Siena: AG, GOP Gov Primaries Too Close To Call

Today’s Siena poll finds GOP gubernatorial primary opponents Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino locked in a statistical dead heat (43-42), while Sen. Eric Schniederman and Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice are battling it out (25-23) in the five-way Democratic AG primary, with 29 percent of voters still undecided just three days before heading to the polls.

“In the final days of the campaign, likely Republican primary voters are split between Lazio and Paladino,” said Siena pollster Steve Greenberg.

“A heavier than normal Republican turnout upstate will likely hand the nomination to Paladino, who leads upstate 53-32 percent, while a heavier than normal downstate suburban turnout will likely make Lazio the Republican nominee, as he leads there 55-30 percent. Lazio also leads 53-33 percent in New York City, which traditionally produces a smaller vote than any region in a Republican primary.”

A “wild card” could be the Tea Party supporters, among whom Paladino leads by just five points, 47-42. Lazio leads among those unfavorable or undecided about the movement, while the race is deadlocked among voters who describe themselves as conservatives.

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Bloggers For Park51

Here’s something you don’t see every day…A group of self-described “progressive bloggers” from around New York have issued a joint statement on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 in support of the controversial mosque/Islamic center project proposed for construction near Ground Zero.

We, the undersigned, are progressive bloggers from across New York State. We write, report, and opine about the politics, culture, and economies of our diverse communities.

Since the 17th Century, New York State has been a gateway to the New World for people from all over the world – of every color, nation, and creed. Openness, tolerance, and diversity are what made New York great. The movement of people, ideas, and commerce westward to America’s frontier was made possible by all New Yorkers.

The rights guaranteed to us as citizens of New York and the United States are blind to religion or race. We, the undersigned, extend our hands in friendship to Muslim New Yorkers – who, like people of any faith, share our common hopes and dreams for themselves and their children.

In 2001, violent extremists indiscriminately murdered and injured thousands of innocent New Yorkers, including hundreds of Muslims. Those extremists committed their crime in the name of Islam, perverting it into a message of hatred and fear. We remember starkly the pain of this attack, and have overwhelming compassion for its victims and survivors.

But we cannot allow a hateful act to engender new hate. American values, principles, and rights should not be jettisoned because they are claimed by, or owed to, a particular faith whose name was horribly abused. We New York State bloggers believe it is our duty to stand up for the values that make America great – that our laws and Constitution apply equally to all – Muslim and Christian; Jew and Gentile; believers and non-believers.

We, therefore, support and defend the right of Muslim New Yorkers to build a community center on privately owned land in Lower Manhattan.

Signed,

Phillip Anderson (The Albany Project), Alan Bedenko (BuffaloPundit/WNYMedia.net), Rich Boatti (The Albany Project), Michael Bouldin (The Daily Gotham), Adama D. Brown (GlowDemocrats), Ezra Ford (Jefferson Democrat), Brian Keeler (The Albany Project), Cynthia Kouril (Firedoglake), Elana Levin, David Michaelson (The Daily Gotham), Mark Odien (WNYMedia.net), Liza Sabater (CultureKitchen), Chris Smith (WNYMedia.net), Andrew C. White (The Albany Project)

Weekend Open Thread – 9/11 Memorial Edition

In honor of all those who died, responded, rescued, fled, cried, persevered, advocated, grieved, cleaned up, sickened, supported, rebuilt…We will never forget.

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Rice Goes Negative

A viewer e-mailed last night to report catching sight of a new TV ad for Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice that blames Sen. Eric Schneiderman for last summer’s Senate coup and links him to scandal-scarred Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.

The Rice campaign did not deny the existence of the ad, although a spokesman corrected my characterization of the spot as “negative”, saying it is merely “comparative.” The DA’s campaign has so far not provided me with a copy of the ad, as requested.

If anyone has seen it and managed to tape it and/or get the script down, please pass it along.

This eleventh-hour strategy isn’t surprising, although it comes at a rather inauspicious time.

Today is, of course, the ninth anniversary of 9/11 and it’s also in the middle of the Jewish high holidays week; at least one of the other AG candidates, Sean Coffey, changed his air buy to avoid conflicting with the 9/11 commemoration, according to a source familiar with the decision.

Rice’s decision to go negative – or make a sharp comparison between herself and Schneiderman, whichever you’d prefer – is a tacit acknowledgement on the part of her campaign that the Manhattan lawmaker has indeed pulled into the lead, although the race really is still too tight to call, according to all internal numbers I’ve heard about so far.

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Extras

Rep. Charlie Rangel thinks Mayor Bloomberg is an “exciting individual.”

Bill Clinton will robo for Rangel.

The first Muslim member of Congress will be at DL21C tonight.

Casey Seiler, hysterical.

Carl Paladino’s new Web ad features a “wanted” poster with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s likeness.

Rudy Giuliani will “Meet the Press” this Sunday.

Imam Feisal Adbul Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan, says the Muslim community is at risk because of the uproar over Park51.

NY-19 muscial smackdown.

LG candidate/Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy endorsed Rep. Dan Maffei in NY-25. (No link).

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. was endorsed by Lenora Fulani.

The Tribute in Light is back.

The Democrats could lose as many as eight House seats in New York.

Rep. Vito Fossella endorsed Michael Allegretti for his old House seat.

Sen. Eric Schneiderman had a sit-down with Cuomo.

The “Client 9″ movie poster is out.

NARAL Pro-Choice NY has released its voters guide.

