With Eye Toward 2016, Pataki Pitches ‘More Freedom, Less Gov’t’ (Updated)

Former Gov. George Pataki, who is reportedly toying yet again with a White House run, is hitting the airwaves with a new TV ad that slams Washington and calls for a “new America” with less government, and “more freedom.”

The entire ad, launched through a Super PAC called “Americans for Real Change,” features Pataki in a jacket, but no tie, speaking straight to the camera and saying:

“When America’s economy is struggling, and Washington is booming, it’s time for a new America.”

“Big government benefits the rich and powerful. They can afford to play the game; you can’t. It’s time for a new America, with much smaller federal government. Washington can’t run he economy, and shouldn’t try to run our lives.”

“Less government. More freedom. Log on. Join us.”

The ad was announced in an email that doubles as a fundraising pitch signed by Pataki, who says: “Now is the time for us to take the initiative and present a proactive agenda that addresses, head on, Americans’ perception that the deck is stacked in favor of the rich and powerful.”

According to the email, the ad is airing across the nation. But no information was provided as to exactly where, and for how long.

Pataki says the goal of the ad is to “launch a renaissance in Conservative thought.” But it’s also clearly an effort by the moderate New York Republican to reintroduce himself as a fiscal conservative.

An apparently unrelated 501(c)4 called “Americans for Real Change” was created in 2012 by GOP consultant Jake Menges, an advisor to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Vincent Balascio, who worked for Pataki.

At the time, the PAC’s focus was trying to to force out Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his controversial handling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment case. Supposedly, the PAC was going to raise and spend as much as $1.5 million and make NYC mayoral candidates “take a stand” on whether Silver should still be speaker.

But it doesn’t appear to have done any spending, and, according to a filing with the FEC, was terminated in 2013.

Despite ongoing attempts by various Republican candidates – including GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino – to make hay of the Lopez scandal, Silver is still speaker, and does not appear in any imminent danger of losing that post.

UPDATE: A source familiar with the former governor’s effort says this ad is airing in New Hampshire to correspond with Pataki’s visit there – he’s appearing at Politics and Eggs tomorrow, and spent the weekend campaigning with local NH candidates. The ad is also airing nationwide on FOX News.

McCain Makes a Fundraising Plug for Astorino

US Senator and former GOP presidential candidate John McCain is the latest big name Republican to lend his name to a fundraising pitch for gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, touting the Westchester County executive’s tax-cutting record.

In an email sent to potential Astorino donors (and members of the media) today, McCain calls Astorino “a man of honesty and integrity,” and says his record “speaks for itself.”

“As Westchester County executive, he cut or froze the property tax levy each year he has been in office,” McCain writes.

“He also reduced the once-bloated county budget by 5.2 percent over four years by making the commonsense, responsible and tough decisions needed to put the county back on the right track.”

“At a time when many economies were hurting, Westchester saw 30,000 private sector jobs created under the leadership of Rob Astorino. Imagine what he could do at the state level. Rob Astorino is exactly what the Empire State needs, and right now he needs your support.”

The McCain email includes several links to the fundraising page on Astorino’s campaign website.

With this pitch, McCain is following in the footsteps of another ex-GOP presidential contender, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; as well as a number of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both of whom have made in-person appearances in New York on Astorino’s behalf.

Other prominent Republicans backing Astorino include former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former New Jersey Gov. and ex-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

All these efforts highlight the fact that Republican Governors Association Chairman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another possible GOP candidate for the White House in 2016, has declined to support Astorino’s campaign, saying he doesn’t want to invest in a “lost cause.”

Antonacci Not Quite On the Air With 1st Ad

Also from the Morning Memo:

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci has cut his first TV ad in his long-shot run for state comptroller.

It’s a cute ad, which features his biggest fan – his daughter, Jackie – who provides a primer on the responsibilities of this little-known state post, and says her “really smart” Dad is just the guy for the job.

Trouble is, Antonacci doesn’t quite have enough cash yet to get the ad on the air – something he really needs to do in order to raise his name recognition as he challenges the Democratic incumbent, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

So, Antonacci has released the ad as a fundraising tool, urging supporters to make a donation to “unlock matching funds” and enable him to hit the airwaves ASAP.

Antonacci has been having trouble meeting the requirements of the public campaign finance PILOT program set up by the governor and legislative leaders during the last session.

Even though DiNapoli advocated making his office the test case for public matching funds, he refused – with the support of good government groups – to participate in this last-minute program.

So, Antonacci will be the lone participant, assuming he manages to make the cut.

Hillary Clinton Emails for DCCC

Hillary Clinton has been stepping up her political activity in recent weeks, fanning the flames of speculation about her potential presidential run in 2016.

The former first lady and ex-secretary of state and her husband, former President Clinton, recently traveled to Iowa, which hosts the the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, to attend the 37th and final steak fry hosted by Sen. Tom Harkin.

Later this month, Hillary Clinton will appear at a Washington, D.C. fund-raiser for a state senator in New Hampshire, which is home to the nation’s first presidential primaries. And the former president will be heading to the state to speak at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner on Oct. 16.

