After Primary Win, Murphy Hits Airwaves (Updated)

The subhead of this post: Do the Senate Republicans have a secret plan to groom a new generation of young voters by getting their parents to raise their allowance?

I joke – but only sort of.

Terrence Murphy, a Yorktown councilman and the preferred Senate GOP candidate to run for retiring Sen. Greg Ball’s seat, has released his first TV ad of the campaign since defeating his primary opponent, Assemblyman Bob Castelli, last week.

The ad features Murphy and his wife, Caroline, getting a campaign briefing from their two kids, daughter McKayla and son Jack. McKayla, dressed in a business suit, does all the talking. Her candidate dad doesn’t say a word. And the whole thing ends with a joke about raising the kids’ allowance – the second time a Senate GOP candidate’s offspring have made that pitch in a campaign spot. (The first was one of Sen. Jack Martins’ four daughters).

The Senate Republicans and their candidates are under fire this election cycle for the failure of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10-point Women’s Equality Act to pass in tact, thanks to GOP Leader Dean Skelos’ refusal to let it come to the floor for a vote with its abortion rights plank.

Obviously, the GOP has determined that the best way to address the women’s rights issue is to play up the fact that some of their candidates are the fathers of daughters, and therefore have a vested interest in this particular topic.

UPDATE: Apparently this “kids teaching you how to run a campaign” idea was also used by an Iowa US Senate candidate who lost a GOP primary in June – a point the Senate Democrats employed to slam Murphy. His campaign shrugged off the criticism, accusing the Democrats of trying to distract attention away from important topics.

Here’s the script of Murphy’s ad:

Daughter: Dad, we’ve put together a plan for your campaign for New York State Senate. First, keep cutting taxes. You did it here on the town council, now you can do it up in Albany. Second, make sure everybody knows how you kept dangerous chemicals out of our water. And third, raise our allowance.

Rep. Grimm Goes Negative In First TV Ad

Scandal-scarred Republican Rep. Michael Grimm is out with the first TV ad of his re-election campaign, and he’s going right for the jugular of his NY-11 Democratic opponent, Domenic Recchia, accusing the former NYC councilman of being a “tax-raising machine.”

In a statement announcing the new spot, the Staten Island (and a small piece of Brooklyn) congressman slammed Recchia’s Council voting record, noting he supported tolling the outer borough bridges with his backing of congesting pricing – former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s long-time pet project, which died at the hands of the state Legislature. Grimm also criticizes Recchia for voting in favor of extending term limits, which not only enabled Bloomberg to successfully seek a third term, but also extended his own tenure in public office.

“For 12 years as a Brooklyn councilman, Dom Recchia raised almost every middle class tax he could get his hands on, hiking property taxes a record 18.49 percent and raising income taxes,” Grimm said in a statement. “As if the $15 Verrazano toll isn’t bad enough, my opponent voted for even more tolls through congestion pricing and then had the audacity to vote himself an unprecedented third term against the will of the people.”

Grimm’s release does not mention the size of the ad buy, or how long it will be airing. The congressman is a top target of the DCCC, which is hammering him on the airwaves - and also has been largely abandoned by the politial arm of the House Republicans – thanks to his indictment on federal fraud and tax charges in connection with an Upper East Side eatery he used to own. (He has pleaded not guilty).

Recchia launched his first ad of the campaign in mid-August. Grimm’s legal troubles have negatively impacted his fundraising, which might explain why it took him this long to get onto the air to try to counter the Democrats’ ads.

An investigation into his fund-raising operation is ongoing, and his former girlfriend recently pleaded guilty to making an illegal contribution to his campaign when he first ran for Congress in 2010. She is not, however, cooperating with the federation government’s probe. Grimm ousted one-term Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon in 2010. McMahon won the long-held GOP seat after its former occupant, ex-Rep. Vito Fossella, declined to seek re-election in 2008 after a drunk driving arrest exposed his extramarital affair and out-of-wedlock child.

Here’s the script of Grimm’s new ad:

“Congressman: I’m Michael Grimm, and I approve this message.”

Narrator: “Domenic Recchia thinks we’re fools. Recchia claims to protect the midle class, but he’s just a tax-raising machine, raising income taxes, raising your property taxes over 18 percent. Now Recchia says he wants to lower tolls. But for 12 years as a Brooklyn councilman he did nothing except vote for even more tolls.

More taxes. More tolls. That’s the real Recchia. Don’t be fooled.”

