The Sambake

The invitation to Assemblyman Sam Hoyt’s annual clambake fundraiser is traditionally the most creative political missive of the year, and the 2010 version does not disappoint.

In keeping with the movie theme of invites past, this one is an “Avatar” spoof, with the Buffalo Democrat’s face superimposed over that of the main character. (Forgive me for not being up on my “Avatar” trivia; I never did catch that flick).

There’s also the usual “Top 10″ reasons to attend the event. (Bragging rights for anyone who can spoyt the rather glaring typo). My favorite is No. 6: “Rumors abound that the bratwurst will launch a coup against the ruling clams under the pretense of calling for reform of the knockwurst and in the end, Steve Pigeon will get a job.”

The Hoyt vs. Pigeon fight is epic. I’m not even sure what round we’re in at the moment.

You can view the invite to the “Avatarlicious Clambake” (scheduled for June 25 at the West Side Rowing Club in Buffalo) in all it’s colorful glory after the jump.
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Here And Now

A frustrated President Obama is looking for “whose ass to kick” in connection with the BP oil spill.

Happy (?) coup-niversary!

The Senate and Assembly passed Gov. David Paterson’s budget extender bill that included some $775 million worth of health care cuts.

Assemblyman Jack McEneny referred to the bill as “gubernatorial blackmail.”

Legislators had the equivalent of a “fiscal gun to their heads,” writes Tom Precious.

Paterson’s tough tactics might just work: Lawmakers are getting antsy and want a budget deal ASAP so they can hit the campaign trail. (Petitioning starts today).

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos railed against the “secret” budget negotiations.

Alan Chartock thinks history will be kind to Paterson.

Former US Senator-turned-lobbyist Al D’Amato leads the lobbyist pack in campaign contributions.

AG Andrew Cuomo is campaigning on a reform platform, but accepted $320,540 worth of campaign cash from lobbyists in 2009.

Cuomo’s running mate, Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, is a double-dipper, collecting both a salary and a police pension.
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The GOP Convention Interviews

While the entire CT crew was in New York for the state Republican convention, we were unable to post candidates’ interviews during the week.

I hope this makes up for it. Here are links to the candidates’ interviews with Liz Benjamin:


  • As the convention kicked off, Joe Mondello talked about the future of the GOP and the division within the party.
  • Comptroller hopeful Harry Wilson easily cruised to be the only candidate that will face a one-on-one statewide race among the major parties.
  • And, US Senate candidates Gary Berntsen and Jay Townsend will face each other before Sen. Schumer in the general election.


  • All eyes were on the race for governor, where Rick Lazio received more than enough support to become the party’s designee while Steve Levy didn’t rule out petitioning to get on the ballot.
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  • We were also introduced to AG candidate Dan Donovan, who faces the winner of a five-way primary battle on the Democratic side.
  • And, another former party Chair, Bill Powers, also drops by to reflect on the state of the GOP.


  • State GOP Chairman Ed Cox reflects on the convention and addresses criticism from many delegates that were unhappy with his decisions.
  • It’s an unusual year for statewide races with two simultaneous races for US Senate. Bruce Blakeman and David Malpass will face off in a primary before the general election against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
  • And, what better way to round out our coverage than with insight and analysis from our veteran political insiders.

EXCLUSIVE: Paladino Announces Tom Ognibene as LG Pick

In an exclusive interview on Capital Tonight, Carl Paladino told Liz Benjamin that he’s tapped former New York City Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene to be his preferred running mate.

Here’s the full interview:


Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy might have been filing different disclosure forms than what’s required by law.

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Levy is “outraged” at the suggestion that something “nefarious” is going on.

Gov. David Paterson proposed changes to the juvenile justice system in the wake of the “sex party” scandal.

Albany lobbyists are big campaign contributors.

The billboard pictured at right is part of an ad campaign for an auto insurance fraud bill.

“Goodbye, Mrs. Thomas,” said former Mayor Ed Koch. (And he was right).

AG Andrew Cuomo is investigating discrimination claims involving Apple and the iPad.

NT2 wonders why Rep. Charlie Rangel is entitled to go out with dignity but Paterson isn’t.

Rudy Giuliani is playing in states with early presidential contests.

Ditto for Sen. John McCain.

VP Joe Biden and his wife are in Egypt.

The US Supreme Court won’t hear a lawsuit regarding Hillary Clinton’s eligibility to be secretary of state.

Sen. Eric Schneiderman thinks he’ll eventually get the WFP line.

Sean Coffey makes his case to City Room.

The NY Sun (shining for all on-line only) endorsed David Malpass for the US Senate.

When Rangel met Smikle. (Sorry, it’s just so fun to write).

