State Senate

After Primary Win, Murphy Hits Airwaves (Updated)

The subhead of this post: Do the Senate Republicans have a secret plan to groom a new generation of young voters by getting their parents to raise their allowance?

I joke – but only sort of.

Terrence Murphy, a Yorktown councilman and the preferred Senate GOP candidate to run for retiring Sen. Greg Ball’s seat, has released his first TV ad of the campaign since defeating his primary opponent, Assemblyman Bob Castelli, last week.

The ad features Murphy and his wife, Caroline, getting a campaign briefing from their two kids, daughter McKayla and son Jack. McKayla, dressed in a business suit, does all the talking. Her candidate dad doesn’t say a word. And the whole thing ends with a joke about raising the kids’ allowance – the second time a Senate GOP candidate’s offspring have made that pitch in a campaign spot. (The first was one of Sen. Jack Martins’ four daughters).

The Senate Republicans and their candidates are under fire this election cycle for the failure of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10-point Women’s Equality Act to pass in tact, thanks to GOP Leader Dean Skelos’ refusal to let it come to the floor for a vote with its abortion rights plank.

Obviously, the GOP has determined that the best way to address the women’s rights issue is to play up the fact that some of their candidates are the fathers of daughters, and therefore have a vested interest in this particular topic.

UPDATE: Apparently this “kids teaching you how to run a campaign” idea was also used by an Iowa US Senate candidate who lost a GOP primary in June – a point the Senate Democrats employed to slam Murphy. His campaign shrugged off the criticism, accusing the Democrats of trying to distract attention away from important topics.

Here’s the script of Murphy’s ad:

Daughter: Dad, we’ve put together a plan for your campaign for New York State Senate. First, keep cutting taxes. You did it here on the town council, now you can do it up in Albany. Second, make sure everybody knows how you kept dangerous chemicals out of our water. And third, raise our allowance.

Tkaczyk Loses Women’s Equality Line

Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk’s efforts to gain the Women’s Equality Party ballot line failed on Monday when a state Supreme Court judge invalidated nominating petitions submitted by her campaign.

Tkaczyk, a first-term Democratic lawmaker, faces Republican George Amedore, who she narrowly defeated in 2012.

“Cecilia Tkaczyk’s petitions were carried and signed by out-of district voters, who have no ties to the 46th Senate District, including pages upon pages from Brooklyn and the Bronx,” said Eileen Miller, a spokeswoman Amedore campaign. “Just because she votes like she represents the residents of New York City does not mean the residents of New York City can legally sign her nominating petitions. It’s shameful that she has such disregard for state election law and the people of her district.”

Tkaczyk spokesman Gary Ginsburg responded, saying the “bottom line” is that the incumbent continues to be a supporter for women’s right in the state Senate.

“George Amedore has again demonstrated his opposition to women’s rights and he should be ashamed of himself. He voted against equal pay for women every chance he got in the Assembly and opposes a woman’s right to choose even in cases of rape or if her life or health are in danger. The bottom line is that only one candidate in this race will fight to protect women’s rights and healthcare, and that’s Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk.”

The campaign had submitted 4,444 signatures to gain access to the ballot line, but a hearing officer of the state Board of Elections found 3,160 of those were invalid. Three-thousand signatures are needed to qualify for the independent line.

Tkaczyk isn’t the first incumbent Democrat to fail at gaining access to the Women’s Equality Party line: Rochester-area Sen. Ted O’Brien, another freshman Democrat, tried unsuccessfully to be added to the WEP ballot.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Democrats earlier this year formed the Women’s Equality Party as a way to boost vote totals in November and promote the women’s agenda, a 10-point omnibus package of bills with provisions aimed at pay equity, anti-human trafficking and housing discrimination.

The package has stalled in the state Senate due in large part to Republican opposition to a plank the is aimed at codifying Roe v. Wade in state law.

Tkaczyk did receive the Green Party ballot line last week through the opportunity-to-ballot process.

