State Senate

SD-46: NYLCV Endorses Niccoli

The New York League of Conservation Voters on Friday endorsed Democratic Senate hopeful Sara Niccoli in the 46th district.

“The future of the Capital District and Hudson Valley falls into the hands of our positive, proven leaders that are geared towards building a more environmentally-sound and just future. We are proud to endorse Sara Niccoli in her campaign for State State, and we encourage anyone who wants to see continued growth towards a healthier and more resilient New York to vote for Sara on November 8th,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

Niccoli, the town supervisor in Palatine, is running against incumbent Republican George Amedore in the district, which stretches from the Mohawk Valley to the Hudson Valley.

The district is among a handful of competitive Senate seats this year that could decide control of the chamber.

In giving her the nod, the group pointed to Niccoli’s support for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pushing the state to have 50 percent of its power coming from renewable energy sources by 2030.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the New York State League of Conservation Voters. Preserving New York’s vast natural resources, addressing the climate crisis head-on, and protecting our air and water are more important than ever,” Niccoli said. “Extreme weather events are destroying crops and communities across upstate New York. My opponent George Amedore has a long record of blocking environmental protections and won’t even recognize that climate change exists. As State Senator, I will fight alongside the League of Conservation Voters for the future of our children and grandchildren.”

SD-7: Haber Fundraises Off Trump’s Debate Performance

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Senate candidate Adam Haber wasted little time this week firing off a fundraising appeal to supporters on the heels of the first presidential debate this week.

In the email sent Thursday, Haber blasted the performance by Trump and his campaign for the White House in general, saying it has drawn in “hate, bigotry and anti-woman insults.”

“The debate showed just how out of touch, and ill-prepared, the Party of Trump has become,” Haber wrote in the email. “We are stronger when we work together, putting forth bold ideas based off facts and common-sense — not hate and dividing people.”

The message is the latest sign Democrats running in key Senate races this year, especially in Nassau County, are seizing on the anti-Trump sentiment among general election voters with the hope of down-ballot races like theirs will be rewarded by a strong showing by Clinton in November.

“This is the person our opponent is depending on at the polls for a victory,” Haber wrote in the email. “We can’t let this happen. Will you join me in the fight against Trump and his allies?”

Haber is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jack Martins, who is running for an open congressional seat. Haber faces Republican Elaine Phillips, the mayor of the village of Flower Hill.

On Heels Of Corruption Scandal, State Senate Candidate Proposes Reform Plan

State Senate candidate Amber Small released a 7-point plan Wednesday to “clean up Albany.” The Democrat, Small, noted in her press release, the plan comes on the heels of a major public corruption scandal where nine people were arrested, including three executives from Western New York developer LPCiminelli.

Small said she entered the race for the 60th state Senate district in January, in large part because she was disgusted by the corruption she saw at the capital. She said it was clear to her the slew of scandals was impeding progress in other parts of the state.

“Ethics reform in New York is perhaps the most pressing issue facing this state,” Small said. “In many ways, it is the root of all of the challenges we face. It must be confronted relentlessly and comprehensively. Anything short of this is simply failure.”

The proposal addresses campaign finance reform, calls for additional resources to oversight agencies like the Attorney General’s office, and calls to explore mandatory minimum sentencing for corruption convictions, in addition to pension forfeiture.

Small also writes about the need for independent redistricting.

“In 2010 Republicans had control of the Senate, and in doing so, were able to gerrymander districts like the 60th District. The result of this was the Republicans winning a controlling amount of Senate seats despite consistently getting less overall votes than Democratic Senate candidates Statewide. Of course, if the Democrats had the same opportunity, there is no doubt the same would have been done in their favor,” Small wrote.

Her opponent, Republican Chris Jacobs, released his own reform plan in August. His campaign is currently running a TV spot in Buffalo calling for term limits.

In her proposal, Small said while term limits might be a “feel-good quick fix,” it needs to be one part of the solution, not the entire solution.

SD-37: Latimer Given Firefighters Union Nod

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Sen. George Latimer was endorsed on Wednesday by the politically active Yonkers Firefighter Union in his bid for re-election to the suburban Senate district.

“I firmly believe that State government has a responsibility to protect New Yorkers and to ensure our heroic first responders have the tools and resources they need to keep our communities safe,” Latimer said in a statement.

“I am honored to receive the backing of the Yonkers Firefighters union local 628 and I will continue my efforts to ensure our state government provides the support that our first responders need and deserve.”

The firefighters union in Yonkers has played a politically active role, especially in city government. The district, which includes a swath of the Long Island sound shore in Westchester County, was redrawn during the 2012 redistricting process to include a portion of Yonkers.

“We are proud to stand with Senator Latimer because he has consistently stood up for us. George has a proven track record of prioritizing public safety and fighting for our interests in Albany,” said firefighter union leader Barry McGoey.

“We strongly believe that Senator Latimer is the right person to send to the State Senate to continue working on our behalf.”

First elected in 2012 to the seat vacated by longtime Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, Republicans have long coveted the Westchester County district as a potential pickup opportunity.

Latimer faces Republican challenger Julie Killian in a district the Senate GOP’s political arm hopes can be a competitive race, one of perhaps two districts they are playing offense in an otherwise challenging electoral year.