Lazio Uses Helen Thomas To Hit Cuomo

GOP gubernatorial candidate really got two bites out of the Helen Thomas scandal, first using it to curry favor with Jewish voters and now, in the wake of her retirement announcement, suggesting his Democratic target, AG Andrew Cuomo, was AWOL on the issue.

Here’s Lazio’s statement:

“The Helen Thomas affair unfortunately indicates that anti-Semitism is alive in America in powerful places.”

“Her resignation is appropriate, but real questions remain. How many people share her view about Jews and Israel; and where was the outrage from the Obama Administration and Andrew Cuomo?”

Lazio somehow managed to miss White House spokesman Robert Gibbs calling Thomas’ comments “offensive and reprehensible,” but he has a point about Cuomo, who I don’t believe has said a word about this whole incident.

Rangel: Cuomo Coronation Great For Dems, Bad For Voters

During an wide-ranging interview with NY1′s Michael Scotto earlier today, Rep. Charlie Rangel admitted the fact that AG Andrew Cuomo appears poised to sail into the governor’s office with minimal opposition is probably bad for the voters…but, as a self-professed “staunch partisan Democrat,” it makes him awfully happy.

“Listen, I never thought that the Democratic Party would be so lucky to get the break that we’re getting now, to have a seasoned candidate go almost unchallenged, Rangel said.

When Scotto asked whether the Cuomo coronation (my words, not his) is a good thing, Rangel at first replied: “I think it is.” But then allowed: “Well, no, no, no; for the general public, it may not be.”

“For the Republican Party at a convention to look like Democrats normally look at their convention is a good feeling for those of us,” Rangel explained.

“Normally, Democrats form a firing squad in a circle and just shoot each other. So, here in a primary, they kill each other…This time, what a joy it is for me as a staunch partisan Democrat to see the Republicans do it.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Paladino Announces LG Pick on ‘Capital Tonight’

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino stopped by our studios this afternoon to talk about his campaign and he made a little news.

The candidate dropped the name of his preferred running mate one day before his or her name will appear next to Paladino’s on petitions.

Paladino didn’t manage to make it onto the GOP ballot at last week’s convention in Manhattan.  Now, he and his number two pick will endeavor to collect a minimum of 15,000 signatures (at least 100 must be collected in 15 of the state’s 29 congressional districts). 

Paladino tells us he intends gather several thousand more than that and has every intention of beating GOP designee Rick Lazio in the September primary.

Below is footage of Liz asking the candidate to reveal his lieutenant governor pick.  To hear the entire answer, tune into “Capital Tonight” on YNN at 8pm and 11:30pm.

Lazio Slams Cuomo For ‘Albany-Speak’

GOP gubernatorial designee Rick Lazio took some time out from campaigning in Rochester today to take a swipe at AG Andrew Cuomo for semi-panning Gov. David Paterson’s creative use of budget extenders as “intriguing” but not optimal, YNN’s Mark Gruba reports.

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Lazio, who has a history of defending Gov. David Paterson (perhaps because his poll number are so low that he would have made a much easier general election opponent), said the governor needs to “be decisive and show leadership,” adding:

“I don’t know if Andrew Cuomo has an inkling of what leadership is all about. He continues to equivocate.”

“The latest I heard is that he is talking about it being intriguing, and that’s Albany speak. And he knows a lot about Albany intrigue.”

“What I would say is yes, we need to complete these reductions,” Lazio continued. “I don’t know that David Paterson has another option than laying it on the table, right now, and saying to the Legislature: Listen, this is what I have come up with, if you have a better plan to save the same amount of money, then act like adults, come to the table, and support those reductions.”

Meanwhile, 13WHAM News reports that Lazio, who was joined by his LG pick, Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards, declined to criticize Cuomo’s running mate, Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, even though the GOP duo was stumping on Duffy’s home turf.

Rice: I’m Plenty Independent

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice is in Buffalo today to pick up the endorsement of Rep. Brian Higgins and was asked to respond to a suggestion by one of her Democratic AG primary opponents, Sen. Eric Schneiderman, that her perceived support from AG Andrew Cuomo renders her insufficiently independent to succeed him.

“The great thing about this year, especially for the race for attorney general and who will succeed Andrew Cuomo, is that the people, the voters of New York, are going to have a choice,” Rice told YNN’s Doug Sampson.

“There are five people in the Democratic primary, of which I am one, and the people are going to have a very clear choice about who they want to be their independent voice, their independent advocate who can represent them, first and foremost. I’m not a career Albany politician. That is very clear.”

“I’ve always been an independent voice, an independent advocate who has spoken for victims and consumers and taxpayers. And I think the choice for all New Yorkers this year is going to be very clear.”

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