Choosing Sides In The Senate

There are several reports this morning that shed light on the rapidly intensifying battle for control of the state Senate, the outcome of which will be felt in Washington, D.C. as well as here in New York.

The Post, not surprisingly, considering it hasn’t backed a single Democrat yet in the general election, has endorsed nine GOP Senate candidates – three incumbents (Padavan, Hannon and Saland) and six challengers (Ball, Cohen, McLaughlin, Zeldin, Como, and Vanderhoef).

“Nothing could have been more illustrative of Albany dysfunction than the Democrats’ 2008 takeover of the Senate,” the paper stated in its group endorsement editorial.

“The win delivered one-party rule to Albany – never a good thing…But the Dems’ edge in the Senate is slim, 32-30, and voters may well return the chamber to GOP control Nov. 2. We hope they do.”

Interestingly, the Post did not weigh in on most of what the Senate Republicans consider to be their top races – Aubeterine vs. Ritchie in the North Country’s 48th SD, for example; the three-way Quinn/Stachowski/Kennedy race in Buffalo’s 58th SD; and the Valesky vs. Russo race in the 49th SD in Syracuse.

The paper also rather pointedly didn’t give a shout-out to Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos, who has a challenger, (Democrat George Sava), but doesn’t appear to be in any imminent danger of losing his seat.

Meanwhile, independent expenditures by outside groups hoping to influence the Senate battle one way or the other are starting to heat up, too.

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Here And Now

Cark Paladino’s anti-gay remarks were written by Rabbi Yehuda Levin and passed out to reporters before the candidate delivered an edited – but still volatile – version of them.

Paladino disavowed a line in the speech about “dysfunctional” homosexuals, noting through his campaign manager that he has a gay nephew he considers a “child of God.”

Mike Lupica thinks Paladino’s remarks exposed him “as the kind of small mind who thinks passing along racist emails is a laugh riot.”

Paladino went out of his way to avoid answering reporters’ questions in Williamsburg.

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn called Paladino’s comments “dangerous” – especially considering that they came on the heels of news that members of a Bronx gang had beaten and tortured a gay man and two gay teens.

As Republicans are grumbling about his spending (or lack thereof), Paladino is poised to re-launch his paid TV advertising for the first time since the GOP primary with a campaign that brands Cuomo an “Albany insider.”

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said the time has come for Paladino to “spread his wings further” and make a push in the vote-rich five boroughs, on Long Island and in the NYC suburbs.

Cuomo is so sensitive about his heritage that he had his pollster ask New Yorkers in 2002 about their views of the television show “The Sopranos,” to determine how they saw Italians.

Jim Odato parses the Cuomo-Farkas connection.

There has been a thaw between Cuomo and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been a divisive figure in at least one statewide race (AG) this year.

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Paladino On Gay Marriage, The Prepared Speech Version

Here’s some footage of Carl Paladino meeting with Hasidic rabbis in Williamsburg earlier today, reading from remarks that his campaign says were prepared for him in advance by Orthodox supporters.

The remarks were apparently distributed verbatim to reporters on the sidewalk who weren’t allowed inside due to their gender, and reported in full.

But Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo insists the candidate, who says he has a “live and let live” approach (perhaps because his own nephew – his wife’s sister’s son – is gay), edited out the most homophobic parts of the speech.

Specifically, Caputo noted, Paladino did not say the following: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual. That’s not how God created us.”

Some early stories that reported on Paladino’s speech have since been changed to reflect this. The “brainwashed about homosexuality” line was, in fact, delivered.

Not that what he actually said wasn’t controversial enough. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign wasted no time in seeking to capitalize on this incident, issuing a scathing statement slamming Paladino. The Log Cabin Republicans have since indicated they’re unlikely to endorse him.

Meanwhile, Caputo issued a lengthy statement, which appears in full after the jump, that accuses a member of Cuomo’s campaign staff of making a threat to gay Paladino supporters. Caputo attached a photo of the individual in question and also brought back to light the old “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo” slur from Mario Cuomo vs. Ed Koch that so infuriated the former NYC mayor and caused a deep rift between himself and the Cuomos that lasted decades.

The man introducing Paladino in the first video, who speaks of Democrats keeping Orthodox Jews “down on the plantation” and describes the Republican “coarse” but “telling it like it is”, is Rabbi Yehuda Levin, who bonded with the Buffalo businessman recently over their shared animosity of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

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The Weekend That Was

Carl Paladino told Hasidic leaders there is “nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.”

“I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family,” Paladino said. “And I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn’t.”

The Buffalo businessman claims to have a “live and let live” approach.

Andrew Cuomo has returned more campaign cash than Paladino has raised.

