Gillibrand Emails For Schneiderman

AG Eric Schneiderman is getting a boost in the final weeks of the general election campaign from New York’s junior US senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, who says a win by the Republicans next month would be “simply unacceptable.”

An email blast going out later this morning focuses on abortion rights – a wedge issue the Democratic candidates from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on down are again using to blast their GOP opponents in this Democrat-dominated state.

Gillibrand calls Schneiderman a “lifelong pro-choice advocate” and “the ONLY (her emphasis) candidate for Attorney General who represents the values of New York women, especially when it comes to reproductive rights.”

“As a public interest lawyer, Eric defended reproductive health clinic workers,” the senator wrote. “As a state senator, he led efforts to pass the Clinic Anti-Violence Act and a law requiring emergency contraception to be made available to victims of sexual assault.”

“As attorney general, he successfully fought to protect and expand buffer zones around health clinics so that families would be safe from intimidation and harassment.”

“And in response to the Supreme Court’s troubling Hobby Lobby ruling this year, Eric proposed the Reproductive Rights Disclosure Act to force employers to disclose to women if they plan to change their contraception coverage.”

“We need an attorney general who unequivocally supports a woman’s right to choose, and Eric is the only candidate in this race who meets that basic standard.”

Schneiderman’s Republican challenger, former Pataki administration official John Cahill, is a practicing Catholic who is personally opposed to abortion and has expressed opposition to the abortion rights plank of Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act.

But Cahill has also pledged to uphold the law regarding abortion if he’s elected attorney general on Nov. 4, as well as any other potentially controversial laws – including same-sex marriage.

Gillibrand’s email does not specifically mention Cahill by name.

NRCC Invests In Hayworth (Updated)

As the closely watched NY-18 race enters its final weeks and continues to tighten, the NRCC is entering the fray on behalf of Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth, who is trying to win back the seat she lost to Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney two years ago.

The NRCC is out with what I believe its its first TV ad on Hayworth’s behalf. It’s a positive spot (no word yet on how long it will run or the size of the buy), that features a Democrat who crossed party lines to back the former GOP congresswoman.

Democratic Dutchess County Legislator Gwen Johnson, of Poughkeepsie, narrates the ad and is prominently featured in it. She calls Hayworth “loving,” “kind” and “not a typical politician,” making no mention of Maloney.

Maloney has been touting his support from local Republicans in NY-18, including state Sen. Bill Larkin, who appeared in a web video calling the congressman a “decent, honest gentleman” and lauding his work on behalf of the district’s veterans.

A September Siena poll found Maloney leading Hayworth by 8 percentage points.

But an internal poll conducted for the Hayworth campaign earlier this month – the results of which have not been disputed by Team Maloney – showed the race as a statistical dead heat, with just four percentage points separating the two candidates.

The DCCC recently reallocated resources from other races in the state to assist Maloney in an attempt to prevent his ouster next month.

UPDATE: The NRCC makes clear that this isn’t an independent expenditure, but rather coordinated funds (of about $93,000, and usually coming in the form of TV ads) that has been made available to a variety of GOP House candidates, including: John Katko (NY-24), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Chris Gibson (NY-19) and Sen. Lee Zeldin (NY-1).

Here’s the NRCC ad script:

Johnson: “Nan is not a typical politician. She is loving. She is kind. She is supportive. Nan is a public servant. She’s always responsive; she’s only a phone call away.

Nan is a genuine person, and she actually really does care for our seniors, the working families. She’s always here. That’s why I’m supporting her.

I’m a Democrat, I’m supporting Nan Hayworth because we have to cross party lines for the best person.

Hayworth: I’m Nan Hayworth, and I approve this message.”

NYLCV Hits Airwaves For Grisanti, Announces Statewide Slate

With just two weeks remaining until Election Day, the New York League of Conservation Voters is poised to announce its third and final top priority candidate: Sen. Mark Grisanti.

The League is launching a new TV ad on behalf of the Western New York Republican, which highlights the fact that he is no longer running on the GOP line after losing his own party’s primary to attorney Kevin Stocker, and instead will appear solely on the Independence Party line.

Grisanti joins two other candidates – Democratic freshman Sen. Ted O’Brien, of Rochester, facing off against Republican Richard Funke; and Andrienne Esposito, a Democratic environmental activist who running against GOP Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci for the Long Island seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Lee Zeldin – as the NYLCV’s top priority candidates this season.

The League also went all in for Queens Sen. Tony Avella, a member of the IDC, in his successful campaign against his Democratic primary opponent, former NYC Comptroller John Liu.

