McCain To Headline Zeldin Fundraiser

US Sen. John McCain will headline a fundraiser in support of state Sen. Lee Zeldin’s congressional run on April 22 in New York City.

Tickets to the event is being held at a private residence on E. 70th Street in Manhattan (which happens to be the building where Christopher Cox, son of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, is listed. Ed Cox and his wife, Tricia, are listed as hosts). Tickets start at $1,000 and run as high as $5,200.

McCain, a senior senator from Arizona and the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, endorsed Zeldin last October, saying his “service in the military, as a federal prosecutor and in state government demonstrate his deep commitment to advancing causes greater than his own self-interest.”

Zeldin is seeking the GOP nod to challenge Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in November. He is being challenged for the GOP line by George Demos.

Giuliani Joins Pataki In Backing Demos Over Zeldin (Updated)

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has bucked the GOP establishment in his endorsement of George Demos over Sen. Lee Zeldin in the battle for the right to face Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in NY-1 this fall.

In a statement released by the Demos campaign, Giuliani called the candidate “a fiscal conservative who says what he believes and believes what he says.”

“As a former prosecutor, he knows the good guys from the bad,” the former mayor continued. “He will rattle the cages of the establishment. He’ll make a difference. And George would never support Obamacare. His voice will be heard in the halls of Congress, and I predict, throughout America.”

“I am impressed with George, his passion, his intellect, and his integrity. I am proud to endorse his candidacy and prouder still to call him a friend. George Demos is one of us. And it’s time for George Demos for Congress.”

In backing Demos, Giuliani is not only at odds with the majority of Republican and Conservative leaders in NY-1, who have lined up behind Zeldin, but he’s also on the same side as former Gov. George Pataki – an early supporter of Demos, who worked for Pataki when he was in office.

Pataki and Giuliani have not always seen eye to eye over the years, either on politics or policy, though their relationship improved markedly after 9/11 and toward the end of the governor’s tenure in Albany.

The state GOP has been vehemently opposed to Demos’ candidacy (sometimes a little too vehemently). The party is very keen on putting forward a united front against Bishop, who came close to losing his seat in 2012 and continues to be the subject of an ethics investigation in connection with his campaign fundraising.

Division within the party – and between Republicans and Conservatives – has previously weakened candidates’ chances of unseating Bishop.

UPDATE: A knowledgable reader notes that Demos’ campaign is run by two consultants: Jake Menges and Rob Cole. Giuliani is longtime Menges client, Pataki a longtime Cole client. So, there’s a certain element of doing some political favors here that is worth noting.

Zeldin To Address CPAC

Republican Congressional candidate Lee Zeldin will appear at the marquee national conservative confab CPAC next week, his campaign announced.

Zeldin, a Suffolk County state senator, is running for the First Congressional District seat held by Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop.

CPAC will be held by March 6 through March 8 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington D.C.

He’s competing in an increasingly heated primary battle against former SEC prosecutor George Demos, who has pointed to Zeldin’s approval of state budget bills that included federal funding for the implementation of Obamacare.

Zeldin has pushed back strongly against the implication he’s backing the federal health care law, as have his supporters like Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long.

“To be recognized by the nation’s largest conservative organization is an incredible honor,” Zeldin said in a statement. “CPAC offers a rare opportunity to come together with the most influential conservative minds in America, and share our vision for the direction of our country. America’s next generation of conservative leaders are stepping forward with a significant devotion and passion for our nation’s core values: liberty, personal responsibility, constitutional rights and a strong national defense.”

In TV Ad, NRCC Blasts Bishop

As a protracted and increasingly heated Republican primary contest continues in the first Congressional District, the national GOP is slamming incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop.

In a TV ad unveiled on Thursday, the National Republican Campaign Committee returns to the ethics controversy surrounding Bishop’s efforts on behalf of a constituent to secure a fireworks permit and a subsequent campaign contribution.

Bishop, who was investigated by the House Ethics Committee over the matter, donated the contribution to charity.

Still, Republicans have repeatedly knocked the Suffolk County Democrat over the incident.

Sen. Lee Zeldin and former SEC prosecutor George Demos are the Republicans vying for the nomination to take on Bishop in the June congressional primary.

Here is the ad’s script:

Here’s the story on Tim Bishop: Bishop agreed to help a constituent obtain government permits. Then days later asked for thousands in cash. Bishop did the favor, then got the cash. FBI agents have investigated Bishop’s actions. An ethics panel found substantial reason to believe he committed a crime. Corruption, federal investigations. Tim Bishop’s everything that is wrong with Washington.

