Aug 8th - 3:06 pm
The Post has a fascinating story today that suggests it’s possible the mosque-near-Ground Zero controversy will be kicked up to the state level, perhaps landing in the lap of the Public Service Commission.
Apparently, one of the two buildings currently on the site of the proposed mosque is owned by ConEd, which is currently mulling the sale of the property to the project’s developers. The sale might have to be signed off by the five-member Public Service Commission.
Here’s where things get interesting. The Post refers to the PSC as “controlled by” Gov. David Paterson. But that’s actually not the case.
Two of the five commissioners – Maureen Harris (Republican, sister of Michael Finnegan, longtime friend and former Pataki top counsel) and Robert E. Curry Jr. (Democrat) – were last-minute appointments to $109,800-a-year jobs with six-year terms made by former Gov. George Pataki during the final months of his third term. (June 2006).
Aug 6th - 3:20 pm
It has been eight months since Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava was forced out of the NY-23 special election and crossed party lines to endorse now-Rep. Bill Owens, clearing a path to victory for the Democrats in a long-held GOP district and making her a pariah among her fellow Republicans.
Scozzafava lost her leadership post in the minority as a result and has since decided not to seek re-election, yet her treason continues to be revisited, used in campaigns and held up as Exhibit A by Republicans who want to force candidates to sign a pledge promising not to oppose the eventual nominee of a given race.
From the Washington Post:
“This is a shot across the bow of folks who are going to break party unity,” said Morton Blackwell, an RNC member from Virginia who proposed the rule change and said it was adopted by the RNC’s rules committee unanimously.
“We need this when we have people doing outrageous things like Crist and Dede Scozzafava.”
“Crist” would, of course, be Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who ran and raised campaign cash as a Republican candidate for the US Senate and then dropped out of the GOP primary against Marco Rubio and is now running in the general election as an independent.
Doug Hoffman, the man who forced Scozzafava out of the race, arguing – along with Tea Party activists and the state Conservative Party – that she was too moderate, is now making a second run against Owens. He’s battling newcomer Matt Doheny for the GOP line.
Aug 6th - 2:23 pm
GOP US Senate hopeful Bruce Blakeman was in Western NY yesterday, and spent some time during an editorial board meeting at The Buffalo News to attack his primary opponents, casting them as too liberal to run on the Republican and Conservative lines against Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
The former Long Island legislator let loose his harshest attack on the Conservative Party designee, former Westchester Rep. Joe DioGuardi, who failed to receive sufficient support at the GOP convention to get onto the primary ballot and had to petition his way into the Sept. 14 contest.
Blakeman compared himself to President Ronald Reagan, who twice carried New York because “he was a leader”. Bob McCarthy reports:
(Blakeman) said DioGuardi voted against President Ronald Reagan enough to earn a ‘D’ rating from the American Conservative Union. ‘He’s not a real Republican,’ he said. ‘He’s an impostor.’”
“…I will continue to be what I am because voters have a great ability to sniff out phonies. They may not agree on the issues, but they respect somebody who stands on principle and who does not waver according to public opinion.”
UPDATE: Here’s video of Blakeman attacking DioGuardi during a campaign stop in Syracuse today, courtesy of YNN’s fabulous Bill Carey.
Aug 6th - 1:53 pm
Assemblyman Greg Ball’s campaign is forwarding around this video of the Senate candidate speaking at a recent fundraiser (that featured Dick Morris) about the importance of restoring the balance of power in the upper house.
“If that does not happen, within six months of this election, we will go from having a little over 30 state Senate seats to probably 12 or 13,” Ball says.
“We will lose every Republican congressional district in the state of New York, and New York State will turn the lights out and we will go into the darkness for at least the next 100 years.”
Ball goes on to call himself “the sunk in the picnic”, adding: “You’re looking a guy who went to Albany and is disliked in the majority and those in power even in his own party because I did what is right.” He closes by saying Albany is full of people who would “rather have puppets than leaders”.
