Republicans

Two Can Play That Game (Updated)

Throughout the 2014 campaign, the Senate Democrats have been using women’s issues – particularly abortion rights – as a wedge issue, repeatedly slamming incumbent Senate Republicans and their first-time candidates alike for opposing the governor’s full 10-point Women’s Equality Act.

The Republicans’ refusal to pass the WEA in its entirety has led to the Democrats and their allies accusing the GOP of being anti-woman, and even, in the case of mailers sent out in two hotly contested races in Buffalo and the Hudson Valley, of being unwilling to protect female victims of domestic violence.

Now one GOP candidate is trying to turn the tables on the Democrats.

In a mailer sent out in the 41st SD, where Dutchess County Legislator Sue Serino is facing off against Democratic freshman Sen. Terry Gipson, the GOP maintains Gipson has “turned his back on Hudson Valley women” by voting “yes” in favor of the full 10-point act that included the controversial abortion rights plank, which the Republicans maintain allows non-doctors to perform abortions and threatens women’s health.

The Republicans have passed nine stand alone bills in lieu of the full act, leaving out the abortion piece, leading the Democrats to accuse them of “holding hostage” the other proposals, including pay equity and cracking down on sex trafficking.

UPDATE: A Senate Democratic conference spokesman accused the GOP of lying about Gipson’s record, saying the senator voted “yes” on all nine stand alone bills brought to the floor by the GOP.

Tracey Brooks of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York flagged the mailer, accusing the Republicans of resorting to “smear tactics” and “baseless attacks” on Gipson as Election Day draws near.

“Senator Gipson has never wavered in his support for the women and families of the Hudson Valley,” Brooks said in a stateent. “Senator Gipson has worked closely with community members and advocates for two years and his actions speak volumes, including his support for women’s equality at work, at home and in her private life.”

“Also, despite Serino’s repeated attempts to falsify the Women’s Equality Act, the legislation is clear. Mirroring state law to existing federal protections does not change practice – New York will continue to follow Roe v. Wade just as we have done since 1973 – when the federal ruling took precedence over our state law written in 1970.”

“Serino is attempting a ‘bait and switch’ to capture voters while distracting them from her extreme, anti-women views which are out of touch with the community. Senator Gipson has the experience, understanding and ability required to represent the 40th New York State Senate District.”

Balboni for Schneiderman (Again)

Former GOP Sen. Mike Balboni and his wife will host a fund-raiser for Democratic state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman next Monday at their Long Island home, according to an invitation sent out by the Nassau County Democratic Party.

The event, which costs between $1,000 (for individuals) and $10,000 (for hosts) to attend, will provide Schneiderman will a last-minute infusion of cash as he heads into the final days of the race with his GOP challenger, former Pataki administration official John Cahill.

Balboni and Schneiderman were once Senate colleagues, and the former senator – who refers to himself as a “lifelong Republican” – crossed party lines to endorse Schneiderman the first time he ran for AG in 2010 against GOP Staten Island DA Dan Donovan.

Balboni’s efforts on behalf of the Democratic AG could be viewed as a snub to Cahill. But the ex-lawmaker’s dalliances with Democrats date back a long way.

Balboni angered his fellow Republicans when he departed the Senate in December 2006 to accept a job offer from Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer, serving as the administration’s homeland security czar.

Balboni has long held his Long Island seat largely by force of personality (and incumbancy). Fueled by camapign cash that Spitzer, who was very interested in wresting control of the Senate from the GOP, the Democrats won the seat in a 2007 special election, elevating Democratic Nassau County Legislator Craig Johnson to the state legislative post.

Johnson won a full two-year term in the 2008 elections, but lost his seat in a very tight race 2010 to Republican Mineola Mayor Jack Martins, who is now in a hotly contested race with Democratic businessman Adam Haber.

Balboni remained in his post following Spitzer’s resignation due to a prostitution scandal, but tendered his resignation to Spitzer’s successor, former Gov. David Paterson, in January 2010, to take a job in the private sector. In 2012, he founded a consulting/lobbying firm – RedLand Strategies - that focuses on public safety, government relations, media management and business development.

