Klein Touts NYSUT Endorsement

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein on Friday touted his endorsement from the New York State United Teachers union.

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of NYSUT, whose membership works hard each and every day on everything from shaping young minds in our public schools to educating adults in our colleges and universities. I’m committed to being a voice for our educators in Albany,” Klein said in a statement released this afternoon.

Klein faces former city Councilman Oliver Koppell in a Democratic primary next month.

NYSUT announced its slate of endorsements in the Legislature this week, but declined to endorse in the race for governor.

“Those who earn endorsements are friends of public education and labor,” NYSUT President Karen Magee said. “Over the last two years, they earned our support by advocating effectively for our public schools, colleges and healthcare institutions; listening intently to the concerns and aspirations of our members, and voting consistently the right way.”

NY Court Officers Endorse Avella

The labor group that represents state Supreme Court officers endorsed on Friday Sen. Tony Avella’s bid for a third term in the state Senate.

Avella, a Queens Democrat and the most recent addition to the Independent Democratic Conference, faces former city Comptroller John Liu in a hotly contested primary next month.

“Senator Avella has a proven record in his support of our Members. His support of our hard working Supreme Court Officers has been demonstrated by both his voting record and his sponsored legislation. A true New Yorker, we are proud to have him representing our values in Albany. He has been on the right side of issues that directly benefited our Members, their families and all New Yorkers,” said New York State Supreme Court Officers Association President Patrick Cullen.

Liu attended a rally with former Rep. Kathy Hochul on Thursday, the governor’s preferred running mate for lieutenant governor. However, Hochul stopped short of a full endorsement for Liu.

“Every New Yorker depends upon the hardworking men and women of our court system,” Avella said in a statement. “Every day, they ensure that those seeking justice are protected while their integrity ensures law and order remains upheld. It is my honor to receive their support for my campaign.”

Klein Campaign Knocks Koppell For Delayed Disclosure

The re-election campaign of Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein on Thursday knocked his primary challenger Oliver Koppell for failing to file a campaign finance disclosure form with the Board of Elections on time.

“Senator Klein’s challenger, a former New York State Attorney General, didn’t waste time violating the law and failed to disclose his campaign donors to the public by the appointed deadline. On the campaign trail Mr. Koppell talks about campaign finance reform, a measure which Senator Klein continues to tirelessly advocate for in the State Senate, and yet, he cannot follow the rules of our current system. Mr. Koppell should be fined. While candidates were busy submitting their disclosures, Mr. Koppell’s campaign instead blasted out a classless, disparaging fundraising email in a tone that’s become the hallmark of his baseless race.”

Klein and his five-member IDC last month announced plans to break from the Senate Republicans and form a new governing majority coalition with the mainline conference after Election Day.

A filing released by the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee this week showed it had paid more than $30,000 in consulting work to Parkside for Koppell’s race.

Sen. Mike Gianaris, the mainline conference’s fundraising chairman, said in an interview on Capital Tonight last night the payment was made for previous work done and before the deal was announced.

“I just want to be very clear. We have an agreement as a conference that we are not supporting the campaign against Jeff Klein in that primary, and we are absolutely sticking to that,” Gianaris said. “What was reflected in the filing was some spending for activity that occurred before there was any agreement not to do that.”

RWDSU Backs Avella

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union on Monday endorsed Queens Sen. Tony Avella’s re-election bid.

The endorsement from RWDSU comes as Avella faces a stiff primary challenge from former New York City Comptroller John Liu.

Avella, elected in 2010, joined the five-member Independent Democratic Conference earlier this year.

“Sen. Avella’s record of results and leadership illustrate his continuing dedication to the progressive values that matter not only to RWDSU’s workers, but to all New Yorkers. Whether it’s a higher minimum wage, worker safety or public campaign financing, Sen. Avella has been there and so we are now proud to support Sen. Tony Avella for reelection to the 11th State Senate District,” stated Stuart Appelbaum, President of RWDSU.

Liu earlier today was endorsed by a trio of high-profile Queens congressional members: Joe Crowley, Greg Meeks and Grace Meng.

Labor Groups Endorses IDC

All five members of the Independent Democratic Conference on Wednesday were endorsed for re-election by the International Union of Elevator Constructors.

