Pataki Regrets Trump’s Name On A Defunct Park’s Signs

From the Morning Memo:

Former Gov. George Pataki isn’t pleased that Donald Trump’s name continues to grace signs off the Taconic State Parkway for a state park that has gone largely undeveloped in the last decade.

Pataki was governor 10 years ago when Trump donated the acreage in Yorktown and Putnam Valley to the state after an effort to develop the property into a golf course failed.

Pataki, along with Trump, appeared together to commemorate the land donation in Westchester County. Later, signs for “Donald J. Trump State Park” appeared. Pataki was governor at the time the land donation was made to the state.

The park itself has been closed since 2010 following state budget cuts and has gone largely undeveloped.

Pataki, who tangled with Trump during his campaign for president, said in an interview on Capital Tonight that he wishes Turmp’s name wasn’t on the sign.

But at the same time, he didn’t take a position on whether the park should be developed and eventually named after another New Yorker (some have called for the park to be named in honor of the late Hudson Valley folksinger Pete Seeger).

“I am very unhappy it is there,” Pataki said. “I don’t know that you go back and change it, but he donated I think it was like 140 acres in Westchester County. It’s great for the taxpayers and grew that it’s a park. I wish it didn’t have it’s name on it.”

Pataki ended his presidential bid in December and this month endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

During and since the campaign, Pataki was a staunch critic of Trump and his rhetoric aimed at immigrants and Muslims.

In the interview, he was also critical of another New Yorker in the race, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and the ongoing saga of her use of a private email server.

“I think Donald Trump is not qualified or fit to be president of the United States and I say that as a lifelong Republican,” Pataki said, “but I don’t think Hillary Clinton is either.”

Paladino Recruits For Team Trump

From the Morning Memo:

Buffalo businessman and 2010 Republican nominee for governor Carl Paladino is all in for Donald Trump and hopes you will be, too.

Paladino is recruiting a New Yorkers for Trump support team, increasing his efforts after the real-estate mogul won the GOP New Hampshire primary by a wide margin.

“It is a rare opportunity for New York Republicans to play a critical role in both the nomination and the general election,” Paladino wrote in an email. “Donald Trump has earned our support and now is the time to give it to him.”

A Siena College poll this week, released before the New Hampshire vote, showed Trump with 34 percent of the vote among Republican voters. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz each have 16 percent.

Paladino and his political operation have proven adept at mobilizing Republican primary voters in the past. Six years ago, during his campaign for governor, Paladino scored an upset victory in the primary against former Rep. Rick Lazio, the preferred candidate of the GOP in the state.

Paladino was able to do so by turning out votes in his base, western New York.

In the email, Paladino called on New York Republicans to unite behind Trump, alluding to comments made to The New York Post recently by the former state GOP Committee Chairman Bill Powers.

“It’s time for New York Republicans to unite behind our own native son,” he said. “It’s time to listen to our great former State Republican Chairman Bill Powers and choose a winning candidate: Donald Trump.”

The state’s presidential primary is scheduled for April 19.

Laura Ingraham To Keynote State Republican Convention

Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham will deliver the keynote speech at the state Republican Convention next month, the state GOP committee on Wednesday announced.

The convention is being held on March 4 at the Marriott HarborCenter in Buffalo.

“We’re honored to welcome Laura Ingraham as our featured guest this year,”said New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox. “Laura is one of the preeminent conservative voices in America today and she is at the epicenter of this year’s presidential election. We’re very excited she will be joining us to offer her inside look into what is one of the most important elections of our lifetime.”

Ingraham is a conservative radio host heard in 225 markets and the editor-in-chief of the website She is also a regulator contributor on Fox News and is a substitute anchor on the O’Reilly Factor.

“We can’t wait to introduce Laura Ingraham to Buffalo,” said Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy. “Laura has her finger on the pulse of the Republican Party and I know my fellow county chairs and convention attendees will be very excited to meet her.”

“The energy and motivation I am witnessing in the Party this year will make this an exciting convention, and Laura’s attendance makes this a can’t-miss event.”

State Republicans at the convention next month are expected to nominate a candidate to run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer. One potential candidate that has been floated is attorney Wendy Long, who ran against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012.

Gibson: The More The Merrier

From the Morning Memo:

Generally speaking, elected officials and party leaders prefer to avoid primaries.

Even though they give lip service, (I’m looking at you, state GOP Chairman Ed Cox), about how great a little healthy competition can be in generating excitement among the grassroots and letting the best possible candidate emerge victorious, the reality is that most pols privately agree primaries tend to be unnecessarily expensive, divisive and often distracting.

