NY-22: Carson Endorses Tenney

From the Morning Memo:

Republican former presidential candidate Ben Carson has released a fundraising appeal for GOP congressional hopeful Claudia Tenney, calling her “a Washington outsider like myself” who will take on special interests.

“Claudia will fight for the people New York’s 22nd District,” he wrote in the email released by the Tenney campaign. “Consistently ranked as the top conservative legislator in New York, she’s got a proven record of working for New York families, voting to cut taxes and standing as a Pro-Life champion.”

Carson, a renowned surgeon who rose to prominence in conservative political circles for his denunciations of the Affordable Care Act, dropped his bid for president before New York’s April presidential primary, which was handily won by Donald Trump.

Still, he remains a popular figure with conservative voters, even if his appeal doesn’t necessarily cross over to a broader electorate that will vote in November.

In the email, Carson calls Tenney a “true conservative patriot” and touts her biography.

“As a single mom who raised her son up to attend the U.S. Naval Academy and that now serves as a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps., Claudia understands firsthand the importance of protecting our troops,” he said.

A TWC News/Siena College poll found Tenney leading the three-way race for the open congressional district against Democrat Kim Myers and Martin Babinec. Tenney received 35 percent of the vote, with Myers drawing 30 percent. Babinec, launching an independent candidacy, has 24 percent of support, the poll found.

TWC News/Siena College Poll: Tenney Leads Three-Way Race

From the Morning Memo:

Republican congressional candidate Claudia Tenney leads a crowded race for the open congressional seat in central New York, a Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll found.

The poll shows Tenney drawing 35 percent of the vote, with Democratic challenger Kim Myers receiving 30 percent of the vote. Martin Babinec, a businessman running an independent bid for the district, received 24 percent of support.

Babinec has said he would caucus with House Republicans if elected. But the poll found him drawing virtually equal shares of Republican, Democratic and independent voters, receiving 22 percent, 24 percent and 25 percent of those voters respectively.

The 22nd congressional district is considered a battleground race in part due to the retirement of Republican Rep. Richard Hanna, a moderate GOP lawmaker who has endorsed Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency.

Tenney, an assemblywoman, is making her second bid for Congress after falling short in primary against Hanna two years ago.

The poll shows Republican Donald Trump defeating Clinton in the district, 46 percent to 35 percent.

Nevertheless, Hanna remains a popular figure in the district, with a favorable rating of 55 percent to 30 percent.

And most voters have been engaged by the campaigns, the poll found: 58 percent reported hearing or seeing a commercial from the Tenney campaign, with half saying they’ve been contacted by the Myers camp as well. Forty-nine percent of voters say they’ve been contacted by the Babinec campaign.

A majority of voters — 52 percent — want to see Republicans retain control of Congress next year.

The poll of 649 likely voters was conducted from Sept. 21 through Sept. 26. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

17fadb52-818d-4e41-814a-ee6a0feafa5e by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Federal Bid-Rigging Complaint Could Be Lucrative For Charities

From the Morning Memo:

There isn’t too much positive news to talk about when it comes to nine people with ties to the Cuomo administration are arrested, accused of rigging the bid process for major state contracts.

After all, it’s only been a week since U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unsealed the complaint that sent ripples throughout the entire state.

But just for a minute, let’s propose a potential silver lining: This could turn out to be a very lucrative turn of events for charities and non-profit organizations across the state.

Elected leaders around New York are trying to figure out what to do with campaign contributions they’ve received from two big developers – and donors – connected to this scandal, LPCiminelli in Buffalo and COR Development in Syracuse.

While nobody’s saying these donations are outright illegal, pay-to-play graft, it’s safe to say many politicians would like to distance themselves from this case and these companies, just in case.

But, as Chris Jacobs’ state Senate campaign spokesman Craig Turner noted, simply returning the contributions to their original donors doesn’t make much sense. The money is probably already spent, and so cutting a new check to replace the initial contributions would, in effect, require the use of other donors’ money.

So instead, Jacobs’ Senate campaign cut a $5,500 check to the United Way earlier this week. That’s the same amount LPCiminelli CEO Louis Ciminelli donated to the Jacobs for Erie County clerk campaign in 2014.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren had the same idea. A spokesperson for the mayor’s campaign committee said she’s looking into how much, if any, money she received from people connected to this case.

