State Senate

Jobs For NY Spends $323K On Senate Candidates

The latest filings with the state Board of Elections show the independent expenditure committee backed by New York City landlords has spent $323,782 on key upstate Senate races.

The filings show the group Jobs for New York is spending $35,190 on radio ads for Republican Sue Serino, who is running against Democratic Sen. Terry Gipson in the Hudson Valley.

Next door in the 40th Senate district, the group is spending $56,810 on radio ads for Republican Terrence Murphy, who is running for open Senate seat against Democrat Justin Wagner.

Jobs For New York is also investing $67,500 in a digital media campaign for Serino, Murphy and Republican former Assembly George Amedore, who is running in a rematch against Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk.

And the group is spending $10,400 on calls in the Amedore and Serino races.

Jobs for New York is backed by the Real Estate Board of New York. A filing posted last week showed the group in the last three weeks has spent $1.4 million backing Republican Senate candidates.

Cuomo Stars In Final NYLCV Push For Grisanti

The New York League of Conservation Voters is beginning its final push for Sen. Mark Grisanti, with a media and mail blitz that prominently features Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The expectation the group will ultimately spend at least $600,000 on the state Senate race.

Meanwhile this week, the group received a $200,000 contribution from the Independent Democratic Conference’s political action committee — bringing its total spending for the league’s efforts to $350,000.

The NYLCV on Thursday is releasing a new television ad — which mentions Cuomo twice and features his image.

In the 30-second commercial, Grisanti is praised for supporting the creation of a medical marijuana program as well as a ban on toxic chemicals in children’s toys.

The spot also reminds voters that Grisanti is on the Independence Party ballot line after losing the Republican primary last month to Kevin Stocker.

“When working families in Buffalo needed a real jobs plan for Buffalo, we always knew where to find Mark Grisanti, who Gov. Cuomo thanked for his leadership on UB2020 — and that’s why we thought we’d help you find Mark Grisanti on the ballot,” the ad’s narrator says. “Yup, 11E, in the Independence column starting with Governor Cuomo. Independence does exist, you just have to know where to look for it.”

In addition to the TV ad, the League of Conservation Voters reported a $100,966 mail campaign on Grisanti’s behalf.

The mailer calls on voters to “support the home team” of Cuomo, his running mate Kathy Hochul and Grisanti.

Cuomo’s picture is featured on the mailer and features a quote from the governor praising Grisanti.

The governor was endorsed by the NYLCV previously, but his appearance in the pro-Grisanti push is interesting, given his ties to Buffalo, alliance with Grisanti and stated support for a Democratic Senate.

Cuomo is yet to say whether he’ll endorse Grisanti, the last remaining Republican in the state Senate to have supported the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2011. Grisanti also backed Cuomo’s signature gun-control law, the SAFE Act.

Nevertheless, Cuomo has stepped up his criticism in recent days of the New York State United Teachers union, which is supporting Grisanti’s Democratic opponent, Marc Panepinto through its VOTE-COPE political action committee.

Cuomo allies have been funding the League of Conservation Voters’ independent expenditure campaign including Laurence Rockefeller.

In addition to its support from the IDC, the group has received a $350,000 contribution from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Speculation grew earlier last month that Grisanti would join the IDC if he wins next week after it was reported he met with the breakaway conference’s leader, Sen. Jeff Klein.

Grisanti was endorsed by Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, but the conference’s campaign committee did not transfer any money to Grisanti’s campaign.

Grisanti Mailer by Nick Reisman

Tkaczyk, Amedore Trade Barbs Over Outside Spending

From the Morning Memo:

The race for the 46th Senate district in the Mohawk and Hudson valleys is already one of the most expensive.

And it is drawing a lot of outside attention.

Tkaczyk, a freshman lawmaker, has been blasted by Republicans for having help from Friends of Democracy, a super PAC funded by Jonathan Soros, the son of liberal financier George Soros that is bent on creating a system of publicly financed campaigns.

George Soros himself has maxed out to Tkaczyk this month, as did a second son, Robert Soros.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is focusing on a handful of upstate Senate races this year, and the 46th district is no exception.

Now the Tkaczyk campaign is pushing back against the outside spending criticism, pointing to Amedore’s support from the Real Estate Board of New York, which is pouring thousands into an IE campaign called Jobs For New York.

Her campaign is pointing to votes Amedore took as a state assemblyman, including against bills aimed at helping mortgage-paying homeowners, as being on the side of wealthy landlords.

“George Amedore’s priorities have nothing to do with the needs of the 46th Senate District and his extremist record proves where his true loyalties lie,” said spokesman Jim Plastiras. “When he had to choose between helping struggling middle class families and businesses or working against them, George voted every time to benefit his own interests and his wealthy real estate friends in New York City. George Amedore should be ashamed of himself.”

Senate Dems Giving for the Cause

From the Morning Memo:

The so-called “regular” Senate Democrats entered this election cycle at a financial disadvantage, trailing the Republicans by several million dollars, though – for the first time in years – they were debt free.

