform and bolster the charter school movement in New York, but also set a Legislature that is amenable to special tax breaks.

These groups, in turn, have sought to influence the outcome in key legislative races, including the April special election in which Democrat Todd Kaminsky defeated Republican Chris McGrath for the seat vacated by disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Herd Media was responsible for the $1 million ad purchase opposing Kaminsky’s candidacy.

“It looks like they’re working hard — and putting their power, influence and wealth on the line — to keep the special tax breaks they now enjoy and to get even more,” the report concludes.

The Hedge Clippers themselves are a consortium of labor-backed groups that include Citizen Action, Strong Economy for All and the Working Families Party.

Hedge Clippers Report on Hedge Funds and Private Equity Manipulating NY Elections August 23 2016 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Another Controversy In The Erie County District Attorney Race

From the Morning Memo:

Erie County District Attorney candidate Mark Sacha wants to know who paid for a poll released by one of his primary opponents last week, and how much it cost.

Sacha’s campaign manager, Brian Nowak, has submitted a letter to the Erie County Board of Elections, asking the commissioners to investigate whether acting DA Michael Flaherty’s poll was correctly filed.

It was not included in Flaherty’s 32 day pre-primary report, posted Tuesday. The campaign said it will be part of the next filing.

“The cost did not appear on the previous filing because the campaign had not yet been billed,” spokesperson Maggie McKeon said.

This is just the latest controversy surrounding the poll, which indicated the acting DA held a commanding lead over Sacha and the party’s preferred candidate, John Flynn. Both of Flaherty’s opponents called it a push poll and questioned the manner in which the results were disclosed.

“It’s not the intention to accuse any wrongdoing based on our review of their filings, but it is important that all campaigns file complete and accurate campaign finance reports,” Nowak wrote in his letter.

Meanwhile, a major Flaherty donor said it’s Nowak’s campaign finances that should be scrutinized, not the poll. Sacha’s campaign manager was also an organizer for Buffalo for Bernie.

Western New York attorney Peter Reese reached out to me Tuesday evening with an email entitled “Sacha Whining.” He attached three checks he and his wife wrote to Buffalo for Bernie that don’t appear to have been properly documented under Federal Elections Commission rules.

Nowak said he had no desire to get in a back and forth and chose not to comment. But with just one month left before the September primary, it will be interesting to see if the campaigns continue to attack each other.


Senate Dems Fundraise Off Trump Opposition

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Democrats this week released a fundraising letter to supporters, pointing to the endorsement of Donald Trump by Majority Leader John Flanagan.

At the same time, the email from Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chairman Mike Gianaris touts Hillary Clinton’s wide lead over Trump in Monday’s Siena College poll.

“Despite the racist, inflammatory and divisive language coming out daily from Donald Trump, the New York State Senate Republicans have continued to stand by him and have even announced their ‘passionate’ support for his disastrous campaign and hateful views,” Gianaris writes in the email.

The email points to Clinton’s double-digit leads among upstate voters as well as the suburbs — areas that contain key battleground districts this November.

“With outstanding Senate Democratic candidates running on Long Island, the upstate suburbs and in districts throughout Upstate New York, the facts of this campaign seasons have become even clearer. But we need your help to prove that Donald Trump and his hateful rhetoric have no place in New York,” the email states. “Help us elect a progressive Democratic Majority.”

Senate Dems Happy To See Clinton’s Lead Grow

Senate Democrats have a lot to like in today’s Siena College poll showing Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump in New York expand to 30 percentage points in a two-person race.

And Democrats are especially happy to see Clinton defeating Trump upstate and in the suburban counties — regions in which battle for control of the chamber are expected to play out this November.

“The Siena poll confirms she has the suburbs and she’s even up by double digits upstate,” said Sen. Mike Gianaris, the chairman of the Democratic conference’s fundraising efforts. “I think the top of the ticket is going to be a real problem for them.”

Democrats in the state Senate are hoping for a strong performance from Clinton at the top of the ticket, which would in turn drive up turn out for the party down ballot.

A wounded Trump — who has spent the last several weeks criticizing a Gold Star family who knocked his proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration, watching prominent Republicans endorse Clinton and coming under scrutiny for apparent admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin — could boost Democratic chances this fall in an already Democratic-heavy state, Gianaris said.

In the interview, Gianaris pointed to Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan’s endorsement of Trump at the Republican National Convention, suggesting the embrace of the New York businessman would likely be an issue Senate Democrats raise on the campaign trail.