She will donate that amount, in full, to the Rochester Boys and Girls Club for its reading program. According to the state Board of Elections, Warren received $7,500 from Ciminelli in 2014 and 2015.

Not everybody is taking the charity route, including the biggest beneficiary of these contributions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He has decided to hold on to the contributions in a separate account while the case wends its way through the legal system.

“If the U.S. Attorney decides that there’s payments to be made to people who have been harmed in the process, we want to make sure that these companies still have the assets to do that,” LG Kathy Hochul explained.

Of course, if non-profits are really going to cash in, that could mean bad news for the defendants in the long run.

Some leaders, including Sen. Tim Kennedy, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz – all Buffalo Democrats – said they will donate all or part of the contributions in question to charity, but only if and when the people accused are actually convicted.

NY-19: Faso Gets Nod From Primary Foe

From the Morning Memo:

Andrew Heaney, the Republican who unsuccessfully challenged John Faso in June in a GOP primary, has endorsed his bid in the general election in the battleground race for the 19th congressional district.

The endorsement, made public in an email Heaney sent to supporters on Tuesday afternoon, comes as Faso faces stiff competition for holding the Hudson Valley in GOP hands.

A Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll found Faso and his Democratic rival, Zephyr Teachout, locked in a dead heat. Faso, a former Assembly minority leader, drew 43 percent of the vote compared to 42 percent for Teachout.

In the email endorsement, Heaney knocked Teachout as an “extreme far-left candidate” whose ties to the district are tenuous.

“We fell for the promises of a double-talking, liberal opportunist once before when Hillary Clinton promised to create 200,000 jobs in Upstate,” Heaney wrote in the email. “Let’s not make that mistake again.”

Much of the criticism Teachout, a Fordham Law school professor, has leveled at Faso echoed the attacks of Heaney during the primary season, namely the knock that he is a lobbyist too close to Albany power brokers.

Heaney had also claimed he would have made a more effective general election candidate against Teachout, burnishing his credentials as an outside running in an anti-incumbent year.

But Heaney suggests in the email the stakes are higher for the general election.

“That is why all concerned citizens, whether they are Republican, Democrat or Independent – should vote for John Faso,” Heaney wrote. “John has served the people of the 19th District in his work as an Assemblyman for almost two decades. He knows the District and its people, and knows that the economy and jobs is the number one issue we need to address here, and across our nation.”

And he put in a fundraising pitch for his former rival.

“John is in a tough fight. His opponent has access to the organized, national Bernie Sanders/ Elizabeth Warren liberal money machine that has provided her with an ample war chest,” he wrote. “I urge you to learn more about John, and to help him get the word out by visiting his website or by making a donation to him today.”

Murphy Campaign Knocks Opponent’s de Blasio Ties

From the Morning Memo:

The campaign of Republican Sen. Terrence Murphy is criticizing Democratic rival Alison Boak for hiring the consultant firm used by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

It’s another example of a member of the GOP conference running in a battleground race in either an upstate or suburban swing district linking a Democratic challenger to the liberal New York City mayor.

In this case, it’s Boak’s hiring of Red Horse Strategies, a political consultant firm that has been used by an array of Democratic candidates over the years.

At the same time, the Murphy campaign took a swipe at Boak’s campaign’s latest financial statement showing $14,760 following her September primary.

“Ali Boak has a spending problem, burning too much cash too quickly on Mayor de Blasio’s preferred consultants,” said Murphy spokesman William Faulkner. “She clearly cannot manage money, which is part of why she’s having so much trouble raising it.”

To be sure, de Blasio has signaled he will not be involved in this year’s races for the narrowly divided state Senate. His efforts for Democratic candidates in 2014 has come under scrutiny by federal investigators for campaign finance practices.

Murphy, who represents a Westchester County district, has been a staunch and prominent critic of de Blasio.

The Boak campaign, meanwhile, pushed back hard against Murphy and his previously reported tax liens.