That was largely thanks to the fundraising efforts to DSCC Chair Mike Gianaris, of Queens, who has personally kicked in $135,000 to the conference kitty since last January.

A number of Democrats who don’t have to worry about re-election this fall (either because they face weak challengers or no challengers at all) are contributing their campaign cash to the effort to win back the majority.

That includes Sen. Andrea-Stewart-Cousins, who (assuming the current state of affairs holds, which isn’t actually a safe assumption) could become majority leader, depending on how things shake out on Nov. 4. The Yonkers lawmaker has given the DSCC $127,500 over the past 10 months.

Other members of the conference who have been contributing to the case include a number of the usual suspects – Manhattan Sen. Liz Krueger ($40,000, though she also is giving to individual candidates through her No Bad Apples PAC), Brooklyn Sen. Daniel Squadron ($48,000), Albany-area Sen. Neil Breslin ($50,000), and Bronx Sen. Gustavo Rivera ($30,000, he can afford to be generous after winning the September primary).

Coming in at No. 3 on the giving list is a new face – freshman Democrat, Manhattan Sen. Brad Hoylman, who ponied up $52,000.

Hoylman, who won a primary in 2012 to replace retiring Sen. Tom Duane in the chamber, has been an outspoken reformer intent on trying to re-make the conference and help it shed its post-coup reputation for corruption and dysfunction.

The fact that all but one (conservative Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.) of the key players from the 2009 leadership crisis are gone has been a big selling point for the Senate Dems as they seek to re-take control of the chamber.

Of course, the Republicans are trying their best to remind voters of the downstate-dominated conference’s short-lived and rocky tenure in the majority.

Grisanti’s Daughter Comes To His Defense

Sen. Mark Grisanti, who, like other Republican incumbents and first-time candidates across the state, is under fire from Democrats and their allies in women’s rights advocacy organizations for failing to support the full Women’s Equality Act, has tapped his daughter, Theresa, to defend his record.

A WNY SoP reader forwarded a robocall he received from Theresa Grisanti, (who I believe is 26), who insists her father has “been there for all women in New York State” and “will continue to fight for women’s equality” if re-elected on Nov. 4.

Grisanti, like his GOP colleagues, opposes the abortion rights plank of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, but voted “yes” on the nine remaining planks when they were brought to the floor as stand alone bills. Nevertheless, the senator’s opponents – most notably NYSUT – have been casting him as anti-woman. Grisanti is one of a handful of Republicans in hotly contested districts targeted by a mailer paid for by NYSUT’s political arm that features a graphic image of a domestic violence victim.

Democrats like Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz have deemed the mailer “disgusting,” and called on Grisanti’s Democratic opponent, Marc Panepinto, to repudiate it. Grisanti himself has called for an apology. (So far, that has not been forthcoming; NYSUT remains unapologetic about the mailer, and Panepinto’s campaign has sought to distance the candidate from it, while also not decrying its existence).

Theresa Grisanti notes in her call that her father is running on the Independence Party line next month. He lost the GOP primary in September to attorney Kevin Stocker.

Here’s the robocall script:

“Hi, my name is Theresa Grisanti, and I’m calling to tell you about my dad, Mark Grisanti. He has always been there for me, and he has been there for all women in New York State.

My dad voted for women’s equality in Albany. He voted for equal pay for equal work. He voted to increase penalties for human trafficking, and he voted to make sure no women ever has to put up with harassment in the workplace.

I know my dad, and I can promise you, he will continue to fight for women’s equality.

I hope you will join me on Election Day, November 4th, and vote for my dad, Mark Grisanti, on Row 11 E. Thank you.”

In SD-46, The Deluge Of Mail Continues

Voters in the 46th Senate district continue to receive an avalanche of mail from the campaigns of Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk and her Republican rival, former Assemblyman George Amedore.

All told, one household in the district received 15 mailers in recent weeks for the one state Senate campaign. The mail was paid for by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee as well as the state party, along with Republican state committee mail and labor-backed mailers.

A lot of the mail from the Democratic side focuses on Tkaczyk’s support for the full women’s agenda and bashes Amedore for not backing the full 10-point plan (He opposes the abortion plank that would codify Roe v. Wade in state law).

One mail piece from Amedore’s campaign, for instance, plays loose with the facts. The mailer claims Tkaczyk is “rolling out the red carpet to illegal immigrants” through backing the Dream Act as well as a measure that would allow undocumented immigrants voting rights and the ability to collect welfare.

Tkaczyk has voted in favor of the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants access to tuition assistance. But the claim that Tkaczyk supports Sen. Gustavo Rivera’s measure to allow undocumented migrants voting privileges in some cases as well as the ability to collect welfare is outright false. Tkaczyk in a statement back in September said she was opposed to the measure after The New York Post first amplified the “New York Is Home” bill.

A more truthful attack is one that paints Tkaczyk has having taken money from “NYC special interests” including Jonathan Soros’ super PAC that supports the public financing of political campaigns. That attack, of course, ignores the flood of money from the Real Estate Board of New York backing Amedore’s campaign.

