Republicans

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.”

REBNY’s PAC Hits the Airwaves for Amedore

Jobs for New York Inc., the outside spending group created by New York City-based real estate industry, is hitting the airwaves for the first time this election cycle with a TV ad in support of former Assemblyman George Amedore, the Republican candidate in the 46th Senate District.

The ad is a positive spot that focuses in part on Amedore’s efforts in the community, but also aims to blunt the Democrats’ attack against him for opposing abortion rights.

Amedore, who is trying for the second time to unseat Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, who beat him by just 18 votes in 2012, has been steadfast in his anti-abortion stance, despite the fact that women’s issues – specifically, the governor’s 10-point Women’s Equality Act – has been a key wedge issue in this race.

The ad says Amedore is “leading the fight to stop domestic violence and to make sure working women get equal pay for equal work” – two of the remaining nine Women’s Equality Act planks, which were passed as stand-alone bills by the Senate this past session.

Jobs for New York spent $8 million on New York City’s 2013 elections, and recently registered a new state-level campaign committee to benefit three GOP Senate candidates: Amedore; Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy, who is running against Democrat Justin Wagner for the seat vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Greg Ball; and Dutchess County Legislator Susan Serino, who is trying to unseat freshman Democratic Sen. Terry Gipson.

According to a filing made with the state Board of Elections, Jobs for New York spent $432,000 on air time late last week. So far, this is the only ad that it is running. Here’s the script:

“George Amedore has always been a leader, whether it’s fighting for breast cancer research, using his own time and money to help rebuild the local Ronald McDonald House for sick children, or helping victims of Hurricane Irene, George Amedore fights for us. Now, George Amedore is leading the fight to stop domestic violence, and to make sure working women get equal pay for equal work. George Amedore, fighting for all of us.”

House Majority PAC Sticks With Robertson In NY-23

The DCCC may have abandoned Democratic Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson in her quest to unseat Republican Rep. Tom Reed next month, but she isn’t completely going it alone.

The House Majority PAC just announced it is releasing new TV ads in 10 congressional districts across the country – including NY-23, where the House Democrats’ political arm, led by Long Island Rep. Steve Israel, recently cancelled two weeks worth of reserved air time so it could rededicate resources to protect incumbent Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is in a tight re-election battle with his 2012 opponent, former GOP Rep. Nan Hayworth, in NY-18.

The ad, which appears below, is airing in the Elmira market only starting tomorrow. And the buy isn’t terribly large – $49,138 – although that goes a lot further in the Southern Tier than, say, the NYC media market.

And, something is definitely better than nothing, from Robertson’s perspective – especially when you consider the fact that another Democratic House candidate recently abandoned by the DCCC, Aaron Woolf, didn’t make the House Majority PAC cut. In fact, the PAC cancelled $300,000 worth of air time it had reserved on Woolf’s behalf just before the national Democrats also decided to pull the plug on his.

The House Majority PAC has also purchased $58,472 worth of air time in Central New York’s NY-24 to benefit Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei. The ad, which can be seen below underneath the anti-Reed spot, slams Maffei’s Republican opponent, former prosecutor John Katko, for being “too conservative” for New York - particularly when it comes to women’s issues.

A GOP source insisted that these buys are not new and have been reserved for some time now. But considering the fact that money is being shifted around all over the place, it’s a safe bet these candidates consider it a win to have managed to hold on to their planned time slots.

Conservative Chair: Vote ‘No’ On Grisanti

State Conservative Chairman Mike Long weighed in on one of the state’s most hotly contested Senate races, urging conservative voters to reject GOP Sen. Mark Grisanti’s long-shot re-election bid on the Independence Party line.

During a CapTon interview last Friday night, Long said he is “no fan” of Grisanti’s, accusing the senator of “breaking faith” with conservatives when he voted “yes” on same-sex marriage and the SAFE Act.

“I’m not looking to champion his re-election as a state senator on the Independence line,” Long said of Grisanti.

“I would encourage Conservatives to send a very clear message for Albany – conservative-minded Democrats, conservative Republicans – vote for the Conservative Party candidate for state Senate, vote for someone who believes in the principles that they believe in.”

The Conservative Party candidate is attorney Tim Gallagher, who was tapped to run on Row C back in May. At the time, Gallagher was believed to be a placeholder, but the party has made no effort to remove him from the ballot.

Long’s comments are a blow to the Senate Republicans, whose leader, Sen. Dean Skelos, has endorsed Grisanti, despite the fact that the senator lost the September GOP primary to Kevin Stocker.

