McLaughlin To Republicans: Help A GOPer Out

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin released a letter on Monday sent to fellow Republicans in the state urging them to support GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino over Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The letter comes as Astorino’s campaign has failed to gain traction among traditional allies for a statewide Republican candidate and, in many ways, is a summation of the anxiety felt by his supporters whenever Gov. Andrew Cuomo is spotted with prominent Republicans like Sen. Dean Skelos or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The letter is addressed vaguely to “fellow Republicans,” McLaughlin is likely directing his concern to Senate Republicans, some of whom have appeared alongside Cuomo in public in recent weeks.

“My intention is not to upset or offend any of my colleagues receiving this letter, but simply to point out issues that concern me greatly,” McLaughlin writes in the letter dated Friday. “Issues that I think many of you will agree with me on. I grow more troubled every day by many colleagues, in federal, state or local government openly supporting Cuomo.”

McLaughlin writes that he’s committed $1,000 to Astorino’s campaign. He writes that if each Republican state senator committed five times that amount, “it would send a strong message of support.”

McLaughlin also has a list of grievances directed at Cuomo, including his declaration in May that he supported Democratic control of the state Senate upon receiving the endorsement of the Working Families Party.

“Yet, despite all this and so much more, many of you appear in public with him and sing his praises,” McLaughlin said. “Many of you seek his endorsement.”

But Astorino’s campaign, too, has been more than happy to distance itself from the Republican establishment in Albany. Top Astorino advisor Bill O’Reilly blasted Skelos after Republicans in the Senate did not embrace the candidate’s reform plan.

At the same time, Astorino chided the state Business Council at an appearance earlier this month for not criticizing Cuomo’s economic policies.

Donation Request Letter by Nick Reisman

Martins Ties Haber to NYC Dems (Updated)

GOP Sen. Jack Martins has released a new TV ad that attacks his Democratic opponent, businessman Adam Haber, for his connection to the New York City-dominated Democratic Senate conference.

The battle for Long Island’s 7th SD was always one of the top races as the Democrats and Republicans fight for control of the majority, but it has taken on heightened importance since the implosion last week of Democratic state Senate candidate Dave Denenberg’s campaign in the adjacent 8th SD.

The Senate Democrats had high hopes for Denenberg and viewed the race for former GOP Sen. Chuck Fuschillo’s seat as their most likely pick-up on the island, which is currently controlled (Senate-wise, that is) by the Republicans.

But Denenberg’s demise due to a lawsuit by his former law firm partners that accused him of defrauding a client of more than $2 million by billing for “fictitious” services that he never performed has more or less written off this seat for the Democrats, though they are reportedly seeking a replacement candidate – potentially former Suffolk County executive and ex-Assemblyman Patrick Halpin.

The Republicans are running Michael 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.

Denenberg’s implosion has eased the pressure on the Senate GOP, and allowed more resources and attention to be dedicated to protecting Martins as he fights Haber, who largely self-funded a failed run for Nassau County executive last fall. Haber los the Democratic prmiary to former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who went on to lose his comeback bid to the man who had unseated him four years earlier, Republican Nassau County Exectuive Ed Mangano.

The Democrats have been hammering Martins over his opposition to the 10-point Women’s Equality Act due to the abortion-rights plank that the GOP has refused to let come to the floor for a vote.

The Republicans, meanwhile, are still pushing the “New York City-controlled Senate is bad for areas outside the city” theme, as evidenced by this ad. The script appears below, and the campaign didn’t provide any details as to the size of the buy or how long this will air and where.

UPDATE: Gaber campaign spokesman Jacob Tugendrajch sent the following response:

“This ad is made up entirely of lies because Jack Martins can’t run on the truth, which is that his record consists of raising taxes in Mineola and voting against women every chance he gets. Adam Haber is adamantly against the MTA payroll tax and is running for Senate to lower taxes for Nassau residents and replace the school funding we’ve lost since Martins has been in Albany. It’s sad that Jack Martins has to base his campaign on baseless lies, but that’s what happens when the truth is against you.”

And here’s the ad script:

“Do we want to go back to New York City politicians treating Long Island like an ATM? Bring back the MTA payroll tax? Go back to double digit higher property taxes? And back to our schools being shortchanged?”

“That’s where Adam Haber wants to take us. Haber opposed the property tax cap. And with Haber in Albany, our schools would get less, and New York City’s would get more. Adam Haber, good for New York City, not us.”

Ball Versus Lalor

After Republican state Sen. Greg Ball endorsed Demcoratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, fellow GOP state lawmaker Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor went on the attack.

In a news release with the sub-head, “Gropey Greg Ball — Cuomo Lapdog” Lalor blasted Ball for crossing party lines and suggested the endorsement was the result of a feud with Maloney’s opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth.

Ball, after all, had been rumored as a potential candidate for the seat last year after Hayworth lost to Maloney, but bowed out.

“Greg Ball’s attack on Nan Hayworth isn’t about supporting veterans, it’s about sour grapes,” said Lalor. “Ball was the Republican front-runner for Congress in 2010. He had spent years planning his run for Congress. But, when Nan Hayworth entered the race Ball cut and ran rather than face a tough primary. This is personal for Greg Ball. It’s not about the people of the Hudson Valley, it’s about Greg Ball taking one last parting shot at Nan Hayworth. I’m surprised Congressman Maloney would go in for Ball’s games and personal feud.”

