Teachout-Wu Campaign Zero In On Hochul

The insurgent Democratic primary campaigns of Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu are gaining some traction through endorsements from labor unions and, on Thursday, the New York Times backed Wu’s run for lieutenant governor.

“We are tapping into something, clearly,” said Wu during his visit to Albany Thursday. “I’d love to give credit to Zephyr and I, but I really think there’s something going on in this state and frankly in this country.”

Wu criticized the environmental record of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul.

“She’s going to play the traditional, lackey-like position of lieutenant governor, which in my opinion is a waste of a constitutional position, of a constitutional office,” Wu said.

After that, Wu went across the street to attend a pro-labor rally on the steps of the state capitol.

Wu said he’d use the job of lieutenant governor as an independent and activist one.

“I think of the position, I can serve as a public advocate. My whole life I’ve put the interests of the public first,” said Wu.

Hochul, meanwhile, defended her voting record in Congress in a three-minute YouTube video released by the state Democratic Committee.

“I never backed down from our core Democratic values of pro-choice, pro-marriage equality and pro-worker values,” Hochul said in the video.

Both Cuomo and Hochul have not responded to invitations to hold televised debates with Teachout and Wu.

Wu said he would prefer to have a one-on-one debate with Hochul rather than respond to her in news conferences.

“If she wants to clarify her views on her record, as opposed to having these weird conversations where she puts out videos and put our dossiers on her record piece by piece, we could actually meet in a debate and see who’s right,” Wu said.

Teachout later in the day appeared at a rally in Albany on the steps of the state Education Building. She said Hochul’s record is too out of step with Democratic voters.

“The best way to establish your bonafides as a Democrat is to vote like a Democrat when you’re in Congress,” said Teachout.

Meanwhile, there were even more signs on Thursday the Cuomo re-election campaign was gearing up to defend Hochul.

Hochul’s campaign account, meanwhile, reported receiving more than $60,000 in donations in the last 24 hours, with contributions coming from key labor groups and an LLC with ties to prolific Cuomo donor, Leonard Litwin.

And earlier in the week, the state Democratic Committee released a mailer that prominently featured both the governor and Hochul, reminding party members to vote on Sept. 9.

‘Friend & Neighbor’ Amedore’s First TV Ad (Updatedx2)

Former Assemblyman George Amedore has won the airwaves race in his re-match with Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, releasing the first TV ad of the 46th Senate District contest.

Interestingly, the spot makes almost no mention of the campaign, focusing instead on Amedore’s work assisting flood with clean-up in the aftermath of Irene and Lee, which hit parts of the district very hard.

The ad, which will start to air next week, portrays Amedore as a sort of hometown hero, with testimonials from people who witnessed him helping others.

This is all part of an effort to soften Amedore’s image following his close loss to Tkaczyk – by just 18 votes – two years ago.

In that race, the former Republican assemblyman came off as a sharply-dressed successful businessman (his family owns Amedore Homes in Guilderland) and political insider, while Tkaczyk, a former school board member and farmer, was the political newcomer just trying to fix a broken government system.

This time around, Amedore has ditched the suits and ties in favor of button-down shirts with the sleeves rolled up. What he hasn’t given up are his conservative positions – particularly when it comes to abortion rights, which is shaping up to be a big sticking point in this race.

Now it’s Tkaczyk who’s the insider, and – according to Amedore and his fellow Republicans – a member of the downstate dominated Democratic conference that wants to take control of the chamber and give upstate the short end of the stick.

And Tkaczyk also has an incumbent’s edge when it comes to fundraising, with $236,643 on hand as of the last state Board of Elections’ filing in mid-July to Amedore’s $142,183.

This race is one of a handful of closely contested contests being fought around the state as the Republicans and Democrats battle (again) for control of the chamber.

In 2012, outside interests keen on making Tkaczyk into the poster child for public campaign financing spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on her behalf. So far, that kind of independent expenditure spending has not materialized this year.

Here’s the script for Amedore’s ad:

Rita Treesdale: He was here every day, full of mud from head to toe.

Female narrator: When the floodwaters devastated our community, George Amedore was there helping, day after day.

Ollie Rhimer: I’d always see him working away with his family, tearing down walls and helping everybody. He was ripping down sheetrock, and pulling up old rug, and cleaning up mud and debris, right alongside the victims.

It was just like some neighbor coming over to give you a hand.

Female narrator: Our friend, our neighbor. George Amedore.

Updated: Senate Democrats sent over two statements.

