Aug 26th - 6:30 am
From the Morning Memo:
Friends of embattled Tea Party activist Rus Thompson are planning a fundraiser to help him with his legal bills. Thompson has been fighting election fraud charges in court since May.
“People have asked me when they were putting together this, how much money do you think you’re going to need,” Thompson said. “I said, to be honest with you I have no idea – $10,000 to $20,000, depending on how far it actually goes. It could be $30,000. It could be $40,000.”
Thompson is accused of voting in the Town of Grand Island during the last three elections, while officially living in Niagara Falls. Wednesday, he rejected an offer from the Erie County District Attorney’s office he said would’ve kept him from serving time.
“If I accepted a plea for a felony, I’d lose my 2nd amendment right and I’m one of the biggest supporters of the 2nd amendment in New York state and I’d lose my right to vote,” he said. “I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to give up my rights.”
Thompson’s long-time friends Carl Paladino and Assemblyman David DiPietro are among the people organizing the event. According to the invitation, it’s a roast of Thompson and the suggested donation is $30.
“He’s spent so much time in the best interest of the community. He’s done so much and there’s never any thank you, pat on the back, a little give back to him to help him along. He’s got a lot of kids,” Paladino said. “Instead he gets nonsensical treatment from the Erie County District Attorney.”
Former congressional candidate and radio personality David Bellavia plans to emcee.
“Rus Thompson is the victim of his belief system and ideology,” Bellavia said. “There is no other reason to target him for five felonies for the equivalent of electoral jaywalking. Every citizen who speaks their mind can have the same thing happen to them. We must take a stand.”
Thompson said he plans to let the process play out in court and believes he will be vindicated. In the meantime, he said he’s thankful for the support.
“You really find out at these points in time, who your friends are,” he said. “So many people have convicted me already just because I’m going into court.”
Aug 23rd - 3:51 pm
Republican Sen. Kemp Hannon’s re-election bid on Tuesday was endorsed by the Civil Service Employees Association, the state’s largest public-workers union.
“I’m extremely pleased to receive the endorsement of the CSEA and their members,” Hannon said. “They have had a great impact on the lives of New Yorkers since they were first founded in 1910, and their mission and values are a testament to the strength and commitment of their members.”
Hannon is running for re-election in a Nassau County Senate district Democrats have long coveted, especially in presidential election years when his margins of victory are often smaller than in non-presidential cycles.
This year Hannon is being challenged by Democrat Ryan Cronin in one of a handful of battleground Senate districts playing out in the suburbs and in upstate New York.
“CSEA members need elected officials who fight for working people so they can earn wages that keep up with their ever increasing costs,” said Danny Donahue, the CSEA President. “We need elected official who will fight to maintain good jobs that benefit our communities. CSEA knows that building strong communities starts with good economic and tax policies that benefit everyone as opposed to just those at the top.”
Aug 23rd - 11:19 am
State Republican Chairman Ed Cox on Tuesday backed the call from GOP congressional candidate Jack Martins to hold the district’s general election on Dec. 6 as a primary looms in October.
The official reason in court filings from the Martins campaign has to do with complying with the federal MOVE Act, which requires timely access to absentee ballots for military and overseas voters.
Martins, who opposes the October primary won in a legal challenge by Philip Pidot, has argued that if the primary should go forward, the general election for the House seat should be moved back to December.
And Cox, who has focused on battleground congressional races like Long Island’s third district, agreed.
“Holding the general election in New York’s 3rd congressional district on November 8th will deprive men and women serving in our Military abroad the right to vote in this important election,” Cox said. “I join in the call to move the election to December 6th so that our Military members who will be forced to vote by absentee ballot can exercise their fundamental right to participate in the democracy they are overseas fighting to protect.”
Holding the general election in December also takes the Donald Trump factor out of the race. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, is deeply unpopular in the district.
Whoever the Republican nominee ultimately is will end up facing Democrat Tom Suozzi in the general election in the race to replace Democratic Rep. Steve Israel who is retiring.
Aug 19th - 12:58 pm
Facing the possibility of a Republican primary with Philip Pidot on Oct. 6, congressional candidate Jack Martins has filed a motion calling for a Dec. 6 general election.