The NYLCV is on track to spend $700,000 worth of independent expenditures to assist candidates on both sides of the aisle this year – more than double the $300,000 it spent in 2012.

That cash goes to cover mailers, TV ads, GOTV campaigns and door-to-door canvasses for its priority candidates.

The NYLCV has two ads out for O’Brien – a negative spot that slams Funke; and a positive spot that focuses on O’Brien’s support for the Child Safe Products Act, which made it out of the Senate Environmental Committee and had enough sponsors to pass, but never got to the floor for a full house vote.

The League’s main goal is to defend allies who advance its agenda in the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, which Grisanti chairs. O’Brien is the committee’s ranking member.

The NYLCV is also announcing its support of the re-election campaigns of two statewide Democrats – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

When it comes to the state attorney general’s race, however, the League is splitting the baby, taking the unusual step of endorsing both candidates: Incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman and Republican John Cahill.

Here’s the Grisanti ad:

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 9 a.m., to publicize the start of registrations for Internet addresses in the “.nyc” top-level domain, Manhattan BP Gale Brewer rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange; enter at security checkpoint, NYSE, Exchange Place and Broad Street, Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., GOP LG candidate and Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss joins GOP Rep. Tom Reed for a conference call with the news media covering NY-23.

Also at 9:30 a.m., tipped and low-wage workers and advocates will rally outside a Domino’s Pizza in Harlem before marching to the second public hearing of Cuomo’s Wage Board, 409 W. 125th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Sen. Ted O’Brien will receive the endorsement New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and former Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard, O’Brien campaign HQ, 1150 University Ave., Building 5, Rochester.

Also at 10 a.m., multiple local law enforcement organizations and the National Association of Police Organizations endorse Republican NY-24 candidate John Katko, Forman Park, ​​East Genesee Street, Syracuse.

At 10:30 a.m., Cuomo’s Wage Board holds its second public hearing, art gallery, second floor, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, 163 W. 125th St., Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill is a guest on “Live from the state Capitol with Fred Dicker,” Talk 1300 AM.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo and VP Joe Biden discuss infrastructure modernization, Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, William Decota Hangar, 8601 23rd Ave., Flushing, Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement related to Hurricane Sandy recovery, 12-06 Cross Bay Blvd., Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., Cahill, joined by GOP state Senate candidate Joe Dillon, discusses his plan to combat heroin addiction, 44 South Broadway, White Plains.

At noon, LG Bob Duffy delivers remarks at the RTS Transit Center ribbon cutting ceremony, RTS Transit Center, 60 St. Paul St., Rochester.

Also at noon, Grannies For Peace and Women Against War will join Assemblyman Phil Steck for a conference on the “Ground the Drones” initiative, Legislative Office Building, LCA Press Room, Albany.

Also at noon, Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul tours the Three Brothers Winery with local business owners, 623 Lerch Rd., Geneva, Seneca County.

At 12:50 p.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on Long Island News Radio with host John Gomez.

At 1 p.m., Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and state Education Commissioner John King will address the media on the Board of Regents decision on multiple pathways to graduation, Room 146, state Education Building, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 1:45 p.m., Hochul visits The Athenaeum with local officials, 150 East Genesee St., Skaneateles, Onondaga County.

At 2 p.m., Biden will attend a rally for Democratic NY-24 Rep. Dan Maffei at the Landmark Aviation Hangar, Syracuse.

At 2:30 p.m., Onondaga County Comptroller and GOP state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci interviews with the Rochester Business Alliance and Unshackle Upstate, Rochester.

At 3 p.m., Hochul, joined by state Sen. David Valesky, tours The Cottages at Garden Grove, 5460 Meltzer Court, Cicero, Onondaga County.

At 4 p.m., Moss meets with the editorial board of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester.

Also at 4 p.m., de Blasio holds a hearing on Int. 466-A (in relation to the speed limit reduction) and Int. 295-A (related to transportation benefits), Blue Room, City Hall.

Also at 4 p.m., Steve Meyer, 146th AD candidate; Elaine Altman, 61st SD candidate; and NARAL Pro-Choice NY President Andrea Miller hold a press conference, Meyer campaign HQ, 3356 Sheridan Dr., Amherst.

At 5 p.m., the Women4Serino Committee will join County Legislator and 41st state Senate District candidate Sue Serino for an Equality for Women Now rally, Cosimo’s Restaurant, 120 Delafield St., Poughkeepsie.