Venditto Releases 2nd Ad Slamming Denenberg (Updated)

For the second time this week, Republican state Senate candidate Michael Venditto is out with a new TV ad slamming his Democratic opponent and fellow Nassau County legislator, Dave Denenberg, as the battle for the Long Island seat vacated by former GOP Sen. Chuck Fuschillo heats up.

Both ads are negative, which offers some insight into the Republicans’ outlook on this race (and maybe their internal poll numbers?) They very much want to hold onto this seat – really, they need to retain if if they are to have any shot at taking back the majority. And the calculus has changed, with the Long Island contests now gaining higher importance, since Buffalo Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti’s surprise loss in Tuesday’s primary to attorney Kevin Stocker.

Ad No. 1 resurrected Denenberg’s 2005 guilty plea on petition fraud charges, saying he would “fit right in” with the culture of corruption in Albany. Ad No. 2, which is also running on cable stations in the district, is a bit more traditional, focusing on a tried-and-true GOP line of attack to which over-taxed Long Island residents are no doubt extra sensitive.

You can view the ad below. Here’s the script:

“Dave Denenberg was the deciding vote to raise property taxes 42 percent, to pass a multi-year plan to hike taxes an additional 16 percent, and to pass a tax on home heat and electricity, Deneberg think this qualifies him to be state senator. We already have too many state legislators who think higher taxes are the answer. We don’t need another one. Tell Dave Denenberg ‘no,’ because the last thing we need are higher taxes.”

This also seems like a response to the Denenberg campaign’s response to Venditto’s first ad, which accused the Republicans of trying to district voters from the “real issues” of property taxes, fee increases and budget deficits that – according to the Democrats – Venditto and his fellow Republicans both “supported and created.” They’re also playing the anti-woman card, which is the gameplan for pretty much all the Democratic state Senate candidates this fall.

Capital NY noted this morning that the Republicans are on the offensive and dredging up old convictions not just in this race, but also in the 60th SD (Grisanti’s seat), where they are reminding voters that the Democrat who emerged from Tuesday’s primary, Marc Panepinto, had his law license suspended for 30 days in 2001 after pleading guilty to falsely saying he witnessed voters sign nominating petitions.

Panepinto’s case was actually cited four years later by a Long Island court that suspended Denenberg’s law license after he pleaded guilty to a similar charge.

UPDATE: Venditto’s campaign manager Jeff Friedman emailed this statement:

“Michael Venditto is trying to distract voters from the fact that, on his first day in office, only weeks after Super Storm Sandy, he voted for unprecedented fee increases which were a back door tax hike on Nassau’s struggling families and small business owners who were not yet back in their homes and businesses.”

“No one in history raised fees/taxes more than Michael Venditto did on his first day in office. The reality is Venditto has allowed the county budget to be mired in debt to record amounts, forcing jobs off Long Island and making it even harder for South Shore families to remain here. The voters of this district can’t afford Michael Venditto in Albany.”

Watch Here >>

Martins’ 1st TV Ad Touts Equal Pay Vote

As further proof that women’s issues are going to dominate the general election debate in key Senate races, Long Island Republican Sen. Jack Martins has released his first TV ad of the 7th SD race, touting his support of an equal pay bill.

Martins has been under attack from his Democratic opponent, Adam Haber, for the Senate GOP’s refusal to allow Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s full 10-point Women’s Equality Act to come to the floor for a vote as a result of opposition to the abortion-rights plank.

In June, the Senate passed three of the act’s 10 bills - including an equal pay measure – and have accused their Democratic colleagues of holding these and other pieces of of the WEA hostage in their all-or-nothing effort to force the abortion issue. Martins said through a spokesman in June that protecting women from discrimination and sexual harassment “have nothing to do with expanding late-term and partial birth abortions and allowing non-doctors to perform abortions, which is why they should not be linked.”

That hasn’t stopped Haber, who has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice NY, from continuing to hammer away at Martins on this issue. And Martins is clearly feeling the pressure, as this ad demonstrates.

The ad features Martins’ wife and his four daughters. It started running on cable stations on Long Island last night, and the buy is “significant,” according to a source familiar with the senator’s campaign, though he did not provide any specifics. Here’s the script:

“I want to be a scientist.”

(Daughter 2): “I want to be a surgeon.”

(Daughter 3): “I want to be a chef.”

(Daughter 4): “I want to be a princess.”

