Paladino Removed From Buffalo School Board

Carl Paladino has been removed from his post on the Buffalo Board of Education, an attorney hired by the board confirmed this morning.

The 33-page decision determine Paladino had wrongly released information that was discussion in a closed-door executive session with board members.

Paladino had vigorously denied any wrongdoing during a hearing earlier this summer in Albany.

“It confirms that no one is above the law regardless of their station in life,” said the school board’s attorney, Frank Miller. “Mr. Paladino indicated he was going to continue to do whatever he wanted to do. Everyone is subject to the law, regardless of their station in life.”

School board members and others who had sought Paladino’s removal from the board initially sought his removal after Paladino made a series of racially charged and racist comments in a local newsweekly and in blast emails.

Paladino has already filed a lawsuit challenging the board’s actions against him.

The 2010 Republican nominee for governor, Paladino has not ruled out running again in 2018. Paladino served as the co-chairman to President Trump’s campaign in New York.

Updated: Here’s the full decision from the state Education Department.

Tenney, In Statement, Urges Trump To Continue To Condemn Bigotry

From the Morning Memo:

Rep. Claudia Tenney in a statement on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to continue to condemn racial hatred and bigotry in the wake of the Charlottesville clashes on Saturday.

The statement was released after Democrats criticized her initial reaction backing the president for suggesting “both sides” were to blame for the violent unrest in the city.

“On Saturday, I immediately condemned in the strongest terms possible this tragic display of white supremacy and called on Americans to join together to condemn these acts of intolerance and bigotry, which have no place in our society or our political discourse,” Tenney said. “I urge the President to continue to denounce white supremacy, racism and intolerance and work to promote an atmosphere of unity in our nation during this troubling time.”

Tenney added the episode was an especially personal one to her.

“As someone who worked closely alongside the Jewish Community Center in Utica to resettle Bosnian refugees who were victims of ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, it is unconscionable to me that anyone in modern day America could display such hatred, violence and racism toward their fellowman,” she said.

The statement comes after Tenney on Wednesday with reporters said she backed Trump’s reaction to the violence on Saturday — that “both sides” were responsible for violence, including white supremacy groups that gathered to oppose the removal of a Confederate statue and counter protesters.

Trump in a fiery news conference on Tuesday at Trump Tower blasted the alleged driver of the vehicle that killed one woman and injured 19 other counter demonstrators and once again condemned bigotry. At the same time, Trump knocked the “alt left” who he said held some responsibility for the violence and said some of the protesters at a torch-light rally opposing the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue were not bad people.

To reporters, Tenney said she had not watched Trump’s latest press conference.

“I didn’t see the president’s press conference yesterday,” Tenney said. “I think what the president did in condemning racism, condemning this white supremacy, condemning any kind of identity politics that are going on and this violence that is occurring on both sides, I think it’s the right thing to do.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was quick to criticize Tenney’s remarks as the party seeks to gain the swing district seat in next year’s midterm elections.

“Representative Tenney is helping President Trump defend Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske.

“Her disgusting comments are an embarrassment to the people she represents, who likely didn’t think they elected a Nazi apologist last fall. Her defense of racism shows exactly why she needs to be replaced.”

Tenney was elected to the 22nd congressional district last year, replacing moderate Republican Rep. Richard Hanna. Democrats are hopeful this will be among a handful of battleground districts next year that the party can flip.

Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi has declared he’s running for the seat.

Martins, With Sliwa, Pushes Reform Agenda

Republican Jack Martins in his race for Nassau County executive on Wednesday embraced the platform of the Reform Party and its chairman, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.

The agenda includes support for term limits in county government and on the state level.

“Nassau County government is in desperate need to reform,” said Martins, a former state senator.

“The first step toward real reform is enacting term limits to make county government more accountable and end the era of career politicians. The New York State Reform Party is focused on making the commonsense changes we need and I’m proud to be the Reform Party’s candidate for County Executive.”

Martins is embracing the party as the Republican he hopes to replace is not running for re-election. Incumbent County Executive Ed Mangano faces corruption charges.

Sliwa wrested away control of the Reform Party, which had initially been founded by supporters of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino during his 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The party was initially founded as a ballot line focused on opposing the Common Core education standards.

Astorino later sought to broaden its appeal by adding ethics and government reform to its platform and re-named it the Reform Party.

Sliwa, along with political activist Frank Morano, were able to gain control of the ballot line, however. One of Astorino’s Democratic opponent in this year’s county executive race, Sen. George Latimer, has the backing of the Reform Party.

GOP Advocacy Group Unveils New Digital Campaign

From the Morning Memo:

A Republican-aligned advocacy group is ramping up a new $500,000 digital campaign this week with ads targeting 31 congressional districts — including three in New York — to boost GOP efforts on tax reform.