At 6:30 p.m., Moss attends and delivers remarks at the Corning Republican Dinner, Union Hall, 100 Nasser Civic Center Plaza, Corning.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Astorino will host a Staten Island Town Hall, Cespino Russo American Legion Post, 200 McLean Ave., Staten Island.

At 8:30 p.m., Astorino will attend the Pleasant Plains, Prince’s Bay, Richmond Valley Civic Association Meet the Candidates Night, CYO Community Center at Mount Loretto, 6450 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo may have violated state criminal and ethics laws by using his public position and employees to promote his newly published autobiography, a sworn complaint filed by Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin with JCOPE charges.

Donald Trump, whose casinos crapped out in Atlantic City, predicted New York’s new upstate casinos will generate excitement in the short term, but ultimately “go down the tubes” because the Northeast gaming market is saturated.

“Is he a son of a bitch at times? Yeah,” one of the governor’s Albany allies says. “He is a mechanic; he works on cars as a hobby, fixes engines. And in politics he moves the process forward. You don’t love Andrew Cuomo. But there hasn’t been a better governor, not in the last 50 years.”

Two top deputies of Mayor de Blasio, who campaigned on creating a new era of government openness, commonly use their personal Gmail accounts to discuss city-related issues. First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and director of intergovernmental affairs Emma Wolfe routinely communicate via their private email addresses.

New York students would be able to use an exam in culinary arts, welding, accounting and other trades to meet one of their graduation requirements under a plan expected to be approved today by the state Board of Regents.

NYC officials and leaders from the Municipal Labor Committee — a group that represents more than 300,000 public employees — will meet today to discuss the city’s plan for battling Ebola.

A Manhattan woman who last week admitted to committing fraud when she helped two Republican candidates get on a new anti-Common Core ballot line may have done the same thing in at least two other races.

More >

Astorino: Cuomo Will Be ‘Challenged’ In Debate

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino said on Sunday he plans to directly challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in this Wednesday’s debate.

But he added Cuomo will have something of an advantage, given the presence of Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Libertarian candidate Michael McDermott on the debate stage as well.

“The governor is going to be challenged for the first time,” Astorino told reporters during a swing through Saratoga County on Sunday. “And unfortunately, it’s not a one on one debate because he’s a coward, he’s afraid of debating me one on one because he would have to defend the indefensible.”

Astorino has pushed Cuomo repeatedly for a televised one-on-one debate with Cuomo.

The governor’s campaign jumped on two debate invitations: One with public television in Buffalo featuring all the candidates, plus a radio debate in New York City with just Astorino.

Astorino said today the format allows Cuomo to skate by without much time on camera.

“But you know, he set it up this way, so all four candidates will be on stage and he’s just got to figure out how he can get off stage in 12 minutes of speaking,” Astorino said. “That’s all he wants to do. He does not want to talk to the people in the state, he doesn’t want to look at them in the eye.”

Cuomo, for his part, has called the debate over the debates a “baloney” issue and contended the forums accepted by his campaign are strike a good balance.

Astorino, nevertheless, knocked Cuomo for traveling to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico while not campaigning in the state.

“He’d rather be in the Caribbean than actually be in New York,” Astorino said. “And, you know, he’s got no vision for a second term, he’s under investigation, he’s got a criminal defense team. So I understand why he doesn’t want to speak to the people of this state, but he has a responsibility to do so.”

Four years ago, the gubernatorial debate descended into something of a farce, with all the candidates appearing on the ballot given a chance to participate.

The debate’s break-out star was Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is 2 Damn High party, who stole the show and subsequently became a viral video character.

McMillan is not on the ballot this year.

Still, having the debate descend into a circus is something Astorino would like to avoid as he would likely want to have the focus placed on him and Cuomo.

The most recent Quinnipiac University poll showed him 20 percentage points behind Cuomo and he continues to lag the governor in fundraising.

The Weekend That Was

President Obama’s selection to lead the administration’s Ebola response drew both praise and criticism from guests on the Sunday morning political shows.

A Dallas hospital lab worker who spent much of a cruise holiday in isolation after possible exposure to Ebola, has tested negative for the disease, Carnival Cruise Lines said.

Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Syracuse tomorrow for a campaign rally with Democratic NY-24 Rep. Dan Maffei will be open to the public with no tickets required. Biden will also appear with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York City for an event to discuss infrastructure modernization.

The Poughkeepsie Journal endorsed Democratic freshman Sen. Terry Gipson.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer’s “relentless” lobbying helped keep the Bills in Buffalo. Had the team departed, “it would have been a dagger to the heart and the soul of the city,” he said.