Hillary Clinton is also gearing up to assist Democratic congressional candidates in her home state. She’ll be headlining a high-dollar fund-raiser on Sept. 29 in New York City at Le Parker Meridien hotel to benefit the DCCC, which is headed by Long Island Rep. Steve Israel. And she’ll also appear at another event to benefit the DCCC that’s being held in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s home state of California.

Today, Hillary Clinton leant her name to a DCCC fundraising email with the subject line, “a Choice and a Chance.”

“Every election is an opportunity to shape our future,” she wrote. “This November, we have a clear choice – and a chance. It’s a chance to elect Democrats to Congress who will fight for us every day. It’s a chance to elect leaders who believe that our economy and our democracy should work for everyone.”

“That’s why I’m writing you. My friends at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) are pulling out all the stops to help us seize this chance. But they need our help. It’s going to take all hands on deck to get this done. Can we count on your support?”

The email includes six links to an “ActBlue” fundraising web page that features a large photo of Clinton. Options include contributions starting at $5 and going as high as $1,000 (or any other amount a contributor would like to give). There’s also an option to make a weekly donation though the Nov. 4 general election.

There are a number of tight congressional races across the country, including a handful here in New York, despite the fact that the Democrats enjoy a roughly 3-to-5 enrollment edge across the state.

Rick Perry To Headline Buffalo Fundraiser for Astorino

Carl Paladino this afternoon sent out an invitation to a Sept. 30 fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and his running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, that will be headlined by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The event will be held in the grant court of the Elliott Square Building in Buffalo, which is owned by Paladino – the 2010 GOP/Conservative candidate for governor, who lost big to Cuomo, but did manage to beat him in Western New York.

Tickets to the Perry fundraiser start at $99 per person and $175 per couple, but rise to $500 per couple if the couple in question wants to get their picture taken with the governor.

According to the invite, this event is being hosted by united GOP/Conservative front that includes Paladino, state Conservstive Chairman Mike Long, state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, (who was former Congresswoman-turned-LG-candidate Kathy Hochul’s unsuccessful opponent in the 2011 special election for former Rep. Chris Lee’s seat), and Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo.

Not too terribly long ago, Paladino was threatening to run for governor himself if the Republicans failed to select someone who met his conservative standards to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Astorino did not appear to meet the Buffalo businessman’s exacting standards. But Paladino is now fully in Astorino’s camp, and even recently traveled with the candidate around the state on a bus tour.

Perry has been mentioned as a potential 2016 contender, despite his failed 2012 bid and his recent indictment on two felony counts of violating Texas public-integrity law, and he regularly raises campaign cash for various Republican candidates (in other words, gathering chits).

The Texas governor has also made repeated trips to New York in hopes of wooing businesses to his more business-friendly state (especially when it comes to taxes, since Texas has no income tax whatsoever), and has even run ads here encouraging New Yorkers to relocate.

Perry isn’t the only out-of-state GOP governor to help Astorino. During a recent trip to a Republican Governors Association meeting in Aspen, Colorado, Astorino said he securred commitments of support from Perry, Mike Pence from Indiana, Nikki Haley from South Carolina, and Bobby Jindal from Louisiana.

The foursome’s agreement to assist Astorino is a rebuke to the head of the RGA, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has repeatedly refused to lift a finger on Astorino’s behalf, saying at one point that he didn’t want to invest RGA resources in “lost causes.”  After that comment, Christie clarified that he does support Astorino’s campaign, but won’t provide him with any assistance until the race between the county executive and Cuomo tightens considerably.

Poloncarz Sends Fundraising Appeal For Hochul

Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Friday sent out a fundraising appeal for “hometown candidate” Kathy Hochul, the former representative now running for lieutenant governor alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Kathy has fought for us and now we must fight for her. Please consider making a donation, any size donation, even $5.00, to her campaign,” Poloncarz wrote in an email. “And all Western New York Democrats must come out and support Kathy on Primary Day. Please consider visiting her website at and donating to her campaign.”

The email includes a link to a video released by state Democrats on Thursday that features Hochul for three minutes defending her liberal credentials, a move that comes her primary opponent, Columbia professor Tim Wu, has criticized her conservative voting record in Congress.

The email from Poloncarz reiterates a number of the points made in the video by Hochul, including her campaigning against cuts to Medicare and her loss in 2012 to Rep. Chris Collins.

“Now, she has been selected as the running mate of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has fought to pass the SAFE Act, marriage equality and is fighting to pass the DREAM Act, and the entire 10 point Women’s Equality Agenda that will end pay discrimination and protect a woman’s right to choose,” he writes.

Poloncarz is a key western New York ally for Cuomo, who has lavished attention on the region since taking office. Cuomo lost a large swath of western New York in 2010 to Republican nominee Carl Paladino, a Buffalo businessman.

Teachout Endorsed By Progressive Group

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic primary opponent Zephyr Teachout on Tuesday was endorsed by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee — a group that has pushed for the public financing of political campaigns here in New York.