The American Action Network is airing the ads in the 19th, 22nd and 24th congressional districts in upstate New York — all considered key swing districts ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

“It’s time to cut taxes for working families. Congress must act on tax reform that will deliver more jobs, bigger paychecks, and allow the U.S. to compete with countries like China,” said Corry Bliss, AAN Executive Director.

“Polls show Americans are ready for tax reform, and AAN’s Middle-Class Growth Initiative will continue working to build momentum for a pro-growth tax code with lower rates. With this latest effort, across 31 congressional districts, we’re urging Americans to make their voices heard and urge their member of Congress to keep up the fight and make meaningful tax reform a reality.”

The ads will run for the next month, aimed at mobile users, and urge constituents to push House lawmakers to back tax reform legislation, which is expected to be part of a contentious debate in Washington once the summer recess ends.

For New York, the ads will be seen in the districts of Reps. John Faso, Claudia Tenney and John Katko — three Republicans believed to be potentially vulnerable in 2018 by the host of Democratic candidates lining up to challenge them.

The group previously announced a $3.5 million radio and TV campaign for tax reform.

Flanagan: Democratic Infighting Will Help Senate GOP

From the Morning Memo:

The idea of Democrats gain a governing majority in the state Senate is a “moot point” considering Republicans have a working majority in the chamber already, Republican leader John Flanagan wrote in an op/ed to State of Politics.

At the same time, Flanagan wrote the internecine fighting among Democrats will help Republicans retain and grow their power in the Senate.

“Democrat infighting, and the machinations being made by Senator Stewart-Cousins and Senator Gianaris about who would be in charge of a hypothetical Democrat Senate, are academic,” he said. “Republicans have the majority now and will have an even more robust one come 2019.”

The op/ed is Flanagan’s most extensive remarks since the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference this summer has been pressured by activists groups and the mainline conference to align themselves with the rest of their party in the Senate.

“No matter how many times the mainline Democrats or their radical allies on the left say Republicans don’t have a numerical majority, it’s just not true,” Flanagan wrote. “We have 32 members in our conference who caucus together and work together to improve the lives of the citizens of this state.”

Flanagan is referring to Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, a registered Democrat who conferences with the Senate GOP in the chamber. Felder has indicated he would side with Democrats, but only unless the IDC bolted from their alignment with the Senate Republicans.

The IDC, led by Bronx Democrat Jeff Klein, had worked in a coalition-stlye arrangement in the Senate for a two-year term. But the IDC has remained a key bloc of votes in the Senate, growing by several members in the last year and angering liberals anew after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.

A new pressure point appeared last week, when billionaire political donor and charter school benefactor Dan Loeb criticized Democratic Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for harming people of color more than Ku Klux Klan. Loeb apologized and elected officials from both parities criticized the remarks.

Flanagan, meanwhile, expects to be able to grow his conference — and its narrow margin in the chamber — in next year’s elections.

It’s unclear, for now, where Republicans plan to play offense next year. But both parties will likely stake their battleground races in suburban districts once again, with the Hudson Valley and Long Island seats playing vital roles in determining who controls the Senate after next year.

Swing District Republicans React

From the Morning Memo:

After President Trump this weekend declined to directly rebuked racism and the white nationalist demonstrations that led to the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday, Republicans around the country moved to directly denounce racism and white supremacy.

That includes Republicans in New York’s top swing district seats, where congressional races have become an intense focus of the national parties over the last several campaign cycles.

Rep. John Katko, who represents a central New York House district that has changed parties multiple times since 2010, wrote on Facebook he was “deeply saddened” by the weekend’s events.

“As Americans, we must unite to reject bigotry, racism, and white supremacy in the strongest way possible,” he said. “Tonight, my heart is with all of those affected in Charlottesville and across this great country.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican from eastern New York Long Island, also denounced racism and referred to the incident in which a driver hit a crowd of counter demonstrators as an act of terrorism.

But he also echoed the president in suggesting the violence in Virginia was multi-sided.

“We are still learning the facts of what happened yesterday in Charlottesville and there is evidence that the violence came from multiple groups and multiple sides and really no one can be defended who traveled to this beautiful, historic city for the sole purpose of causing physical harm to others,” he wrote in an email to supporters. “It’s indefensible.”

State GOP Chair Talks Up Miner for Governor

From the Morning Memo:

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox yesterday touted soon-to-be-former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner as a potential Democratic primary challenger to Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year, saying he believes she is well positioned to take the governor on. 

