Dec 10th - 1:09 pm
Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz, ever the one to march to the beat of his drum, is appearing alongside Republican Chairman Ed Cox and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a potential GOP contender for governor next year against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The state Republican Party was more than happy to break the news that Astorino was added to the guest list on Tuesday; the event with Cox and Diaz together was announced yesterday. Also due to appear is Democratic Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.
The event, a Toys For Tots charity drive with the U.S. Marine Corps, is being held on Monday at the Rafael Hernandez School in the Bronx.
Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, is one of the more socially conservative members of the state Senate, and is a prominent opponent of both abortion and same-sex marriage.
Dec 5th - 11:54 pm
Carl Paladino may have a powerful ally in his quest to oust the current Republican Leadership in both houses of the state Legislature. During a book a signing in Paladino’s hometown Thursday night, well known political operative Roger Stone seemed to back Paladino’s efforts.
“I think it’s unlikely the legislative leaders will step down from their incredibly lucrative positions where they don’t have to disclose their outside income. Although I agree with Carl Paladino, they certainly should be forced to do that,” said Stone.
Stone was in Williamsville signing copies of his book “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.” The event was not only held at a building owned by Paladino’s Ellicott Development, Paladino was on the guest list.
Paladino has been lukewarm about the prospects of mounting another run for governor in 2014. But he has made it clear he’ll challenge the Republican endorsed candidate on the Conservative line if they don’t join his efforts to remove Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.
“I think Carl is healthy in that he keeps the party honest. He’s kind of the party’s conservative anchor and you can’t win with just the conservatives, but you can’t win without the conservatives,” Stone said.
While Paladino continues to mull a re-match against Cuomo, several of his political allies are trying to recruit one of Stone’s friends, another bigname businessman, to run. Two Western New York assemblymen were part of group of Republicans who met with Donald Trump in New York City Wedenesday.
“I know some people over there. In fact, Roger (Stone) helped me make the meeting and it turned out to be a lot more than we expected,” said political strategist Michael Caputo.
Caputo, Stone’s protégé, ran Paladino’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Even after the meeting Caputo admitted convincing the real estate mogul to run for Governor will be a tough sell.
“I do believe the notion of Trump running for governor is still more of a fantasy than a reality, but it’s something he’s strongly considering. I think he was firmly in the no column when we asked for the meeting and yesterday, he told us after the meeting, he was in the maybe column. I’m not sure we’re going to get him to the yes column, but it’s a long drawn out process and something he has to talk to his family about over the holidays,” Caputo said.
Stone, who said he wasn’t directly involved in Wednesday’s meeting, believes Trump has his eye on something bigger, but he applauded the recruitment effort.
“I think Mr. Trump has made it pretty clear that he’s not interested in running for Governor although he has been a critic of the current administration. He’s certainly a proponent for fracking. He’s a proponent for tax reduction and job creation,” Stone said.
Whether a Republican candidate for governor would abide by Paladino’s demands remains to be seen, but Stone seemed to suggest they should at least listen.
“The party’s regular wing and the Tea Party wing have to come together. A divided Republican party, particularly in a blue state like this, would have no prospect.”
No matter who faces Cuomo in 2014, even Stone knows they’ll be facing an uphill battle.
“I would have to concede that Governor Cuomo looks very strong right now. He’s got $30 Million in the bank,” Stone added.
Nov 8th - 2:09 pm
Fresh off his election night victory for a second term, Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino was in Puerto Rico to attend the Somos El Futuro conference, and in a speech directed some criticism at Albany.
“New York is fundamentally out of balance,” according to Astorino’s prepared remarks as relayed by his spokesman, Bill O’Reilly. “The mandates out of Albany are killing our counties and municipalities. We all have to work together, regardless of our political or ethnic backgrounds, to make the hard but necessary choices to make New York affordable and economically competitive again.”
Astorino also noted that Republicans need to make inroads with the Latino community. (Astorino’s final internal campaign poll showed he had support from 61 percent of Hispanic voters surveyed).
“He’s built solid friendships and working relationships with Westchester Hispanic leaders and small business owners over four years,” said O’Reilly.
Even before soundly defeating Democrat Noam Bramson, Astorino was viewed as a rising Republican star for a state party with an otherwise thin bench and no statewide officeholders.
