Tom Golisano, Pitchman

On the same day his sale of the Buffalo Sabres to Pennsylvania oil and gas magnate Terry Pegula becomes official, Paychex founder erstwhile gubernatorial hopeful Tom Golisano is announcing his intention to try to do away with the Electoral College as part of the National Popular Vote campaign.

Golisano, who is now primarily living in Florida and apparently is no longer interested in New York politics, is pumping an undisclosed amount of cash into this effort.

(I’ll be asking him that for tonight’s show, but knowing Golisano, I’m probably not going to get much of an answer. He reportedly sold the Sabres for between $175 million and $190 million).

He’s being assisted by two longtime advisors – former Erie County Democratic Chairman/Pedro Espada Jr. aide Steve Pigeon and Laureen Oliver. Golisano is announcing his new quest at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. today, and is appearing the PSA below.

H/T to Joe Spector.

The Campaign Begins

Erie County Republican Chair Nick Langworthy wasted no time in sending out an email to Erie County Republicans in NY-26, with a glowing endorsement of Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. The note focuses heavily on the economy, which will likely be the focus of the special election.

“Jane Corwin understands how hard it is for a business to succeed in Western New York,” Langworthy said. ‘She knows the only way to create jobs is to get government bureaucrats and onerous regulations out of the way. She is a tireless advocate for lower taxes and shrinking the size of government. In Washington, Jane will join the fight to restore some real fiscal responsibility and stop the out-of-control spending and borrowing.”

Langworthy goes on to call for help from all his members.

“This is a special election; the timetable will be very compressed. We need the men and women of the Erie County Republican Committee to help and join this campaign whether you live within the district or not. Please reply to this email to let your Party know if we can count on your support.”

Here And Now

A CSEA spokesman said the possibility of a contract deal between the union and the Cuomo administration by April 1 “looks less and less likely with each passing day,” potentially leaving a $450 million hole in the executive budget.

As expected, NY-26 GOP officials picked Assemblywoman Jane Corwin to run in the yet-to-be-called special election for former Rep. Chris Lee’s seat, passing over Jack Davis and David Bellavia in the process, among others. Both of those spurned candidates may yet find a way to get on the ballot.

Corwin is expected to start touring NY-26 this week (the Legislature isn’t in session).

The Canandaigua Daily Messenger hopes the governor calls a NY-26 special election ASAP.

The WSJ applauds Cuomo for taking on Medicaid, which it deems “health-care Tammany Hall.”

It’s D-Day for Rahm Emanuel and his bid to become mayor of Chicago.

For many, Mayor Emanuel has become a foregone conclusion. The question now is whether he’ll win outright today or have to go to a runoff.

The state pays health insurers $100 million to market Medicaid to the poor, but the money is often misused in an effort to poach recipients, according to a new report.

It’s a new, post-Tom Golisano era for the Buffalo Sabres.

Golisano will announce his involvement in the National Popular Vote campaign in Washington today – the same day the Sabres sale becomes official.

More >

NY-26 GOP Leaders Pick Corwin (Updated)

…As expected, the Republican leaders in NY-26 have selected Assemblywoman Jane Corwin to run for the yet-to-be-called special election for the seat vacated by Rep. Chris Lee in the wake of his Craigslist scandal.

Developing.

Update: Jane Corwin just issued this statement.

“I am humbled to receive the support of Western New York’s Republican leadership and I thank them for conducting this process in an open, fair and comprehensive manner considering the time constraints.

“As the 2nd most conservative member of the New York State Assembly in rankings by the New York State Conservative Party and the #1 Legislator in scoring by Unshackle Upstate, a New York reform organization, I know we need to slash federal spending, balance the budget, end the bailouts, take leftover money from the Obama stimulus package to pay down the deficit and support repealing Obamacare.

“As someone who has run a business and created hundreds of private sector jobs in Western New York, I know that government only gets in the way of job growth. Fighting massive government expansion and runaway spending were two of the biggest reasons I entered public service a few years ago. Demanding fiscal responsibility in Washington and creating jobs in our communities in Western New York will be my priorities should I be this region’s Representative in Congress.”