Cuomo is “proud” to be a career politician.

Republicans would like Paladino to spend more.

“(I)f a man can be measured by his friends and foes, Paladino has plenty of each,” writes The Buffalo News’ Susan Schulman.

Whether Paladino can win depends on just how angry voters are, Alan Chartock says.

Even Paladino’s staunchest advocate, Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, admits the candidate had a “rough two weeks.”

With two Italian-Americans running for governor, neither candidate has an edge with that particular ethnic group.

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Cuomo Campaign Calls Paladino Homophobic

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Cuomo’s campaign issued a scathing statement slamming his GOP opponent, Carl Paladino, for telling Hasidic leaders in Williamsburg today that young people shouldn’t be “brainwashed” into thinking homosexuality is a “valid” lifestyle option.

“Mr. Paladino’s statement displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality,” said Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto.

“These comments along with other views he has espoused make it clear that he is way out of the mainstream and is unfit to represent New York.”

Paladino’s campaign manager Michael Caputo confirmed his candidate’s remarks, adding:

“There’s a very clear difference between Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino. One of them is that Andrew Cuomo promises gay marriage will be legal in the first year of his administration. Carl Paladino has promised he would veto any such legislation. We believe that when the people of New York understand exactly where both candidates stand on this particular issue they will make their choices accordingly.”

Caputo called Cuomo’s position on both gay marriage and abortion “extreme” and “radical”, which is exactly what the Democrats have been saying about the Buffalo businessman’s opposition to abortion – even in cases of rape and incest.

Paladino has insisted he’s aligned with the Catholic Church on this, and also says he won’t allow his personal views to dictate state law.

Source: Paladino Snubbed In Boro Park (Updated)

GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino made another foray to Brooklyn today to meet with Hasidic leaders, but did not manage to sit down with Rabbi Yechezkel Roth, who reportedly cancelled at the last minute, according to a source familiar with schedule.

The Buffalo businessman was supposed to meet Roth at 1:30 p.m. He ended up stopping by the Karlsburg synagogue on 53rd Street anyway, but met only with some junior rabbis in a room off the main hall, according to this source.

He then reportedly proceeded to downplay the support of leaders of the Hassidic sects with whom his opponent, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, met last weekend, insisting the endorsement of Halakhic authorities is actually more worthwhile.

Maggie Haberman reports that Paladino is being squired in Brooklyn today by ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Yehuda Levin, with whom the candidate bonded not long ago over their shared hatred of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

UPDATE: Paladino’s campaign manager Michael Caputo confirmed that Roth did not, in fact, show up as planned, but also shrugged this off, saying the point of the day was never to only meet with leaders, but rather to sit down with the “grassroots” of the Hasidic community.

He accused the Cuomo campaign of using “threats and intimidation” to prevent rabbis from meeting with Paladino – even going so far as to make veiled suggestions that public funding might be in jeopardy, although no proof of this claim was provided.

“We were perfectly happy meeting with 30 rabbis and missing one senior rabbi,” Caputo said. “The Cuomo campaign managed to peel off one rabbi from three meetings today by threats and intimidation. If they count that as a big success, the people of New York should pay close attention.”


Schneiderman In Rochester

….which is about as far away as you can get from Harlem, where the Rev. Al Sharpton celebrated his birthday earlier today, and still be in New York (although I guess Buffalo or Rouses Point are further still).


And not only was the Democratic AG contender appearing in an upstate urban center, but he was also standing with law-and-order Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, who formally endorsed the Manhattan lawmaker’s statewide bid and his plan to crack down on gun violence, combat illegal guns, and shut down gun smuggling.

“We have led the fight on the streets of Rochester to combat gun trafficking, but it isn’t enough,” said Duffy, who is Andrew Cuomo’s LG running mate and also the city’s former police chief.

“This is an interstate problem that needs an interstate solution. I know Eric, and there is no question that when it comes to cracking down on gun smugglers and drug dealers, Eric is the toughest, smartest candidate in the race.”

“Eric has never shied away from the tough fights, and I trust that he won’t shy away from the fight against illegal guns either. Eric will join with Andrew Cuomo, to keep our upstate communities safe and stem the tide of violence.”

Duffy often acts as a political surrogate for the Democratic gubernatorial contender. But since Cuomo has already formally endorsed Schneiderman, despite the fact that he was not the AG’s first choice to win the five-way Democratic primary, today’s nod from the mayor is really merely a formality – and a handy way to get the senator out of the city.

Maggie Haberman notes that neither Schneiderman nor Cuomo was on the list of expected attendees at Sharpton’s birthday celebration at his National Action Network today. (Gov. David Paterson was on hand, and made his presence known by cracking a Tiger Woods joke).