The former senator has been mentioned from time to time as mulling a potential return to political life, but has so far restricted his efforts to raising campaign cash for other candidates. He

Earlier this year, Balboni, who has some clients who do business with the state, co-hosted a “Republicans for Cuomo” event at The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, – an event for which tickets went for as much as $50,000 a head.

Balboni is not alone among Nassau County Republicans in his support of Cuomo. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano crossed party lines to not only endorse, but appear in a TV ad on behalf of, the Democratic governor this campaign season.

Meanwhile, Nassau County GOP Chairman Joe Mondello will be hosting a luncheon fund-raiser for Cuomo’s opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, on Monday – the same day as the Balboni event.

Panepinto Fights Back; Says Governor Will Come Around

After weeks of questions over why Governor Cuomo hasn’t endorsed him and a constant barrage of attacks from his political rivals, State Senate Candidate Marc Panepinto is firing back.

“I’m talking about the issues. My opponents want to talk about negative things. This guy did this. This guy did that,” Panepinto said. 

The Buffalo Democrat will appear on the Democratic and Working Families lines on a crowed Ballot in New York’s 60th State Senate District.  His chief rival, Incumbent Senator Mark Grisanti, lost the GOP Primary in September but not the support of his Republican colleagues.  

The Senate Republican Campaign Committee is behind a scathing attack against Panepinto.  The TV ad, details a 2001 election law misdemeanor.  It accuses Panepinto of submitting “blatantly fraudulent voter petitions” and “personally forging signatures of handicapped voters and voters who had been dead for years.”

Panepinto claims he signed off on some signatures even though he wasn’t present when they were collected. Those signatures turned out to be bogus and the Democrat pleaded guilty to making false witness statements on petitions.

“Here’s somebody who’s been associated with organizations that affiliated with racketeering.  He also had some other allegations against him that have to do with more election fraud.  So it seems to be a pattern of abuse that this individual has. So we have make sure that this person is not elected to the state senate,” said SRCC Chair Cathy Young. 

Panepinto briefly lost his legal license and has consistently expressed remorse over what he’s called a “mistake.”  More than a decade later, Panepinto told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen he’s moved on.

“I’ve paid the price for that. It’s ancient history and so if they want to continue to talk about what happened thirteen years ago, that’s fine. I think the voters want to know what their plans are for the next two years,” said Panepinto. 

On top of that, Panepinto is facing new questions over his wife’s appearance in his campaign flyers. A man claiming to be an unaffiliated voter filed a complaint against Panepinto because he used his wife’s image, State Supreme Court Judge Catherine Nugent-Panepinto, in campaign flyers.

“This attack on my wife is disgusting,” Panepinto said.

Panepinto is confident his use of her image does not violate election law.

“The Office of Court Administration provided my wife with documentation that it is permissible for her to be in my commercials, in my advertisements as long as she’s not identified as a judge and we don’t even identify her by name,” Panepinto added. 

As for Governor Cuomo’s endorsement, Panepinto told reporters at a rally for the Women’s Equality Act in Buffalo Tuesday that he’s not concerned about it.  Panepinto pointed out he stands with the Governor on the WEA and the Buffalo Billion.

“I support the Governor on those agenda points and most of his agenda.  The fact he hasn’t endorsed yet doesn’t concern me.  He knows where he needs to be to pass the Women’s Equality Act and that’s not with Senator Mark Grisanti,” said Panepinto. 

Grisanti is hoping to buck the odds and win on the Independence line.  Kevin Stocker is the endorsed Republican and Attorney Timothy Gallagher is the endorsed Conservative Party Candidate.

 

NY GOP: Cuomo Running ‘Mean-Spirited’ Campaign, ‘Afraid’ to Debate

On the eve of the first – and it appears only – gubernatorial debate, which will take place tomorrow night in Buffalo, the state GOP has released a new TV ad trashing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for running a “mean-spirited” campaign and being “afraid” to debate his Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

The ad claims Cuomo is on the attack against Astorino because he is “failing” New Yok on taxes and job creation.

It also maintains the governor is under federal investigation for witness tampering and obsctuction of justice, which isn’t entirely true, though it has been speculated that those could be charges under consideration – if any charges are indeed to be brought – by US Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office is investigating the demise of Cuomo’s now-defunct corruption-busing Moreland Commission.