The filing posted to Jeff Wice’s New York Election News also seeks to rescind the Oct. 6 primary with Pidot, who had fought to gain ballot status for the GOP primary against Martins, a state senator.
Holding a general election on Dec. 6 would have the effect of making the congressional contest essentially a special election and without the presidential contest impacting turnout. Republican Donald Trump is trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton in the district, a poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee found (An independent Siena College poll found Clinton leading Trump by double digits in the New York City suburbs as well).
The 3rd congressional district, which includes parts of Long Island and Queens, is being vacated by Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat.
Democratic former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi was the victor of the June congressional primary.
Aug 19th - 6:45 am
From the Morning Memo:
The rebuke to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long’s tweets suggesting a mosque in a converted church in Syracuse are linked to crime in the area is bipartisan.
“Welcome to Syracuse: Holy Trinity Church, a beautiful church of German and Italian immigrants, is now a mosque,” Long tweeted.
In another tweet with an accompanying photo, she wrote: “Neighborhood where the mosque displaced the church. Crime prostitution money laundering. Nice Dem control of cities.”
After the tweets provoked an outcry from Democratic Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Republican Rep. John Katko on Thursday also knocked the claims Long made.
“It just shows that she doesn’t know that area,” Katko told TWC News in Syracuse. “A lot of those people are the victims of crimes, not the perpetrators of crimes.”
Long is distantly trailing Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer in her second bid for the U.S. Senate. Katko, however, is running for re-election in a top battleground race in central New York against Democrat Colleen Deacon.
The district has reliably traded hands between Democrats and Republicans for the last several election cycles.
“That type of stuff, you’ve gotta call them out,” said Katko. “It’s dead wrong, and I’m glad to see the community on both sides of the fence are saying it’s wrong, and that’s a good thing.”
Katko is yet to say whether he’ll endorse the top of the party’s ticket this year, presidential candidate Donald Trump. Long has been a staunch supporter of Trump’s during her campaign.
Aug 19th - 6:15 am
From the Morning Memo:
Now facing an October Republican primary for the third congressional district, state Sen. Jack Martins in an email to supporters focused on a key issue: The controversial Common Core education standards.
In an email sent Thursday, Martins blasted the new federal regulations from the Obama administration that would label schools with high “opt-out” rates from Common Core-based examinations as being “in need of improvement.” The concern is this could lead to a loss of funding for schools, even those that are high performing.
“As a father, I saw first-hand the stress and anxiety Common Core caused my daughters,” Martins states in the email. “During my time in the New York State Senate, I fought hard against Common Core and will continue that fight in Washington. I hope you’ll join me.”
The email asks voters to add their name to a petition to “tell the federal government to abandon this latest proposal and stop forcing Common Core down our throats!”
The debate over Common Core was a flashpoint in the Legislature over the last several years, and lawmakers backed a measure designed to delay the impact of Common Core-based tests on teacher evaluations. At the same time, the state is working on an alternative to the standards.
“Everyone supports higher standards, but those standards must be developed with extensive input from stakeholders — students, parents and teachers,” the email states. “Bureaucrats from the federal government should not simply be dictating them to us in a one size fits all approach.”
Aug 18th - 6:22 pm
House Speaker Paul Ryan is taking to the fundraising circuit in western New York, holding events later this month with Republican Reps. Chris Collins and Tom Reed.
The planned events scheduled for Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 were first reported by The Buffalo and confirmed by our colleagues at Time Warner Cable News in Buffalo.
Along with Collins, Ryan will appear at a Buffalo at the Hotel @Lafayette. The event is planned as a fundraising effort for Team Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican’s campaign committee, a PAC called Prosperity Action and the National Republican Campaign Committee.
Tickets range from $1,000 for the reception and dinner to $10,000 for a VIP photo reception.
The Reed event is planned the next day as a breakfast gathering at the Oak Hill Country Club outside of Rochester.
Aug 17th - 5:30 am
A majority of voters in New York believe Donald Trump’s position at the top of the Republican ticket this year will hurt Republicans in the New York state Senate, according to a Siena College poll released Wednesday morning.
Not surprisingly, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer holds a wide lead over his little-known Republican challenger, Wendy Long.
And the poll found Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s favorability rating stands at 53 percent, down slightly from June, though his job performance is up, even as it remains under water.