Schneiderman has been under fire from his GOP opponent, Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, for saying during the primary that NAN would have an “annex” in Albany if he’s elected. Donovan has sought to portray Schneiderman as too “radical” to be the state’s top attorney. Schneiderman calls this a smear campaign.

Sharpton was supposed to attend a closed-door meeting of African American officials in Harlem back when Cuomo was still reeling from Carl Paladino’s landslide GOP primary win and trying to figure out how best to deal with him. (Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?)

But the Rev. didn’t show, and he hasn’t endorsed Cuomo, either. The Voice’s Wayne Barrett recently noted a connection between Sharpton and the Paladino campaign. He also pointed out that Paladino’s unpaid adviser, Roger Stone, was involved in Sharpton’s 2004 presidential bid.

Weekend Open Thread

….a bit belated. But better late than never. Be well. – LB

Bill Clinton For Hinchey

While he’s in upstate New York to headline a quickie campaign event (at the airport) for Rep. Dan Maffei, former President Clinton will also make a stop in Broome County to benefit another Democratic House member: Veteran Rep. Maurice Hinchey.

Details about the event, as advised by Hinchey’s campaign manager:

“October 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm, President Bill Clinton will participate in a get out the vote kick off rally for Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) at the Holiday Inn Ballroom located at 2-8 Hawley Street in Binghamton, NY. ”

“Doors will open at 6:30 for the event, which will be free and open to the public. Members of the press are invited to attend.”

“President Clinton will highlight the choice voters face in the upcoming midterm elections, and emphasize the need to continue moving the country forward by electing strong Representatives like Hinchey who are fighting for middle class families – not the wealthy special interests.”

Unlike Maffei, Hinchey, who is seeking his tenth two-year term, hasn’t been on the DCCC watch list of eight NY seats in play this fall – or least not to my knowledge. But just this morning, The Post singled Hinchey out for criticism, running a story entitled: “Portrait of Endangered NY Democrat” that cites an internal poll showing the congressman under the magic 50 percent mark.

Also in the Post not long ago, Dick Morris and Eileen McGann suggested Hinchey’s seat might be a surprise GOP pick-up this fall. The president’s presence in the district almost confirms their suggestion…why send him in to help someone who doesn’t need it?

Hinchey’s Republican challenger, George Phillips, tried unsuccessfully to oust the congressman in 2008. Phillips is from the Binghamton area; Hinchey hails from Ulster County, which just illustrates how ridiculously large (not to mention gerrymandered) the 22nd CD is.

Phillips has been slamming Hinchey for everything from his support of the health care reform bill to his voting record on defense spending.

MJ, one of my producers, noted that Clinton is so far not doing any stumping for two Democratic congressmen who are arguably in deeper trouble than Hinchey: Rep. Mike Arcuri and Rep. Bill Owens (NY-24 and NY-23, respectively).

While there might be more stops by the former president in the future, it’s possible Arcuri’s “no” vote on the health care reform bill, which cost him the WFP line and labor support, might be a mark against him.

Of course, every seat counts at this point as the Democrats battle to retain control of the house, so maybe the Democratic powers-that-be will have a change of heart on Arcuri.

Cuomo Aide Goes Where Cuomo Won’t

A top aide to Andrew Cuomo directly addressed Carl Paladino’s allegation that the AG had extramarital affairs while married to Kerry Kennedy, calling the claim “baseless” in an interview with the Associated Press.

Ben Lawsky, who has served as Cuomo’s special assistant since he took office in 2007 and just recently joined his boss’ gubernatorial campaign as general counsel/spokesman (one of several doing press duty), said there is “no factual basis” to Paladino’s accusation.

The AP notes that Lawsky’s statement came after Cuomo was directly asked Friday by a reporter whether he had cheated on his ex-wife. Cuomo responded that he wouldn’t engage in “gutter politics”, as the Post reports:

“‘I’m not going to get into the gutter with my opponent; we’ve gone through this before,” Cuomo told reporters in White Plains.

Last week, Cuomo called Paladino’s claims ‘baseless,’ and yesterday he declined to answer questions about whether he had any affairs.”

Paladino has tried to re-set his campaign over the past week by insisting it is Cuomo, not him, who is dragging the race into the gutter.

But his efforts to focus on policy have often been undercut by his habit of stepping on his own message, including in the three-minute TV ad that aired Thursday in which Paladino mentioned Cuomo’s “legendary prowess.”

Paladino’s unofficial advisor Roger Stone suggested during a CapTon interview that was actually a compliment, to which a Cuomo spokesman replied: “That’s insane.”