The PCCC’s support for Teachout isn’t much of a surprise, considering the group backed the Fordham Law professor’s candidacy on the Working Families Party ballot line in May.

Support from the labor-backed party went to Cuomo after he agreed to back a number of liberal measures as well as a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate.

“Zephyr Teachout and Andrew Cuomo are exact opposites,” said PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor. “He is embroiled in the biggest corruption scandal in years, and she is a crusader against corruption. He is a corporate Democrat serving big-money donors, while she is an economic populist. For us, the choice is clear. Zephyr is the right candidate for New York. Zephyr Teachout would be a transformational governor of New York — open, honest, populist.”

Teachout, along with comedian-activist Randy Credico will challenge Cuomo next month in the Sept. 9 primary.

Cuomo’s re-election campaign backs an effort to remove Teachout from the ballot, claiming she has not lived in the state long enough to qualify for statewide office.

PCCC says it has raised more than $1 million in the current campaign cycle, and the cash goes directly to liberal candidates.

Cuomo Not Attending Bronx Democratic Committee Fundraiser (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this evening is scheduled to appear at a dinner fundraiser for the Bronx Democratic Committee, according to an invitation sent out by the party.

Updated: I’m told Cuomo will not be attending the event this evening.

The event is also expected to include AFL-CIO Presdent Mario Cilento and NYC Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook.

The event begins at 7 p.m.

Tickets to the fundraiser range from $300 to platinum sponsors who can contribute or bundle up to $25,000.

The fundraiser is the only public event of the day for Cuomo, who is under fire for his office’s involvement in the now-defunct Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.

Schneiderman Doubles Down On TV Air Time

From today’s Morning Memo:

Democratic AG Eric Schneiderman has reserved a second $1 million block of TV air time for the end of the campaign, locking up the airways early as his GOP opponent, John Cahill, struggles to catch up in the fundraising race and build name recognition.

A source familiar with Schneiderman’s plan says this block – like the first $1 million chunk purchased by his campaign in June – is with broadcast stations in the state’s five major media markets: NYC, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, and covers the final month of the AG’s race.

Consider this: Schneiderman has now spent more on future TV ads than Cahill has raised to date.

According to the July 15 reports filed with the state Board of Elections, Cahill has raised just over $1 million and has $968,689 on hand. Schneiderman took in $2.6 million over the past six months, and has $6.9 million on hand.

These early ad buys don’t merely give the AG bragging rights and allow him to flout his eight-to-one spending advantage. They also secure him as much as a 20 percent discount.

Cahill, meanwhile, will be forced to buy time at a more expensive rate (unless he acts ASAP), and since Schneiderman has already snapped up the good time slots, the former Pataki administration aide will have to make do with what’s left over.

Though Schneiderman has a major cash advantage – thanks largely to the power of incumbency and his longstanding support among labor unions – the AG is clearly leaving nothing to chance in his first re-election race.

The AG enjoys a wide lead over Cahill, though the race has tightened just a hair, according to this week’s Siena poll. (Cahill, it should be noted, is garnering more support among GOP voters than any other of the party’s statewide contenders).

Also, though a majority – 56 percent – of New Yorkers say they don’t know who Schneiderman is, despite the fact that he has held statewide office for the past four years, more people – 74 percent – don’t know Cahill.

And Schneiderman is determined, clearly, to do everything he can to keep things this way – spendingbig to raise his own name recognition, and perhaps to define Cahill (most likely as too conservative for Democrat-dominated New York) before Cahill can afford to do it himself.

There is still the possibility that Chill will be assisted by big spending by an anti-Schneiderman Super PAC, but that has yet to materialize.

Skelos And Klein Lead In Senate Fundraising

The co-leaders of the state Senate have the lion’s share of the campaign cash, according to an analysis released Thursday by the New York Public Interest Research Group.

The analysis found Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos has the most cash on hand of any sitting state senator or challenger, with $2.9 million in the bank. He was followed by Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, who has $2 million in cash on hand.

That the two leaders of the Senate over the last two years have the most cash on hand is not a wholly surprising development, given money in Albany often flows to the top of the Legislature.

Combined, Senate Republicans and their various campaign committees have $19.7 million in the bank.

Mainline Democrats have $6.1 million, while the IDC has $4.4 million.

Republicans raised a total of $8.7 million, with Democrats raising $5.9 million. The IDC lawmakers raised a combined $1.8 million

Former Sen. Carl Kruger, jailed for a corruption conviction, has one of the largest campaign filings among Democrats: $412,755.

The Republican and IDC conferences formed a governing coalition in 2012 that allowed the GOP conference to retain some control in the chamber.

But after a coalition of liberal groups, unions and the labor-backed Working Families Party threatened to withhold support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election, the governor pledged to help Democrats retake full control of the Senate.

Cuomo, along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, would later broker an agreement that will result in a new coalition between the IDC and mainline Democrats.

NYPIRG Senate July 2014 by Nick Reisman