State Senate

Felder Renews Call For Armed Guards In Schools

Sen. Simcha Felder renewed his call — for the second time in the last several weeks — for armed New York City police officers in schools following a shooting at a California elementary school that left five dead, including the gunman.

“An armed guard outside would have neutralized this insane attacker the moment he arrived,” said Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn who conferences with Senate Republicans. “It’s crucial that the students were in lockdown; but that is not the solution.”

Felder has made this call before, including earlier this month after a man killed eight people using a rental truck in New York City.

“New York public schools are protected by unarmed resource officers. But times have changed and the days of unarmed guards are over,” Felder said. “When a situation calls for immediate action, all they can do is call the police.”

The call so far has not been taken up, with officials citing the cost of staffing every school in New York City with a police officer.

DeFran Has Frustrations

Sen. John DeFrancisco isn’t pleased with the direction of the chamber.

His bills aren’t getting votes. The bills that do get votes are ones in which he has fundamental political disagreements.

These aren’t the gripes of a lawmaker confined to the minority or the back bench of the Legislature: DeFrancisco is the number two Republican in the Senate, the deputy majority leader.

In an interview on The Capitol Pressroom on Wednesday, the Syracuse Republican vented that his bill that had the aim of reforming the state’s procurement process — a measure Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t want to see approved — never got a vote.

“I’m frustrated with bills that make sense not getting on the floor for a vote,” he said.

The top-down nature of the Legislature in Albany has long frustrated lawmakers, even those with leadership titles. DeFrancisco, however, had sought the leadership post against Sen. John Flanagan, garnering support from a bloc of upstate lawmakers. He has not been shy to express his dissatisfaction with policy making since then.

DeFrancisco is still considering a run for governor next year and he insisted Wednesday he did not want to see the party enveloped in a primary for the nomination. The field for governor on the GOP side shrank this month with Rob Astorino’s loss in the Westchester County executive’s race.

Harry Wilson, a businessman and former member of President Obama’s auto industry task force, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb are also considering bids.

DeFrancisco said he will know by the end of December as to whether he’s going to run.

Spano Says He’s Considering Senate Bid

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in a phone interview Monday said he is considering running for the Senate seat being vacated by Westchester County Executive-elect George Latimer.

“In its early stages, it’s very early, there’s still a lot of conversation that has to happen,” he said. “It’s certainly something that I’m considering.”

Asked if he was the preferred candidate of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Spano said, “I haven’t gotten that sense.”

“I’m a big fan of the governor’s and I support his agenda,” he said. “I have not had a conversation with the governor. He is one of the people I would reach out to when I want to make a decision.”

Spano’s brother Nick held a neighboring seat in the chamber until 2006, when he was unseated by Andrea Stewart-Cousins, now the Senate minority leader.

But Spano, a former Republican turned Democrat, said he would support Stewart-Cousns as leader and push for a unified Democratic conference when asked about joining the Independent Democratic Conference. The IDC, a bloc of eight Democratic lawmakers, has come under pressure to form a new alliance with mainline Democrats in the Senate.

“My goal for us would be for us to have a unified Democratic caucus,” Spano said. “We have a lot of challenges presented to us by Washington. If I’m in the Senate, I would be supporting Senator Stewart-Cousins.”

Spano is term limited from seeking another four years as the mayor of Yonkers, a post he’s held since 2013, when he was elected out of the state Assembly.

Spano is not the only Democrat considering a run for the seat. Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, a Yonkers lawmaker, is also weighing a run. Kat Brezler, a White Plains teacher and Bernie Sanders supporter, is fundraising.

The suburban district includes parts of Yonkers and runs to the shore of Long Island Sound in Westchester. Spano said the next lawmaker does not have to come from Yonkers, but shoul be a “global perspective” for the district.

“Obviously I have previous experience at the state Capitol,” he said. “I’m a mayor of a local government and I know now first hand what the effects are both hand that can be felt in a city like Yonkers or one of the towns and villages.”

Brezler Sends Out Fundraising Email For Senate Bid

Democrat Kat Brezler on Monday released a fundraising email in her bid for the state Senate district being vacated by Westchester County-elect George Latimer.

“I am running because we need universal health care, we need to ensure a quality education for every child, and we need to create real campaign finance reform on the state level,” Brezler wrote in the email. “I am a public school teacher and a lifelong activist. I’m proud of what I have accomplished but I know to affect real and lasting change in our community, I have to demand our message be heard in Albany.”