“George Amedore can try to hide the truth but voters will see through his lies,” said spokesman Gary Ginsburg. “The facts are simple, George’s values are way too extreme and out-of-step with those of the residents of the 46th Senate District and George has a history of supporting businesses who ship jobs overseas and standing against equal pay for equal work for all New Yorkers.”

Shortly after, Ginsburg sent a second statement from Fort Plain Mayor Guy Barton.

“When the floods hit Fort Plain last year, Senator Tkaczyk was here immediately, helping with our clean-up and recovery efforts. And she kept coming back, bringing State officials, community development experts and investors with her. She said she would do all she could to help us, and she kept her word.”

UPDATE2: And now we have a statement in response to the Democratic statements from Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif, who will be getting the last work here, because we won’t be accepting any more statements.

“The hardworking residents of the 46th Senate District can see with their own eyes that Cecila Tkaczyk has a habit of saying one thing and doing another, just like when she pledged not to send political mail at taxpayer expense and then went on to spend $81,000 in just six months – - more than any other Democrat in the entire State Senate,” Reif said. “Despite what her political cronies say, it’s clear that Cecilia Tkaczyk doesn’t keep her word.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area and Rhode Island. (His daughter Mariah attends Brown University and is starting her sophomore year).

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has no public schedule today. He’ll also be in Rhode Island this evening, and is spending the night there.

President Obama is headlining a fund-raiser in Newport, RI tonight – that’s after he hits two fund-raisers in Westchester. He’ll spend the night in Westchester, too. He’ll attend the wedding of his personal chef, Sam Kass, to MSNBC’s Alex Wagner at a Pocantico Hills restaurant tomorrow.

At 9 a.m., Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout and running mate Tim Wu hold a press conference as part of “whistleblower tour,” Time Warner Cable, 142 Schwenk Dr., Kingston.

At 11 a.m., Teachout and Wu hold a press conference as part of “whistleblower tour,” SUNY New Paltz, Jacobson Faculty Tower, New Paltz.

At 11:30 a.m., Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul visits the Town Of Amherst Senior Center with Councilman Mark Manna, 370 John James Audubon Pkwy., Amherst.

At 12:15 p.m., Hochul appears on Buffalo Common Council President & True Bethel Pastor Darius Pridgen’s Radio Show, WUFO 1080AM.

At 1 p.m., the Teachout-Wu “whistleblower tour” continues at White Plains City Hall, 255 Main St., White Plains.

At 2:45 p.m., Another “whistleblower tour” stop, this time at the New York Department of Taxation, 8002 Kew Gardens Rd., Kew Gardens.

At 4:30 p.m., Teachout and Wu hold a final press conference as part of their “whistleblower tour,” LIPA, 333 Earle Ovington Blvd., Uniondale.

At 5 p.m., Hochul greets voters with Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, Nick Tahou’s, 320 W Main St., Rochester.

At 6:30 p.m., Hochul marches in the Rochester Labor Day Parade, Charlotte Street between Pitkin and Scio streets, Rochester.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Democratic party apparatus are mobilizing their considerable resources in an effort to protect Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul, following attacks from her primary opponent, Tim Wu, and a blistering critique from the New York Times.

Daily Kos has endorsed Wu over Hochul in the Democratic LG primary.

Low voter turnout, as is traditional in New York primaries, could help Wu.

Wu slammed Hochul for voting with House Republican leadership while she was a congresswoman on environmental bills – including legislation that would weaken the Clean Air Act and boost oil drilling

The second day of Zephyr Teachout’s “whistleblower” bus tour was more tightly run than the first, when the campaign was forced to cancel one event, and arrived an hour late to at least two others.

Making good on a pledge to go after the pensions of corrupt public officials, US Attorney Preet Bharara announced former NYC Councilman Miguel Martinez, who was convicted in a federal corruption case, had agreed to forfeit his city pension until he pays back $106,000 that he stole.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city was close to reaching its pre-K enrollment goal, with 50,407 children signed up so far.

De Blasio and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer faced off over pre-K contracts in back-to-back press conferences yesterday afternoon – the most direct confrontation thus far between de Blasio and another top elected city official.

The son of Oheka Castle owner and political donor Gary Melius has emerged as a “person of interest” in the shooting six months ago that left Melius seriously wounded.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department is “actively looking” at equipping officers with body-worn cameras – the strongest statement of support he has made for implementing the technology in New York since becoming police commissioner here.

Bratton strongly refuted claims by the NYPD sergeants’ union president that the city is starting to resemble its crime-ridden past.