Astorino has remained coy on his political future when asked if he’ll challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014.
But Somos is a destination not just for politicians fresh off victories, but those who have ambitions. And it’s not like a Westchester county executive would want to simply address a broader audience following a re-election victory just for the fun of it.
Cuomo, meanwhile, will not be attending the conference this year.
Nov 8th - 1:39 pm
ICYMI: Sen. Cathy Young, who took control of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee over the summer, told me on CapTon last night that the GOP’s focus in the 2014 elections will be to protect its current members and grow its conference, leaving little left over to provide assistance to members of its power-sharing partner, the IDC.
“You know we’re really focused on the Republican seats, and that’s really where we’re really going to put our efforts,” Young said. “I think we’ve got great opportunities moving forwaard.”
“I really feel that because of the success we just had in this election, it bodes very well; it’s a great bellweather for what’s going to happen….The success that we had across the state, I think is going to translate in the coming year.”
That’s a departure from Young’s predecessor, Sen. Tom Libous, who said back in June that he would be “very open” to helping IDC members “any way I could” in the coming elections, though he did also acknowledge that his first priority would be to assist members of his own conference.
It was recently reported that NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have discussed targeting the four IDC senators – especially their leader, Jeff Klein, and his girlfriend, Sen. Diane Savino - during the September primary next year in retaliation for their failure to get “progressive” legislation like the governor’s Women’s Equality Act and campaign finance reform passed in the Senate.
Klein responded by announcing his plan to champion de Blasio’s plan to hike taxes on the rich to fund universal pre-K and after school programs – a proposal Cuomo has more or less said is a non-starter in the 2014 legislative session.
Young also hedged het bets a little bit, telling me that whatever happens in the 2014 elections, the Republicans will still be interested in working with the IDC, explaining:
“We’re looking to gain more seats for the Senate Republicans, but if you recall with the IDC we actually had a good working relationship even when we had the majority the last time. So, I expect that relationship to continue. It’s been very positive. As you know, we don’t agree on everything, but it’s been a very successful power-sharing agreement thus far, and I anticipate that it will continue.”
Young brushed off any talk of the SRCC being hurt by the departure from the public stage of Mayor Bloomberg, who has been the single biggest individual donor to the Senate GOP’s campaign coffers since he took office 12 years ago. She insisted a wide variety of donors are interested in supporting the Republicans’ political effort, though she didn’t name names.
Nov 8th - 9:52 am
You gotta give State GOP Chairman Ed Cox some credit. Here we are in San Juan where you practicality have to show a Democratic Party allegiance card to get in, and there he is hosting a reception in order to broaden the appeal of the New York Republican Party – particularly among Latinos.
But if the stated goal was to recruit new members, the Republicans sure had a peculiar way of showing it.
The reception followed the one hosted by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Somos host, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. It was on the second floor of the hotel in what can best be described as a back room. One of the nicest bars in the Condado Hotel, I must admit, although not a ton of space. I came in and set up the camera, mostly to see who would show up. But when I walked out of the room I noticed someone arguing with a potential guest.
Former City Council Candidate Ralina Cardona was trying to get into the party, but was told “no” because ( you ready for this??? ) she “wasn’t on the list.”
I am forever reminded that life is high school.
Ralina and crew eventually brushed past the invisible velvet rope, which was fine since it’s not like the room was that packed. But it occurred to me that if the message is “inclusion,” this was an odd way to welcome people.
Thinking this was maybe an isolated incident, I walked back outside the reception when I heard a familiar voice calling my name. It was Sen. Martin Dilan, a Brooklyn Democrat, who immediately unburdened himself with a lengthy explanation about how he too had been excluded from the GOP party.
Forgetting for a minute that it really wasn’t my place to invite him, I offered to take him inside with me to which he quipped: “I don’t want to go into any party that doesn’t want me inside.” His arms were definitely crossed, and I am pretty sure he stomped his foot when he said it, which doesn’t change the fact that he is correct.
Thinking I was now part of something really exclusive, I triumphantly sauntered back into the room and waited for the guest of honor, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who is coming off a big win.
