Flanagan: Gov Deserves A Raise

Former veteran AP reporter-turned-NYSBA senior writer Marc Humbert got a nice scoop of an interview with Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan, who said he believes the governor should be “the highest-paid public servant in the state” and wouldn’t mind seeing his salary double.

“I believe that the governor’s salary should be raised. I do. I do,” the Long Island Republican said.

“I think what we should do is the mirroring of the type of commission we set up to look at judicial compensation. You get a group of high-caliber talented people and do a review.”

“…He’s the governor of the state of New York. He’s the CEO of 19 million people….It’s not unusual to fairly compensate someone at that level.”

Cuomo, as you’ll recall, took a 5 percent salary cut not long after he came into office and had his top aides in the executive chamber do the same.

The topic came up in the context of a question on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed salary cap for superintendents (which, come to think of it, we haven’t really heard all that much about lately).

Flanagan called the proposal “good theater” and admitted some of the salaries – particularly on Long Island, where they tend to be highest – are “absolutely” outrageous. But, he also noted that those salaries are local decisions approved by school boards. (Interestingly, he told me during an early February CapTon interview that he was “open” to the idea of a salary cap).

The senator, who just took a pass on running for Suffolk County executive, has been floated as a potential statewide contender for some time. Humbert asked if he has thought about running for governor. He responded:

“Of course. I’d be a fool to say that I haven’t. To me, being governor of the state of New York is like playing for the New York Yankees. You want to do something big in government? That’s the job. It is something that I clearly think about. Right now? I think I need to focus on the job that I have. As corny as it sounds, I’m pretty damn lucky. I’ve had options and opportunities, and right now I have a pretty good gig.”

Suns’ Steve Nash For Same-Sex Marriage

Count Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash among the celebrities in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York.

The Human Rights Campaign, part of a broader coalition of advocacy groups pushing for legalization this year, praised Nash’s support.

“One of the most respected players in the game, Steve Nash is a leader on and off the court,” said HRC Senior New York Strategist Brian Ellner. “We are very fortunate he has lent his voice to our campaign in New York. He realizes, like most New Yorkers, it’s time for committed gay and lesbian couples to marry.”

In a video, Nash says a “growing number of athletes” are speaking out in support of gay marriage.

Nash lives in New York City during the off-season. His support comes along with New York Rangers forward Sean Avery releasing a web video backing gay marriage as well.

Senate To Consider MMA Bill

The Senate will again consider legislation that would legalize mixed-martial arts in New York — a proposal that its supporters say will increase revenue for the cash-strapped state.

Opponents of the measure, including some Republicans, say the sport is far too dangerous and brutal to be licensed in New York.

The measure passed the Senate in 2010, but failed to gain traction in the Assembly.

Still, the effort to legalize and license the sport in New York has a strong and vocal following. In a blog post late Sunday, the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts In New York urged supporters to call their legislators in support of the bill.

From the bill memo:

Thirty-one states currently allow mixed marital arts and the NYSAC needs to be properly empowered to maintain both the dignity of the sport and the best interest of the safety and welfare of the professional combative sports participants

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Cuomo Releases Same-Sex Marriage Video

As he has on his other major legislative goals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a web video this morning in support of same-sex marriage, a week after some advocates called into question his support for the measure.

The video, first released to The New York Times, has Cuomo making the same arguments for same-sex marriage he has over the last several weeks, mainly that the state needs to live up

“This is a matter of fairness and equality. It is not a question of religion or culture, but a question of legal rights and government policy,” Cuomo said.

The video follows a report in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend that the governor has personally called multiple Republican senators who may be on the fence.

Cuomo is backing the measure on his People First campaign, along with a 2 percent cap on property taxes and an ethics laws overhaul.

Cuomo did not make an appearance earlier this month at the Empire State Pride Agenda rally for same-sex marriage, instead deploying Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy to address the crowd. However, Cuomo has worked quietly behind the scenes to get the measure approved and convince GOP legislators to vote yes.