More >


Former New York Times editorial board member Joyce Purnick called the “non-endorsement” of a Democratic gubernatorial primary candidate “a major departure” from the paper’s tradition.

LG candidate Tim Wu released a “dossier” on the environmental voting record of his Democratic primary opponent, Kathy Hocul.

The latest round of teacher evaluation scores can be found here.

Teachers and principals in New York’s large, urban school districts received lower ratings on the first year of state-mandated evaluations than their counterparts in other districts.

Wu said he and his running mate, Zephyr Teachout, are trying to mobilize New York’s growing Asian-American vote to beat the Cuomo-Hochul ticket.

The Teachout-Wu campaign launched “AskCuomo.com” – an “exciting Internet debate between supporters and the governor.”

More than 4,000 Tweets were posted about the president’s tan suit during his press conference this afternoon.

Former Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan is facing harassment charges after a fight (over fracking) in a town of Barker bar last week.

Former NYC Councilman Miguel Martinez is forfeiting his pension benefits to satisfy an order against him. US Attorney Preet Bharara wants ex-Assembylman Eric Stevenson to do the same.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka thinks Hillary Clinton is “very, very qualified” to be president, but he’s not ready to endorse her just yet.

Clinton made her first public comments on the situation that unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri during her keynote speech at the Nexenta  OpenSDx Summit in San Francisco.

Joan Rivers is in critical but stable condition at a NYC hospital.

Rep. Dan Maffei and his GOP opponent, John Katko, held dueling press conferences at the State Fair.

The full-time medical director for the Syracuse City School District, Dr. Maritza Alvarado, abruptly quit her $92,000-a-year job, effective immediately.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins criticized his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, after a politically connected aide to Astorino resigned following a drunken driving arrest.

Erie County Dems last night presented Hochul with a huge cake that said “Happy Birthday to our Favorite Daughter,” with candles that spelled “LG.”

Bloomberg LP CEO Dan Doctoroff thinks he knows who has the power to make environmental sustainability Wall Street’s top priority: the SEC.

The State Democratic Committee defended its ad that accuses Astorino of “racketeering, conspiracy and fraud” in a letter to television stations around the state.

President Obama’s upcoming fundraising spree through Westchester and Rhode Island is throwing a wrench into travel plans for wealthy New Yorkers flying to the Hamptons for Labor Day weekend.

The NYC CFB has a primary voting guide for races in the five boroughs.

All three candidates vying to replace retiring Brooklyn Assemblywoman Joan Millman blasted Cuomo at a debate, with two saying  outright they supported his primary challenger Zephyr Teachout.

Dems Participate in Pre-Primary ‘Candles for Clemency’ Demo in Cuomo’s Backyard (Updatedx4)



…A coalition of celebrities, Democratic clubs, candidates and sitting state lawmakers plan to hold a rally in Mount Kisco on Sept. 6 in an effort to push Gov. Andrew Cuomo to exercise his power of clemency.

The event, advertised as a “rally, march and vigil” by the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, is set to feature of a range of organizations, many of which have endorsed Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout.

Groups scheduled to participate include the National Organization for Women (NYS chapter), the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club and the Coalition for a District Alternative.

A number of sitting Senate Democrats are also either expected to attend or have given a signal they support the vigil, including Sens. Liz Krueger, Gustavo Rivera, Brad Hoylman and Jose Peralta.

At the same time, Senate candidates John Liu, Oliver Koppell and Robert Jackson have also endorsed the vigil.

UPDATE: Liu sent the following statement: “I am not participating in this event, nor did I agree to lend my name to it.” UPDATE2: I’ve learned that Sen. Jose Peralta (Queens) is also not participating, despite the fact that his name appears on the flyer. The same goes for Sen. Brad Hoylman (Manhattan, Chelsea area). UPDATE3: Add to the list of non-attendees Sen. Gustavo Rivera (Bronx), who called to say: “I’m very busy in my primary campaign and in my district.” UPDATE4: I just received a call made on behalf of Sen. Liz Krueger (Manhattan, East Side) informing me that she’s not going to be there, either.

Do you see a pattern developing here?

There are also a number of Cuomo critics, including Bill Samuels and former NYc Public Advocate Mark Green (who was one of Cuomo’s 2010 AG primary opponents), listed.

A flyer advertising the event notes that Ronald Reagan, as governor of California, issued clemency 579 times, while Democratic Gov. Hugh Carey of New York did so 155 times.

