Katko Hires Senior Staff

Rep.-elect John Katko on Monday announced he hired five senior staffers for his office, plucking aides from the offices of Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, Reps. Chris Gibson, Richard Hanna and state Sen. John DeFrancisco.

“I have pledged to have an open door policy, to provide exceptional constituent service, to understand local issues, and to advance the needs of Central New York in Washington,” said Katko in a statement. “That starts with a strong team. These individuals bring knowledge, experience, and passion for serving the people of the 24th Congressional District. I am confident that this dedicated team of individuals will excel in their new roles and I am excited to work alongside them to provide strong leadership for Central New York in Congress.”

Katko, a Republican who defeated Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei last month for the Syracuse-area House seat, hired Brad Gentile for the chief of staff post.

Gentile previously worked as a legislative director and deputy chief of staff to Rep. Chris Gibson, a Hudson Valley Republican. Gentile’s resume also includes a stint as a legislative assistance in Speaker John Boehner’s office.

Katko also hired Tom Connellan, a Syracuse police detective, to work on his local staff as district director.

Terre Dennis, a former regional directro for Rep. Richard Hanna is being brought on as a director of constituent services.

Justin Sayles will be Katko’s deputy district director; he previouls was a project coordinator for Onondaga County.

Erin O’Connor, who has worked in Sen. John DeFrancisco’s office, will be communications director and counsel.

Maffei Ad Defends Family Against ‘Personal Attacks’

On the heels of a poll that shows he has lost the lead in his re-election bid, Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei has released a new TV ad featuring his wife and newborn daughter that slams his Republican opponent, John Katko, for making “personal attacks on my family.”

“Rep. Dan Maffei grew up in Central New York, on the East Side of Syracuse, and is committed to making the middle class in Central New York stronger,” said the congressman’s campaign manager Kane Miller, campaign manager. “He couldn’t be more proud of his wife Abby, her career, and their daughter Maya. He will continue to stand up for his family and middle class families across Central New York, and will never allow personal attacks from John Katko or anyone else about his family.”

The decision by Maffei and his wife to purchase a $700,000 home in the D.C. suburbs this past spring, coupled with the fact that Abby Maffei split her time between Syracuse and D.C. for her job at CARE, an international humanitarian group that fight global poverty, and that the couple’s daughter was born in a D.C. hospital have all become fodder throughout the campaign for Katko, who has questioned the congressman’s dedication to the district.

Maffei took issue with this line of attack during a TWC News debate in Syracuse this week, saying his wife and daughter should be “out of bounds” – even though he has included them in his campaign literature and ads (like this one, for example). The congressman said the birth of his daughter in D.C. enabled him to “make every single vote for this congressional district while I was being a good  father.”

He said the baby is now in New York, where he is spending all of his time campaigning to keep the seat he first won in 2008, lost in 2010 (to former Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle) and then won back (from Buerkle) in 2012.

Here’s the transcript of Maffei’s new ad, which starts airing this week on stations across NY-24:

Katko Opens Up 10-Point Lead Over Maffei

Republican John Katko leads Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei by 10 percentage points in the 24th congressional district, a Siena College-Post Standard poll released this morning found.

Katko, a former prosecutor, receives 52 percent of the vote, compared to 42 percent of support for Maffei, a Democrat who is in second, non-consecutive term.

The poll found Maffei has a broad, 32-point lead in the city of Syracuse, but that is a decline from a 48-point difference.

In the rest of Onondaga County, the poll found Katko leading Maffei by 21 points. In other areas of the central New York district, Katko is leading by 13 percentage ponits.

Previously, a Siena College poll found Maffei with an 8-percentage point advantage, 50 percent to Katko’s 42 percent.

The race for the NY-24 has been marked by an onslaught of negative advertising by the congressional campaign committees of both parties. In a sign of Maffei’s delicate situation, former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden both traveled to the area to hold rallies for him.