Zeldin Campaign Hits Back At Demos On Obamacare (Updated)

A web ad released this morning from the Congressional campaign of Republican Lee Zeldin is blasting primary opponent George Demos for attempting to tie the state lawmaker to funding for Obamacare.

Demos has been knocking both Zeldin and Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop for the federal health care law in both TV and radio ads.

But Demos has singled out Zeldin for approving state budgets that included federal pass-through money to implement the law in New York.

The strategy has angered Zeldin supporters, who have called the Demos claims a “lie.” Indeed, the claims have gotten so heated that a spokesman for the state GOP compared Demos to genital herpes, which led to a quick apology.

Now in a YouTube video Tuesday morning, Zeldin is referred to as a staunch opponent of Obamacare and “conservative Republican.”

“Lee Zeldin has never and will never support Obamacare. The ads are nothing more than shameful attempts to deceive voters, representing the absolute worst in politics,” said Zeldin campaign manager Chapin Fay. “Our campaign is based on honor and integrity and we are confident that the voters in the First Congressional District will see through the lies and stand behind the only honest, proven, principled candidate, Senator Lee Zeldin.”

Update: The Demos campaign responded in a statement, and makes a reference to the STD-comment from last week.

“The Zeldin campaign has launched another personally negative assault at George Demos. Getting beyond that teenage name calling, they make one substantive denial of fact. They state that Lee Zeldin opposes Obamacare. If that is true, then why did the State Senator Zeldin vote on March 27, 2013, to federally fund the Obamacare exchange in New York State? That’s a fact. Indisputable. And name calling and mud slinging doesn’t make it so. Why doesn’t the State Senator Zeldin simply admit he voted for the exchange? After all it’s printed in New York State Senate bill S2600E-2013.”

Demos Radio Ad Continues Obamacare Drumbeat (Updated)

Republican Congressional candidate George Demos in a radio released on Thursday continues to blast his GOP primary opponent Lee Zeldin for the funding of Obamacare in the state budget.

The line of attack has angered Zeldin supporters and Zeldin’s campaign has issue several statements noting that the approval of funding of the health care law was federal pass-through money in the state budget when casting votes as a state senator.

But Demos is not drawing any distinctions in his ad.

“Finally State Senator Lee Zeldin admitted he voted to use our tax dollars to fund Obamacare,” the ad says. “Zeldin says its only federal tax dollars – not state tax dollars. Those are different?”

The state Republican Party — which has publicly backed Zeldin — in a statement swiftly blasted the spot as inaccurate and went as far as to compare Demos to a sexually transmitted disease.

“The only person in CD 1 who ought to be ‘ashamed’ is George Demos, of himself. The only thing more outrageous than the absurd notion that Lee Zeldin ever supported Obamacare is George Demos’ carpetbagging, vanity candidacy funded by his rich, Pelosi-linked father-in-law,” said spokesman David Laska. “George Demos is the genital herpes of Long Island politics: he shows up at regular intervals, makes a terrible mess of things and disappears having accomplished nothing.”

Updated: In a tweet, Laska apologized for the comment.

“I apologize for the language I used this afternoon,” he said. “It was over the top and totally unbecoming of the State Party and its mission.”

‘There Will Be Debates’

After Republican House candidate George Demos criticized Sen. Lee Zeldin for approving federal pass-through funds for Obamacare, the Zeldin campaign said in a statement there will debates in the contentious Congressional primary.

Zeldin’s campaign has pushed back hard on the contention that the Suffolk County lawmaker has approved funding for Affordable Care Act in the state budget.

Demos, in turn, has called for a debate on the issue.

“George Demos needs to stop misleading voters,” Zeldin campaign said. “His latest press release is riddled with lies just like everything else that comes out of his negative campaign. For example, Demos claims, ‘if Zeldin and a majority of the State Senate colleagues had rejected the funds, the New York State Obamacare exchange could not have been created.’ This is 100 percent untrue – Demos must be competing for 2014’s lie of the year. Demos is not entitled to his own facts and First Congressional District Voters will reject his dishonest campaigning, yet again.”

Zeldin, meanwhile, indicated he will be open to debates — that’s debates, plural — on the issue of Obamacare funding (and I’m sure a few others!)