The bill failed in 2009 when Democrats controlled the Senate, 38-24. However, several “no” votes have left the Senate, and some moderate legislators have suggested they would vote yes.

Cuomo has said he would not introduce a bill in the Senate unless its passage is assured.

Christie Backs Corwin In 26th, Robocalls

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, wildly popular in Republican circles for his tough budget talk, announced today he is endorsing GOP congressional hopeful Jane Corwin and is helping out with a last-minute GOTV robocall.

Christie recorded an 11th hour robocall for Corwin as the Republican falls several percentage points behind Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul in the GOP heavy district, according to a Siena College poll released Saturday.

The Christie help follows another popular — and fiscally conservative — governor’s support for Hochul. Gov. Andrew Cuomo filmed a video endorsement for Hochul. Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy is campaigning for Hochul today in western New York.

Here’s the script of the Christie robocall:

Hi, this is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Now, I’m sure you’ve received many phone calls about this election already. But please just give me a few seconds of your time as the election draws near. I’m calling to ask you for your support for Jane Corwin for Congress as you go to the polls Tuesday, May 24th. I ran for governor of New Jersey because like you, I wanted to see REAL change. Jane Corwin is a fighter who knows how to get things done. We’re in critical times for our country, and Washington needs standup leaders who will fight to control spending and change business as usual. Please go out and vote for Jane Corwin this Tuesday. I truly appreciate your time. I wouldn’t be calling if this wasn’t very important for our country’s future. Thanks, and make sure you get out to vote on Tuesday.

PPP: Hochul Up 6, Poised For ‘Upset Victory’

Today’s Public Policy Polling survey gives a 6-point lead among likely voters to Democrat Kathy Hochul headed into the final hours of the NY-26 special election campaign – lead well outside the 2.9 percent margin of error.

That’s slightly better than the Siena poll released over the weekend that showed Hochul up 4 percent over her GOP opponent, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, but with a 3.9 percent margin of error. The PPP numbers are: 42-36 with 13 percent for independent Jack Davis.

“Kathy Hocul’s possible upset victory Tuesday is partially a reflection of an unusualthree way race,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.

“But it’s also indicative of the new Republican majority becoming very unpopular very fast. Barack Obama is more popular in this district than John Boehner.”

(Remember: NY-26 was one of just five NY districts carried by Sen. John McCain in 2008).

Since a PPP poll of the race two weeks ago, Hochul has gained 7 points and Corwin has gained 5 while Davis has dropped by 11. It appears that Hochul has done agood job of staying above the fray as the campaign, as her favorability has increased by 8 points while Corwin’s has dropped by 15.

Davis has plummeted in this category, however. Voters once were evenly split on him, but now he’s at a “horrid” (the poll’s word, not mine) -39 percent.

The pollsters caution that Corwin could still eke out a victory tomorrow, noting the GOP enrollment edge in the district and a desire among voters to have their new member of Congress caucus with the Republicans instead of the Democrats. The best Hochul could do on that one is to join up with the Blue Dogs.

PPP Release NY 05221118

Here And Now

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and AG Eric Schneiderman have teamed up to beef up the AG’s ability to investigate public corruption.

AG & Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine will deliver a “People First Tour” speech at the Italian-American community center in Albany at noon. (No link).

LB Bob Duffy is campaigning with Kathy Hochul as NY-26 comes down to the wire. They’ll be at the Long Pond Family Restaurant in his hometown of Rochester at 9 a.m. (No link).

Former President Clinton has recorded a robocall for Hochul that will hit NY-26 phones today. In it, he says she’ll protect Medicare, cut wasteful spending and help create jobs.

It’s all about GOTV now, and both the Democrats and Republicans sent in reinforcements over the weekend from outside NY-26.

A Public Policy Polling survey shows Hochul up 6 percentage points.

The make-up of NY-26: Overwhelmingly white and middle-class, 70 percent of residents are of German, Irish or Italian heritage, jobs tend to be in education, health care, human services and manufacturing, and median income is $55,028.