“Another day, anther cowardly attack from ‘Tax cheat Terrence,’ who seems to want to talk about anything to hide the fact that he spent years cheating the taxpayers out of over $100,000,” said Boak campaign manager Chandler Bellanca.

“Let’s be clear, Ali has no plans on taking money advice from someone who consistently fails to pay his own taxes but if he wants to look at connections, let’s look at the fact that Murphy was elected only two years ago after taking over a million dollars from convicted felon Dean Skelos to help him join Albany’s culture of corruption. He’s on the attack to hide his ethical failures, his tax fraud and his anti-woman agenda, but the voters deserve far better.”

Former Arizona Governor Speaks In Buffalo Before Heading To Debate

Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer spent the last few days in Western New York. Brewer made the trip north for a football game and was the guest of honor at a Monday fundraiser for the Erie County Republican Committee.

“I was invited by the National Republican Committee to come on up and watch the Cardinals and the Bills and so when I was here I decided that maybe we’d get together and do something political,” she said.

Brewer’s Cardinals got shellacked Sunday by the Buffalo Bills (you can guess which team this reporter was rooting for). She’s hoping her preferred presidential candidate Donald Trump has a better showing during Monday night’s debate at Hofstra University.

Brewer and Erie County GOP boss Nick Langworthy took a charter plane from Buffalo to attend it.

“I believe there is a portion of the populous out there that have not made up their mind and I think tonight could be a make-or-break debate,” Brewer said. “People that are on the line with Donald I think will come across because when you see Hillary, she’s so unauthentic and so scripted that she doesn’t connect with the people.”

The former governor took questions from Buffalo media after the fundraiser. The main topic of conversation, besides the debate, was border security.

“We certainly have to solve the issue of illegal immigration in the United States and Arizona is the brunt of that. Bottom line is that Texas is well-secured, California is well-secured and our Tucson sector is the gateway throughout all of America that the drug cartels come through, the sex traffickers, the drug pushers,” she said.

Brewer said she supports Trump’s plan to “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.” She said while Arizona has a front row seat at the issues insufficient security has caused, undocumented immigration affects every area of the United States.

NFIB Endorses Some (But Not All) Senate Republicans

The political action committee formed by the New York chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business on Monday endorsed 49 candidates for state legislative offices, including a dozen members of the Senate Republican conference.

The group has been staunch in its criticism of the decision to allow a vote on a budget bill that eventually increases the minimum wage in parts of the state to $15, which was unanimously backed by the Republican conference.

The PAC did not endorse Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who faces an expected easy path to re-election.

However, the group did give its nod to Flanagan’s deputy, John DeFrancsico, the upstate Republican lawmaker who challenged Flanagan for the post in 2015.

“With the 2015-16 legislative session behind us, it is vitally important that small business be well represented in Albany,” said Mike Durant, NFIB/NY State Director. “I am pleased to extend the National Federation of Independent Business endorsement on these worthy candidates. Each has consistently shown a commitment to strongly stand up for small employers.”

Among the races considered to be key battleground districts, the PAC is giving its nod to candidate Julie Killian, who is running for the seat held by Democratic incumbent George Latimer, and Chris Jacobs, a Republican seeking to flip the district being vacated by Sen. Marc Panepinto.

The sole Democrat endorsed by the group was Simcha Felder, who conferences with the GOP in the chamber.

It’s Debate Day

From the Morning Memo:

Back in April, the presidential campaign swung into New York, presenting an alternative world in which the state’s politics on the White House stage actually mattered.

Tonight, attention is turning back to New York as Hofstra University on Long Island prepares to host the first presidential debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The debate’s ratings, to borrow a phrase, are expected to be huge.

Largely driven by the unpredictable nature of the GOP nominee and his success in the demolition derby-style primary debates, the forum this evening could draw up to 100 million — Super Bowl-style numbers in what has become a fragmented media world.

For Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is attending the debate this evening alongside rival New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the event could be a moment of deja vu.

After all, it was at Hofstra that Cuomo faced Trump supporter Carl Paladino in the 2010 gubernatorial debate. Paladino, a Buffalo businessman and the co-chair of Trump’s New York campaign, ran a Trumpian, shoot-from-the-hip race five years ago.

