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.”

Holder to Recognize NY-24 GOP Candidate

US Attorney General Eric Holder will give a boost to Republican NY-24 candidate John Katko this week by presenting the former prosecutor with an award in recognition of his work battling two violent Syracuse street gangs while serving as an assistant US attorney in Central New York.

Katko is on tap to receive the Director’s Award for Superior Performance – one of the highest honors issued by the US Justice Department – at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

“I am honored and humbled by this bipartisan recognition of my work as a federal prosecutor,” Katko said in a statement issued by his campaign. “I left the Department of Justice this January with a heavy heart after two decades of public service, but eager to serve Central New York in a new capacity in Congress. Awards like this demonstrate the effectiveness of my prosecutorial work, but also highlight my ability to bring people together for a common goal regardless of background or political affiliation.”

Katko resigned from his post as an ADA in January to launch a challenge to Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei.

The timing of this award is notable, since it comes on the heels of a controversial story (in the Syracuse Post-Standard) about the 2000 theft of a gun Katko owned that was subsequently used in a shoot-out that left two men dead.  Katko was not disciplined or reprimanded over the stolen gun incident, which was reviewed by the DOJ.

This is not Katko’s first Superior Performance award, or even his second.

In 1997, Katko he received the distinction from then-US AG Janet Reno (a Democrat, like Holder) for his participation in a nationwide wiretap investigation into international drug trafficking. In 2005, he was singled out again, this time by Republican US AG Alberto Gonzalez, for his ground-breaking work on gang prosecutions and for spearheading the Syracuse Gang Violence Task Force.

NY-24 Debate Set

Add the NY-24 contest to the list of congressional races in which TWC News will be hosting a debate this election season.

Both Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei and his Republican challenger, John Katko, have accepted our invitation to debate before the November general election. The face-off will take place on Oct. 27. It will be taped in the afternoon and then aired later that evening without interruptions.

Maffei is hoping to keep the Central New York seat from which he has already been ousted once. He was initially elected in 2008, becoming the first Democrat to represent the district since 1981. (The seat’s previous occupant, Republican Jim Walsh, decided not to seek re-election that year).

In 2010, Maffei was defeated in a tight (567-vote) race by Republican Ann Marie Buerkle, a conservative who was helped to victory by support from the Tea Party. Two years later, assisted in part by the fact that it was a presidential election year that boosted Democratic turnout, Maffei turned the tables of Buerkle, defeating her in a re-match and winning by a four percent margin.

Katko, a former federal prosecutor, retired from that post in January to challenge Maffei. He was initially one of eight GOP candidates vying for the party’s nod to take on the incumbent Democrat. In August, a top Republican polling firm found Katko trailing Maffei by just seven percentage points, 43-36. The Rothenberg Report ranked this race “Democrat favored” in mid-August.

TWC News will also host a debate between the three candidates running in NY-21 – Republican Elise Stefanik, Democrat Aaron Wolf and the Green Party’s Matt Funiciello – on Oct. 8, and another in NY-19 between Republican Rep. Chris Gibson and Democrat Sean Eldridge on Oct. 22.


Katko: ‘No Regrets’ About Purchase, Theft of Gun

Republican NY-24 candidate John Katko said he has “no regrets” about purchasing a handgun that was subsequently stolen from his truck in 2000 and used in a hold-up and shootout that left two Syracuse men dead.

In a statement issued this morning in response to a Syracuse Post-Standard story about the 14-year-old incident, Katko said he bought the gun – a .40 caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol – as a security precaution against “very real physical threats” against himself and his family during the time he worked in the US attorney’s office. Katko noted he had permission to obtain the weapon and did so “at the urging of the United States Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

“Fourteen years ago I, too, became the victim of a crime,” Katko said. “My protective weapon was stolen from a locked briefcase concealed from view in my locked vehicle. I left the weapon in that vehicle as my wife and I felt uncomfortable taking it into an area church for a required meeting with other Onondaga County Foster Parent Program volunteers – c learly not an appropriate venue to be carrying a weapon of any kind.”

“This incident was fully investigated by the United States Department of Justice and the United States Marshals Service and no wrong doing was found. The stolen weapon was later recovered on a suspect in a double homicide; tests confirmed the weapon was not used in the commission of that crime.”

The Post-Standard story notes that Katko broke no state or federal gun laws, and he was not disciplined by the Justice Department after the shooting. “But a review of the case shows he likely violated federal policies for the safe handling and storage of government-issued weapons.”

Katko has repeatedly insisted the gun was in a locked case in his locked truck. A police report cited by the paper says Katko told police that the gun – loaded with nine rounds of ammunition – was in a green canvas bag that was stolen out of the truck along with his US Attorney’s Office ID card, personal checks and other papers.

Katko, who quit his job as a federal prosecutor to challenge Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei this fall, accused his “opponents” of rehashing this incident in an effort to impact his congressional run. He insists that “many relevant details” were left out of the Post-Standard story.

“People should know that I never back down from a fight,” Katko said. “And I will not allow this story to distract from the needs of Central New York voters regarding jobs, our economy, fairness, and failed leadership in Washington.”

NY-24 GOP candidate statement on use of stolen gun in armed robbery in 2000. by liz_benjamin6490

Maffei Hits The Airwaves

Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei is out with what I believe is his first TV ad of this campaign cycle – a spot that tries to paint him as hardworking Syracuse East Side boy made good who’s in it to help constituents, not for the perks that come along with the title of “congressman.”

The ad, “Hard Work,” notes that Maffei refused “taxpayer-funded subsidy for health care” available to members of Congress under Obamacare, and also just last month introduced a bill – known as the “Members PLay by the Same Rules Act” – which prevent all his colleagues in both the House and Senate from accepting that benefit.

Maffei is enrolled in a co-op plan offered through the New York State of Health exchange, and, according to a recent press release, pays his premium out of pocket every month.

Maffei, who lost his Central New York seat to former Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle by 648 votes in 2010, and then won it back from her two years ago, this year is facing Republican former prosecutor John Katko, who is running on the GOP, Conservative and Independence Party lines.

This ad comes on the heels of the first publicly released poll of the NY-24 race, which showed Katko trailing Maffei by just seven percentage points. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a top GOP firm, and was commissioned by the Katko campaign.

The NRCC didn’t think much of Maffei’s ad, issuing a statement that called it a “a laughable exercise in deception and hypocrisy,” from a “D.C. insider.”

“Maffei left out the fact that he still collected his paycheck after voting against every budget offered last year,” NRCC spokesman Ian Prior said. “He failed to disclose that he voted for first class airfare and taxpayer funded healthcare for life for members of Congress. And nowhere did Maffei mention that he passed out over $200,000 in taxpayer funded staff bonuses and supported requiring that those same taxpayers pay for his political campaigns.”