When prompted, Astorino explained that Westchester is a “deep blue” county, and he cleaned up with 60 percent of the Hispanic vote in Westchester. This is an interesting statistic for the GOP, which needs desperately to make inroads with Latinos. For reference, we should note that Gov. Chris Christie won 51 percent of the Hispanic vote in New Jeresey this past Tuesday.
These are precisely the types of numbers that allow Republicans to win statewide or even national elections. Asked about potentially challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year ( a decision that he’ll have to make quite soon if not already ), Astorino was demure, saying:
“We are the highest could County in America, we are the highest taxed State in America. We gotta make some fundamental change because our State is fundamentally oubalances lance right now.”
Hmmmm. I’ll take that as an “I’m still thinking about it” answer. But then again what do I know? I was reporting from inside the party that’s still literally telling people they are not welcome.
Nov 7th - 1:48 am
Every election night has its winners and losers. Hang around politics long enough and you’ll be on the losing side at some point.
“If you don’t get knocked down, you don’t appreciate how it feels to get back up,” said Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy.
Langworthy knows what it’s like to get “knocked down.” Just hours after his candidate, Jane Corwin, was bitterly defeated by Kathy Hochul in a Special Congressional Election in 2011, many within his own party were calling for Langworthy’s head.
“Someone who hasn’t experienced failure hasn’t had much experience,” Langworthy said.
That loss made Tuesday night a little more special for Langworthy. His party won two countywide races and took control of the Erie County Legislature for the first time since 1977.
“The victories are much sweeter if you’ve experienced failure,” Langworthy said.
Langworthy’s counterpart, Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner, was on the other side of Tuesday night’s historic result. It’s a defeat that infuriated one fellow Democrat.
“In a county that has, what, 100,000 more Democrats than Republicans, for us to lose the two countywide races, I think is an embarrassment,” said Buffalo Common Council Member Joe Golombek.
It’s an “embarrassment” that Golombek believes Zellner should answer for.
“I think that the honorable thing for Mr. Zellner to do would be to reassess the party and for the good of the party to step aside,” Golombek said.
This isn’t the first challenge from within that Zellner has been faced with. Former Party Chair Steve Pigeon formed a political action committee that funded candidates who mounted marginally successful Democratic Primary challenges.
Zellner has dismissed these challenges. He’s called Pigeon and those who associate with him “fringe” members of the party.
“Taking lessons on how to be a chairman from Steve Pigeon would be like taking boating lessons from the captain of the Titanic. Steve drove this party into the ground when he was involved here and he has no say in the leadership of this organization,” Zellner said.
Facing renewed speculation over his future, and a new challenge to his authority, Zellner was once again defiant.
“Joe Golombek has never been an organizational person. He’s barely a Democrat. He supports Republicans all the time and so taking criticism from someone who supports Republicans quite often about the Democratic Party is just not kosher with me. I’ll take my criticism like anyone else but we think we had a decent night last night,” said Zellner.
Zellner spent Wednesday pointing to the positives that he believes many are overlooking. Democrats did win the Mayor’s race in Tonawanda, gained control of the Hamburg Town Board, and held onto Town Boards in Tonawanda and Cheektowaga.
“I’ve been speaking to town leaders, elected officials throughout the county who are extremely supportive of our organization and appreciate all the hard work and effort that our group put into the election this year. I feel very comfortable in my re-election next year,” he added.
Zellner’s mentor, and predecessor, Len Lenihan says the attacks on the party chair the day after what’s perceived as a tough election are not unusual.
“Every time we lost a race in my ten years, somebody would say he should resign and the next year we would win everything there was to win,” Lenihan said.
The former head of the Erie County Democratic Party says there is an element, small or not, who’d like to replace Zellner. It’s an element Lenihan says contributed to Tuesday’s results.
“Last night was tough, brought on by a lot of the people who wanted to see the Democrats lose. I think when all is said and done, there’s always going to be competition in the Democratic Party. That’s what it’s like,” Lenihan added.
Golombek has never been much of a Zellner fan. He supported Frank Max for Chairman last year.
Zellner narrowly defeated Max and some believe Max is already preparing another run at the party’s top job. Golombek doesn’t necessarily think Max is the right man for the job but says something has to change.
“I think that the Democratic establishment should take a very close look at themselves and they should realize that they’re not an inclusive party. They’re not a big tent party. They’ve turned into a party of cronyism,” Golombek said.