The Tkaczyk-Amedore rematch is considered one of the more closely contested races in the Legislature this year.

Haber Challenges Martins To Debate On Women’s Issues

Democratic Senate candidate Adam Haber on Monday challenged Republican incumbent Jack Martins to a debate on women’s equality, primarily over abortion rights.

The call for the debate comes as Martins has highlighted in the campaign his votes in favor of aspects of the 10-point women’s agenda and the state Senate’s passage of pay equity and anti-human trafficking legislation.

Republicans have, in turn, suggested Democrats who want to pass the entire plan — including a plank aimed at codifying Roe v. Wade — are blocking passage of bills that can become law.

“I am sick and tired of an anti-choice Senator twisting the facts on women’s equality, and quite frankly, the people of Long Island deserve better from an elected representative. The facts are that I am the only candidate in this race who supports full equality for women, and that Jack Martins and his Republican colleagues killed Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act not once but twice. I believe Nassau County voters deserve the truth on such an important issue, and I believe a debate is the proper forum for us to set the record straight,” Haber said in a statement.

This proposed debate on women’s issues would feature, presumably, two men. The Women’s Equality Party ballot line is being held predominantly by male candidates. There is only one woman running statewide this year: former Rep. Kathy Hochul, the running mate of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Venditto Releases 2nd Ad Slamming Denenberg (Updated)

For the second time this week, Republican state Senate candidate Michael Venditto is out with a new TV ad slamming his Democratic opponent and fellow Nassau County legislator, Dave Denenberg, as the battle for the Long Island seat vacated by former GOP Sen. Chuck Fuschillo heats up.

Both ads are negative, which offers some insight into the Republicans’ outlook on this race (and maybe their internal poll numbers?) They very much want to hold onto this seat – really, they need to retain if if they are to have any shot at taking back the majority. And the calculus has changed, with the Long Island contests now gaining higher importance, since Buffalo Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti’s surprise loss in Tuesday’s primary to attorney Kevin Stocker.

Ad No. 1 resurrected Denenberg’s 2005 guilty plea on petition fraud charges, saying he would “fit right in” with the culture of corruption in Albany. Ad No. 2, which is also running on cable stations in the district, is a bit more traditional, focusing on a tried-and-true GOP line of attack to which over-taxed Long Island residents are no doubt extra sensitive.

You can view the ad below. Here’s the script:

“Dave Denenberg was the deciding vote to raise property taxes 42 percent, to pass a multi-year plan to hike taxes an additional 16 percent, and to pass a tax on home heat and electricity, Deneberg think this qualifies him to be state senator. We already have too many state legislators who think higher taxes are the answer. We don’t need another one. Tell Dave Denenberg ‘no,’ because the last thing we need are higher taxes.”

This also seems like a response to the Denenberg campaign’s response to Venditto’s first ad, which accused the Republicans of trying to district voters from the “real issues” of property taxes, fee increases and budget deficits that – according to the Democrats – Venditto and his fellow Republicans both “supported and created.” They’re also playing the anti-woman card, which is the gameplan for pretty much all the Democratic state Senate candidates this fall.

Capital NY noted this morning that the Republicans are on the offensive and dredging up old convictions not just in this race, but also in the 60th SD (Grisanti’s seat), where they are reminding voters that the Democrat who emerged from Tuesday’s primary, Marc Panepinto, had his law license suspended for 30 days in 2001 after pleading guilty to falsely saying he witnessed voters sign nominating petitions.

Panepinto’s case was actually cited four years later by a Long Island court that suspended Denenberg’s law license after he pleaded guilty to a similar charge.

UPDATE: Venditto’s campaign manager Jeff Friedman emailed this statement:

“Michael Venditto is trying to distract voters from the fact that, on his first day in office, only weeks after Super Storm Sandy, he voted for unprecedented fee increases which were a back door tax hike on Nassau’s struggling families and small business owners who were not yet back in their homes and businesses.”