The poll found 62 percent of voters expect Trump could damage Republican chances of maintaining their narrow hold on the chamber, while 31 percent believe the New York businessman’s presidential bid helps the GOP in Albany.
Senate Republicans have a thin majority in part due to their alliance with Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who sits with the GOP conference, giving them a needed 32nd member. Felder this year will run for re-election on the Democratic and Republican ballot lines.
The poll comes after a separate Siena poll on Monday found Hillary Clinton leading Trump in New York by 30 percentage points and is expected to win the state in the fall.
Democrats who run down-ballot in presidential election years tend to receive more votes from the coattails of the presidential candidate. Senate Democrats have over the last several presidential election cycles gained seats in the Senate.
The Senate holds a 41 percent to 45 percent favorability rating, which has not shifted much from June, when it stood at 41 percent to 47 percent. The poll found 46 percent of voters are prepared to re-elect their incumbent Senate lawmaker, while 39 percent back someone else.
Democrats hope to run competitive races on Long Island, especially in a handful of Nassau County districts, and in the Hudson Valley, while Republicans are eyeing two districts to play offense: the Buffalo area and in Westchester County.
Cuomo’s favorability rating stands at 53 percent to 40 percent, a slight decrease from June, when it was at 56 percent to 38 percent. His job performance rating, however, remains under 50 percent, with only 43 percent of voters approving of it.
Currently, 46 percent of voters say they are prepared to re-elect him to a third term in 2017. Forty-seven percent believe they would back “someone else” for the job — virtually unchanged from Siena’s last poll in June.
Schumer, the state’s senior U.S. senator who stands to become the leader of the Democratic caucus, holds a broad lead over Long, his Republican challenger. Overall, Schumer leads her 63 percent to 24 percent. He has the support of 82 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents, while Long leads him with Republicans by a margin of 52 percent to 33 percent.
The Siena poll of 717 registered voters was conducted from Aug. 7 through Aug. 10. It has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.
Aug 16th - 1:33 pm
It certainly looks like Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy is gearing up for something. Local observers believe it’s a run at the state party chairmanship.
Langworthy has led the county committee since 2010 and has never raised money on his own behalf, but last week the Friends of Nick Langworthy campaign finance committee was registered with the state Board of Elections. Now the committee is planning a large fundraiser next month for the chairman.
The dinner at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, a fine dining establishment in Western New York, is $100 per person with options to donate up to $2,500.
“My kitchen cabinet has been urging me to open a campaign account for several years. They are putting together a fundraiser for me on Sept. 8,” Langworthy said.
The chairman noted he is up for re-election this year, but that reasoning doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. Langworthy has already been re-elected twice and admittedly has never been challenged for his seat.
He also pointed out his Democratic counterpart, Jeremy Zellner, has had a personal campaign committee during his entire tenure. Zellner has faced multiple challengers for his job, though.
This comes on the heels of reports that Langworthy was working the room at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month. He was named whip of New York’s delegation.
Veteran GOP consultant and lobbyist Vic Martucci said he would guess the fundraiser has something to do with Langworthy’s interest in becoming the state party boss. The campaign committee should give him more influence by allowing him to donate money to campaigns and help elect Republicans outside of Erie County.
“Also travel expenses,” Martucci said. “I was involved in a state chair race years ago, and it involves traveling to almost every county in the state.”
Current chairman Ed Cox’s term runs through the end of 2017. Martucci said if there’s a change in leadership, the party would likely try to handle it behind the scenes.
Aug 15th - 3:55 pm
Republican Sen. Kemp Hannon on Monday was endorsed by the New York League of Conservation Voters in his race for another two-year term in the chamber.
Hannon is the chairman of the Senate Health Committee.
“I’m grateful to secure the endorsement of the New York League of Conservation Voters and their members,” Hannon said. “The hard work they perform in fighting climate change, conserving land and water, and protecting public health is a testament to their dedication to all residents of this great State.”
Hannon is among a handful of Long Island Republican incumbents who Democrats are targeting this election season. He faces Democrat Ryan Cronin in November.
In a statement, Hannon touted the record funding for the Environmental Protection Fund and improvements in state parks.
“This past year, I successfully fought for more critical water and environmental infrastructure improvements in the final budget, which will protect our natural resources and support continued economic growth,” Hannon said.