Maffei first won the seat in 2008, a presidential election year. In 2010, he lost the district to Republican Anne Marie Buerkle. But in a rematch two years later — another presidential election year — Maffei won the district back, which had been altered post redistricting.

In the race for governor, meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo’s lead over Republican Rob Astorino is shrinking in the district, the poll found.

Cuomo leads Astorino 43 percent to 39 percent, with 13 percent of support going to Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins. Earlier, Cuomo had been leading Astorino 44 percent to 32 percent in the 24th congressional district.

The poll of 704 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 22 through Oct. 24. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

NRCC Counters Clinton’s NY-24 Visit With a New Anti-Maffei Ad

Just in time for former President Clinton’s appearance this afternoon in NY-24 on behalf of Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei, the NRCC has released a new TV ad accusing the congressman of putting Washington interests ahead of the interests of his Central New York constituents.

“After decades in Washington, Dan Maffei has become the ultimate, self-interested politician,” said NRCC spokesman Ian Prior. “Maffei has given Central New York families nothing but Obamacare and higher taxes, then turns around and hands out $200,000 in taxpayer money to give lavish bonuses and gifts to his own staff. Under Dan Maffei Central New York loses while Washington D.C. wins.”

The new ad will air through Election Day in the Syracuse and Rochester broadcast markets. Maffei is facing off against Republican former prosecutor John Katko. The two candidates will be going head to head in a TWC News debate this coming Monday, Oct. 27. The debate will air in Syracuse and Rochester at 7 p.m. Those interested in watching who don’t happen to live in that viewing area can catch it online. I’ll be moderating along with TWC News’ Syracuse reporter Bill Carey and Rochester reporter Seth Voorhees.

Here’s the script for the NRCC’s latest attack on Maffei in NY-24:

Announcer: “For Congressman Dan Maffei, Washington comes first. So when Maffei showered his staff with outrageous bonuses, it wasn’t surprising. DC first, it’s the Dan Maffei way.

He voted to allow first class travel and special health care perks for Congress. But for us, Maffei voted with Pelosi to push job killing taxes and devastating Medicare cuts, jeopardizing care for seniors.

With Dan Maffei’s Washington ways, we lose.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

House Majority PAC Sticks With Robertson In NY-23

The DCCC may have abandoned Democratic Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson in her quest to unseat Republican Rep. Tom Reed next month, but she isn’t completely going it alone.

The House Majority PAC just announced it is releasing new TV ads in 10 congressional districts across the country – including NY-23, where the House Democrats’ political arm, led by Long Island Rep. Steve Israel, recently cancelled two weeks worth of reserved air time so it could rededicate resources to protect incumbent Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is in a tight re-election battle with his 2012 opponent, former GOP Rep. Nan Hayworth, in NY-18.

The ad, which appears below, is airing in the Elmira market only starting tomorrow. And the buy isn’t terribly large – $49,138 – although that goes a lot further in the Southern Tier than, say, the NYC media market.

And, something is definitely better than nothing, from Robertson’s perspective – especially when you consider the fact that another Democratic House candidate recently abandoned by the DCCC, Aaron Woolf, didn’t make the House Majority PAC cut. In fact, the PAC cancelled $300,000 worth of air time it had reserved on Woolf’s behalf just before the national Democrats also decided to pull the plug on his.

The House Majority PAC has also purchased $58,472 worth of air time in Central New York’s NY-24 to benefit Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei. The ad, which can be seen below underneath the anti-Reed spot, slams Maffei’s Republican opponent, former prosecutor John Katko, for being “too conservative” for New York – particularly when it comes to women’s issues.

A GOP source insisted that these buys are not new and have been reserved for some time now. But considering the fact that money is being shifted around all over the place, it’s a safe bet these candidates consider it a win to have managed to hold on to their planned time slots.

In Ad, NRCC Ad Knocks Maffei, Ties Him To Washington

A TV ad that will air in the 24th congressional district from the National Republican Campaign Committee blasts Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei as a creature of Washington who voted to raise the debt ceiling and gave bonuses to his office staff.

