Eric Schneiderman

Siena Poll: Hawkins Could Eat Into Cuomo’s Final Tally

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to hold a double-digit lead over his Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, with less than two weeks to go before Election Day, according to a Siena College poll released this morning.

The poll found Cuomo leading Astorino, 54-33, with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins receiving 9 percent of the vote.

The result is a slight dip for Cuomo from the previous month, when Siena College found the governor leading Astorino 56-27, with Hawkins at 7 percent.

With Hawkins gaining some ground in the polls, it’s possible the Green Party candidate can eat into a chunk of Cuomo’s overall total come Election Day.

“If Hawkins does that well on Election Day – something third party candidates often don’t do – then it will almost certainly make this year’s race closer than four years ago and keep Cuomo well below his total vote from 2010,” said Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg.

Cuomo received 63 percent of the vote against Republican Carl Paladino in 2010.

Hawkins is a proven vote getter for the Green Party. He received more than 50,000 votes in 2010 to give the party automatic ballot status this election.

Hawkins is hoping to tap into liberal dissatisfaction with Cuomo, and gain some of the supporters of Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout, who ran a surprisingly strong primary challenge to the governor in September.

Still, the poll shows Cuomo blowing out Astorino in New York City, where he leads 72-16. He also has the support of 79 percent of self-identified liberal voters.

Upstate, Cuomo’s lead is smaller: He leads Astorino 47-38.

The race is closest in the suburban counties, where it is a virtual tie. Cuomo is actually trailing Astorino 44-46.

And the governor, who has pushed hard on his 10-point Women’s Equality Act, leads Astorino among female voters 65 percent to 25 percent, according to the poll’s crosstabs.

Cuomo has a favorability rating of 54 percent, compared to 43 percent of voters who do not have a favorable view of him – the highest unfavorable rating he’s garnered from Siena to date.

Astorino, a first-time statewide candidate, continues to show a high negative rating: 41 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of him, compared to 32 percent who view him favorably.

In the other statewide races, Democratic AG Eric Schneiderman holds a 20-point lead over his Republican challenger, John Cahill, 55-35. Schneiderman’s lead grew by 5 percentage points from last month – likely thanks to the fact that the AG is now running TV ads.

Meanwhile, in the race for state comptroller, incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli leads Republican Onondaga County Comptroller 58-31 – the largest gap of the three statewide races.

The poll of 748 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 16 through Oct. 20. It has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

SNY1014 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman

Gillibrand Emails For Schneiderman

AG Eric Schneiderman is getting a boost in the final weeks of the general election campaign from New York’s junior US senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, who says a win by the Republicans next month would be “simply unacceptable.”

An email blast going out later this morning focuses on abortion rights – a wedge issue the Democratic candidates from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on down are again using to blast their GOP opponents in this Democrat-dominated state.

Gillibrand calls Schneiderman a “lifelong pro-choice advocate” and “the ONLY (her emphasis) candidate for Attorney General who represents the values of New York women, especially when it comes to reproductive rights.”

“As a public interest lawyer, Eric defended reproductive health clinic workers,” the senator wrote. “As a state senator, he led efforts to pass the Clinic Anti-Violence Act and a law requiring emergency contraception to be made available to victims of sexual assault.”

“As attorney general, he successfully fought to protect and expand buffer zones around health clinics so that families would be safe from intimidation and harassment.”

“And in response to the Supreme Court’s troubling Hobby Lobby ruling this year, Eric proposed the Reproductive Rights Disclosure Act to force employers to disclose to women if they plan to change their contraception coverage.”

“We need an attorney general who unequivocally supports a woman’s right to choose, and Eric is the only candidate in this race who meets that basic standard.”

Schneiderman’s Republican challenger, former Pataki administration official John Cahill, is a practicing Catholic who is personally opposed to abortion and has expressed opposition to the abortion rights plank of Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act.

But Cahill has also pledged to uphold the law regarding abortion if he’s elected attorney general on Nov. 4, as well as any other potentially controversial laws – including same-sex marriage.