A newly created database of New Yorkers deemed too mentally unstable to carry firearms has grown to roughly 34,500 names, a previously undisclosed figure that has raised concerns among some mental health advocates that too many people have been categorized as dangerous.

Former NYC Health Commissioner Thomas Farley argues a travel ban from Ebola-stricken African countries could put Americans at even greater risk.

…Rep. Pete King disagrees, but the president agrees.

Welcome back on camera Bill Carey!

While underdog Republican Rob Astorino criss-crosses the state in a desperate hunt for votes, Cuomo is running out the clock until Election Day — a Rose Garden strategy on steroids.

In a state with twice as many Democrats as Republicans, Cuomo and his party have attempted to use social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage against his GOP opponent in advance of Election Day, Nov. 4 — and public-opinion polls suggest the strategy may be working.

Hollywood moguls love Cuomo.

Sen. Tim Kennedy explained the wisdom behind his very successful primary strategy of courting African American voters who rejected him two years ago.

Republicans are questioning the timing and movement of more than $600,000 in funds they are characterizing as legally excessive contributions to Kathy Hochul’s Democratic primary campaign for lieutenant governor.

The NY Post’s Bob McManus calls Cuomo and de Blasio “two childlike chief executives — elected to look after the best interests of millions of New Yorkers, yet unable to keep their own tempers, their own promises or even their own schedules.”

Fracktivists rallied this weekend in Buffalo.

The DN pans Democratic NY-11 candidate Domenic Recchia, calling him “not the swiftest gazelle on the savanna.”

Astorino reached out to Hispanic voters at a campaign stop in Glen Cove Saturday. Switching back and forth between English and Spanish, he said: “I am a ciudadano de Nassau – a citizen of Nassau – because I’m spending so much time here.”

Cuomo’s relationship with some Latino leaders took a turn for the worse this year, when the state Legislature didn’t pass the Dream Act.

All told, Maffei has received 83 percent of his $2.3 million in contributions from political action committees and individuals living outside NY-24.

Phil Reisman was not terribly impressed by Cuomo’s new memoir.

A Greek Orthodox church crushed on 9/11 is finally being resurrected. More here.

Sen. Lee Zeldin, who’s challenging Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in NY-1, delivered the Republican response to Obama’s weekly address this weekend.

While much of the attention in this year’s legislative races has focused on the closely divided state Senate, the Assembly has its own dramas — albeit in a limited number of competitive contests.

De Blasio will headline a fund-raiser for state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli this Tuesday.

RIP Ned Regan, a Buffalo Republican who knew little about high finance when he became the New York State comptroller, but soundly managed billions in public pension funds and monitored hundreds of municipalities and state agencies for 14 years. He died at the age of 84.

After Caribbean Swing, Cuomo Plans Bronx Rally

After a campaign swing through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will appear at a rally in the Bronx on Sunday, according to an invitation to the event.

The rally is planned at Hostos Community College, with doors opening at 1:45.

Cuomo traveled to the Dominican Republic on Thursday and met with the country’s president on Friday.

The governor pledged to return to the country should he win a second trip as he focuses on trade missions overseas.

Cuomo rarely stepped out of New York during his first term, but now plans to travel heavily in the second term, with trips to China, Italy and Mexico being considered.

That same day, he traveled to Puerto Rico and received the endorsement of the governor there.

The trips signal an aggressive courting of the Hispanic community back in here in New York. In the Dominican Republic, he made a point of praising the growing influence of native-born Dominican lawmakers in New York (Cuomo was in both the Dominican and in Puerto Rico with a contingent of elected officials who traveled separately).

Cuomo’s Republican rival, Rob Astorino, has criticized the trips, saying the governor should be focusing on Hispanic neighbors in New York.

Bronx Rally Invite by Nick Reisman

Following Cuomo Endorsements, Skelos Throws Some Shade

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos waded into some rare waters on Saturday as he criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for backing a trio of Democrats running in key state Senate races this fall.

The endorsements of Sens. Cecilia Tkaczyk and Terry Gipson and candidate Justin Wagner come after the governor also backed Democrat Adrienne Esposito, who hopes to win an open Long Island Senate seat.

“If the Governor thinks Justin Wagner, Terry Gipson and Cecilia Tkaczyk are the best candidates for these State Senate districts, than he is just as out of touch as they are,” Skelos said in a statement.

Skelos has rarely criticized Cuomo, and the two have worked well together over the last four years, frequently touting a litany of bipartisan measures passing the Legislature and being signed into law by Cuomo.