The 30-second NRCC commercial also takes Maffei to task for an energy tax.

“Congressman Dan Maffei has made a career of Washington, leaving Central New York behind,” the ad’s script says. “Maffei backed an energy tax that could crush the middle class. Fewer jobs, higher electricity prices, forcing seniors to pay more.”

Republicans hope to retake the central New York district after Maffei regained his seat in Congress after defeating Republican incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle in 2012.

Democrats, meanwhile, aren’t wasting time attacking Maffei’s latest Republican rival, John Katko.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee earlier this month knocked Katko in a pair of ads over his passed prosecutions as well as Medicare funding.

A Former Democratic Chairman Switches Parties, Backs Katko

A former Democratic chairman in Oswego on Wednesday announced he had switched parties and endorsed the Republican challenger to incumbent Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei.

In announcing his endorsement of John Katko, former Oswego City Democratic Chairman Eric Van Buren, currently the Oswego City Council vice president, said Katko has run an “honorable and effective campaign.”

“Recently, I submitted the paperwork to change my party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. I made this very personal decision after much thought and consideration. I philosophically and politically believe I can be more effective within the Republican Party and that starts with our federal representation. John Katko has run an honorable and effective campaign focused on the issues. It’s that kind of person that I want representing my family and all of Oswego in Congress.”

Katko’s Wife Defends Him In New Ad (Updated)

The NY-24 race is getting nastier by the moment, and Republican candidate John Katko has turned to his wife of 27 years, Robin, for protection.

The Katko camapign today released a new TV ad that uses the time-honored tradition of deploying a candidate’s spouse – the individual who arguably knows him or her best – to push back against attacks launched by the opposition.

This ad is actually in response to a DCCC ad released to support Katko’s Democratic target, Rep. Dan Maffei, which – according to the Katko campaign – “distorts” the candidate’s position on women’s issues, and says he’ll be a “rubber stamp” for the House GOP leadership on key issues – including abortion rights. It also (again according to the Katko campaign, features stock photos of a Eruopean model “posing as a Central New York female.”

“The group seems to have had trouble finding a willing NY-24 woman to appear in its advertising since at least one of the generic stock photos used, of ‘Sad Woman,’ happens to come from a photographer in the Netherlands.,” Katko’s campaign said. “‘Sad Woman” was also used by a law firm to represent a woman who received a transvaginal mesh implant and is suffering from ‘serious complications.'”

Technically speaking though, the ad doesn’t claim that the women who make cameo appearances are from Central New York, they’re just generic photos of women looking wistfully off into the distance as a narrator slams Katko for being against a “woman’s right to choose” and in support of allowing employers to deny their female employees health care coverage for “common forms of birth control.”

Also, an Auburn Citizen fact check of the DCCC ad determined that it misrepresented Katko’s comments on the US Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

Maffei is increasingly on the attack in NY-24, where a recent Siena poll showed Katko trailing the incumbent congressman by just eight percentage points. Maffei just launched an end-of-the-campaign strategy dubbed  “30 Days and 30 Ways John Katko is Too Reckless and Radical for Central New York, ” in which he’s taking a daily swipe at his opponent.

UPDATE: The DCCC released a statement accusing Katko of going “gaga” for Boehner, citing a POLITICO report in which the candidate admitted to being overwhelmed by the praise he received from the House majority leader at a fundraiser Boehner attended on his behalf.

“John Katko has gone gaga for John Boehner,” said DCCC spokesman Marc Brumer. “Katko couldn’t keep his jaw off the floor just being in the presence of Speaker Boehner. This is just the latest proof that John Katko is ready to rubber stamp Speaker Boehner’s reckless agenda that stacks the deck in favor of the special interests and the ultra-wealthy by shifting the burden onto hard working Central New York families.”