Gillibrand’s email does not specifically mention Cahill by name.

TV Ad #2 for Schneiderman: Pro-Cop, Anti-Crime

With just over two weeks remaining in the 2014 campaign, Democratic AG Eric Schneiderman is starting to ramp up his TV presence, cashing in on the air time he reserved months ago.

Schneiderman’s campaign today will release his second TV ad, which has a dual focus – his crime-fighting efforts, and his program to use cash from civil forfeiture funds to help purchase bulletproof vests for cops around the state.

Schneiderman started what he dubbed the “inVEST” program after the federal government cut funding over the past three years for bulletproof vest purchases by local police departments.

The AG pledged to dedicate some $3.5 million to the program, which reimburses local law enforcement agencies up to 50 percent of the cost of new vests. (The federal money also comes in the form of a matching funds).

The program has already helped purchase close to 8,000 vests, according to Schneiderman’s campaign.

The AG’s Republican opponent, former Pataki administration official John Cahill, has pledged to return a more law-and-order focus to the office if he’s elected on Nov. 4. Throughout the campaign, Cahill has accused Schneiderman of being insufficiently tough on crime – an accusation the AG’s campaign deemed “desperate.”

The Schneiderman campaign also likes to remind reporters that the AG has broad support from the law enforcement community, and has been endorsed by a variety of police unions across the state.

Cahill has the support of the State Troopers PBA, in part due to his opposition of the AG’s move to unseal documents about the 1971 Attica prison riot.

Recent public opinion polls have showed Cahill gaining on Schneiderman, though the AG continues to maintain a double-digit lead over his Republican rival. Schneiderman has a 25-to-1 cash advantage over Cahill.

That fact, coupled with the AG’s forward-thinking strategy of reserving $3 million worth of air time for the final weeks of the campaign, will enable him to blitz the airwaves and raise his name recognition just in time for Election Day in a way Cahill cannot.

Schneiderman’s new ad, which appears below, will run through Election Day. His first ad, called “One Set of Rules,” is still on the air, too.

Here’s the script of the new ad:

“Gridlock in Washington blocked funding for bulletproof vests for our police officers. As a New Yorker, I was outraged. As attorney general, I did something about it.

We’ve paid for bulletproof vests for close to 8,000 police officers across the state and funded it with money my office seized from drug gangs and criminals we’ve locked up.

Taking criminals off our streets and keeping our cops safe. There’s nothing more important.”

Schneiderman To Be Endorsed By Teamsters

From the Morning Memo:

The Teamsters Joint Council 16 will announce later this morning its endorsement of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for a second term.

It’s not wholly surprising the incumbent Democrat would receive the backing of the organization, given its ties to the Working Families Party.

But with the endorsement comes important field and advertising infrastructure in the final weeks of the general election.

Schneiderman, who faces Republican John Cahill, will benefit from a coordinated operation from the labor group, including phone banks, canvassing and direct mail in effort to drive union members to the polls next month.

“I’m proud to endorse Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for re-election,” Joint Council 16 President George L. Miranda said in a statement. “Since he took office, he’s proven himself to be a tireless champion for working men and women. He has gone after unscrupulous employers who cheated their employees out of hard-earned wages, and to date he’s recovered more than $18 million for 14,000 workers and their families. He’s helped thousands of homeowners avoid foreclosure, and forced bad landlords to make repairs for tenants living in deplorable conditions. Eric makes sure everyone plays by the same rules, and we need him as our Attorney General.”

With Month To Go, Schneiderman Camp Points To Fundraising Advantage

An “interested parties” memo from the re-election campaign of Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is bullish on his chances of re-election, pointing to its fundraising advantage and support from abortion-rights advocates as well as law enforcement groups.

At the same time, the campaign is dinging Republican rival John Cahill for accepting a $41,100 campaign contribution from industrialist David Koch who, it should be noted, has given to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the past.

And while the Schneiderman is happy to tout its support from women’s rights groups as well as various law enforcement labor organizations, fundraising is at the top of their list.