Also, there have indeed been tax cuts during Cuomo’s four years in the governor’s office, and according to data released today by the state Department of Labor, the statewide unemployment rate has fallen from 7.4 percent in September 2013 to 5.6 percent last month. Meanwhile, the national jobless rate improved from 7 percent a year ago to 5.7 percent this part September.

The state party is stepping in to assist Astorino in the final weeks of the campaign with this ad, which will run through Election Day. But it’s going to be difficult to make a dent in the flood of TV ads – both positive and negative – that the Cuomo campaign and the state Democratic Party have been running, since they are both flush with many more millions of dollars worth of campaign cash than Astorino has managed to raise.

Cuomo, Astorino, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins and the Libertarian Party’s Michael McDermott will square off tomorrow in a debate sponsored by The Buffalo News and WNED/WBFO of Buffalo. The debate will be televised, and will kick off at 7 p.m.

Cuomo had offered to debate Astorino one-on-one on WNYC public radio, but Astorino rejected the offer, saying any head-to-head debates between the two major party candidates should be televised. Astorino had previously called for eight debates with the governor.

Here’s the script of the GOP’s new ad; the party is not disclosing the size of the buy or any details about where the spot is running:

Announcer: “Andrew Cuomo spent millions on campaign ads filled with lies. The reason: Cuomo’s failing New York.

Under Cuomo we have the highest taxes, and record job losses. Cuomo is at the center of Albany corruption, under federal investigation for obstruction of justice, witness tampering.

Cuomo failed on jobs, failed on taxes, and failed us. That’s why Cuomo is running a negative, mean-spirited campaign. And that’s why Cuomo is afraid to debate his opponent.”

NRCC Launches 4th Anti-Bishop Ad in NY-1

And speaking of NY-1, residents in the congressional district at the tip of Long Island have been subjected to a veritable barrage of ads this campaign season, and the hits just keep on coming.

The NRCC has released its fourth ad attacking Long Island Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop, who is facing off against GOP state Sen. Lee Zeldin next month. Bishop is among the Republicans’ top targets this cycle, and the race may well be tightening, given the Democrats’ calling in of former President Clinton to headline a rally for Bishop tomorrow.

Here’s the script of the new ad:

Announcer: “Congressman Tim Bishop is still under investigation. Watchdogs name him one of Congress’ most corrupt. But what’s even worse?

Bishop spent twelve years backing higher taxes and reckless spending. Voting with Obama and Pelosi on every major piece of legislation. Even voting to give rights to foreign terrorists.

Congressman Tim Bishop, he’s made things worse.

We have a better choice. Lee Zeldin. The change we need.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.”

With Eye Toward 2016, Pataki Pitches ‘More Freedom, Less Gov’t’ (Updated)

Former Gov. George Pataki, who is reportedly toying yet again with a White House run, is hitting the airwaves with a new TV ad that slams Washington and calls for a “new America” with less government, and “more freedom.”

The entire ad, launched through a Super PAC called “Americans for Real Change,” features Pataki in a jacket, but no tie, speaking straight to the camera and saying:

“When America’s economy is struggling, and Washington is booming, it’s time for a new America.”

“Big government benefits the rich and powerful. They can afford to play the game; you can’t. It’s time for a new America, with much smaller federal government. Washington can’t run he economy, and shouldn’t try to run our lives.”

“Less government. More freedom. Log on. Join us.”

The ad was announced in an email that doubles as a fundraising pitch signed by Pataki, who says: “Now is the time for us to take the initiative and present a proactive agenda that addresses, head on, Americans’ perception that the deck is stacked in favor of the rich and powerful.”

According to the email, the ad is airing across the nation. But no information was provided as to exactly where, and for how long.

Pataki says the goal of the ad is to “launch a renaissance in Conservative thought.” But it’s also clearly an effort by the moderate New York Republican to reintroduce himself as a fiscal conservative.

An apparently unrelated 501(c)4 called “Americans for Real Change” was created in 2012 by GOP consultant Jake Menges, an advisor to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Vincent Balascio, who worked for Pataki.

At the time, the PAC’s focus was trying to to force out Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his controversial handling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment case. Supposedly, the PAC was going to raise and spend as much as $1.5 million and make NYC mayoral candidates “take a stand” on whether Silver should still be speaker.