NYSUT’s ‘Lecture’

The teachers union has launched a multimillion-dollar TV campaign in opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education cuts with an ad that pits cut schoolchildren against wealthy Wall Street executives.

“New Yorkers strongly oppose cuts to its public schools and colleges,” said NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi in a press release.

“They clearly understand the executive budget, as presented, would erase the progress that public education has made. Now, it’s time for the governor and Legislature to step up and protect public education from great harm, and to ensure the theme of ‘shared sacrifice’ includes all New Yorkers, including the most affluent.”

The 30-second ad, entitled “Lecture,” starts running tomorrow and will remain on the air through at least March 3. No immediate details about the size of the buy were available.

It features a Wall Street type lecturing an unseen someone (or someones) seats in an oversized chair in his plush office.

“Look,” he says. “The current market environment demands massive budget cuts. Tax breaks and subsidies for the rich and powerful, and, yes, some sacrifices from people like you. Is that so hard to understand?”

The camera pans to two wide-eyed little kids – a boy and a pigtailed girl – seated in the chair.

The VOG narrator says: “Have you ever noticed, in tough times, who’s asked to make sacrifices and who isn’t?”

Cut to an on-screen graphic: “Tell Albany: Please don’t sacrifice their education for tax breaks for millionaires.”

The spot concludes with the little boy in the chair telling the executive: “You need a time out!”

The ad will air in the Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Hudson Valley and Watertown markets, as well in Long Island, New York City and its suburbs.

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is “impatient.”

Wisconsin could be the beginning of the end – or a really big win – for organized labor.

Rush Limbaugh went there. Again.

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch is mailing for Cuomo.

Rep. Michael Grimm’s favorite president: George H.W. Bush.

AG Eric Schneiderman says there will be no quick fixes in the progressive pushback against the highly organized Tea Partiers.

The Long Island law firm that employs Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos represents businesses that have more than $1.75 billion in contracts with state agencies and public authorities.

Citizens for Tax Justice tries to debunk the Partnership for NYC’s report on the negative impact of the millionaire’s tax.

NYC Councilman Robert Jackson: “This budget would take back every dollar in CFE funding ever delivered by the state. I ask all the New York State legislators to stand up for our children and protect their right to quality schools.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer is fundraising for the Wisconsin Democrats.

Why Mike Huckabee might not run in 2012.

Richardson Defends Cuomo, Unions In Same Breath

Here’s former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson prior to delivering his keynote speech last night at the caucus gala.

He called Gov. Andrew Cuomo a “friend,” noting the two of them served together in the Clinton administration, and offered him verbal support in the budget battle, although he also warned against “demonizing” state employees.

“I know we have to balance a budget and we have to rein in spending in state government,” Richardson said. “But I don’t think it’s good to demonize state employees. I don’t think it’s good to go after teachers and education.”

“In education, maybe, administrative costs, but not pre-school and full-day kindergarten and teacher salaries. We’ve got top honor our teachers. I just think across he board on a national basis. I don’t like what’s happening in Wisconsin. I don’t want to see what’s happening in Wisconsin happen in New Mexico or in New York.”

“I think Governor Cuomo’s got a balanced approach, and he’s going to do the best he can…I think Governor Cuomo is the type of leader who will bring people together, you know, make some tough decisions and resolve some problems.”

Protestor In Chief

Just call him the self-appointed head of the Committee to Save New Yorkers.

NYC Councilman Charles Barron clearly is relishing the role of chief agitator against Gov. Andrew Cuomo – an effort he started during the 2010 campaign as the Freedom Party’s gubernatorial candidate and is now perfecting as the budget battle gets underway.

“When we have those top 1 percent who are making 44 percent of the income in New York City, and 35 percent of the income in the state, tax the rich! Don’t come to the table and say the only thing we’re going to do is cut,” Barron told reporters outside the caucus gala last night prior to his interruption of Cuomo’s speech.

“…The elected officials, the Senate and the Assembly, should save the people of New York from this governor, who promised them he was going to freeze wages, he was going to take money from the pension. They better remember what happened in Wisconsin. That could happen here, too, because the people are sick and tired of bearing the brunt of balancing the budget.”