The campaign’s memo points to Schneiderman reserving millions of dollars in air time for the end of the campaign and its large advantage in money in the bank versus Cahill.

“Attorney General Schneiderman’s war chest is more than 25 times that of Cahill’s, according to new fundraising reports filed with the Board of Elections late Friday night,” the memo says. “Schneiderman’s campaign reported outraising Cahill and having $4.7 million in cash on hand – in addition to more than $3 million worth of advertising time the campaign reserved but has not yet aired.”

Cahill, meanwhile, reported $288,595 in cash on hand with 29 days to go before Election Day.

Cahill has spent heavily on TV ads, $1.4 million, while also raising $720,000 during the most recent reporting period.

29-Day State of Race Memo by Nick Reisman

Schneiderman’s 1st TV Ad: ‘One Set of Rules’

From the morning memo:

AG Eric Schneiderman, who reserved millions of dollars worth of air time in advance, but held off actually releasing any ads, is about to debut his first TV spot of his re-election campaign.

The ad, titled “One Set of Rules for Everyone,” starts airing statewide today (covering the five major media markets) and will run through Election Day.

This is part of a multi-million dollar buy, and that’s just a fraction of what’s to come as the Democratic incumbent battles his GOP opponent, former Pataki administration official John Cahill.

Back in June, Schneiderman reserved $1 million worth of air time for the final weeks of the campaign. He doubled down on that in July, adding another $1 million, and recently added several hundred thousand dollars more – just as he formally kicked off his re-election campaign.

This ad depicts Schneiderman as tough on crime no matter who the perpetrator might be – from big banks, to fellow elected officials, to drug kingpins.

Schneiderman’s campaign noted that since taking office in January 2011, the AG has prosecuted more than 50 corrupt officials, including former NYC Councilman Ruben Wills, ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley and former Met Council chief William Rapfogel.

The AG has also helped secure more than $60 billion in settlements from the big banks that caused the financial crisis, $4 billion of which has been allotted to New York families and communities hurt by the crash, his campaign said.

And Schneiderman has made hundreds of arrests for heroin, cocaine and crack related offenses, and his office has broken up 18 major drug rings in cities across New York.

Cahill has tried to paint Schneiderman as not tough enough to be the state’s top attorney – especially when it comes to cracking down on public corruption.

In fact, Cahill’s first ad, which came out in August, played up the private sector attorney’s toughness and sought to link Schneiderman to the Moreland Commission mess.

At Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s request Schneiderman deputized the commission’s members to empower them to investigate the state Legislature.

The AG has been mum on what he knew and when regarding the governor’s meddling in Moreland, but he has said repeatedly that he is working with US Attorney Preet Bharara as he probes the commission’s demise and continues the cases it started but didn’t have a chance to finish.

The state GOP recently started running an anti-Schneiderman TV ad that also ties the AG to Moreland, but the spot doesn’t even mention Cahill.

As of mid-July, Cahill had just under $1 million on hand, and planned to spend $750,000 on his first ad. Schneiderman had $6.8 million on hand, and hadn’t yet begun to spend significantly on his campaign.

A late August Siena poll showed Schneiderman had extended his early lead over Cahill to 27 percentage points (54-27), though 59 percent of New Yorkers still have no idea who he is. A whopping 80 percent of poll respondents didn’t know anything about Cahill.

An internal poll Cahill recently shared with donors showed the AG race considerably tighter. The Republican’s campaign was forced to file portions of the poll with the state Board of Elections after it was made public.

Here’s the script for the AG’s ad:

Schneiderman: As attorney general, I put criminals behind bars.

TV news anchor: New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today the arrest of 25 people…

Schneiderman: I go after those who think they’re above the law.

TV news reporter: Breaking news on the JP Morgan settlement, $4 billion dollars for consumer relief, according to the New York attorney general.

Schneiderman: It doesn’t matter how rich or powerful you are.

TV news reporter: A walk of shame for a New York City councilman in a case that the attorney general says is about as low as you can go.