But it doesn’t appear to have done any spending, and, according to a filing with the FEC, was terminated in 2013.

Despite ongoing attempts by various Republican candidates – including GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino – to make hay of the Lopez scandal, Silver is still speaker, and does not appear in any imminent danger of losing that post.

UPDATE: A source familiar with the former governor’s effort says this ad is airing in New Hampshire to correspond with Pataki’s visit there – he’s appearing at Politics and Eggs tomorrow, and spent the weekend campaigning with local NH candidates. The ad is also airing nationwide on FOX News.

McCain Makes a Fundraising Plug for Astorino

US Senator and former GOP presidential candidate John McCain is the latest big name Republican to lend his name to a fundraising pitch for gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, touting the Westchester County executive’s tax-cutting record.

In an email sent to potential Astorino donors (and members of the media) today, McCain calls Astorino “a man of honesty and integrity,” and says his record “speaks for itself.”

“As Westchester County executive, he cut or froze the property tax levy each year he has been in office,” McCain writes.

“He also reduced the once-bloated county budget by 5.2 percent over four years by making the commonsense, responsible and tough decisions needed to put the county back on the right track.”

“At a time when many economies were hurting, Westchester saw 30,000 private sector jobs created under the leadership of Rob Astorino. Imagine what he could do at the state level. Rob Astorino is exactly what the Empire State needs, and right now he needs your support.”

The McCain email includes several links to the fundraising page on Astorino’s campaign website.

With this pitch, McCain is following in the footsteps of another ex-GOP presidential contender, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; as well as a number of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both of whom have made in-person appearances in New York on Astorino’s behalf.

Other prominent Republicans backing Astorino include former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former New Jersey Gov. and ex-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

All these efforts highlight the fact that Republican Governors Association Chairman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another possible GOP candidate for the White House in 2016, has declined to support Astorino’s campaign, saying he doesn’t want to invest in a “lost cause.”

NRCC Invests In Hayworth (Updated)

As the closely watched NY-18 race enters its final weeks and continues to tighten, the NRCC is entering the fray on behalf of Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth, who is trying to win back the seat she lost to Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney two years ago.

The NRCC is out with what I believe its its first TV ad on Hayworth’s behalf. It’s a positive spot (no word yet on how long it will run or the size of the buy), that features a Democrat who crossed party lines to back the former GOP congresswoman.

Democratic Dutchess County Legislator Gwen Johnson, of Poughkeepsie, narrates the ad and is prominently featured in it. She calls Hayworth “loving,” “kind” and “not a typical politician,” making no mention of Maloney.

Maloney has been touting his support from local Republicans in NY-18, including state Sen. Bill Larkin, who appeared in a web video calling the congressman a “decent, honest gentleman” and lauding his work on behalf of the district’s veterans.

A September Siena poll found Maloney leading Hayworth by 8 percentage points.

But an internal poll conducted for the Hayworth campaign earlier this month – the results of which have not been disputed by Team Maloney – showed the race as a statistical dead heat, with just four percentage points separating the two candidates.

The DCCC recently reallocated resources from other races in the state to assist Maloney in an attempt to prevent his ouster next month.

UPDATE: The NRCC makes clear that this isn’t an independent expenditure, but rather coordinated funds (of about $93,000, and usually coming in the form of TV ads) that has been made available to a variety of GOP House candidates, including: John Katko (NY-24), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Chris Gibson (NY-19) and Sen. Lee Zeldin (NY-1).

Here’s the NRCC ad script:

Johnson: “Nan is not a typical politician. She is loving. She is kind. She is supportive. Nan is a public servant. She’s always responsive; she’s only a phone call away.

Nan is a genuine person, and she actually really does care for our seniors, the working families. She’s always here. That’s why I’m supporting her.

I’m a Democrat, I’m supporting Nan Hayworth because we have to cross party lines for the best person.

Hayworth: I’m Nan Hayworth, and I approve this message.”

NYLCV Hits Airwaves For Grisanti, Announces Statewide Slate

With just two weeks remaining until Election Day, the New York League of Conservation Voters is poised to announce its third and final top priority candidate: Sen. Mark Grisanti.

The League is launching a new TV ad on behalf of the Western New York Republican, which highlights the fact that he is no longer running on the GOP line after losing his own party’s primary to attorney Kevin Stocker, and instead will appear solely on the Independence Party line.