Ball is certainly right about members of his own party not liking him. In fact, they’re backing his GOP primary opponent, Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy, and actively working against him, sending out mailers that highlight allegations he engaged in sexual assault and stalking.
The assemblyman, who is battling for the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Vincent Leibell, has responded by forming a “Women 4 Ball” committee and deploying his ex-girlfriend to act as a surrogate on his behalf.
Aug 6th - 8:35 am
Here’s a clip from my interview on “Capital Tonight” yesterday with GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio, during which I tried – unsuccessfully – to get the former Long Island congressman to commit to debating his primary challenger, Carl Paladino.
Lazio refused to even acknowledge the Buffalo businessman, insisting he’s focused on taking the fight to Democratic gubernatorial designee, AG Andrew Cuomo, in the November general election.
“My focus is entirely on November and Andrew Cuomo, Liz,” Lazio said. “We saw a catastrophic budget. It is Andrew Cuomo’s budget. ”
“Another increase in spending in the middle of a $10 billion budget deficit, kicking the can down the road, reckless borrowing, more taxes, and more jobs, unfortunately, that are going to be destroyed and more businesses and people that will leave this state. ”
“This is the legacy of Andrew Cuomo. This is part of his party. He controls the Assembly. He controls the Senate, and he’s on the phone every day with David Paterson. And so this is his budget and his spending, and I believe that people want to turn a page on this.”
Throughout the entire interview, which lasted more than 10 minutes (a near eternity in TV land), Lazio didn’t mention Paladino’s name one, not even in response to his new mosque ad.
Lazio brushed off questions about his recent campaign shake-up and his anemic fundraising, insisting – as he has on multiple occasions – he’ll have sufficient resources to mount a robust campaign through the rest of the election season.
Aug 6th - 8:21 am
GOP congressional hopeful Michael Grimm is out with his second TV spot of the NY-13 race, just as the “Jewish money” flap continues to dog his Democratic target, Rep. Mike McMahon.
The spot is similar to the first one Grimm’s campaign released earlier this week. Both are introductory bio-type ads that highlight his time in the FBI and the US Marine Corps., with a dose of fiscal conservatism and homeland security thrown in for good measure.
Meanwhile, McMahon is facing an FEC complaint that Grimm says “raises some serious ethics questions” for the congressman. McMahon’s campaign declined to address the specifics of the complaint, calling it a “cheap political stunt” that was “orchestrated” by one of his GOP opponents (notice no names are named there).
UPDATE: The DN’s intrepid Michael McAuliff writes that Grimm’s ad has annoyed the FBI, which considers itself an “apolitical agency” and doesn’t like the use of its name in campaign ads or literature. He also irked the Marines with a Web ad that ran earlier in the season.
Here’s the script of Grimm’s spot, entitled “Key Issues”:
“Congress is out of control. While people look for answers, the politicians waste our tax dollars. That’s why I’m running for Congress. As your congressman, my priorities will be to cut taxes, help small businesses create jobs and reduce the deficit by ending the out-of-control spending while working relentlessly to keep our families safe from terror. You can count on me to fight the Washington politicians and stand up for you and your family, just as I did in the Marines and the FBI. I’m Michael Grimm and I approve this message.”
Aug 5th - 4:33 pm
Democrats wasted no time in trying to use the overturning of California’s Prop. 8 against GOP statewide candidates here in New York.
The first hit came courtesy of state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, who called on Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, the lone Republican AG candidate, to “finally publicly state whether or not he supports marriage equality, one of the defining civil rights issues of this generation.”
Jacobs noted that Donovan’s campaign Web site doesn’t mention same-sex marriage, nor has his position on the topic appeared in any published accounts.
The chairman accused the DA of running away from this controversial issue “like the plague” and noted that his political mentor is Guy Molinari, who is, in Jacobs’ words, “a notorious gay basher.”