Schneiderman: I’ll never stop fighting for everyday New Yorkers, because there has to be one set of rules for everyone.

Cahill: Schneiderman ‘Complicit’ On Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault

Republican Candidate for Attorney General John Cahill accused current AG Eric Schneiderman, Thursday, of not doing enough to combat domestic violence and sexual assault during his tenure in office.

His comments came as part of a press conference where he announced plans to create a Division of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Harassment within the AG’s Office if elected. The Division would include several new initiatives, including mandated domestic violence training for sitting judges and research into preventing sexual assault on college campuses, among others.

Although the AG’s office does provide information on sexual assault and domestic violence, Cahill said Thursday that Schneiderman has not taken enough action on either issue.

“Whether it’s corruption in Albany, whether its domestic violence at home, people have to have confidence that the chief lawyer of the state is behind them – and that is not the case, whether it’s the Moreland Commission, whether it’s sexual abuse and domestic violence, our attorney general has been complicit.”

Meanwhile, Eric Schneiderman’s campaign says Cahill’s accusations don’t hold up.

“Attorney General Schneiderman has worked aggressively to prevent domestic violence.  Eric led the fight for legislation to strengthen New York’s laws against domestic abusers and the unprecedented effort to expel a sitting State Senator for violently abusing his girlfriend.  Eric continues these efforts to combat domestic violence every day as Attorney General.”

-Peter Ajemian, Campaign Spokesman

The expulsion the campaign is referring to is when then State Senator Eric Schneiderman worked to expel Hiram Monserrate from the state senate in 2010, which admittedly was before his time as attorney general.

Cahill also took time to comment after his campaign released specifics, yesterday, on an internal poll they had conducted and touted to donors. Election law requires candidates to release details to the state Board of Elections on polls they conduct.

It was unclear whether Cahill’s filings had included enough details, but today Cahill said the BOE was “satisfied” with what he gave them and “if they want more, they’re going to get more.”


Schneiderman Formally Launches Re-Election Campaign

Democratic Attorney General Eric Schniederamn formally kicked-off his bid for a second term on Sunday, unveiling a series of endorsements from high-profile elected officials and labor leaders.

Schneiderman, who faces Republican John Cahill this November, announced he has been endorsed by New York City elected officials, including Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James.

In a subsequent news release, Schneiderman’s campaign unveiled endorsements from elected officials in Westchester County – including Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey.

And Schneiderman highlighted the endorsement from the AFL-CIO, which has so far declined to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election bid, thanks to a lack of support for the governor from some of its key union members.

“You can’t have true justice without fair wages, and Attorney General Schneiderman has shown he’s a tireless ally for working men and women,” said AFL-CIO New York State President Mario Cilento.

“Eric has returned over $17 million to thousands of workers cheated out of wages by their employers. From ensuring employees are paid for every hour they put in to protecting immigrant workers from scams, Eric has consistently fought to level the playing field for working families. We must stand with Eric so that he can continue this important work.”

Cahill, a former advisor to Gov. George Pataki and now a law partner with the former governor in private practice, has criticized the incumbent attorney general’s handling of the Moreland Commission following revelations that Cuomo’s office sought to influence the direction of subpoenas from the anti-corruption panel.

Schneiderman granted the commission power of deputy attorneys general, and Cahill argues the AG therefore shares responsibility for the Moreland mess.

For his part, Schneiderman isn’t commenting directly on the case, noting U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s inquiry in the commission’s work.

Still, Schneiderman reserved several million dollars worth of TV air time for the fall early on the campaign with an eye toward making a major push for his re-election post-Labor Day.

Schneiderman plans to make a series of campaign stops in Yonkers, Buffalo, Suffolk, Nassau, Syracuse and Albany.

Cahill Blasts Schneiderman’s Consulting Record, Campaign Fires Back

Republican candidate for Attorney General John Cahill was out in full force Monday to speak about what his campaign is calling the latest scandal from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Cahill is now calling on Schneiderman to publicly release communications between his office and political consultants, saying Schneiderman previously hid them behind “phony labels.”