“I’m Jack Martins. As the father of four girls, I understand the challenges facing women in the workplace. That’s why I voted to require businesses in New York to provide equal pay for women. Because they can be anything they want…and earn what they’ve deserve.”

(Daughter 2): “Does this mean you’re raising our allowance…?”

Venditto: Denenberg Will ‘Fit Right In’ With Corrupt Albany Pols (Updated)

Now that the primary is officialy in the books, general election contests are heating up all over the state – including on Long Island, where Republican Michael Venditto is poised to release a hard-hitting ad that slams his Democratic opponent and fellow Nassau County legislator, Dave Denenberg, for his 2005 conviction on petition fraud charges and says he’ll “fit right in” with the string of Albany lawmakers busted on corruption charges.

Denenberg and Venditto are battling for the seat vacated by former Sen. Chuck Fuschillo. Venditto, an attorney and the son of Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, was unanimously nominated by local Republicans back in March over veteran Assemblyman Joseph Saladino.

The Republicans need to retain this seat if they are to have a shot at their goal of taking back the majority in November. But the Democrats are feeling very bullish about Denenberg, who they believe might be able to pull off an upset victory. In his past local races, Denenberg, who has been in office since 1999, has carried as much as 73 percent of the electorate in a district that was almost 47 percent Republican. (The dsitrict has since been redrawn, but remains heavily Republican).

The 8th Senatorial District had 82,385 active Democrats, 75,445 Repulicans and 48,050 blanks as of this past April, according to the state Board of Elections.

If this ad is any indication, the GOP is prepared to go all-out on this race. I believe this is Venditto’s second ad of the campaign, but the first wasn’t an attack spot. This new ad will be running on cable stations on Long Island.

UPDATE: Deneberg’s campaign manager Jeff Friedman sent the following response (the day after I posted this item):

“This is a desperate attempt by the Venditto campaign to distract voters from the real issues of property taxes, fee increases and the budget deficits that he and the Republicans supported and created. Venditto’s record of repeatedly raising fees and creating budget deficits by mismanaging money and his anti-women positions are unacceptable to residents of Nassau and Suffolk, and this ad only proves that he knows it. Dave Denenberg is the only candidate in this race who will fight for lower taxes, women’s equality and a real minimum wage increase, and nobody will fight harder than Dave Denenberg.”

Here’s the script for Venditto’s ad:

“Who will ever forget this picture? Dave Denenberg was accused of fraud and deceit. And his law license was suspended in New York and New Jersey after he pled guilty. Dave Deneberg believes this qualifies him to be state senator. There are already too many criminals in ALbany. We don’t need another. Tell Dave Denenberg ‘no,’ because Deneberg won’t change Albany, he’ll just fit right in.’”

Watch Here >>

SD60 Blame Game

The finger pointing is well underway over who is most to blame for Sen. Mark Grisati’s upset loss to his GOP opponent, attorney Kevin Stocker, in yesterday’s primary – a defeat that could have significant implications in the November battle for control of the Senate.

Heading into the primary, the Senate GOP didn’t seem terribly worried about Grisanti’s ability to win, especially since Stocker had challenged him in 2012 – when the fallout from the senator’s 2011 “yes” vote on same-sex marriage was still fresh – and failed to get very far, winning just 40 percent of the vote.

But Stocker got a very early start on this year’s campaign; he has been door knocking for well over a year now. And he also got some unexpected assistance from NYSUT’s political arm, which spent close to $300,000 on anti-Grisanti mailers and ads leading up to the primary, and Democrat Marc Panepinto, who ran TV ads suggesting Grisanti wasn’t sufficiently conservative to represent the 60th Senatorial District.

The convention wisdom is that the Democrats and their allies believed it would be easier to defeat Stocker than Grisanti in the general election, and so weighed in try to manipulate the GOP primary and get the candidate they preferred.

The unorthodox approach worked, and now there’s effectively a four-way race in the 60th with Grisanti on the Independence Party line and attorney Timothy Gallagher on the Conservative line, though he was believed to be a placeholder tapped by party leaders who wanted to wait to see how the GOP primary played out.

Grisanti hasn’t yet said whether he will continue campaigning on the Independence Party line in the general election, nor have the Senate Republicans issued any formal statement about the race. But the odds are that the risk-averse GOP, which has plenty of other races to worry about an invest in, is not going to waste much time on a candidate who lost the primary and is now in a four-way race that seems – on its face, at least – to be a losing proposition.