Brezler is a teacher and a co-founder of People for Bernie, a pro-Bernie Sanders organization.

Her fundraising email comes as Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer has expressed an interest in running for the seat. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is also considered a potential candidate for the suburban district.

Should be a special election to replace Latimer, the party nominees would be selected by committee members rather than in an open primary. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is yet to schedule one.

Brezler signaled her campaign would have an outsider flavor.

“I’ll be taking on the corrupt political system who funds Democratic campaigns,” she wrote. “I need your help.”

Sources: Spano Potential Candidate Senate Candidate

From the Morning Memo:

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is a potential candidate for the state Senate that will be vacated by Democrat George Latimer at the end of the year, sources late last week said.

A Spano spokeswoman did not return messages seeking comment on the potential bid.

Spano is term limited from running for re-election as mayor. He had been considered a potential candidate for Westchester County executive, a post Latimer won last Tuesday, unseating two-term incumbent Rob Astorino.

Spano, a former Republican, served in the state Assembly.

His brother Nick Spano is a Republican former state senator-turned-lobbyist in Albany. He was unseated by now-Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Also considered in the mix for the Senate district are Democratic Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer and Kat Brezler, a People for Bernie founder and teacher.

Teachout Fundraises Off IDC, IDC Fires Back

Democratic former congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout released a fundraising email this morning slamming the Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate.

Teachout, who has pushed for a Democratic majority with campaign donations and in her public appearances, is raising funds for the political action committee, the Anti-Corruption League.

“The IDC is a group of eight New York State Senators who run for office as Democrats, but work with the Republicans to block progressive legislation,” she wrote in the email. “Along with ‘Democrat’ Senator Felder, who caucuses with the Republicans, these Senators hand control to the Republican minority. This is fundamentally corrupt and must change.”

Senate Republicans have a working majority in the chamber with the aid of Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat who conferences with GOP lawmakers. The IDC, however, remains a key bloc of votes in the Senate and its leader, Sen. Jeff Klein, is part of the budget negotiations.

IDC spokeswoman Candice Giove in a statement blasted Teachout in response.

“It is presumptuous and offensive for this so-called ‘Democrat,’ Zephyr Teachout, to assume constituents in Independent Democratic Conference districts are ill-informed and uneducated,” she said.

“This elitist thinking presumes that if they just inform unsophisticated voters they will vote their way. Ms. Teachout owes an apology to informed voters who made a choice to send those senators to Albany. It is a fundamental flaw of the Senate’s Democratic minority conference to continue to assume these voters are uneducated and they need to rethink these positions if they ever want to be in a majority.”

The state Senate next year will likely once again be a flash point in 2018 when all 213 seats in the Legislature are up for election.

Otis Won’t Seek Senate Seat

Democratic Assemblyman Steve Otis in a phone interview Thursday afternoon said he will not seek the Senate seat being vacated by Westchester County Executive-elect George Latimer.

“For me, and this is really the position I took a number of months ago, I’ve consistently said I am very eager to stay in the Assembly and continue to do well,” Otis said. “To switch houses would diminsh the ability of me to make a difference. That’s where my heart is and it hasn’t changed since Election Day.”

Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer told The USA Today Network on Thursday she was considering a run for the suburban Westchester County district, which includes parts of Yonkers and the Sound Shore area. Kat Brezler, a teacher and a co-founder of People for Bernie, a Bernie Sanders organization, is also a potential candidate for the seat.

Otis called Mayer “a great colleague, a very effective legislator.”

“She would be good, but we’ll have to see who the full mix of candidates are,” he said. “I am sure we will have a strong candidate and put together a strong campaign so that seat stays in good hands.”

The district has been long sought by Republicans and it has been the focus of several expensive races since a 2012 redistricting plan.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is yet to formally declare a special election for the seat.

Dems, GOP See Hope For Senate Control Next Year

Suburban politics will once again be a major factor in the battle for control of the state Senate.

That much Republicans and Democrats can agree on as they vie for control of the narrowly divided Senate chamber next year.

For Democrats, the victories in the county executive races in Westchester and Nassau counties by George Latimer and Laura Curran spell the potential for a wave next year. Republicans, however, see institutional and historic advantages: They generally pick up seats in a gubernatorial election year.