Sunday, Crain’s New York published an article about an open records request about communications between Jennifer Cunningham from SKDKnickerbocker, a political consulting firm, and the attorney general’s office. Crain’s says the AG’s office first told them she had never represented anyone in the AG’s office, and that informal contact between her and the office was exempt from the request.

After an appeal, Crain’s says the AG’s office released dozens of emails between Cunningham and the office where she was representing private interests. Those emails did not include any consulting work between her and the Attorney General, according to Crain’s.

During a press conference in Albany Monday, John Cahill called on the Attorney General to release emails between his office and Cunningham, among other political consultants, on specific consulting work they’ve done with the Attorney General. Cahill said as a consultant, she should have a contract with the state for the services provided, and criticized Schneiderman for not disclosing the specifics of their relationship.

“He has failed to gain the trust of the people of the state of New York by his workings on the Moreland Commission and now we have another example of the politicization of the Office of the Attorney General by him (putting) a phony status on his political consultants.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s campaign released a statement to State of Politics afterward, defending Schneiderman’s record on ethics reform. The campaign also criticized Cahill for his involvement in the oil and gas industry.

“While Eric Schneiderman has demonstrated his commitment to cleaning up Albany by prosecuting more than 50 corrupt officials as Attorney General and fighting tirelessly for ethics reform in the Senate, John Cahill refuses to answer legitimate questions about the oil and gas industry clients he has represented over the past six years.  Cahill should stop stonewalling and come clean about his work as an unregistered corporate lobbyist.”
-Peter Ajemian, Campaign Spokesman

When asked about the accusations Monday, Cahill said that his involvement with clients should not be compared to Schneiderman’s because he is not an elected official, regardless of whether he’s running to be one or not.

“He can’t turn this about my private sector life over the last six years. This has to be about his tenure in government.”

As far as his plan to battle public corruption, Cahill said his first step would be full disclosure. He said, if elected, he would work to reinstate the office of the special prosecutor, and would push to bring back the Moreland Commission, or something similar.

Cahill Stands With Donovan

ICYMI, this was the second item in today’s Morning Memo:

Republican state attorney general candidate John Cahill has issued a statement of support for Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, the GOP’s 2010 AG contender, as he continues his investigation into the death of Eric Garner.

“There is not a more conscientious, better prepared or more fair minded prosecutor than Dan Donovan,” Cahill said yesterday. “There is not a law enforcement official in America better suited to conduct this investigation…The death of Mr. Garner is tragic and his family deserves the facts, all the facts, not a political football.”

“Demagoguing New York’s law enforcement community and passing the buck yet again to a federal judge or US Attorney only deepens the divisions between those responsible for enforcing the law and the communities they are charged to protect,” Cahill concluded.

Republicans are rallying around Donovan in the face of claims – mostly from Democrats – that the DA is too close to the NYPD to conduct a fair and transparent probe into the circumstances of Garner’s death, which occurred after an officer put him in an apparent chokehold while trying to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes.

Downstate Democratic members of New York’s congressional delegation want US AG Eric Holder to step in to investigate Garner’s death and also the NYPD’s so-called “broken windows” policy, which they believe unfairly targets blacks and Latinos.

Donovan was elected in 2003 and has twice easily won re-election on Staten Island. He’s next up in 2015, but says he hasn’t yet given any thought to whether he’ll be running – a decision that could no doubt be significantly impacted by his handling of this case.

Donovan lost the 2010 AG’s race to then-Democratic state Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who won a five-way Democratic primary in September prior to continuing on to the November general election.

In his uphill battle against Schneiderman this fall, Cahill, a former top Pataki administration aide, has been sticking largely to a law-and-order message, assailing the Democratic incumbent’s record on fighting crime. Cahill has also been hammering on Schneiderman for his role – or lack thereof – in the Moreland mess.

Despite Cahill’s repeated attacks, Schneiderman has consistently maintained a double-digit lead over his GOP opponent in public opinion polls, even widening his lead by five percentage points (from 22 to 27) in last week’s Siena poll.