Skelos said last week that he doesn’t know Stocker, and the candidate hasn’t reached out to the Senate GOP for assistance. Stocker has repeatedly refused to say if he would caucus with his fellow Republicans – or support Skelos for leader – if he’s elected next month.

The SRCC recently released a TV ad that blasted the Democratic candidate in this four-way race – Marc Panepinto – but didn’t support any of his opponents.

Long insisted that he supports a Republican takeover of the Senate, saying it will be a “very dark-looking state if the Democrats gain control, total control of the Senate.”

“I believe we have a shot to win the Senate; I believe we can do that without Grisanti,” the chairman said.

“I’m doing everything I can to help any candidates throughout the state of New York that’s running on the Conservative-Republican line.”

Thanks to his gay marriage vote, Grisanti didn’t have the Conservative line in the 2012 election. (The Erie County Conservatives backed a Democrat, while the Niagara County Conservatives continued to back the senator).

Grisanti managed to win that fall with about 50 percent of the vote, but – unlike this year – he had both the GOP line and the Independence Party line.

Antonacci Not Quite On the Air With 1st Ad

Also from the Morning Memo:

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci has cut his first TV ad in his long-shot run for state comptroller.

It’s a cute ad, which features his biggest fan – his daughter, Jackie – who provides a primer on the responsibilities of this little-known state post, and says her “really smart” Dad is just the guy for the job.

Trouble is, Antonacci doesn’t quite have enough cash yet to get the ad on the air – something he really needs to do in order to raise his name recognition as he challenges the Democratic incumbent, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

So, Antonacci has released the ad as a fundraising tool, urging supporters to make a donation to “unlock matching funds” and enable him to hit the airwaves ASAP.

Antonacci has been having trouble meeting the requirements of the public campaign finance PILOT program set up by the governor and legislative leaders during the last session.

Even though DiNapoli advocated making his office the test case for public matching funds, he refused – with the support of good government groups – to participate in this last-minute program.

So, Antonacci will be the lone participant, assuming he manages to make the cut.

Sen. Larkin Crosses Party Lines in NY-18 (Updated)

From today’s Morning Memo:

Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has picked up the support of two more local GOP elected officials as he battles his 2012 nemesis, former Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth, in a re-match in NY-18.

Sen. Bill Larkin appears in one of two web videos being released today by Maloney’s campaign.

In it, Larkin touts his military service – “a retired Army Colonel with 23 years of service of combat in New Guinea, Philippines and Korea” – and says the congressman “has been a staunch supporter of veterans and doing what’s best for veterans.”

Veteran’s issues has been a sticking point in this campaign, with Hayworth attacking Maloney in a TV ad over what she says was his less-than-adequate support of veterans, which caused him to respond with a veterans ad of his own.

Larkin also says Maloney was the first Democrat in his 36 years as a legislator who ever called to congratulate him on an electoral victory.

“He has taken a position of on how we can better work together for the people we represent,” Larkin says of the congressman.

“He’s a very decent honest gentleman. I think he’s been an individual who’s committed himself to the district that he represents…He’s there.”

Larkin is the second GOP senator to endorse Maloney over Hayworth.

However, the first to break ranks and cross party lines – retiring Sen. Greg Ball – has a long history of animosity with Hayworth, and even contemplated challenging her.

The senator, who is not seeking re-election and has been spending a lot of time in Texas these days, is now chairing “Veterans for Maloney.” (He chairs the Veterans Committee in the Senate).

During a recent interview on WAMC, Maloney refused to take sides in the battle for control of the state Senate – a top priority for his fellow Democrats in Albany, not to mention Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Maloney instead touted his ties to Larkin, though it’s unclear if he’s returning the favor and endorsing the senator for re-election.

UPDATE: Maloney did appear at Larkin’s campaign HQ last month to support him, which caused the senator’s Democratic opponent, Newburgh City Councilwoman Gay Lee, to chide the congressman, saying:

“I get the whole concept of crossing the aisle, but damn, Sean, couldn’t you have picked somebody else to cross the aisle with? Senator Larkin is a staunch conservative Republican who would not cross the aisle to do anything.”

Also at that event, Larkin’s fellow Republicans made an effort not to appear in photos with Maloney, and reiterated their support of Hayworth.

Larkin is the Senate’s oldest member. When he turned 84 in 2012, he said that election would be his “last hurrah,” but apparently he has decided to give it another go.

Maloney also released a video featuring Republican New Windsor Supervisor George Green, who said the congressman is a “genuine person” who “doesn’t care what party you’re from.”

“He’s one of the few Congressmen that I’ve ever experienced that will call me back personally, Green says.

“…When he says he’s going to do something, I know he’s going to do it. I think it’s very important that we keep Congressman Maloney, and coming from a Republican…!”