In a more positive note, Amedore has a mailer geared toward seniors, with pledges to restore STAR rebates, scuttle an energy tax once and for all, and pump up funding for the EPIC prescription drugs program.

On the Democratic side, a mailer takes Amedore to task for backing tax hikes and education funding cuts, all of which were part of larger budget packages.

Here’s a sampling of the mail.

Tkaczyk Will Vote Against Redistricting Amendment

From the Morning Memo:

When Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk enters the voting booth next week, she plans to vote against the amendment designed to change the state’s redistricting process.

“I am not voting for it, I’m voting no,” she said in a Capital Tonight interview. “It was one of the first bills I actually voted on when I finally got seated and I found it very ironic here I was in a gerrymandered district that had been drawn by for Republican Party and here I was voting for this and I stood up and said I don’t support this because it enshrines our gerrymandered districts in the constitution and it’s not an independent panel.”

Tkaczyk, a freshman Democrat running a hotly contested race against Republican former Assemblyman George Amedore, has often called herself the poster-child for redistricting reform.

The Senate district she represents stretches from the Mohawk Valley down through the Hudson Valley and was added two years ago essentially for Amedore.

The redistricting measure is aimed at changing the process to allow for a lawmaker-appointed panel to draw the boundaries rather than have state lawmakers do it themselves directly.

The proposal has split good-government groups. Citizens Union says the proposal has enough safeguards built in to be an effective reform, while also being the best shot at changing the system in decades.

But other groups, like Common Cause, say the amendment is anything but a reform for the better since it still vests power in state lawmakers.

NYSUT’s VOTE-COPE Spends $463K For Senate Dems

The political action committee of the New York State United Teachers union on Monday spent $463,840 on behalf of Senate Democratic candidates and incumbents, Board of Elections records show.

The filing shows NYSUT’s VOTE-COPE independent expenditure committee spent $96,271 on mailers and polling in support of Democratic Sen. Terry Gipson in the Hudson Valley and opposing his Republican opponent, Sue Serino.

In Buffalo, the group announced spending $125,000 on TV ads shoring up Democrat Marc Panepinto, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti. The group also announced a combined $38,890 on mailers opposing Grisanti’s re-election as well as backing Panepinto.

NYSUT has garnered some controversy in the 60th Senate district. The group opposed Grisanti’s primary race by painting him as a supporter of tax hikes and this month NYSUT was blasted for mailers with images depicting a battered woman. Grisanti today called on the group to apologize for the mailers.

On Long Island, NYSUT spent $145,000 in TV ads opposing Tom Croci, the Republican running for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Lee Zeldin. He faces Democrat Adrienne Esposito.

In another open Senate seat in the Hudson Valley, NYSUT reported spending a combined $96,132 backing Democrat Justin Wagner and opposing Republican Terrence Murphy. The two candidates are competing for the seat held by Republican Sen. Greg Ball, who is leaving the Senate this year.

Grisanti Calls For Apology Following NYSUT Mailer

Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti is calling for an apology from the president of the New York State United Teachers union on Monday following bipartisan outrage over a mailer that depicts a victim of domestic violence.

The mailer has been denounced by Republicans, but also by Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz who called it “horrible.”

The mail piece was funded by NYSUT’s VOTE-COPE was aimed at calling attention to the stalled Women’s Equality Act, which includes a provision aimed at curtailing domestic violence. Grisanti backs that measure, but is opposed to an abortion plank in the package which is aimed at codifying Roe v. Wade in state law.

A near replica of the mailer is also being circulated downstate in the 40th Senate District aimed at Republican Terrence Murphy, who is seeking the Senate seat held by outgoing Republican Sen. Greg Ball.

Grisanti, in a letter to NYSUT President Karen McGee called the mailer’s intent “disgusting.”

“The depiction of a battered woman for political gain is not only improper and insensitive, but an exploitation of survivors of domestic violence,” he wrote in the letter.

Grisanti adds NYSUT should apologize to women and to survivors of domestic violence.

Pro-Charter School Groups Shore Up Martins, Funke And Murphy

Two groups funded by wealthy supporters of charter schools continued to spend heavily in contested Senate races over the weekend.

Balance New York reported spending $68,364 on mailers opposing the re-election of Rochester-area Sen. Ted O’Brien and the campaign of Democratic hopeful Justin Wagner.

O’Brien faces Republican Rich Funke next week, while Wagner is competing for an open seat against Republican Terrence Murphy.

A second group, New Yorkers For A Balanced Albany, reported spending $120,397 in ad production for the Long Island race between Sen. Jack Martins and Democrat Adam Haber.

Balance New York reported spending a combined $649,957, while New Yorkers For A Balanced Albany spent $2.5 million during the most recent fundraising period.

The groups are funded in part by hedge fund managers Paul Singer, Julian Robertson and Louis Bacon, all of whom have supported charter schools expansion.

Robertson gave New Yorkers For A Balanced Albany the bulk of its money, $1 million.