“It’s a fair question to ask what it says about the judgment and the values of the Republicans who are willing to support a maniac who will damage our country,” he said. “This is a transcendent issue.”

Meanwhile, Gianaris insists Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who has been accused of aiding Republicans in their effort to maintain their narrow majority, will support his party’s push to takeover the chamber.

“I am not skeptical of his efforts,” he said. “He intends to be supportive and I believe him.”

Updated: Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif responds.

“The one constant in politics is that the better candidates almost always win. We have popular incumbents and strong challengers, and regardless of what ultimately happens in the Presidential race, we’re going to grow our majority in November,” Reif said.

“Just this year, Senate Republicans were the driving force behind approval of a $4.2 billion middle-class income tax cut that will slash rates by 20 percent, and record levels of support for schools so students can pursue their dreams. Anyone who is even thinking about supporting the New York City Democrats would be well served to remember what they did the last time time they controlled our entire state government – – enacting 124 different tax and fee increases totaling $14 billion, overshooting the budget by billions of dollars and pitting one region of the state against another. Now that we’ve come so far, why would New Yorkers ever want to go back?”

NY-22: Babinec Draws A Tracker

From the Morning Memo:

In a sign his independent bid for Congress is gaining some attention, the campaign efforts of Martin Babinec have drawn a so-called “tracker” at one of their events.

The Babinec campaign released a version of their own video confronting the tracker, who identifies himself as “Joseph” after they realized he was filming them speaking with a voter.

When Babinec asks why he’s being filmed, the tracker responds, “Because the Democratic Party of the state of New York is impressed by your ability to form a third party.”

Babinec is running for the 22nd congressional district seat that’s being vacated by Republican Rep. Richard Hanna. In order to gain ballot access, Babinec petitioned his way on through the newly formed “Upstate Jobs Party.” He’s also running on the Reform Party line.

Trackers have become a near ubiquitous presence on the campaign trail for the last decade, with the hopes of capturing a candidate in an embarrassing gaffe. The value of tracking a candidate with a camera came into full view when Republican U.S. Sen. George Allen referred to one tracker as “macaca” or monkey — an incident that came before he narrowly lost re-election.

But at the same time, the practice has come under scrutiny, especially for trackers who have been overly aggressive. A tracker assigned to keep tabs on Republican Phil Oliva, running for the seat held by Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, was fired after he was spotted near the GOP candidate’s home.

Babinec faces Democrat Kim Myers and Republican Claudia Tenney for the district that stretches from the Mohawk Valley to the Southern Tier.

Erie County District Attorney Candidate Releases Controversial Poll

From the Morning Memo:

With just about a month left before the primary, a high-profile three-way race for the Erie County District Attorney’s office just got a little more contentious.

Acting DA Mike Flaherty’s campaign released an internal poll yesterday, claiming he had a nearly 30 point lead over his closest competitor.

According to the poll, 401 likely primary voters were interviewed over the phone between July 28-31. When asked who they would vote for, 37 percent of respondents said Flaherty.

Twelve percent said they would vote for the Democratic committee’s endorsed candidate, John Flynn, and 5 percent were for attorney Mark Sacha. When asked which candidate undecided voters were leaning toward, Flaherty’s lead increased.

The poll was conducted by David Binder Research, a San Francisco-based company that, according to its website, works with the Obama White House.

“Desperate people do desperate things and I can only presume that Mr. Flaherty spent a pretty penny to get the results that he wanted,” Sacha said.

The Erie County Democratic Committee isn’t giving the results much credence either. Chairman Jeremy Zellner called it a “biased push poll” intended to mislead voters.

“This should be stuff that’s below the district attorney’s office and unfortunately he’s chosen to continue this kind of campaign,” he said.

The questionnaire included negative messages about each candidate, in order to gauge how voters reacted. There were more for Flynn than the other two candidates.

“I just think that some of the things that they pushed voters towards were false, some of the outrageous things that they put in there, the fact that he is a perennial candidate, that he is close to (recently indicted political operative) Steve Pigeon,” Zellner said.

The chairman said Flaherty’s campaign releasing the poll is another in a series of “kind-of underhanded” gimmicks that included buying the web domain Although the committee has not done its own internal polling, it points to the fact it collected more than three times the signatures Flaherty did during the petition process and out-raised the acting DA during the last campaign finance period.

“We think that John is in a really strong position to become the next Erie County District Attorney. He has broad-based support from throughout the community.”

Flaherty is required by law to submit any publicly disclosed poll to the Board of Elections for scrutiny. The campaign said it plans to do that.