A Republican source familiar with Grisanti’s campaign insists his loss was not the fault of the Senate GOP, which did not run the senator’s campaign. Instead, Grisanti used his own campaign team, which included veteran GOP consultant Jack Cookfair. This source griped that Team Grisanti ran his campaign in a vacuum, refusing to take direction or share polling data with the powers-that-be in Albany. The senator did accept a last-minute offer of assistance about 48 hours prior to the primary, the source said, but by that time, the damage was already done.

The SRCC did see success in a primary campaign it ran for Terrence Murphy, the chiropractor and Yorktown councilman who was the conference’s preferred candidate to run for retiring Sen. Greg Ball’s seat in the Hudson Valley. Murphy easily defeated his primary opponent, Assemblyman Bob Castelli, winning 69 percent of the vote.

DCCC Enters Air War In NY-1

Now both the NRCC and the DCCC are on the air in the Long Island district of NY-1, hoping to assist their respective candidates – Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and Republican state Sen. Lee Zeldin – as the November general election draws near.

The NRCC this morning released a spot that highlights the fact that Bishop is under investigation for helping a constituent secure a fireworks permit for a Bar Mitzvah and then demanding a campaign contribution in return. That’s actually the national committee’s second ad on the subject; the first aired in February.

Now the DCCC has followed suit with its first ad of this race, which accuses Zeldin of wanting to “privatize” Social Security and features a testimonial from a Long Island senior citizen named “Walter.” The ad started running on cable stations in the district today. Here’s the script:

Walter: I worked for over forty-three years before I retired. When the market crashed, all of our plans, our future, could have been gone. The only sure thing was having Social Security to fall back on.

Narrator: Lee Zeldin said he’d privatize Social Security…gambling our retirement on Wall Street with the same banks that crashed our economy.

Walter: Let’s face it. The stock market is a gamble. If you want to gamble, go to a casino. Don’t gamble with Social Security. This is money we earned. Lee Zeldin would break Social Security’s promise.

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

NRCC Slams Rep. Tim ‘Mailman’ Bishop for Zeldin

The NRCC is out with yet another TV ad slamming veteran Long Island Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop for a fundraising scandal that has been the subject of several investigations.

This is the second ad from the national GOP that focuses on the probes into whether the NY-1 congressman’s office solicited a campaign contribution in exchange for securing fireworks permits for a constituent who wanted to put on a show at a Bar Mitzvah.

The first ran back in February. The NRCC says the buy for this ad is bigger – $231,000 – and it will run on NYC cable stations from today through Sept. 15.

The allegations first surfaced in 2012. Bishop has called this a “non-story,” but the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District reportedly requested information from the congressman’s office in early 2013.

The Office of Congressional Ethics released a 177-page report in the fall of 2013 that found “a substantial reason” to believe Bishop had violated the law in soliciting a donation from the constituent in question.

The “mailman” reference is pulled from the OCE report.

The OCE transmitted a referral to the House Ethics Committee, and the committee extended its review.

Bishop was named one of CREW’s “most corrupt” members of Congress in 2012 and 2013. He won re-election in 2012, defeating his GOP challenger, Randy Altschuler, who was making a second attempt at unseating the Democratic congressman.

Altschuler, a largely self-funding businessman, came very close to defeating Bishop in 2010; the 2012 race was not as tight.

This year, Bishop is facing state Sen. Lee Zeldin, who defeated George Demos, a former aide to ex-Gov. George Pataki and a serial congressional candidate, in the June primary.

Primary Day Primer

What was supposed to be a rather sleepy election year, with the exception of a few contested legislative races here and there, has turned into something worth watching, thanks to Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu.

When the duo of liberal law school professors launched their long shot challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his running mate, ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul, they breathed some life into an otherwise ho-hum primary season, and also exposed the weakness on Cuomo’s left flank.

Just how significant that weakness is will be determined in part by the percentage of the vote Teachout manages to garner today.

The benchmark for a protest candidate that most people have been using is the 17 percent labor activist Jonathan Tasini received in his primary challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2006. I’ve heard predictions that Teachout receives as much as 40 percent of the vote today – though that seems incredibly high.

Much depends on the turnout – specifically where the bulk of voters show up at the polls. Generally speaking, anything under 20 percent of the vote will be considered under performing for Teachout, while closer to 30 – or higher – will be a significant blow to the governor.

But the mere fact that Cuomo is facing a challenge at all has been interpreted as a weakness by the national media, especially when it comes to 1) his usefulness to potential 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton in the brave new world of progressive-dominated Democratic politics, (NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is poised to rise even higher there), and 2) his own White House aspirations.