But Rep. Chris Gibson, the NY-19 Republican who is forgoing a re-election bid this year to focus on a potential 2018 run for governor, insists the fact that there are at least three – if not more – others who might throw their respective hats into the ring does not bother him.

“Time Warner Cable did a story last week about the deep bench for the Republicans. When’s the last time we saw a story on that? That’s something to be proud of,” Gibson insisted.

To the list of potential GOP contenders that I ticked off – Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who is mulling a second attempt at the governor’s office after losing to Cuomo in 2014; investment banker Harry Wilson, who lost a close race to Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in 2010; and Carl Paladino, the 2010 GOP/Conservative gubernatorial candidate who failed to defeat then-AG Cuomo – Gibson added yet another name: Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinario, who he said “is going to make a great governor.”

“I think those folks you mentioned as strong leaders; I’m proud of them,” Gibson said. “I’m going to do my best to unite and rally folks.”

“I’m going to have a very positive vision…look to raise money, draw support, build out support, and ultimately to win in 2018, and then change this state, so that this can be the once Empire state, a place that’s flourishing, a place that’s safe and secure, a place that has educational policies that our parents and teachers are proud of.”

Gibson stressed, yet again, that though he has formed an exploratory committee to enable him to raise money for a possible run, he has not yet decided to formally declare his candidacy. He plans to see how his fundraising goes over the next year, explaining that any candidate who wants to be viable on the GOP side is going to have to be able to raise at least $20 million.

Nojay Supportive Of Gibson’s Bid For Governor

From the Morning Memo:

Republican Assemblyman Bill Nojay became the first state lawmaker on Monday to support the gubernatorial campaign-in-waiting for Rep. Chris Gibson.

Gibson formed an exploratory committee on Monday as he takes another step toward a full-blown campaign for governor in 2018.

“As New Yorkers are faced with a punishing economic climate fueled by Gov. Cuomo’s special interest donors and liberal career politicians, Congressman Gibson’s announcement of an exploratory committee for governor is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Nojay, a conservative lawmaker from the Rochester area and a talk-radio host.

“For decades New Yorkers have suffered under an oppressive set of taxes, laws, and bureaucratic policies that have destroyed small businesses, forced large employers to relocate, and pushed residents out of state.”

Nojay is a staunch critic of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic incumbent who plans to seek a third term, especially when it comes to the passage of the gun control law known as the SAFE Act.

Nojay is also the Legislature’s prominent supporter of the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, the real-estate mogul from New York who some lawmakers in 2014 urged to run for governor against Cuomo (ultimately Trump declined).

Gibson has not been as enthusiastic about Trump, expressing concern about the businessman’s temperament in a radio interview.

“I have concerns about giving that guy an army,” Gibson, a retired Army colonel. “As someone who served for 29 years, I have concerns given what I’ve heard to date about what his temperament and the judgement he has.”

In his statement, Nojay pointed to Gibson’s stance on fiscal policy as aiding New York’s business environment.

“I am confident that Congressman Gibson would take a principled approach to fiscal policy that would cut taxes on employers and tackle the burdensome regulatory environment for businesses,” Nojay said. “A Governor Gibson would reestablish New York as the Empire State, a place where jobs will grow and families can thrive.”

Flanagan, At NYCOM, Avoids Bharara

Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb told the New York Conference of Mayors that ethics reform needs to be a top priority in the Legislature this session.

Ditto for the Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who said the parade of corruption scandals was causing people to lose faith in the state.

But the representatives of the legislative majorities in Albany chose not to address ethics concerns when speaking before U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara at the group’s winter meeting in Albany on Monday.

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, representing the Democratic conference in the Assembly, stood in for Speaker Carl Heastie.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan bolted from the room after addressing the group to discuss local government issues and the state’s property tax cap.

“He’s making a lot of speeches all over the place and this should be no different,” Flanagan said when asked about Bharara’s presence in Albany.

As reporters pursued Flanagan up a winding flight of stairs at the Albany Hilton, the Suffolk County lawmaker was asked about whether he believed Bharara’s corruptioncase against his predecessor, Dean Skelos, was justified.

Flanagan responded: “I have faith in the court system and I’m guided by that all the time.”

He didn’t address additional questions when asked about whether ethics legislation should be in the budget.

Tax Cap Changes Unlikely, Flanagan Says

Changes to the state’s cap on property tax increases are unlikely this year, even as Senate Republicans disagree internally over whether to continue the measure as it stands now, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan on Monday told mayors at a convention in Albany.

“I would be surprised if there were any changes to the tax cap, certainly this year,” Flanagan said.