Senate Dem Candidates Push Rivals To Return Contributions Linked To Scandal

Two Democratic candidates for state Senate on Wednesday called on their Republican opponents to return campaign cash linked to developers who have been charged in the sweeping bribery and pay-to-play scandal that has engulfed a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Democrat Sara Niccoli, running to unseat incumbent Sen. George Amedore in the 46th Senate district, is pushing him to return $30,000 in contributions from Albany-based developer Joseph Nicolla.

Nicolla was among those who face state charges in an alleged bid-rigging scheme that has ensnared the head of SUNY Polytechnic, Alain Kaloyeros.

“George Amedore has a pattern of accepting money from shady, corrupt and even indicted individuals and it has to end,” Niccoli said.

“Not only was George hand-picked to run for the Senate by convicted felon Dean Skelos, he was even drawn his own special district and lavished with millions of dollars from downstate party bosses. George has also received millions from New York City real estate developers and from Leonard Litwin, who was at the very core of the Dean Skelos corruption scandal. The Nicolla donations are simply the latest example of Senator Amedore being funded by corrupt special interests, and I urge George to do the right thing and return these tainted dollars.”

Meanwhile, Democrat Amber Small also on Wednesday made a similar call for Republican Chris Jacobs to return his donations he’s received from LP Ciminelli executives and members of the Ciminelli family. Ciminelli is among the upstate developers who has been charged in the federal case, whose company has played a prominent role in the Buffalo Billion economic development program.

The calls come as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign on Tuesday signaled it would set aside the thousands of dollars he’s received from the developers linked to the corruption cases should prosecutors seek to clawback those funds.

At the same time, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli had previously said he would return then $20,000 in contributions he’s received from Ciminelli.

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.”

NYSUT Endorsement Could Have Major Impact In SD-60

Democratic state Senate candidate Amber Small lists 16 major endorsements on her campaign website, including unions like CWA, the New York State Nurse’s Association, and United Auto Workers region 9. The political newcomer has made a point of reaching out to both labor and community action organizations as she faces off against well-known Republican Chris Jacobs.

The endorsement she received Monday, could be the most important so far. New York State United Teachers has decided to back Small this fall.

“Amber Small’s commitment to her community, to women and public service make her the right choice to represent the 60th Senate District in Albany,” NYSUT President Kim Magee said.  “NYSUT is proud to endorse her candidacy, and we will work hard to elect her.”

In 2014 the statewide teachers’ organization was, perhaps, the biggest player in the race for the 60th state Senate district. The union backed Democrat Marc Panepinto and spent more than $1 million on his campaign.

Panepinto ultimately won that four-way race but has decided to step down after one term. NYSUT had planned to endorse him again.

Despite the fact the 60th district could factor into who controls the state Senate, some observers questioned whether the union would get involved this year. With the incumbent leaving, why make a potential enemy before he or she is even in Albany?

NYSUT rejected that train of thought.

“Amber’s strong message about public education and commitment to positive change for working families and business is resonating with NYSUT members across the 60th District,” Vice President Andrew Pallotta said.  “We believe she will make a terrific state senator.”

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.

SD-7: Haber Releases First TV Ad

Democratic Senate candidate Adam Haber on Monday released his first TV ad of the campaign — a 30-second spot that largely sticks to pledges about cutting taxes, bolstering education and aiding the environment.

“This year’s elections are about values: Preserving our environment, educating our kids, and keeping them out of harm’s way,” Haber says in the ad. “We’ve got to do something about high taxes. We pay our fair share, but the burden of high taxes is crippling our families.”

This is Haber’s second bid for the Senate seat on Long Island that has become a key district for control of the chamber. Democrats expect to run competitive races in several Long Island Senate districts, mostly in Nassau County.

This seat is being vacated by Republican Sen. Jack Martins, who is running for Congress. Haber faces Flower Hill Mayor Elaine Phillips.

Enviro Dueling In SD-7

Republican state Senate candidate Elaine Phillips has been endorsed by the New York League of Conservation Voters.

But not to be outflanked on environmental issues, her Democratic rival for the open Senate seat, Adam Haber, released also on Monday a conservation platform.

Both Phillips and Haber are vying for a key Long Island Senate seat in Nassau County that’s being vacated by congressional hopeful Jack Martins.

The district is considered a swing seat and will likely be pivotal in deciding which party controls the chamber in 2017.

Haber, who is making a second run for the seat, released a list of policy proposal for the environment, including upgrading infrastructure, developing green job training, identify open space for solar farms and create a program for the safe disposal of medical waste.

“We have the ability to both protect our environment while also harnessing great economic opportunities to create good local green jobs on Long Island,” said Haber in a statement.

“We can’t sit back and let other regions and states beat us to the punch, and must be leaders in green technology. By working together we can take on climate change while creating cleaner and more affordable energy for working families and spur economic growth.”

Phillips, however, secured the nod from the NYLCV in her bid for the district with the group citing her tree planting program in the village of Flower Hill, where she is mayor.

“The environment will have a strong ally in Elaine Phillips,” said NYCLV President Marcia Bystryn. “We are particularly encouraged by her passion for improving the quality of drinking water and our local waterways. We are proud to endorse Elaine Phillips and we encourage Nassau County residents who care about clean water and environmental progress to vote for Elaine Phillips for State Senate.”