“State Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky, David Carlucci and Tony Avella truly care about the safety of our members and the elevator riding public. In the State Senate, the IDC pushed for legislation which would require licenses for elevator mechanics. This would ensure that quality work, like the work our highly trained, union workers perform each and every day, is done. The International Union of Elevator Constructors endorses all five members of the IDC,” said Lenny Lagotte, IUEC Local 1 Chairman of Statewide Safety.

The IDC, composed of Sens. Diane Savino of Staten Island, Jeff Klein of the Bronx, David Valesky of Oneida, Tony Avella of Queens and David Carlucci of Clarkstown, last month agreed to end its coalition arrangement with Senate Republicans and form a new power-sharing arrangement with the mainline Democratic conference.

Of the five IDC members, Klein and Avella still face primary bids from former city Councilman Oliver Koppell and ex-Comptroller John Liu, respectively.

The Working Families Party plans to remain neutral in the primaries, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — key architect of the IDC-Democratic conference reconciliation — endorsed Klein and Avella on Tuesday.

Unwinding The Senate Primaries

From the morning memo:

The agreement that paved the way for the Independent Democratic Conference to form a new governing coalition with mainline Senate Democrats has, for now, put the brakes on the intraparty warfare in the chamber.

IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins broke bread in the form of a lunch.

Labor unions, the Working Families Party, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio all back an end to Republican rule in the state Senate.

Nevertheless, remnant skirmishes in the form of Senate primaries remain in play.

Potential Democratic challengers to IDC Sens. David Valesky and Diane Savino recently announced they won’t challenge them following the new coalition deal.

But primary campaigns continue against Klein, who faces former Councilman Oliver Koppell, and IDC Sen. Tony Avella, who faces former city Comptroller John Liu.

Several IDC-backed challenges also remain on the table against mainline Democrats Tim Kennedy and Gustavo Rivera.

“To be clear, we haven’t had made any specific agreements related to primaries,” Sen. Mike Gianaris said in an interview on Capital Tonight on Wednesday. “Now that we’re in a cooperative mood we’re trying to be as helpful as we can and as you said someone of these primary candidates have decided to stand down. But there are primaries going on on both sides of the equation.”

Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, is the leader of the Senate Democrats’ political and fundraising arm.

Support for the primaries against the IDC members appears to be on the decline as labor groups like 1199/SEIU make plans to pull out.

That hasn’t dissuaded either Koppell or Liu from pulling the plug on their campaigns.

“Some of this is going to be going on just as a matter of domestic politics in these Senate districts, if you will, that have nothing to do with the Democratic conference and the IDC,” Gianaris said.

Though he’s had differences with Klein, a Bronx lawmaker, he said there’s no reason to suspect the agreement that ended the GOP-IDC coalition is anything but solid.

“I think there are a lot of people who feel comfortable about this going forward,” Gianaris said, pointing to the recent lunch between Klein and Stewart-Cousins. “I think everyone has a great deal of confidence that this is a real thing and it is moving forward.”

Meanwhile, Gianaris also confirmed the mainline conference is supportive of former Vestal town Supervisor Anndrea Starzak’s candidacy for Republican Sen. Tom Libous, who is under indictment for making false statements to the FBI.

Gianaris has formed a good working relationship with the Binghamton Republican, but said on the political side of things, he expects the Southern Tier district, where GOP voters outnumber Democrats, to be in play this year.

“That is a district that maybe wouldn’t have been in as play prior to yesterday and we’re going to take a look at it and expect to compete as we expect to compete everywhere,” he said.

Klein: To Be Clear, IDC Isn’t Rejoining Regular Dems

IDC Leader Jeff Klein this morning was adamant that the agreement he announced yesterday with Gov. Andrew Cuomo should not be interpreted as a return by his breakaway conference to the regular Democratic fold.

The five IDC members – assuming they all survive this campaign cycle – will be retaining their identity as members of their own conference, Klein told Susan Arbetter during an interview on The Capitol Pressroom, adding: “We were threated to come back to the Democratic fold or face primary challenges; we’re not saying that we’re rejoining the Democratic conference.”

“The proposed coalition is about getting a legislative agenda done, and we have to sit down and talk about how we can achieve that,” Klein said.