The “groping” charge is likely referring to a 2010 incident in which Ball was accused of grabbing an Albany waitress in a “sexual manner.”

Ball’s aides responded on Twitter — mercilessly.

“Failed cong candidate @KieranLalor sounds bitter,” tweeted Ball spokesman Joe Bachmeier. “Assembly minority a great place for fat disgruntled bald men.”

Responded Lalor: “I might be fat and bald, but I keep my hands to myself. #GropeyGregBall”

Another Ball aide, Colin Schmitt, tweeted a photo of Lalor shaking hands with Democratic state Sen. Terry Gipson, a vulnerable Hudson Valley freshman lawmaker.

Lalor, Schmitt wrote, is “bitter couldn’t beat John Hall” — a reference to the Democratic former representative Hayworth unseated in 2010.

Ball is retiring from the Senate at the end of the year.

Faso’s Super PAC Back on Airwaves for Stefanik

A Super PAC created by former Assembly Minority Leader and one-time gubernatorial candidate John Faso has released a hard-hitting ad in NY-21 to benefit Elise Stefanik, the Republican candidate hoping to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.

The ad, entitled “Pickles”, attacks Stefanik’s Democratic opponent, documentary filmmaker Aaron Woolf, casting him as an out-of-touch and tax-shirking “liberal” capetbagger who sells $12-a-jar pickles in his fancy Brooklyn food shop.

The ad was produced by veteran conservative consultant Nelson Warfield. It starts airing today on broadcast and cable channels throughout the district.

This isn’t the first time Faso’s PAC, New York 2014, has come to Stefanik’s aid.

The committee also paid for an ad that boosted her name recognition in advance of the June primary, in which the first-time candidate and former Bush administration aide defeated businessman Matt Doheny, who had twice before run failed attempts to oust Owens.

Unlike the negative general election ad, the PAC’s primary ad was positive in nature, calling Stefanik a new generation conservative and touting her upstate roots (though she was not born and raised in NY-21).

Faso, who was the 2006 GOP gubernatorial nominee, said New York 2014 is an independent expenditure committee set up to assist congressional candidates in New York.

“We are supporting candidates who believe in private sector economic growth, fiscal responsibility and reform at the federal level,” he explained.

A recent Siena poll showed Stefanik with a 13-point lead over Woolf. And it looks like Democrats are starting to lose confidence in his candidacy.

The House Majority PAC confirmed earlier this week that it has cancelled a $300,000 block of reserved air time it had purchased in NY-21 with an eye toward assisting Woolf.

Here’s the script of the New York 2014 ad:

Liberal Aaron Woolf. When he’s not visiting the North Country, he runs his fancy food store in Brooklyn. He sells pickles for $12 a jar.”

“Woolf says Americans should pay more for food. Thing is, Woolf has a problem paying taxes. He got hit with a $100,000 tax lien on his Brooklyn restaurant. That’s a lot of pickles!”

“Should liberal Woolf be voting on our taxes if he doesn’t pay his own? New York 2014 is responsible for the content of this message.”

Watch Here >>

Astorino Wounded For 2018?

From the morning memo:

Is Rob Astorino being bloodied up for the longterm?

Democrats certainly hope so.

Privately, state party members are pointing to high unfavorable numbers for the Republican candidate for governor reflected in recent battleground congressional district polls.

A Siena College poll of central New York’s 24th congressional district, for instance, shows Astorino with a 40 percent unfavorable rating, while only 23 percent of voters hold a favorable view of him. Meanwhile, 37 percent don’t know enough about him.

Of course, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s numbers in these districts aren’t good, either: The Democratic incumbent in the 24th has a 47 percent unfavorable rating in the NY-24. In the NY-19, his unfavorable rating is 60 percent.

But the polls still show him defeating Astorino in a head-to-head match ups.

A good part of this can be attributed to the cash disparity between the two campaigns: Records show Cuomo’s re-election campaign spent $5.9 million to quash his primary challenger, while the state Democratic committee has pounded Astorino with negative advertising, and they did it early on.

The drum beat of Astorino attack ads began in May, painting him as an “ultraconservative” on a complex affordable housing settlement in Westchester County and abortion, which he opposes.

Astorino has decried the advertising as false and nasty, especially the ad in which he’s accused of racketeering, the basis of which came from a lawsuit filed by a colorful Westchester County businessman now under indictment for fraud.

But for Astorino, Democrats hope the damage may be more longterm.

While the GOP candidate has insisted he’s running to beat Cuomo this year, Astorino may still have an eye on 2018, the next time the governor’s office is up for election.

Astorino in 2005 was pounded by incumbent Westchester County Executive Andy Spano.

But after three terms of Spano fatigue in the Democratic-heavy county, the Republican came back to defeat him in a lopsided victory in 2009.

The long game for Democrats may be this: Knock the best bench player Republicans in New York have out of the game now, before the candidate himself can burnish his statewide profile.

Cuomo, of course, hasn’t given any public indication about whether he’d seek a third term if re-elected.

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.’”

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