Here’s the script for the Robin Katko ad:

“I’ve been married to John Katko for twenty-seven years. We were college sweethearts. We’ve raised three sons together. I know him better than anyone. I’m also a nurse, working in women’s health care. So when I see deceiving ads claiming John is opposed to equal pay and contraception, I know they’re lying. I’m offended that Dan Maffei wants to deceive women on these issues… just to save his job. Because to me, it’s personal.”

NRCC Ad #2 in NY-24: Maffei ‘Puts Us At Risk

The NRCC has released its second ad in the NY-24 race, accusing Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei of being soft on terrorism and putting Americans at risk.

The ad cites Maffei’s votes over the past two years on several amendments to defense spending bills, including his support for a measure that prevents the use of federal funds for the use of military force in Iraq, and his rejection of a measure that prohibits the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries.

One amendment was proposed by California Rep. Barbara Lee. According to her office, it “prohibits funding for the use of force pursuant to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, effective on December 31,2014, when the last American combat troops will rotate out of Afghanistan and the responsibility for security will have passed to the Afghan people.”

Technically speaking, this isn’t a simple funding cut, and it’s a bit of a stretch for this ad to say that the congressman voted in favor of reducing financial support for troops fighting terrorists overseas.

One hundred thirty five of Maffei’s fellow Democrats voted “yes” on Lee’s amendment, and so did 21 Republicans – including Rep. Chris Gibson, a US Army vet who taught at West Point and is the author of “Securing the State”, a book on national security decision-making that was published in 2008.

The claim that Maffei voted in favor of bringing individuals accused of terrorism to be tried here in the US isn’t so cut-and-dried, either. Robert Harding of The Auburn Citizen has a detailed explanation of the ins and outs on this issue, as well as the ad’s claim that the congressman would keep police from detaining illegal immigrants who have been accused of crimes. In one of those cases, Maffei and Gibson were again on the same page

The new ad will run for the next week on broadcast stations in the Syracuse market. The buy is $145,000. Maffei is facing Republican former prosecutor John Kato in the November general election.

Here’s the script:

ANNCR: In a world like this…

NEWS ANCHOR: The country is about to go to war. Violence, street gang, crossing the border

ANNCR: Dan Maffei puts us at risk.

Maffei cut funding for troops fighting terrorists. Backs constitutional rights for foreign terrorists, voted to bring them to America. Maffei would keep police from detaining illegal immigrants who’ve been suspected of crimes.

Dan Maffei: Dangerously wrong for our security.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

DCCC: Katko a ‘Rubber Stamp’ for Boehner

The DCCC is up on the air with its first ad of the NY-24 race, which casts GOP candidate John Katko as little more than a “rubber stamp” for House Speaker John Boehner.

The ad starts running on cable and broadcast stations in Central New York today.

The focus is women’s issues – specifically abortion rights and contraception – which has been a very hot topic in both congressional and state Senate races.

NY-24 is a pretty evenly divided district, with 141,823 active registered Democrats, 140,099 Republicans and 100,647 so-called “blanks” as of April, according to the state Board of Elections.

The district has changed hands between the GOP and the Democrats over the last several election cycles, and its current representative, Democrat Dan Maffei, lost his seat once before to a conservative Republican who accused him to being too liberal for this centrist region.

Since his return to Congress, Maffei has been a lot more careful about his voting record, occasionally breaking ranks with his fellow Democrats and moving to the center in an effort to brand himself a “pragmatic progressive.”

By last August, Maffei had voted with his Democratic leaders 75 percent of the time since beginning his second term in January, according to a vote-tracking database maintained by the Washington Post. Now, he’s up to 79 percent of the time.

Here’s the script for the DCCC’s ad:

“Narrator: Lately, John Katko’s been a busy guy.

Busy being a rubber stamp for John Boehner and Republican leaders in Congress.

On abortion, Katko sides with them, opposing a woman’s right to choose.

And Katko would even allow employers to deny coverage for common forms of birth control.

He said denying women access to contraception is the “right decision.”

John Katko. A rubber stamp who doesn’t share our values.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.”