In addition to the flyer — with 1,000 being distributed around Mount Kisco, Bedford and the surrounding towns — the group is mailing it as well. The flyer notes that Mount Kisco is the “home of Gov. Cuomo”, and the vigil will be held, literally, at the house Cuomo shares with Food Network star Sandra Lee.

The governor has granted pardons — which is different than clemency — on rare occasion.

Cuomo issued three pardons to New Yorkers who had completed their sentences, but “whose legal status and rights were hampered by their criminal records,” according to his office.

Hochul Nets More Than $60K (Updated)

Updated from earlier:

The campaign of lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hochul received $61,700 in contributions over the last 24 hours, records filed with the state Board of Elections show.

The political action committee of the Communications Workers of America contributed $19,500 to her lieutenant governor campaign account, while another PAC, the New York State Conference of IUOE donated $19,700.

An LLC with ties to prolific Cuomo donor Leonard Litwin donated $20,000, records show.

The contribution is part of the 24-hour notices required for primary campaigns, which began this week.

CWA is a founding union of the labor-backed Working Families Party. The WFP openly considered not endorsing Cuomo’s re-election, which would have deprived him of the organization’s ballot line.

In the end, Cuomo won the ballot line after pledging to help Democrats take full control of the state Senate and helping to enact a host of liberal measures.

The contribution to Hochul’s campaign account comes as she is making a renewed push in her primary campaign against Tim Wu, a Columbia University professor.

The state Democratic Committee released a 3-minute YouTube video featuring Hochul touting her liberal credentials and she appeared in a radio interview on The Capitol Pressroom. Hochul is making five different campaign stops in western New York as well.

Meanwhile, a mailer from the state Democrats also features Hocul prominently, while reminding voters to back the Cuomo-Hochul ticket on Sept. 9.

Wu Envisions ‘Public Advocate’ Role For LG

Fresh off his endorsement from The New York Times on Thursday, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Tim Wu was in Albany to criticize former Rep. Kathy Hochul’s record in the House of Representatives.

Wu, speaking at a news conference, railed against Hochul’s votes on a range of environmental measures in Congress, which he said were favored by the Republican leadership.

He added the Times endorsement was a major boost to his candidacy.

“We’re excited, we’re enthusiastic, it’s been a big shot in the arm for the campaign,” Wu said.

Hochul defended her voting record in a YouTube video released by the state Democratic Committee on Thursday, and later addressed the criticism in radio interview on The Capitol Pressroom.

But Wu says he and his running mate, gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout, are more aligned with the Democratic base in New York who will vote on Sept. 9.

Wu knocked both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Hochul for not agreeing to debates.

“I think they’re making a mockery of democracy, if the democratic process here,” Wu said. “They’re trying to pretend there’s not a primary — that’s been their strategy the entire time.”

After the news conference, Wu walked across State Street to attend a labor rally being held on the steps of the Capitol facing the Al Smith Building.

Speaking to reporters there, Wu pledged to “breathe new life” into the office of lieutenant governor.

“I can serve as a public advocate. My whole life, I’ve put the interests of the public first,” Wu said, adding that Hochul is “going to play the traditional, lackey-like position of lieutenant governor, which in my view is the waste of a constitutional position that the public needs in Albany.”

There is the chance that Wu wins his primary, but Cuomo is victorious in his, setting up a situation in which the Columbia professor is the lieutenant governor to someone who didn’t want him on the ticket.

The result would be reminiscent of Gov. Mario Cuomo’s experience with his first lieutenant governor, Al Del Bello, who was the preferred choice of New York City Mayor Ed Koch during the 1982 Democratic primary.

“I remain very confident and aspect that with the support of a raising movement Zephyr Teachout will pull off the upset of the century — it’s been a short century — but the upset of this century and beat Andrew Cuomo,” Wu said. “That will be the main story.”

And if she doesn’t win, but he does?

“I anticipate it will be a challenging relationship, but I’m prepared to stand my ground,” Wu said.

Hochul Says Support For SAFE Act, Second Amendment Not Inconsistent

Former Rep. Kathy Hochul, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s choice for lieutenant governor, said in a radio interview Thursday morning that her support for Second Amendment rights is not inconsistent with backing the SAFE Act, the controversial gun control law the governor championed last year.

When she represented a heavily Republican congressional district, Hochul received the backing of the National Rifle Association.

But after acknowledging this year she backed the measure, gun-rights advocates called for the NRA to rescind the endorsement.

And yet, The New York Times cited her support from NRA when endorsing Tim Wu’s candidacy for lieutenant governor.