“You have the former co-chair of the Democratic Party, who was the mayor of this city; she is a great candidate to take him on, and she’s saying, ‘Governor, you haven’t been doing the job,'” Cox told me during a CapTon interview from our Syracuse newsroom. 

When asked if he’s endorsing Miner’s potential candidacy, Cox replied: 

“I’m saying that she is a candidate who can really take (him) on from a position of being a former co-chair of the Democratic Party appointed by Cuomo, (who) is saying now, ‘Governor you didn’t do the job you should have done, and I’m going to take you on.’ That is formidable.”

To be clear, Cox is getting a little ahead of himself here.

Miner has not actually said she’ll be taking the governor on in 2018, but rather that she has been asked to do so and is thinking about it. So are several other of Cuomo’s fellow Democrats, including former Hudson Valley state Sen. Terry Gipson, and NYC-based actress Cynthia Nixon. 

The mayor, who is blocked by term limits from seeking re-election to her current post, has not been afraid to challenge Cuomo publicly on a range of topics, from infrastructure investments to pension reform.

That led to her resigning, (really, she didn’t have much choice), in April 2014 from the post of state Democratic Party co-chair, for which the governor tapped her two years earlier. 

Cox isn’t really doing Miner any favors here, and it’s unclear what his motivation might be – maybe he doesn’t really think she’s strong enough (from a money and name recognition standpoint) to take Cuomo on, and so is trying to tank her candidacy before it gets off the ground to make room for someone else? 

Getting praised by the state GOP chairman is something akin to a kiss of death for a would-be Democratic primary candidate, who would need to rally the sort of true believing liberal voters who tend to come in these sorts of intra-party battles. 

Cox again insisted that Cuomo is beatable next year in the general election, citing the downstate subway crisis that has eaten away at the governor’s approval ratings in his key base of NYC.

But the GOP is far from coalescing behind a candidate at this early date, through Cox did name drop Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in 2014; and also the 2010 Republican state comptroller contender Harry Wilson. 

Martins Campaign Releases Poll Showing Lead In County Exec Race

From the Morning Memo:

The campaign of Republican Jack Martins on Friday released a poll that showed him leading Democratic candidate Laura Curran, 45 percent to 37 percent in the race for Nassau County executive.

Martins is a former state senator who is running for the post after unsuccessfully seeking the congressional seat vacated by Democrat Steve Israel. Curran is a member of the Nassau County Legislature.

The poll, conducted by Clout Research, found Martins has a 5-percentage point lead over Curran in favorability. Martins is strong with Republican and Conservative Party voters, winning 77 percent of the vote.

Curran doesn’t do as well with Democrats, Greens and Working Families Party members, earning 72 percent of the vote, according to the poll.

Martins is also running strong in his former Senate district, with a 65 percent favorable rating.

Incumbent Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is declining to run for re-election as he faces corruption charges.

The poll found 60 percent of likely voters — including a majority of Democrats — were more likely to back Martins due to his public call for Mangano to resign.

NY – Nassau County Survey Polling Memorandum 8-10-2017 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Senate Dems Eye Boyle Seat

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Democrats are eagerly eyeing the district represented by Republican Phil Boyle on Long Island, who is likely to become the next sheriff of Suffolk County.

A Democratic source said the party is hopeful the Boyle seat will be another notch for the party on Long Island, which has enjoyed success with the elections of Sens. Todd Kaminsky and John Brooks.

The Daily News, however, reported this morning Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer has cut a deal to keep the seat out of competition, which Schaffer denies.

The source said several candidates are being considered to run for the Boyle seat. At the same time, Democrats say they are ready to run a candidate this year should Boyle win his September primary and resign the seat in the Senate in order for Republicans, potentially to run someone in the November general election.

Republicans, however, remain confident the Boyle seat will be retained, noting at the same time a vacancy is yet to be created.

Still, any potential for an open seat in the narrowly divided Senate can turn into a life-or-death struggle back in Albany. Republicans hold majority control of the chamber with the aid of Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, who sits with the GOP conference in the chamber.

Flanagan Re-Appointed To GOP Legislative Campaign Committee

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was re-appointed to the executive committee of a coalition of Republican state lawmakers that backs GOP candidates in statehouses across the country.

Flanagan is back on the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, having been a member last year as well.

The RLCC met in Atlanta for its annual meeting this week, appointed Speaker Mike Turzai of Pennsylvania as chair of the group.

Flanagan became majority leader in 2015 after Dean Skelos stepped down from the post following his arrest on corruption charges.

Republicans after the 2016 elections retained power in the state Senate with the help of Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who sits with the GOP conference in the Senate. Flanagan, at the same time, has kept a close relationship with the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference, which has become a key bloc in the narrowly divided chamber.