Despite critiques from inside and outside the party Zellner has remained consistently confident. He believes the party’s wins outside of the countywide races won’t go unnoticed.
“The people who are committee members who actually vote on the chairmanship, they respect that. They appreciate that. So like I said, I feel very confident in my re-election next year,” Zellner said.
Zellner doesn’t seem to need any reassurance. If he did, it’s unlikely he’d take it from his Republican Counterpart.
But there does seem to be one thing Zellner, and those who’d like to replace him, can learn from Langworthy’s historic victory Tuesday Night.
“This is a difficult business. The pendulum can swing wildly, especially in the rough and tumble world of Erie County politics. There’s going to be ebbs and flows,” Langworthy added.
Nov 6th - 2:19 pm
Here’s an advance copy of the speech state GOP Chairman Ed Cox will deliver tonight before oil and gas industry executives at the IOGA conference in Buffalo. The chairman is using this speech to set the 2014 stage, making the case against Cuomo on a number of fronts, including the fact that he has not greenlighted fracking in the Marcellus Shale.
Cox is pointing to GOP victories yesterday in local races outside New York City – particularly Nassau, Westchester and Erie counties – as proof that the Republican brand is not yet dead in New York and a credible candidate (who has not yet emerged) could perhaps successfully challenge the governor, despite his strong poll number and full-to-bursting campaign coffers, not to mention the power of incumbency and considerable enrollment edge enjoyed by Democrats in this state.
The chairman doles out a lot of red meat in this speech, accusing Cuomo of lacking the “political guts to permit the development of New York’s rich hydrocarbons” and too afraid of the environmentalists (“Luddites” in the eyes of Cox, who sits on the NYLCV Board) to say “yes” to fracking.
Cox hits Cuomo on other fronts, too, slamming the “unwieldy” Moreland Commission, for which the governor opted over appointing a special prosecutor to investigate corruption in the Legislature; and throwing his initial tax commission “under the bus” by creating a duplicate commission that is “all but guaranteed to net him some positive press ahead of his re-election bid.”
I spoke to Cox in advance of his speech for a CapTon interview that will air tonight at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. He continued to insist that the GOP will have a strong challenger to Cuomo in 2014, though he again refused to name any names, and was dismissive when I noted that whoever this person is would probably be smart to get out ASAP to start raising campaign cash and build name recognition.
Also, Cuomo was support to hold a fund-raiser tonight in Buffalo right across the way from the IOGA event. But he has since called off that event, rescheduling it for a yet-undetermined location on Nov. 19.
In anticiptation of Cox’s speech, Julia Walsh, spokesperson for New Yorkers Against Fracking and Frack Action, sent the following statement:
“Gas industry insider Ed Cox is lying to New Yorkers about the dangers of fracking and denying the science, which shows that fracking poisons our water, pollutes the air and makes people sick.”
“As a long-term board member of a gas corporation with significant fracking interests, it’s no surprise that Ed Cox is lobbying for the gas industry and denying the harm fracking would do to New Yorkers. Rather than stand with the gas industry, our elected officials – Democrats AND Republicans – should stand with the growing numbers of New Yorkers who recognize that the science and facts show that the costs of fracking are just too high.”
Cox is a member of Noble Energy’s Board of Directors.
We also received this from the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter’s Roger Downs:
“Tonight’s speech shows how out of touch Ed Cox is with NY voters. Poll after poll demonstrates that New Yorkers are increasingly opposed to fracking and understand the economic downside of drilling is as severe as the threat to public health and safety.”
“…Governor Cuomo, in his deliberation of the pros and cons of fracking, has sided with precaution. If Cox intends to draw out the overplayed analogy of Cuomo as a handwringing Hamlet – then he is most certainly aspiring to play the role of Richard the III.”
“After driving the party of Theodore Roosevelt into the ground, Cox is now pandering to a defeated oil and gas industry in New York. One has to wonder if he is really thinks this move will help his party or is he just cashing in with the frackers, like a defeated despot willing to wager his kingdom for a horse.”
Nov 1st - 5:30 pm
A second New York Republican House member in as many days has declared his support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as “ENDA” – a measure to ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity that is moving toward passage in the US Senate.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Tom Reed confirmed to our Washington, D.C. Bureau reporter Michael Scotto that the congressman does support ENDA.