Hochul, interviewed on The Capitol Pressroom, said upstate New Yorkers have a different relationship with firearms.

“I knew everybody in Erie County who had a pistol permit,” she said. “Republicans had pistol permits, Democrats had pistol permits and members of the Working Families Party had pistol permits because it’s a cultural phenomenon here.”

She insisted that backing the SAFE Act wasn’t akin to opposing gun rights, especially the right to hunt.

“The SAFE Act is not inconsistent to the guns I just spoke about,” she said. “What the SAFE Act does it gets at something every reasonable gun owner wants to make sure occurs is that guns don’t get into hands of mentally ill people, they don’t get into the hands of criminals, and we do much more to get illegal guns off the streets in urban areas where they are plaguing our streets and killing our children.”

The SAFE Act was a package of gun control measures that ranged from addressing mental illness, gun crimes and even shielded gun registries from the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

But gun-rights groups have been especially concerned with the more infamous aspects of the legislation, including what is seen as an arbitrary limitation on the number of rounds allowed in magazine.

Astorino Campaign Releases ‘Dear Joe’ Debate Letter

Michael Lawler, the manager for Republican Rob Astorino’s gubernatorial campaign, has sent his counterpart, Joe Percoco, a letter formally requesting debates.

Lawler, in the letter, notes that Astorino earlier this summer had called for a series of regional debates with Cuomo, and adds the “offer still stands.”

From the letter:

“When asked about debates recently, the Governor stated that he will “leave that to the campaigns to work through and my campaign will be talking to my rivals’ campaigns and they’ll figure it out, I’m sure.” Based on his comments, I wanted to reach out to you directly and get the ball rolling. Several weeks ago, County Executive Astorino proposed that he and Governor Cuomo do a series of eight regional debates so that they may discuss the issues not only affecting New York State as a whole, but issues unique to the voters in each region. That offer still stands.

The letter comes after Cuomo, along with his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, were invited to a televised debate by Time Warner Cable News and NY1 with their primary opponents, Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu.

Neither Cuomo or Hochul committed to the debate invitations.

Cuomo debated in 2010 alongside a host of candidates in an event that devolved into a circus-like atomsphere. Astorino has said he does not want a debate that includes multiple candidates, just a one-on-one forum with him and Cuomo.

Letter to Joe Percoco by Nick Reisman

Katko: ‘No Regrets’ About Purchase, Theft of Gun

Republican NY-24 candidate John Katko said he has “no regrets” about purchasing a handgun that was subsequently stolen from his truck in 2000 and used in a hold-up and shootout that left two Syracuse men dead.

In a statement issued this morning in response to a Syracuse Post-Standard story about the 14-year-old incident, Katko said he bought the gun – a .40 caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol – as a security precaution against “very real physical threats” against himself and his family during the time he worked in the US attorney’s office. Katko noted he had permission to obtain the weapon and did so “at the urging of the United States Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

“Fourteen years ago I, too, became the victim of a crime,” Katko said. “My protective weapon was stolen from a locked briefcase concealed from view in my locked vehicle. I left the weapon in that vehicle as my wife and I felt uncomfortable taking it into an area church for a required meeting with other Onondaga County Foster Parent Program volunteers – c learly not an appropriate venue to be carrying a weapon of any kind.”

“This incident was fully investigated by the United States Department of Justice and the United States Marshals Service and no wrong doing was found. The stolen weapon was later recovered on a suspect in a double homicide; tests confirmed the weapon was not used in the commission of that crime.”

The Post-Standard story notes that Katko broke no state or federal gun laws, and he was not disciplined by the Justice Department after the shooting. “But a review of the case shows he likely violated federal policies for the safe handling and storage of government-issued weapons.”

Katko has repeatedly insisted the gun was in a locked case in his locked truck. A police report cited by the paper says Katko told police that the gun – loaded with nine rounds of ammunition – was in a green canvas bag that was stolen out of the truck along with his US Attorney’s Office ID card, personal checks and other papers.

Katko, who quit his job as a federal prosecutor to challenge Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei this fall, accused his “opponents” of rehashing this incident in an effort to impact his congressional run. He insists that “many relevant details” were left out of the Post-Standard story.

“People should know that I never back down from a fight,” Katko said. “And I will not allow this story to distract from the needs of Central New York voters regarding jobs, our economy, fairness, and failed leadership in Washington.”

NY-24 GOP candidate statement on use of stolen gun in armed robbery in 2000. by liz_benjamin6490