Klein said the IDC had served as a “strong, stabilizing force” during its partnership with the Senate Republicans, but the time has come to reassess that relationship in light of the fact that top progressive priorities like the DREAM Act, a statewide public campaign finance system and the Women’s Equality Act aren’t being allowed to the floor of the Senate for a vote due to the opposition of GOP Leader Dean Skelos.

The Bronx Democrat said he was moved to form the IDC back when the Senate was “dysfunctional,” but he is now optimistic that things have changed.

He did not, however, rule out the possibility of supporting candidates in the fall elections who might be interested in joining the IDC, explaining that there would be a “litmus test” of supporting the progressive agenda. He said the time to discuss the November elections and challenges to GOP candidates will come when the “dust settles” on the September primaries.

“While I agree and support bipartisan governing, I’m a Democrat; I want to elect Democrats,” Klein explained. “But I think now, we have to elect Democrats that actually support the issues the IDC has championed.”

IDC-Dem Deal Could Bring Valesky A GOP Challenger (Updated)

Perhaps they traded one problem for another?

The announcement yesterday of a post-election IDC-Democrat reunification in the Senate may result in fewer – or perhaps merely less strenuous – primary challenges against IDC members, but the deal could result in a GOP opponent for one member where none previously existed.

Onondaga County Chairman Tom Dadey issued a statement this morning raising “serious concerns” about the IDC-regular Democrat deal, and saying it will “will hand over the keys of state government to the New York City Democrats and the radical Working Families Party.”

“Putting liberal New York City interests back in charge of our entire state government would be a disaster for hardworking Upstate taxpayers, who would surely see their taxes go up and their state aid go down,” Dadey continued.”

As a result of this new development, Dadey said he is now exploring all options – including recruiting a Republican candidate to challenge Syracuse IDC member Dave Valesky.

Two years ago, the Onondaga County GOP gave Valesky a pass, declining to field a candidate against him.

That was a significant change from 2010, when Valesky was a top GOP target. And back in 2004, Dadey himself ran against Valesky on the Conservative and Independence Party lines.

Dadey’s presence that year on the ballot against the Republican incumbent, then-Sen. Nancy Larraine Hoffmann (a former Democrat), to whom he lost the GOP primary, split the vote on the right and created a narrow path to victory for Valesky.

The GOP was not at all happy about losing Hoffmann’s seat, and Dadey was persona non grata with former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno for some time.

Dadey went out of his way in his statement today to say that he personally likes Valesky, but just isn’t a fan of his politics at the moment.

Valesky had been facing a primary challenge from Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner, but upon learning the news of the IDC-Democrat deal yesterday Kessner sounded prepared to end her campaign.

UPDATE: A Democratic consultant emails a good point, writing:

“The Republicans made Valesky’s district much more Democratic (in the last round of redistricting). The county chair’s threat is empty – especially since Valesky has won in his former district, which was much worse. Same for (Sen. David) Carlucci.”

In other words, the threat of primary battles was actually more potent, and if that has, in fact, been neutralized, then the IDC members have a heck of a lot less to worry about this fall.

An Uneasy Peace

From today’s Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senate Democratic leaders, labor union officials and even liberal activists are hailing the IDC’s announcement that it will rejoin the “regular” Senate Dems after the November elections.

But if this new relationship had a Facebook status, it would definitely be: “It’s complicated.”

First of all, this won’t be a straight reunification, but rather a new version of the power-sharing deal IDC Leader Jeff Klein struck with Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos back in 2013.

Klein has repeatedly said in interviews since the big announcement yesterday afternoon (made, by the way, via press release and without much fanfare) that the IDC will “live on” and “remain in tact.”

In other words, both Klein and whoever is leading the Senate Dems in 2015 – presumably the current leader, Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins – will have to jointly agree on everything that comes to the Senate floor for a vote.

Also, as Capitol Confidential so neatly pointed out, the numbers in the Senate chamber at the moment mean that no one – not the Democrats OR the Republicans – has a clean majority without the IDC.

And no one really knows how those numbers will change after the November elections, which is why this deal won’t official go through until then – assuming it holds.