Tasini’s 17 percent was largely an anti-war vote. What’s going on with Cuomo is more complicated.

There are numerous groups upset with Cuomo and his fiscally conservative/socially liberal approach to governing the state: Public school teachers, unionized state workers, anti-fracking activists, good government advocates.

And then there are the self-described “progressives” who say Cuomo is to blame for the IDC-GOP power-sharing deal that kept the Democrats from assuming their rightful place in the Senate majority and prevented the passage of all manner of legislation – from the Women’s Equality Act to the DREAM Act to a public campaign finance system.

Teachout, who has received a handful of endorsements – including from PEF and NOW-NYS – is banking on these the upset of these disaffected Democrats and the power of the grassroots/social media to turn people out today.

Cuomo is going the more traditional route, relying on the well-oiled GOTV machines of unions like SEIU 1199 and HTC and the traditional Democratic Party apparatus to push him and Hochul over the finish line to victory.

The Hochul-Wu battle is a wild card, since both candidates are relative unknowns, though Hochul has a leg up on her opponent in WNY after serving as Erie County clerk and (albeit briefly) a congresswoman.

Hochul’s conservative views and votes – necessary for someone representing a GOP-dominated district – have become fodder for Wu, who has accused her of being too far to the right to lead a blue state like New York.

Wu has been endorsed by the New York Times, but, as CapTon Insider and election-data-crunching-guru Bruce Gyory notes, former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn got the Gray Lady’s nod in the 2013 mayor’s race (along with endorsements from the NY Daily News AND the Post), and she finished a weak third in the Democratic primary.

A win by Wu would stick Cuomo with a running mate he doesn’t want or like – a conundrum that occurred to his father and Al Del Bello back in 1982 – and also leave him unable to combine votes in the general election from the WFP and Independence Party lines (unless he can get Hochul off them and Wu on).

Unwilling to follow in his father’s footsteps on this one, Cuomo has been pulling out all the stops on Hochul’s behalf, urging voters to pick her based on her “experience” as an elected official, which he insists is necessary to serve as LG.

Other races we’re watching today:

- The IDCers. Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein vs. former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell. This primary was supposed to melt away after Klein, as head of the IDC, agreed to a deal to make a deal to abandon his GOP allies and instead share power with his Democratic colleagues next year.

That agreement grew out of the WFP endorsement deal for Cuomo that was brokered by de Blasio – a point the Senate GOP is now using as a campaign platform.

Koppell refused to drop his challenge to Klein, however. He’s no longer supported by the WFP or any major labor unions and has trailed Klein in fundraising, but he has the backing of DailyKos and other liberal netroots types, along with the NYT endorsement.

Queens Sen. Tony Avella vs. former NYC Comptroller John Liu. This fight also survived the IDC deal, even though Avella is a member (the newest member) of the breakaway Democratic conference. Liu is trying to make a comeback after losing the NYC mayor’s race last year. He’s a prodigious fundraiser, which got people affiliated with him into some hot water with the feds.

This race has split labor and Democratic leaders, with some remaining loyal to Liu – including the Queens party organization. But the district is only 25 percent Asian, and Avella has a strong base of support, which means Liu has his work cut out for him. This could be a very tight contest that goes into overtime and comes down to paper ballots.

More >

Moss To Fundraise With Senate Republican

Chris Moss, the Republican candidate for lieutenant, will appear at a fundraiser on Sept. 16 with a Senate Republicans, plus a former GOP lawmaker who has formed a super PAC this year to boost Republican candidates.

Moss, the Chemung County sheriff and running mate of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino, will be joined by Sen. Tom O’Mara and his predecessor in the chamber, Sen. George Winner.

Tickets for the fundraiser will range from $100  to $1,500, according to an invitation.

The event with O’Mara, a lawmaker from Big Flats in Chemung County, comes as Senate Republicans and the Astorino campaign have not necessarily seen eye to eye on campaign themes.

Essentially, the GOP finds itself in a Catch-22: Senate Republicans, seeking to retain the last lever of power they hold statewide, are campaigning on successes of the last four years, while Astorino needs to demonstrate the state isn’t benefitting under the Cuomo administration.

But Cuomo and Senate Republicans have worked well over the Demcoratic incumbent’s first term.

In May, Cuomo pledged to help Democrats take full control of the state Senate, and helped broker a deal to form a new coalition with independent Democrats and the mainline conference.