The Senate is holding a hearing today on the system used to discipline teachers. Among those expected to testify: NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Wolcott and NYSUT’s Dick Iannuzzi.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will attend a public meeting at the Capitol tomorrow at which UB2020 boosters make their final pitch. Also expected: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick.

A not-so-exclusive report on how Sen. Jim Alesi gave gay marriage advocates hope when he showed up at a big upstate ESPA dinner this weekend.

The governor is now personally calling some on-the-fence Democrats and Republicans in his push to get them to the “yes” column on gay marriage. So far, no public declarations from GOP members. (See last paragraph).

More >

The Weekend That Was

So much for the end of the world as we know it.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels won’t be joining the GOP’s 2012 field due to family considerations.

LG Bob Duffy will campaign with Kathy Hochul tomorrow (one day before the NY-26 special election) at 9 a.m. at the Long Pond Family Restaurant.

Hochul campaigned with Jon “Bowzer” Bauman from Sha-Na-Na.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi added fuel to the GOP’s fire by sending out a last-minute fundraising appeal for Hochul.

Corwin and her husband are very wealthy.

Donn Esmonde isn’t impressed by the NY-26 field and wishes former Rep. Chris Lee had kept his shirt on.

Erie County Executive Chris Collins has “big-time skin” in the NY-26 game, Bob McCarthy explains.

Whoever wins on Tuesday will get a “psychological boost” headed into 2012, says Doug Muzzio.

President Obama is keeping his distance from the NY-26 race, even though he has personally endorsed in past NY House races. (Makes sense, considering that Sen. John McCain carried the district in 2008 and Obama’s poll numbers aren’t what they once were).

The race is a statistical dead heat, with Hochul leading by 4 percentage points among likely voters, according to the Siena poll. (The margin of error is +/- 3.9 %).

On Medicare reform, the Times notes: “A sense of buyers’ remorse in districts across the country is allowing Democrats to make a newly vigorous pitch.”

Jack Davis landed the endorsement of the Niagara Gazette, which also admitted he could “use some polish”.

In the wake of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, Assemblyman Rory Lancman will announce a bill to protect hotel workers from on-the-job assaults by requiring hotels to provide staff entering hotel rooms with electronic “panic alert” devices. (No link).

Former Gov. David Paterson won’t face perjury charges in the Yankees tickets case, even though it’s “reasonably likely”, according to Albany DA David Soares, that he did in fact lie under oath himself.

More >

Siena: Hochul Up 4 In NY-26

Democrat Kathy Hochul is now leading in the 3 way special election race against Republican Jane Corwin and 3rd party candidate Jack Davis. The breakdown is 42% to 38%, with Jack Davis collecting only 12% of the vote. 7% of voters are still undecided.

The polls show what many thought was happening. Corwin, who was up 4 points back when Siena polled on April 29th, has slowly been losing support as she is hammered over her position on medicare, and her campaign has been bogged down by the Jack Davis video that was shot by Corwin’s chief of staff.

That video appears to have hurt Davis. His favorability rating has dropped from 42% to 28%, and he has dropped in the poll from 23% to 12%.

Another interesting point of the poll. Hochul leads big in Erie County. 50% to 38%. Corwin still leads in Livingston and Monroe County area, but only slightly. 40% to 36%. On election day, Corwin is likely going to need to run up the score by more than that in the Rochester suburbs if she is going to defeat Hochul.

CD26 May 2011 Crosstabs

Cuomo Endorses Hochul In Video Ad

Here’s the ad Gov. Andrew Cuomo filmed backing Democratic congressional hopeful Kathy Hochul in the 26th congressional district.

“Kathy will fight to cut wasteful government spending in Washington, but will also work to protect the programs important to you, like Medicaid,” he said.

The video will be dovetailed by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy — who is enormously popular in western New York — visiting the area on Monday.

The 11th hour ad comes as Hochul is running a close race with Republican Jane Corwin. Though the district is overwhelmingly Republican, independent candidate Jack Davis is seen as siphoning some votes away from Corwin.

The special election is set for Tuesday.