Also, keep in mind that there’s no guarantee a true Democrat-controlled majority would be able to pass all this progressive legislation everyone keeps talking about.

For example, neither Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. nor Sen. Simcha Felder (assuming he returns to the Democratic fold, too) will support a taxpayer-funded campaign finance system or strengthening abortion rights.

So, that’s two votes right there that the Senate Dems would have to find elsewhere if they want to pass two top priorities for both Cuomo and the liberal activist members of the WFP.

Klein was reportedly motivated to cut this deal now to avoid bruising primary challenges against himself and his fellow IDC members this September – though he is denying that.

But it’s not 100 percent clear if the primary challengers who have already announced their intentions to run – most notably Klein’s opponent, former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell; and Sen. Tony Avella’s opponent, former NYC Comptroller John Liu – will stand down.

So far, Koppell is saying he’ll proceed as planned with his primary campaign against Klein, in part because he’s “skeptical” that the IDC leader will actually go through with his pledge to share power with his fellow Democrats.

It’s likely that if Koppell insists on soldiering on, the unions (which are already divided between him and Klein) and the WFP will slowly back away from him, leaving him without much support in his quest.

It could be a different story with Liu, who is hard-charging and ambitious and trying to work his way back into an elected post after coming in fourth in the 2013 NYC mayoral Democratic primary.

Unlike Koppell, Liu has the support of his home borough’s Democratic organization – in fact, Queens party leaders recruited him to challenge Avella as a punishment for the senator’s recent defection to the IDC.

And several unions that were key in negotiating the WFP endorsement deal of Cuomo that started the Senate reunification ball rolling – SEIU 1199 and HTC – will likely stick with Liu regardless of the IDC’s new power-sharing agreement, according to a labor source.

As for the other IDC members, their primary challengers were less far along in the process, and so their nascent campaigns are easier to kill in the cradle. But their departure from the field is not yet set in stone.

For example, MTA Board Member Allen Cappelli hasn’t yet agreed to terminate his nascent campaign to topple IDC member Diane Savino, a Staten Island senator.

And in Syracuse, Common Councilor Jean Kessner, who just picked up some key support from Assemblyman Sam Roberts in her fledgling challenge to Sen. Dave Valesky, also hasn’t yet formally ended her run.

She did, however, welcome the news of the IDC-Dem reunification and told the Syracuse Post-Standard that she’s likely to back down, saying: “(U)nless some really crazy glitch comes up, then we’re all set.”

Sen. David Carlucci, the IDC’s youngest member, reportedly has been the most anxious to see his conference strike a deal with the regular Democrats so he can potentially avoid a primary challenge from Clarkstown Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner.

According to a source familiar with these talks, Carlucci informed the Rockland County Democratic Party’s executive committee members two days ago that he would leave the IDC if a reunification deal failed to materialize.

The party had declined to endorse Carlucci this fall, and was flirting with backing Hausner.

Gallivan Calls IDC ‘Flip’ A Bad Deal For Upstate Interests

Tuesday Republican State Senator Pat Gallivan was standing next to Governor Cuomo, in Buffalo, as he ceremonially signed a package of bills into law designed to combat heroin use.  Just a day later he was attacking a political deal the Governor brokered that could pave the way for Democratic control of the State Senate. 

“When the State Assembly, the State Senate, and the Governor’s office were all occupied by Downstate New York City centric people from the same party, in this case the Democratic Party, there was tremendous dysfunction,” Gallivan said.

The Elma Republican not only offered a warning of what he believes will happen if the Senate falls back into Democratic control he also criticized the timing of the deal. 

“Before we get too far ahead of ourselves we still have elections to go through.  And June, in my estimation, is not the time to determine whose going to be leading the senate come next January.  That will be determined by the citizens of the state in each of the districts,” said Gallivan.  

Gallivan says it’s now up to voters to block what he calls a bad deal for Upstate New York.

“In 2009-2010 we saw an additional $14 Billion in taxes and fees levied.  I don’t think one party control of government is a good thing.  We do need the checks and balance and in a case like this we go back to 2009-2010 and citizens should be rightly concerned if we were to go back to that.  And the citizens of Upstate especially should be concerned their futures will be controlled by New York City and New York City interests,” Gallivan added.