Ultimately, Paladino turned in a largely passive debate performance despite his staunch criticism of Cuomo.

The key difference, however, is that Cuomo and Paladino shared a stage that evening in 2010 with a host of other even more colorful candidates including the Rent Is 2 Damn High candidate Jimmy McMillan, who stole the show.

Tonight, it’s just Trump and Clinton alone under the klieg lights.

Capital Tonight will air live from the debate at Hofstra University at 8 p.m. on TWC News this evening. The debate itself begins at 9 p.m.

Sen. O’Mara Gets the Lead Out

Southern Tier Republican Sen. Tom O’Mara has launched the second TV ad of his re-election campaign, which focuses on his success in getting a bill passed through the Legislature and signed into law that mandates the testing of public school water for lead.

It’s a pretty straightforward spot, featuring reproductions of multiple news stories on the issue. Here’s the script:

“When the news broke about lead contamination in the drinking water in some of our schools, Senator Tom O’Mara went to work. He won bipartisan approval of a law setting testing and safety standards for drinking water in every public school – the first law of its kind in the United States. Keeping our kids safe, one more example of Tom O’Mara working for us, and getting results.”

The ad doesn’t mention that O’Mara worked across the aisle with his Democratic colleague, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, with whom he has a close working relationship. But the senator hasn’t been stingy with his praise of Lupardo, readily admitting in multiple interviews (including on Capital Tonight) that she played a key role in pushing this bill through her house.

The duo has also said that this measure is merely a first step, recognizing that it leaves a lot of ground untouched – like, for example, the question of private schools and other buildings where children (who are particularly vulnerable when it comes to lead exposure) are likely to be present, like libraries and daycare centers.

O’Mara, who is seeking a third term, is facing a challenge in November from Democrat Leslie Danks Burke, an attorney from Ithaca who lost a 2012 primary to challenge Republican Rep. Tom Reed.

Alcantara Sidesteps Senate Leadership Fight

Last week’s victory by Marisol Alcantara in the four-way Democratic primary to succeed outgoing Sen. Adriando Espaillat was a win for IDC Leader Jeff Klein, as Alcantara confirmed that she plans to join his breakaway conference and not the so-called “regular” Democrats in Albany come January.

Since then, there has been much speculation that Klein is again preparing to flex his growing political muscle in favor of the Senate Republicans, should they require his assistance in maintaining control of the chamber after the November elections.

But Alcantara is playing her cards close to the vest when it comes to whether she’s prepared to support a power-sharing deal that keeps the regular Democrats in the minority, deftly side stepping the question during a CapTon interview last night by saying:

“You know, I’m the Democrat nominee. What I am prepared to do is to go to Albany to fight for the DREAM Act, fight for licenses for the undocumented, fight for the people in my district and the state of New York.”

When I noted that many DREAM Act supporters blame Klein for the death of the measure on the Senate floor in 2014, Alcantara replied: 

“I don’t know what happened when Jeff Klein was there. All I know is that is one of my main priorities to go to Albany and push for the DREAM Act. It’s a shame that a place like Texas has a DREAM Act and we don’t have one in New York. This is one of the most progressive states in the country.”

No one is questioning Alcantara’s progressive credentials. Aside from a long history in the labor movement as an organizer for the state Nurses Association, she was also a delegate for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the New York presidential primary. 

As a result, some regular Democrats are scratching their heads over whey Alcantara would join up with the IDC – a group that Klein’s erstwhile colleagues argue actually prevents the passage of more progressive measures in the Senate. 

As it turns out, her motivation was simple: The IDC supported her when she felt no one else was willing to do so. 

Alcantara said she reached out to “everyone you can think of” when she was mulling a Senate run, and the “one person who was receptive” to the idea of her running for office was Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat and former labor organizer herself, who is currently the IDC’s lone female member. 

Alcantara noted that should she win in November, as is widely expected, then she will make history was the first Dominican woman in the chamber.

She would also be the first Latina elected to the Senate since the departure of the late former Sen. Olga Mendez, a Bronx Democrat who often sided with Republicans and officially changed her registration to the GOP in 2002, in 2004.  

Mendez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the state Legislature in New York history, was defeated that year by Sen. Jose Serrano.