The Brooklyn councilman rejected Cuomo’s argument that the polls prove New Yorkers are on his side, noting: “The majority of the people in the state don’t even vote; that 77 percent approval rating is bogus.”

Barron, who called himself an “elected activist” earlier today, said he plans to continue dogging the governor “wherever he shows his face.” He said he’s looking for some fellow elected officials and union members with “guts and spine,” adding: “We’re there to protect the people, not to kowtow to the governor.”

Indys Leaning Toward Corwin, Open To Others

The state Independence Party is playing the wait-and-see game in NY-26, but is currently leaning toward backing Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, assuming GOP leaders select her as expected, according to a party source.

However, the Indys could be convinced to support someone else – particularly if they get a personal ask from Rep. Steve Israel, the new DCCC chairman. The congressman is allies with state Indy Chairman Frank MacKay (they’re both Long Islanders), who would like to help Israel land his first victory in his new leadership role, if at all possible.

“The party wants him to do well,” my source said. “…That’s by no means saying we’ll go there no matter what, but we’re certainly have an open ear.”

It would have been a different story altogether had Sen. George Maziarz gotten into the race. Both the Indys and the Conservatives would have had a hard time saying “no” to the Niagara County Republican, with whom they have a long-standing relationship.

The Democrats, too, were hoping Maziarz would take the plunge, because it would have put his Senate seat in play at a time when control of the chamber is very important from a redistricting perspective (Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reform bill notwithstanding).

This whole point is moot, however, because luckily for – or perhaps because of – Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Maziarz took a pass on the race.

A sort of waiting game is going on in NY-26 at the moment. The Democrats are coalescing behind Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, but she’s reluctant to get in without support (read: cash money) from the DCCC, according to a WNY Democrat.

But the DCCC, which apparently has done some polling on this, doesn’t see the point of putting any money into the race unless there’s a strong third party or independent candidate who might split the GOP vote in the Republican-dominated district, providing the Democrat with a potential path to victory.

And then there’s a question of where the Greens will go, because thanks to Howie Hawkins’ performance in the 2010 gubernatorial race, they now have a ballot line to play with.

So, even though the Republicans are scheduled to make their selection tonight, there’s still a lot left to shake out in NY-26. Plus, we still don’t have a date for the special election.

Rangel On The Power of Legislators, Meaning of Independence

Even while declining to weigh in on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal, Rep. Charlie Rangel last night seemed to be siding with state lawmakers who are agitating in favor of extending the millionaire’s tax and using the revenue that would produce to soften the governor’s proposed spending cuts.

“Unlike Wisconsin, there is a relationship between the legislators and the governor,” the Harlem Democrat told reporters at last night’s caucus gala. “And the governor has a reputation even through his family in being fair.”

“You don’t have to tell him about the pain of unemployment, the pain of lack of education money and all those things. So it’s going to be rough. You deal with the rough bunch of assemblymen here, and I know most of them. And I think in New York we’ll have a more honest level playing table than what the Tea Party is doing in Washington…I have more confidence in the state than I do have in the House right now.”

“I think I have to get a better handle on the problems we’re having in Washington before I start giving an analysis of what’s happening. The wonderful thing a bout democracy is that the governor’s an executive, they present their ideas, but ultimately it’s the state legislators that decide what’s best for their constituents.”

“So, of course, some of the things that I’ve seen are devastating – not just from Cuomo, but from President Obama.”

Rangel also weighed in on the question of independent redistricting, which is something the governor is pushing via the program bill he sent to the Legislature last week.

Not surprisingly, the congressman seems to think the current system of drawing legislative and congressional lines words just fine, thank you very much.

“The real question is: Is it going to be better? And I don’t think it is,” he said.

“…’Independen’ is a very fluid term. Is it my independent or someone else’s? There’s no such thing as the committee or the group not leaning somewhere….Just saying ‘independence’ is like saying ‘freedom,’ you know, ‘democracy.’ You want to know who’s calling the shots.”