“No one in history raised fees/taxes more than Michael Venditto did on his first day in office. The reality is Venditto has allowed the county budget to be mired in debt to record amounts, forcing jobs off Long Island and making it even harder for South Shore families to remain here. The voters of this district can’t afford Michael Venditto in Albany.”

Watch Here >>

Hamilton Wasn’t Always Playing IDC Footsie

Jesse Hamilton, the Brooklyn Democrat who was victorious in his Senate primary to take the district vacated by now-Borough President Eric Adams, is not ruling out joining the Independent Democratic Conference.

And IDC members, including Staten Island Sen. Diane Savino, expect Hamilton to join their conference once the new legislative session is seated come January.

Hamilton’s spokesman, Nathan Smith, told City and State in a statement that a decision was yet to be made on which conference Hamilton will join.

“After November, Jesse will sit down with these partners and figure out how best to move forward in Albany on the issues that matter most to Brooklyn families: affordable housing, education, and stopping gun violence. One thing that should be crystal clear to everyone, Jesse Hamilton will certainly never vote for a Republican for Senate Majority Leader or any other Senate leadership position.”

But that wasn’t always the case.

In debates during his Democratic primary, Hamilton — who received support from the IDC during his campaign — ruled out joining the IDC.

“Definitely not,” he said during a debate on our sister station, NY1.

Hamilton also kept the IDC’s political action committee’s aid during the campaign at arm’s length.

“I’m not taking any money from the IDC,” he said, adding, “that was independent expenditure. We had nothing to do with that.”

And according to Capital New York, Hamilton pledged to the Tenant’s PAC he’d join the mainline conference.

It’s an interesting development that the IDC and mainline conference are still trying to make grabs for incoming members, considering the deal struck in June that would form a new majority coalition between the two Democratic factions in the state Senate, ending the agreement that kept Senate Republicans in power.

Of course, that agreement still needs to shake out after Election Day, when the composition of the Senate is more clear.

Martins’ 1st TV Ad Touts Equal Pay Vote

As further proof that women’s issues are going to dominate the general election debate in key Senate races, Long Island Republican Sen. Jack Martins has released his first TV ad of the 7th SD race, touting his support of an equal pay bill.

Martins has been under attack from his Democratic opponent, Adam Haber, for the Senate GOP’s refusal to allow Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s full 10-point Women’s Equality Act to come to the floor for a vote as a result of opposition to the abortion-rights plank.

In June, the Senate passed three of the act’s 10 bills - including an equal pay measure – and have accused their Democratic colleagues of holding these and other pieces of of the WEA hostage in their all-or-nothing effort to force the abortion issue. Martins said through a spokesman in June that protecting women from discrimination and sexual harassment “have nothing to do with expanding late-term and partial birth abortions and allowing non-doctors to perform abortions, which is why they should not be linked.”

That hasn’t stopped Haber, who has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice NY, from continuing to hammer away at Martins on this issue. And Martins is clearly feeling the pressure, as this ad demonstrates.

The ad features Martins’ wife and his four daughters. It started running on cable stations on Long Island last night, and the buy is “significant,” according to a source familiar with the senator’s campaign, though he did not provide any specifics. Here’s the script:

“I want to be a scientist.”

(Daughter 2): “I want to be a surgeon.”

(Daughter 3): “I want to be a chef.”

(Daughter 4): “I want to be a princess.”

“I’m Jack Martins. As the father of four girls, I understand the challenges facing women in the workplace. That’s why I voted to require businesses in New York to provide equal pay for women. Because they can be anything they want…and earn what they’ve deserve.”

(Daughter 2): “Does this mean you’re raising our allowance…?”

Tkaczyk Gets Green Party Ballot Line

Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk has received the Green Party’s ballot line in November through the opportunity-to-ballot process, her campaign announced.

Tkaczyk ran on the Green Party line in 2012, when she narrowly won her Senate seat against Republican George Amedore, a former state assemblyman who is running again for the district that stretches from the Mohawk Valley to the Hudson Valley.