The comments come after Democratic lawmakers here at the New York Conference of Mayors winter meeting told local government officials they were sympathetic to the increasing concerns being raised over the cap on property tax levy increases.

The cap is due to provide for an increase of less than 1 percent this year, squeezing local governments on their ability to raise revenue at a time in which sales tax dollars have been largely flat.

State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo did agree to modest changes to the tax cap last June, allowing for growth in BOCES and capital spending.

But local government and school district officials have called for revisions to the cap, given it is linked to the rate of inflation or provides for a 2 percent cap, whichever is lower.

The cap in recent years has allowed for growth of less than 2 percent and, with inflation flat again, the cap is due to be virtually zero.

In his remarks, Flanagan noted the cap remains popular with taxpayers who live under the highest property taxes in the nation.

Nevertheless, Flanagan noted there were some lawmakers within his conference that were sympathetic to altering the cap.

“We have some members,” Flanagan said, “who feel it should be a straight 2 percent.”

Flanagan bolted from the room after addressing the conference for about 20 minutes in remarks and taking several questions. He left the Albany Hilton just before the arrival of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office successfully prosecuted the case against his predecessor, Republican Dean Skelos as well as former Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat from Manhattan.

Flanagan told reporters without stopping that he had several meetings to attend later in the day.

Gibson Registers Campaign Committee

As expected, Rep. Chris Gibson on Monday has registered a campaign committee in a lead up to a potential run for governor in 2018.

The filing for Gibson For New York was filed and posted on the state Board of Elections website this morning.

Gibson, a three-term House representative from Kinderhook, is retiring from the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley at the end of the year.

He is getting an early start on fundraising, citing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $16 million war chest that he is maintaining ahead of a declared run for a third term.

Gibson is also facing a potentially crowded field for the Republican nomination, with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the party’s 2014 nominee, considering another run for governor.

Harry Wilson, the party’s 2010 nominee for comptroller, is also considering a run for governor as is Carl Paladino, a businessman from Buffalo who ran in 2010.

Gibson, who turned aside a well-funded challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge in 2014, has staked out moderate positions on social issues in recent years.

No Republican has won statewide in New York since 2002, when George Pataki won a third term as governor.

Heaney Accuses Faso Of ‘Spiking The Ball’ Before Scoring

From the Morning Memo:

Republican Andrew Heaney is accusing his rival for the 19th congressional district nominating of counting his chickens before they hatch.

Or, to use the football analogy Heaney’s campaign came up with for Super Bowl week — spiking the ball before the end zone.

Heaeny’s campaign Thursday afternoon cried foul after the Faso campaign released multiple statements claiming endorsement victories in Otsego, Dutchess and Ulster counties with Republican committees there.

In another instance, Faso claimed to have won the support of GOP officials in Delaware County even as the committee there chose not to issue an endorsement.

The Heaney campaign says those releases were sent out prematurely, given the committees were yet to issue an endorsement in the primary.

“It’s sad that John Faso is so presumptuous about the will of committeemen and women throughout the district that he has press releases lined up claiming victory before they even vote,” Heaney said. “It’s just another example of how the old boy insider network operates and why I decided to forgo a committee process that I never agreed to and take my message directly to the people.”

The Faso campaign declined to comment.

Heaney himself has opted not to go through the candidate screening process in the Hudson Valley congressional district.

He is competing against five other Republicans for the nomination, but has concentrated most of his criticism on Faso, a former minority leader in the state Assembly who has deep ties to local Republican officials.

On the Democratic side, Fordham Law school professor and 2014 candidate for governor Zephyr Teachout is seeking the nomination, as is Will Yandik, the deputy town supervisor in Livingston.

Republican Rep. Chris Gibson is leaving Congress this year as he considers a run for governor in 2018.

Hanna Transfers $250K To Old Campaign Account

From the Morning Memo:

Republican former Assemblyman Sean Hanna last month loaned an old campaign account for his state Senate bid $250,000, records with the Board of Elections show.

In a brief phone interview on Friday, Hanna said he wasn’t ruling anything in or out when asked about another run for public office.

In 2012, Hanna ran for the Rochester-area Senate district that was vacated by Sen. Jim Alesi, but lost to Democrat Ted O’Brien.

In turn, O’Brien left the Senate in 2014 when he was unseated by Republican Rich Funke.

The neighboring district of Sen. Michael Nozzolio is opening this year, however, as he leaves office in order to receive heart surgery.

Potential candidates for Nozzolio’s seat include Republican Assemblyman Bob Oaks.

Senate GOP officials expect to keep the Finger Lakes-area district in Republican hands this fall.