This comes on the heels of an announcement by Reed’s GOP colleague, Rep. Chris Gibson, that he has signed on to co-sponsor ENDA, making him the fifth Republican and 194th House member to attach his name to this bill.
Both Reed and Gibson are top targets for the Democrats heading into the 2014 elections. Gibson is facing a challenge from Democratic activist Sean Eldridge, who is married to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes; and Reed is being challenged by Tompkins County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture on ENDA, setting the stage for a vote to proceed to debate on Monday. With the arrival of the Democrats’ newest member, Sen. Cory Booker, there are now 59of the 60 votes needed to move the bill to the floor for debate. Reid has said he believes ENDA will receive at least five Republican votes, and the entire Democratic confernce has signaled support.
The outlook for this legislation in the House is a different matter completely, since the Republicans control the chamber and have shown no interest in taking action on ENDA.
So, from a political standpoint, this is an almost risk-free move by both Gibson and Reed, since they can point to their support of this bill as proof that they are pragmatic and not, as their opponents insist, in cahoots with their Tea Party colleagues, without having to worry about actually taking a controversial vote to back up their claims.
Nov 1st - 2:21 pm
Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who spends a lot of time excoriating the Tea Party Republicans he says have hijacked the agenda in D.C., spent some quality time today with one of the state Senate’s most conservative – dare I say, Tea Party-esque? – members: Sen. Greg Ball.
Maloney and Ball teamed up for what was billed as a “Main Street Listening Tour” of Mahopac, Putnam County, which happens to be located in both of their respective districts.
Ball sent out a press release touting the event, complete with the photo that appears here and the following quote from the senator:
“The Mahopac business district is a vital economic corridor in Putnam County. I am happy to work together with Congressman Maloney to enhance the small business climate for business owners and residents not only in Mahopac, but for the entire Hudson Valley Region.”
“Our ma and pa shops in Mahopac have so many wonderful goods and services to offer, they also have a unique insight into the red tape and obstacles that government often creates. I look forward to continuing my friendship with Congressman Maloney as we work in unison for a brighter and more prosperous future for all our constituents.”
The congressman had this to say:
“Small businesses are the backbone of communities like Mahopac and drive economic growth in the Hudson Valley. I ran my own company – I know how difficult running a business can be. Unfortunately, many small businesses in the Hudson Valley still face bureaucratic hurdles and government red tape.”
“I am eager to roll up my sleeves and partner with our local business leaders, Senator Ball and Assemblyman Katz to reduce unnecessary regulations and help our hardworking business excel and grow.”
While railing against the Tea Party, Maloney spends a lot of time promoting himself as a political pragmatist, sometimes voting against his own party and with the GOP in order to demonstrate the sort of independence that plays well in his closely divided Hudson Valley district.
Maloney is facing a likely rematch against the woman he ousted in 2012, Republican Nan Hayworth, who has been raising campaign cash and loaning herself money as she gears up for another run.
Ball and Hayworth have a history of not getting along terribly well.
As you may recall, he was toying with the idea of primarying her back in 2012, and spent a lot of time publicly criticizing her on a variety of issues, but ultimately decided to seek re-election for his Senate seat instead.
Oct 18th - 11:02 am
From the Capital Tonight morning memo, the second item:
The New York Republican Party this evening will hold an outreach event for Hispanics, part of the state GOP’s push to broaden its tent.
Republicans are in a bit of demographic trouble in New York, with fewer suburban residents registering in the party. The counties east and north of New York City were once GOP strongholds. And while the party controls both county executive seats, both Ed Mangano and Rob Astorino face stiff re-election challenges in a region that is becoming increasingly diverse.
Meanwhile, the state GOP’s last bastion of political power, a state Senate is governs in a coalition with four Democrats, features an all-white conference.
So it makes sense for Republicans to seek out new voters. Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos tried that last year to drum up support in Latino communities.
At the Republican National Convention in Tampa last year, New York Republicans made a push for Latino conservatives with then-Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno a keynote speaker at breakfast.
Tonight the state GOP will host the Latino National Republican Coalition of New York State in Hicksville at 6 p.m. at Wickers Restaurant, according to an invitation sent out this morning. Mangano is the featured guest.