Grisanti joins two other candidates – Democratic freshman Sen. Ted O’Brien, of Rochester, facing off against Republican Richard Funke; and Andrienne Esposito, a Democratic environmental activist who running against GOP Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci for the Long Island seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Lee Zeldin – as the NYLCV’s top priority candidates this season.

The League also went all in for Queens Sen. Tony Avella, a member of the IDC, in his successful campaign against his Democratic primary opponent, former NYC Comptroller John Liu.

The NYLCV is on track to spend $700,000 worth of independent expenditures to assist candidates on both sides of the aisle this year – more than double the $300,000 it spent in 2012.

That cash goes to cover mailers, TV ads, GOTV campaigns and door-to-door canvasses for its priority candidates.

The NYLCV has two ads out for O’Brien – a negative spot that slams Funke; and a positive spot that focuses on O’Brien’s support for the Child Safe Products Act, which made it out of the Senate Environmental Committee and had enough sponsors to pass, but never got to the floor for a full house vote.

The League’s main goal is to defend allies who advance its agenda in the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, which Grisanti chairs. O’Brien is the committee’s ranking member.

The NYLCV is also announcing its support of the re-election campaigns of two statewide Democrats – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

When it comes to the state attorney general’s race, however, the League is splitting the baby, taking the unusual step of endorsing both candidates: Incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman and Republican John Cahill.

Here’s the Grisanti ad:

Skelos Goes To Bat For Justice Graffeo

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos has made his preference known regarding the impending vacancy on the state’s highest court, issuing a statement in support of Justice Victoria Graffeo’s reappointment.

In his statement, released last night, Skelos said Graffeo has “served with distinction” during her 14-year term, and “is well regarded by legal scholars and her peers.”

“In fact, she is the most qualified of the seven candidates whose names were submitted to the Governor, and is the only nominee to achieve the highest rating from both the New York State Bar Association and the New York City Bar Association,” the senator, a Long Island Republican, continued.

“I have always found Judge Graffeo’s decisions to be sound, balanced and well reasoned, and if she is reappointed she could continue to serve in this capacity for the majority of another term.”

“New Yorkers should not be deprived of a justice with her experience and qualifications. I strongly urge the Governor to reappoint Judge Graffeo to the New York State Court of Appeals.”

Graffeo, a Republican appointed by former Gov. George Pataki in 2000, is 62 and won’t reach the mandatory retirement age for Court of Appeals Judges for another eight years. (An effort to extend that age via a constitutional amendment, which Cuomo opposed, failed last year).

Reappointing Graffeo would enable Cuomo to look bipartisan, following the lead of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who appointed both fellow Democrats and Republicans to the state’s highest court.

Graffeo was the only Republican on the list of nominees submitted to Cuomo by an independent panel charged with providing the executive with choices of potential high court justices.

She’s one of four Republicans currently serving on the court, along with Associate Judges Robert Smith, Eugene Pigott and Susan Read.

If he’s re-elected next month, Cuomo will have the opportunity to re-make the entire Court of Appeals.

He has already made two appointments: Jenny Rivera, a Latina and law professor, (replacing Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, his father’s appointee and the first Hispanic judge on the court); and Sheila Abdus-Salaam, an associate justice in the appellate division, who is the first black woman to serve on the court, (she replaced the late Theodore Jones, an African-American appointee of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer).

Cuomo recently missed the statutory deadline to make a decision on Graffeo, saying he needed another two weeks to consider his appointment.

Had he chosen Graffeo’s successor – or reappointed her – on the required deadline of Oct. 3, the Senate would have had 30 days to confirm the choice, bringing it right up to the Nov. 4 general election.

Cuomo said he didn’t want his decision to get caught up in the politics of the election season.

But clearly, Skelos is not as interested as keeping this issue out of the political arena.

Graffeo has a number of supporters in the legal and political communities. But opponents of her reappointment are starting to speak out, too.

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, recently wrote to Cuomo, urging him not to reappoint Graffeo based on her LGBT record.

And Democratic Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, the first openly gay member of the Legislature, also spoke out against Graffeo, saying she has “displayed a hostile posture in regard to the LGBT community.”