“Integrity is a 4 letter word to George Demos. He is running against a man of honor and integrity who lives the 7 Army Values each and every day of his life: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. George needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and decide if he really wants to continue down this path, or if he wants to start conducting himself with some integrity. In the meantime, it would be great if he would stop putting words into Senator Zeldin’s mouth. There will be debates and unfortunately for George, the subject matter is going to be much more substantive than his half-cocked lie of the day.”

Demos To Zeldin: Debate Me On Obamacare Funding

The Congressional campaign of Republican George Demos continued to press the issue of funding Obamacare in the state budget, challenging his GOP primary rival state Sen. Lee Zeldin to a debate on the issue.

Demos has been blasting Zeldin for approving a state budget that included federal pass-through money for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Zeldin’s campaign — and his surrogates — have strongly pushed back against the contention, noting that he is not a supporter of Obamacare and the funding came from the federal government, not state tax dollars.

But Demos, who has released a TV ad on the issue, on Monday called for Zeldin to debate him on the topic.

From the Demos campaign:

“When Senator Zeldin got caught, instead of admitting his mistake, he did what politicians do; He blamed us for not understanding the complexities. Zeldin claims that the exchanges were ‘federally funded’ and ‘not one dollar of state funding has been used.’ But surely Senator Zeldin knows that the federal government cannot force a state to accept funds without the state legislature voting to expend those funds. Zeldin had the option to vote no, but he chose to go along to get along and voted yes. If Zeldin and a majority of the State Senate colleagues had rejected the funds, the New York State Obamacare exchange could not have been created. Given Senator’s Zeldin’s insistence that federal funding is different than state funding, I today issue a challenge to Senator Zeldin to a debate on the following topic: ‘Is there a difference between federal funding and state funding?’ I have directed my campaign manager Kevin Tschirhart to coordinate with Senator Zeldin’s office to set up this important debate on this important topic.”

The battle for the nomination to take on Suffolk County Rep. Tim Bishop has become one of the more heated Republican primaries already this year, and in many ways is a continuation of the battles for the GOP nod in 2010 and 2012, which also featured Demos.

Zeldin has lined up the support of most of the local and statewide Republican establishment, while Demos has the backing of former Gov. George Pataki.

Zeldin Fundraises Off Demos’ Obamacare Attacks

Republican House candidate state Sen. Lee Zeldin is fundraising off of attacks from his primary opponent George Demos, who in TV ads has been trying to tie him and Democratic incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop to funding Obamacare.

Demos is charging that Zeldin, a second-term lawmaker in the Senate, approved funding for the statewide implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The latest was a web ad released Monday morning, playing off an earlier TV spot (the web ad was condemned by Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long, a Zeldin supporter).

On Tuesday, Zeldin’s campaign blasted out a fundraising email that sought to debunk Demos’ claims and then turn the negative ads into a vehicle for contributions.

Zeldin’s arguments against the Demos claims are two-fold:

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo created the statewide health exchange through executive order after Republicans in the Senate raised concerns.
  • The money spent to fund Obamacare’s implementation in New York is federal pass-through funds that is plugged into the budget.

Zeldin’s email also appeals to supporters who don’t like negative advertising.

“If you are like me, you look for honesty and integrity as most important values that distinguish men and women from their political opponents,” the email says. “And if you are like me, you have been seeing some very negative TV commercials and mail pieces trying to completely rewrite the history of my two terms in office.”

Of course, there’s a fundraising aspect to this:

“Please make a commitment to help us promote the truth by making your recurring $14 for ’14 donation today. Your support will help us fight what is wrong with politics today – dishonest, deceitful, and unabashed lies against exactly the type of people we need in Washington.

The full email can be viewed here.

Long Blasts Demos’ Latest Ad

State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long on Monday blasted a web ad from GOP House candidate George Demos aimed at Republican state Sen. Lee Zeldin yokes him and Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and Obamacare.

The web ad released this morning claims Zeldin and Bishop backed Obamcare implementation through budget votes.

Long, in a statement released by the Zeldin campaign, calls this false, given that it was federal pass-through funding.

“Senator Lee Zeldin has never voted to fund Obamacare,” Long said. “The bill that George Demos referenced, but obviously didn’t read and understand, accounted for the federal funding that came to the state as a result of Governor Cuomo’s executive order in April 2012 to unilaterally create the insurance exchange in New York. I find it laughable that the accompanying statement made sure to note that Demos has never voted for Obamacare. Of course, he hasn’t voted. He’s never been elected to a public position — there’s a reason for that.”

A previous TV ad had taken a similar route knocking Zeldin and Bishop for the budget vote.