“With the civil rights of New Yorkers hanging in the balance, Donovan needs to state publicly: Does he take his cues on intolerance from his mentor and political patron Guy Molinari, or does he stand with principled New Yorkers – and now, thankfully, a federal court – who view marriage equality as a fundamental right?” Jacobs said.
Donovan’s campaign spokeswoman confirmed that Donovan believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, but stressed that he “will ensure that the laws of our state are enforced.”
Aug 5th - 2:47 pm
Here’s the FEC complaint filed against Democratic Rep. Mike McMahon (NY-13) following the release by his campaign of the so-called “Jewish money” raised by one of his opponents, Michael Grimm, which led to the firing of the congressmann’s campaign spokeswoman, Jennifer Nelson.
The complaint was highlighted by Grimm’s campaign, which sent out a press release to alert the media of its existence that included this comment from the candidate:
“If Ms. Nelson was fired for this type of behavior, why weren’t those who authorized the creation of the list, or those that compiled the list also fired?”
“Mr. McMahon either violated FEC regulations, he condoned the practice of compiling segregated lists based on religion and ethnicity or both. It is time for him to stop hiding from the truth.”
The complaint was not filed by the Grimm campaign, however. At least not directly. That was done by one Brendan Lantry, who, according to a little Google search, used to work for Councilman Andy Lanza, a Staten Island Republican who has endorsed Grimm’s primary opponent, Michael Allegretti.
UPDATE: McMahon campaign manager Jonathan Yedin responded:
“This is a cheap, political stunt orchestrated by one of Congressman McMahon’s Republican opponents. It is without merit and has as much chance of success as LeBron James does of being elected Mayor of Cleveland.”
Aug 5th - 1:20 pm
The state GOP announced this afternoon that it has hired David Polyansky, a strategist who worked for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential bid and US Senate hopeful Gary Berntsen’s campaign, to be its political director.
“Throughout his career David has developed a reputation as a forward-thinking, strategic counselor.,” said state GOP Chairman Ed Cox in a press release.
“He will be a tremendous asset to the Party in our efforts to assist Republican candidates throughout New York as we strive to stop the Democrats’ tax machine this November.”
Polyansky will be tasked with coordinating between the state party and the GOP county committees and campaigns around New York. He’ll also serve as Cox’s liaison to the Senate and Assembly campaign committees, the RNC, NRCC and other national Republican organizations.
According to the release, Polyansky will continue to advise Berntsen’s campaign on a “limited basis”, which I’m sure isn’t going to sit well with Berntsen’s GOP primary opponent, Jay Townsend.
Aug 4th - 3:36 pm
Actually, the man who was once best known for being a thorn in then-Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s side never really went anywhere, although he did keep a rather low profile for a while there after crossing swords with the once-powerful Rensselaer Republican.
Tom Dadey, whose refusal to get off the Conservative line after losing the 2004 GOP primary to then-Democrat-turned-Republican Sen. Nancy Larraine Hoffmann in the 49th SD cost the Republicans a seat they’re still trying to win back, is vying become the next Onondaga County GOP chairman.
Dadey is close with Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, the first woman to hold her post and someone who is viewed as a GOP rising star. Mahoney has a history of being at odds with the current county chairman, John DiSpirito, who reportedly told her while she was mulling a run back in 2007 that county executive was a “big job”.
So far, Dadey is the only announced contender for the chairmanship, although as he mentions in a letter to local leaders announcing his candidacy, DiSpirito is expected to run and some others are considering it, too.
Dadey has been helping Republican Andrew Russo, who is fighting his primary opponent, East Syracuse Mayor Dan Liedka, for the right to face the winner of that 2004 battle, Democratic Sen. Dave Valesky, in the November general election. (Russo has far more cash on hand).
UPDATED: Dadey got in touch to remind me that he was on both the Independence Party And Conservative Party lines. He also pointed out that by the time he had lost the GOP primary, it was too late for him to get off those lines, so he didn’t exactly “refuse” to do so – contrary to my characterization of his actions. He would have had to die, move out of state or run to become a judge (he’s not a lawyer).