Having that line helped in a race that she narrowly won, defeating Amedore by 18 votes.

In a statement on Wednesday, Tkaczyk highlighted her support for environmental causes and increasing the state’s minimum wage.

“I am very proud of the enthusiastic support I have received from members of the Green Party. My voting record in the Senate reflects their agenda — on issues ranging from the fight against fracking to women’s rights and raising the minimum wage for working families,” Tkaczyk said in a statement.

She also criticized Amedore’s support for allowing hydrofracking in the state, a natural gas drilling process that has largely been considered for the state’s Southern Tier region.

“By contrast my opponent supports fracking, opposes the right to choose as well as equal pay for women and has supported measures that encourage corporations to outsource jobs to other countries. His values are not good for New York, and certainly not good for the people of Upstate New York,” she said.

The Green Party is not historically thrilled with the notion of Democrats using the OTB process to get the ballot line, and often do not cross-endorse candidates.

Venditto: Denenberg Will ‘Fit Right In’ With Corrupt Albany Pols (Updated)

Now that the primary is officialy in the books, general election contests are heating up all over the state – including on Long Island, where Republican Michael Venditto is poised to release a hard-hitting ad that slams his Democratic opponent and fellow Nassau County legislator, Dave Denenberg, for his 2005 conviction on petition fraud charges and says he’ll “fit right in” with the string of Albany lawmakers busted on corruption charges.

Denenberg and Venditto are battling for the seat vacated by former Sen. Chuck Fuschillo. Venditto, an attorney and the son of Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, was unanimously nominated by local Republicans back in March over veteran Assemblyman Joseph Saladino.

The Republicans need to retain this seat if they are to have a shot at their goal of taking back the majority in November. But the Democrats are feeling very bullish about Denenberg, who they believe might be able to pull off an upset victory. In his past local races, Denenberg, who has been in office since 1999, has carried as much as 73 percent of the electorate in a district that was almost 47 percent Republican. (The dsitrict has since been redrawn, but remains heavily Republican).

The 8th Senatorial District had 82,385 active Democrats, 75,445 Repulicans and 48,050 blanks as of this past April, according to the state Board of Elections.

If this ad is any indication, the GOP is prepared to go all-out on this race. I believe this is Venditto’s second ad of the campaign, but the first wasn’t an attack spot. This new ad will be running on cable stations on Long Island.

UPDATE: Deneberg’s campaign manager Jeff Friedman sent the following response (the day after I posted this item):

“This is a desperate attempt by the Venditto campaign to distract voters from the real issues of property taxes, fee increases and the budget deficits that he and the Republicans supported and created. Venditto’s record of repeatedly raising fees and creating budget deficits by mismanaging money and his anti-women positions are unacceptable to residents of Nassau and Suffolk, and this ad only proves that he knows it. Dave Denenberg is the only candidate in this race who will fight for lower taxes, women’s equality and a real minimum wage increase, and nobody will fight harder than Dave Denenberg.”

Here’s the script for Venditto’s ad:

“Who will ever forget this picture? Dave Denenberg was accused of fraud and deceit. And his law license was suspended in New York and New Jersey after he pled guilty. Dave Deneberg believes this qualifies him to be state senator. There are already too many criminals in ALbany. We don’t need another. Tell Dave Denenberg ‘no,’ because Deneberg won’t change Albany, he’ll just fit right in.’”

Watch Here >>

SD60 Blame Game

The finger pointing is well underway over who is most to blame for Sen. Mark Grisati’s upset loss to his GOP opponent, attorney Kevin Stocker, in yesterday’s primary – a defeat that could have significant implications in the November battle for control of the Senate.

Heading into the primary, the Senate GOP didn’t seem terribly worried about Grisanti’s ability to win, especially since Stocker had challenged him in 2012 – when the fallout from the senator’s 2011 “yes” vote on same-sex marriage was still fresh – and failed to get very far, winning just 40 percent of the vote.