The Retail, Wholesale And Department Store Union endorsed Assemblyman Adrian Espaillat for Schneiderman’s seat. (No link).

Democrats for Education Reform is raising campaign cash for a number of New Yorkers (including Cuomo).

Harry Wilson’s campaign is blaming state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for the state’s budget woes.

Here’s yet another ad from Schneiderman – his fifth of the primary campaign, I believe.

Slattery ‘Mad’ For Rice

Actor John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling on AMC’s wildly popular series “Mad Men”, has endorsed Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice for attorney general in a video that her campaign says is linked via an advertisement running on “major” news Wesbites.

The Rice campaign also noted Slattery isn’t the only Hollywood type backing the DA. “Queer as Folk” star Michelle Clunie (who is Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s ex-girlfriend) and Bravo’s Andy Cohen are also supporters.
NOTE: To be fair, Schneiderman has Alec Baldwin and Cynthia Nixon in his corner.

Here’s the Slattery video script:

“Hi, I’m John Slattery and I’ve been friends with Kathleen Rice since we went to college together. I can tell you that she’s smart, she’s tough, she’s compassionate, and I think she’d make an ideal attorney general.”

“She’s been a prosecutor her whole career, has an amazing record of success in important and difficult legal cases, cases involving sexual predators, drunk drivers, public corruption.. I’m voting for Kathleen on Tuesday; I hope you’ll do the same. Thank you.”

Paterson, Wright Campaign For Smikle

Gov. David Paterson campaigned today with Basil Smikle, the former political consultant who is challenging Sen. Bill Perkins in next Tuesday’s primary for the Harlem seat the governor once held.

Photo 2

The candidate and Paterson were joined by Manhattan Democratic Chairman Keith Wright at the Kennedy Senior Center on West 134th Street.

The county party has not officially picked a favorite in this race. But last week, the Frederick E. Samuel Community Democratic Club, an in Upper Manhattan club co-chaired by Wright, endorsed Smikle.

Paterson may be a lame duck with a low appropval rating, but he remains a popular figure in on his home turf, so his endorsement in this race could carry some weight.

I can’t say I’m surprised by this turn of events, given Perkins’ call for Paterson to end his re-election bid in the wake of the David Johnson domestic violence scandal. (The governor ended up doing just that, even though he retained a degree of support from black leaders like Rep. Charlie Rangel (that meant more at the time because it was pre-ethics charges).

Also, Wright and Perkins have never gotten along terribly well. Both of them were speculated to be eyeing a potential run for Rangel’s seat if the congressman decided to step down and/or not seek re-election due to his ethics scandal.

Perkins is being supported by his fellow Senate Democrats (among others). But Smikle has been endorsed by both the DN and the Post. This race is expected to turn on the question of charter schools, and it remains unclear if there’s enough passion in the district on that single issue to overcome the power of incumbency.

Lazio’s Flair For The Dramatic

In what is perhaps the most melodramatic display of the campaign season to date, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio points out what he considers “red flags” relating to the Park51 mosque project to AG Andrew Cuomo.

The one minute and 15 second web video is a compilation of news clips – most of them altered to be black and white – accompanied by some seriously intense music.

Text on the screen describes a series of so-called “red flags” that Lazio claims provide enough evidence for Cuomo to launch an investigation into the project.

“As the Attorney General of New York, it is Andrew Cuomo’s responsibility to oversee charities in this state,” a blurb on Lazio’s campaign site reads.

“Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s Cordoba Initiative is one of these charities. Why has Andrew Cuomo ignored the numerous red flags that have appeared in connection with Imam Rauf’s cohorts?

“Why is Andrew Cuomo refusing to do his job?”

Cuomo: No Pre-Primary AG Endorsement

Well, it’s official, although it comes as no big surprise to anyone who has been paying semi-close attention over the last several weeks: AG Andrew Cuomo will NOT be endorsing any of the five Democrats vying to succeed him prior to next Tuesday’s primary.

Cuomo tells The Associated Press Friday the ‘leading candidates’ have all signed on to his plan for changing state government and he’ll remain neutral in the primary. He didn’t name the leading candidates.

As of this week, all but TWO of the AG contenders – Assemblyman Richard Brodsky and Eric Dinallo (who said he believes it’s importance to maintain independence between the AG and executive offices) – agreed to sign Cuomo’s “New New York Agenda” reform pledge, so I guess that leaves the Westchester County lawmaker off the AG’s personal “leading candidates” list.

The last candidate to sign was Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who announced during Tuesday’s YNN/NY1 debate that he had seen the light on the pledge and come around to Cuomo’s way of thinking – just one of the many times the Manhattan senator sought to cozy up to the AG during that 90-minute match-up.

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Obama On Mosque And ‘Inalienable Rights’

President Obama reiterated his support for the Park51 project today – a topic on which there has been some confusion with regard to his position.

As you’ll recall, Obama came a little late to this controversy, but kicked the volume up a notch when he said an at Iftar dinner last month that he believed Muslims have “a right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

The next day, Obama muddied the waters by saying he was talking broadly about rights and not commenting “on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there.” Obama’s press shop went into spint mode, insisting the president had not walked away from his original comments. But the damage was done.

Now we have the following remarks from the president today at his first full press conference since May:

“With respect to the mosque in New York, I think I’ve been pretty clear on my position here, and that is, is that this country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal; that they have certain inalienable rights – one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely.”

“And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.”

The president went on to recognize the “extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11″ but reminded Americans: “We are not at war with Islam; We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts.”

More from the president’s comments on this topics appear after the jump.

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