Indeed, it was only two years ago that some Republicans were actually using Cuomo’s images in their campaign ads, a tactic that the governor did not discourage.

Cuomo is believed to have at the very least tacitly approved of the coalition agreement between five independent Democrats and the Senate Republicans, which kept GOP lawmakers in control of the Senate despite their numerical minority.

But now Cuomo backs a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate after facing stiff dissatisfaction from the political left.

In May, Cuomo pledged to help his party gain full control of the chamber upon receiving the backing of the labor-aligned Working Families Party.

A month later, Cuomo helped broker an agreement between the Independent Democratic Conference and the mainline Democrats to form a new coalition after Election Day.

But even after that peace offering within his party, Cuomo and Skelos appeared together numerous times in recent weeks, most notably taking a trip to Israel along with IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

Skelos and Cuomo again appeared together to discuss security efforts in the New York City area.

Skelos dismissed criticism from Republicans over the appearances — which some saw as undermining Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino — saying he is separating governing from political work.

In a statement this afternoon, Skelos tied the three Senate Democratic candidates in with Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose push for a Democratic controlled chamber has made him a favored punching bag for the GOP conference in Albany.

He pointed to three measures Democrats back — the Dream Act, a strengthening of abortion rights through the codification of Roe v. Wade and the public funding of political campaigns — as a sign they’re “out of touch.”

“In contrast, the priorities of candidates Terrence Murphy, Sue Serino and George Amedore are to cut taxes, create jobs and make New York State more affordable,” Skelos said, referring to the GOP challengers in those races.

Cuomo And Hochul Back Tkaczyk

The Democratic ticket rounded out their endorsements of Hudson Valley state Senate candidates on Saturday with an endorsement of Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk.

Tkaczyk, an incumbent who won her election by only 18 votes two years ago, faces Republican former Assemblyman George Amedore in a rematch.

“Throughout her career in public service, Senator Tkaczyk has been a tenacious advocate for her district,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “She is exactly the type of leader we need with us in Albany in order to help bring about progressive reform in the next four years.”

In addition to endorsing Tkaczyk, Cuomo and his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, endorsed Democratic Sen. Terry Gipson and candidate Justin Wagner.

The nods came as the Women’s Equality Express, sans the traveling Cuomo, traveled up the Hudson Valley on Saturday.

Tkaczyk’s race, in particular, has drawn the attention of wealthy interests from out of the area.

As she did two years ago, Tkaczyk is benefitting from some outside help in the form of Jonathan Soros, the son of billionaire George Soros, who has poured money into the race through his Friends of Democracy PAC.

And while Amedore and Republicans have blasted the Soros money as well as the intent behind it — pushing the public financing of political campaigns — he has also received help from the Real Estate Board of New York’s political action committee, Jobs for New York.

The race for the 46th Senate District — which stretches from the Hudson Valley, through the Albany area and into the Mohawk Valley — is expected to be one of the costliest races this year.

Second Time’s a Charm; In 2014, Cuomo for Gipson

You probably saw this one coming, given today’s Hudson Valley Women’s Equality tour, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s earlier endorsement of one of the region’s top Democratic state Senate candidates, Justin Wagner.

The governor and his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, just announced their support for freshman Sen. Terry Gipson, who is fighting hard to fend off a challenge from Republican Dutchess County Legislator Sue Serino.

“As Senator, Terry Gipson has demonstrated a clear commitment to economic development, women’s equality and affordable housing,” Cuomo said in a statement released by his campaign.

“We need Senator Gipson back in office this November in order to look out for the needs of the Hudson Valley.”

This is a particularly interesting turn of events, since Cuomo didn’t support Gipson in 2012. Instead, the governor backed then-GOP Sen. Steve Saland as a “thank you” for the senator’s “yes” vote on same-sex marriage.

Saland ended up losing the election, thanks to the presence on the ballot of a Conservative candidate, Neil DiCarlo, with whom the now-former senator split the vote on the right.

A Siena poll released earlier this month showed Serino leading Gipson by 12 percentage points in the 41st SD. He won the three-way race in 2012 with just 44 percent of the vote.

Like Wagner, Gipson’s effort to petition his way onto the governor’s Women’s Equality Party line was unsuccessful. In fact, just two Democrats – IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins – will join the statewide ticket on the WEP line next month.

UPDATE: I’m reminded by the regular Senate Democrats that businessman Adam Haber, who is running against GOP Sen. Jack Martins on Long Island, also qualified for the WEP.