Democrats, potentially as early as March in a special election, will have to defend the seat being vacated by George Latimer, the county executive-elect in Westchester.

The seat was redrawn in 2012 by Republicans and designed with one GOP candidate in mind: Bob Cohen. But Latimer was able to hang on in a series of costly elections. Republicans in part hope that with Latimer out of the equation, the district will flip to the GOP side.

Sen. Mike Gianaris, the Democrat who chairs the conference’s fundraising efforts, expects the seat will stay in the Democratic column.

“This has made clear that the suburbs are the crest of the Democratic wave that’s moving throughout the country,” Gianaris said in an interview. “To see both Latimer and Curran win their county exec races means the typical Senate races in those areas are headed in our direction.”

Republicans hope to play offense with two seats held on Long Island by Democrats: Sens. Todd Kaminsky and John Brooks.

Kaminsky, elected to fill the chair held by disgraced former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, won a special election and won a full term in a presidential election year.

Brooks was narrowly elected and unseated a Republican lawmaker whose father had been arrested in a county corruption probe.

“Senate Republicans have strong records of achievement on issues that are critical to New Yorkers’ quality of life, such as good-paying jobs, tax relief, and protecting families from gang violence and terrorism,” said Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif. “Our Senators are strong, and as we have in the past two gubernatorial elections, we fully expect to grow our majority by winning seats in 2018.”

For Democrats, the seats they will target will include those districts held by Sens. Elaine Phillips, Carl Marcellino and Kemp Hannon. All three districts have been in the sights of Democrats before, but have been tough nuts to crack in previous election years.

Hanging over it all is the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference, which has grown in size over the last year. Senate Republicans maintain a numerical majority with the help of Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder who is not an IDC member.

Still, the IDC remains an important bloc in the Senate and has gone through cycles of pressure campaigns from liberal groups to form an alliance with mainline Democrats.

“This is not the time for Democrats to be empowering Republicans,” Gianaris said. “Hopefully those who are doing that see the writing on the wall and work with us.”

DeFran Has No Interest In LG Post

Sen. John DeFrancisco would rather stay as the deputy majority leader in the state Senate than run for lieutenant governor next year, he said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican, is considering a run for governor next year and plans to make a decision before the start of 2018, he told Fred Dicker on his Talk-1300 radio show earlier in the morning.

But he would not be tempted into taking the bottom half of the ticket as the running mate, potentially to a more moderate downstate nominee.

“I’m not interested in that at all, I’ve already told Ed Cox that,” he said.

DeFrancisco remains undecided on whether he would seek re-election to the state Senate should he fail to get the gubernatorial nomination. Much of his decision making over his political future could be clarified today based on whether Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is re-election.

Astorino, the party’s 2014 nominee for governor, is believed to be considering a second run against incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year.

“I think it would be probably very difficult for him to run,” DeFrancisco said of Astorino should he lose re-election to a third term.

DeFrancisco said he saw the political landscape in 2018 similar to the 1994 race that saw Cuomo’s father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, lose re-election to a little known state senator, George Pataki.

The difference, he agreed, was the backing from U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato that Pataki was able to ride into the Executive Mansion.

“I see a very similar situation now. People are upset. His manner of doing business is really just not appreciated on the left or on the right,” DeFrancisco said. “I don’t know who the Al D’Amato is this year, but there are probably a lot of people throughout the country who would like that to stop.”

Felder: Staff Every NYC School With Armed Officer

Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder is reviving a push to have armed police officers posted at every school in New York City following last week’s terrorist attack that killed 8 people.

“What are we waiting for?” said Felder, a Democrat who conferences with the Senate Republicans in Albany.

“We just had a terrorist plow through innocent people on a crowded bike path. Footsteps away were thousands of students walking straight into the carnage; what else has to happen before we realize times have changed?”

Such proposals have been made before, including in the form of a bill Felder introduce earlier this year, in the wake of security concerns and are considered unrealistic to fully carry out.

“The most effective solution is my proposed legislation to have a trained, armed, and courageous NYPD officer standing in front, guarding our children whenever they’re in school,” Felder said.

“Every school needs the protection of a hero like Police Officer Nash standing at its front door; it is time to give them what they need.”

The attack on a bike path was conducted near several schools in Manhattan, including the prestigious Stuyvesant High School.