But Stocker got a very early start on this year’s campaign; he has been door knocking for well over a year now. And he also got some unexpected assistance from NYSUT’s political arm, which spent close to $300,000 on anti-Grisanti mailers and ads leading up to the primary, and Democrat Marc Panepinto, who ran TV ads suggesting Grisanti wasn’t sufficiently conservative to represent the 60th Senatorial District.

The convention wisdom is that the Democrats and their allies believed it would be easier to defeat Stocker than Grisanti in the general election, and so weighed in try to manipulate the GOP primary and get the candidate they preferred.

The unorthodox approach worked, and now there’s effectively a four-way race in the 60th with Grisanti on the Independence Party line and attorney Timothy Gallagher on the Conservative line, though he was believed to be a placeholder tapped by party leaders who wanted to wait to see how the GOP primary played out.

Grisanti hasn’t yet said whether he will continue campaigning on the Independence Party line in the general election, nor have the Senate Republicans issued any formal statement about the race. But the odds are that the risk-averse GOP, which has plenty of other races to worry about an invest in, is not going to waste much time on a candidate who lost the primary and is now in a four-way race that seems – on its face, at least – to be a losing proposition.

A Republican source familiar with Grisanti’s campaign insists his loss was not the fault of the Senate GOP, which did not run the senator’s campaign. Instead, Grisanti used his own campaign team, which included veteran GOP consultant Jack Cookfair. This source griped that Team Grisanti ran his campaign in a vacuum, refusing to take direction or share polling data with the powers-that-be in Albany. The senator did accept a last-minute offer of assistance about 48 hours prior to the primary, the source said, but by that time, the damage was already done.

The SRCC did see success in a primary campaign it ran for Terrence Murphy, the chiropractor and Yorktown councilman who was the conference’s preferred candidate to run for retiring Sen. Greg Ball’s seat in the Hudson Valley. Murphy easily defeated his primary opponent, Assemblyman Bob Castelli, winning 69 percent of the vote.

Grisanti’s Loss: A Boon For Democrats, Or A Temporary Bump For GOP?

Senate Democratic Campaign Committee Chairman Mike Gianaris was clearly pleased to see Sen. Mark Grisanti lose his Tuesday primary against the more conservative, less-well-known Kevin Stocker.

And the numbers don’t look good for Senate Republicans in the Buffalo district — adding only to their problems statewide in retaining control of the chamber.

Gianaris, phoning in to Susan Arbetter’s Capitol Pressroom radio show this morning, said the Grisanti loss turned a district that was promising in to one that is a likely pick up for his conference.

Noting that Democrats were divided in their choices two years ago against Grisanti — the conference backed Conservative Party candidate Chuck Swanick over Democrat Mike Amodeo — the situation this year is reversed, with Grisanti retaining the Independence line, but a Conservative Party candidate running sideways to Stocker.

“Things have completely reversed themselves this year,” Gianaris said.

Ever since Grisanti’s victory in 2010 helped flip the state Senate to Republican control, Democrats have been hungrily eyeing the Buffalo-area district which, like many Senate districts in New York, has a Democratic enrollment edge.

Stocker had some help from the state teachers union, which dumped a ton of cash into an effort to paint Grisanti as too liberal for Republican voters.

On paper, the Democrats look like they have an advantage at claiming this seat and in some respects is a parallel to the 2012 loss suffered by Sen. Stephen Saland, another GOP backer of same-sex marriage who lost a three-way race to Democrat Terry Gipson.

But this is western New York, which remains ever unpredictable.

Consider that Stocker, oddly enough, had sought the labor-backed Working Families Party ballot line, but it ultimately went to Democrat Marc Panepinto.

As Sen. John DeFrancisco, Syracuse Republican and chairman of the chamber’s Finance Committee put it in a subsequent interview with Arbetter, anything can still happen.

“I suspect Mark is going to stay on the Independence line and then it’s a four-way race,” DeFrancsico said.