NY-21 Dem Woolf Plays Up Bipartisanship In 1st TV Ad (Updated)

Democrat Aaron Woolf this morning released his first TV ad of the NY-21 race, in which he pledges to work in a bipartisan fashion to represent the GOP-dominated district if he’s elected in November to replace outgoing Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.

“Our citizens deserve a Representative who will continue the region’s tradition of independent leadership and hard work,” Woolf said in a statement that announced the ad.

“I’ve traveled across our district and met thousands of citizens to listen to their concerns and hopes for the future. My first commercial lets voters know that, in Congress, I will walk across the aisle to fight for their interests and get things done.”

The ad, “Walk Across the Aisle,” makes no mention of Woolf’s party affiliation. Woolf’s campaign did not release much in the way of details about the buy, other than to say it is “substantial” and started airing today on both broadcast and cable.

Woolf, a documentary filmmaker and part-time Manhattan resident, is facing another political newcomer, Republican Elise Stefanik, a former Bush White House aide who won a GOP primary against businessman Matt Doheny in June. That race featured a lot of outside cash (spent on Stefanik’s behalf).

Until now, we hadn’t seen much in the way of general election ads, but it’s still early yet – mid-August, and most voters aren’t really paying attention to politics.

Also in the mix in NY-21: Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello, a long-time business-owner and founder of the Rock Hill Bakehouse in Glens Falls.

The GOP is very keen to win back this seat, which it held for over a century until Owens won a special election in 2009, thanks to the departure of former Republican Rep. John McHugh, who resigned to take a position as secretary of the Army with the Obama administration.

The Cook Political Report rates the NY-21 race a “Democratic toss-up,” while Rothenberg says it’s a “pure toss-up.”

UPDATE: The NRCC responded to Woolf’s ad by dinging him – yet again – on his personal wealth, and the Daily News story on the health violations lodged against his Brooklyn organic food businesses.

“For someone who has made his living producing documentary films, it’s ironic that Manhattan Multimillionaire Aaron Woolf would leave so many crucial facts out of his first television ad,”NRCC spokesman Ian Prior said.

“For example, Woolf left out that he was a member of a liberal organization that tried to stand in the way of 550 jobs in the North Country. He didn’t mention that his Brooklyn grocery store and restaurant are better known for mice, flies, and roaches than they are for food. And, most importantly, Woolf never disclosed his controversial position that middle class families need to pay more for food.”

Here’s the script of Woolf’s ad:

Aaron Woolf figures he’s already walked hundreds of miles during his campaign for Congress.

And he thinks all that walking will come in handy. Because if he’s going to fight for farmers and small businesspeople looking for a little economic fairness, women who happen to think equal work should mean equal pay…

…and veterans waiting months just to see a doctor…

…he’s going to need to make the most difficult walk of all.

Across the aisle.

And he intends to bring his walking shoes.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo departs for Israel today. Prior to that departure, he’ll be in New York City.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, are on Long Island today through Friday. They have no public events scheduled.

At 8 a.m., GOP LG candidate and Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss participates in the Manlius Chamber of Commerce Candidates Breakfast, Cavalry Club, 4801 Troop K Rd., Manlius.

From 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer leads New York City policymakers and community groups on a tour of upstate New York farms to promote local sourcing and facilitate partnerships, various locations.

At 10 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on “Live from the State Capitol with Fred Dicker.”

At 10:15 a.m., Moss and GOP state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci announce news on the “Stop Common Core” ballot line, Antonacci for Comptroller Headquarters, 2910 Erie Blvd. East, Syracuse.

At 10:30 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill and Astorino will announce the filing of their “Stop Common Core” petitions, in front of the Mineola Middle School, 200 Emory Rd., Mineola. (Corner of Garfield Avenue).

Also at 10:30 a.m., the Joint Commission on Public Ethics meets, 540 Broadway, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Rep. Greg Meeks will lead a contingent of over a dozen elected officials and community leaders to publicly announce their support of former NYC Councilman Leroy Comrie’s bid for state Senate, 113-43 Farmers Blvd., St. Albans, Queens.

At 10:45 a.m., de Blasio holds a media availability at the Barclays Center, Daily News Plaza, 620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul holds a meet-and-greet with Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond, Spot Coffee, 221 Glen St., Glens Falls.

At 11:15 a.m., Rep. Dan Maffei tours Syracuse Community Health Center, 819 South Salina St., Syracuse.

At 12:15 p.m., Moss holds a news conference on the “Stop Common Core” ballot line, Monroe County Republican Committee Headquarters, 460 State St., Rochester.

At 1 p.m., US Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hold a press conference to announce federal bill to help launch small businesses, Urban Future Lab at N.Y.U. Polytechnic School of Engineering, 15 Metro Tech Center, Brooklyn.

At 2 p.m., Moss Attends the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors Meeting at the Wyoming County Fair, 70 Main St., Pike.

Also at 2 p.m., Maffei attends an Oswego County women’s economic forum, Oswego Tea Company, 157 East 1st St., Oswego.

Also at 2 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson attends the Delaware County Fair, Walton Fairgrounds. (He’ll participate in the fair’s Fireman’s Parade & Veterans Ceremony at 6:30 p.m.)

At 3 p.m., Hochul speaks at the launch of the Ulster County Women’s Equality Party with state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, BSP Kingston, 323 Wall St., Kingston.

At 5 p.m., Cuomo and the York State “Unity Delegation” hold a media availability before departing for Israel, JFK International Airport, Terminal 4, Departures Level (4th Floor) Outside of Tri-Faith Chapel Museum, Queens.

Also at 5 p.m., Moss tours CY Farms/Batavia Turf, 7939 Bank Street Rd., Batavia.

At 6:30 p.m., Moss attends and speaks at the Genesee County Women’s Republican Club, Batavia Downs, 8315 Park Rd., Batavia.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Democratic candidate for governor Zephyr Teachout and running mate Tim Wu join former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean at a Democracy for America bash and DFNYC fundraiser, 227 West 17th St., Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., Moss attends and speaks at the Genesee County SCOPE Meeting, 3515 Galloway Rd., Batavia.


State and federal investigators last week seized papers, a laptop and cell phones belonging to Frances Libous, a vice chair of the Workers Compensation Board and the wife of Sen. Tom Libous, who is under indictment, two people familiar with the raid said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders are tentatively scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their trip to Israel this week.

New York City’s effort to bring the Democratic National Convention to the Barclays Center in 2016 — a bid that could help elevate Mayor Bill de Blasio’s national profile while infusing the party with a dash of Brooklyn cool — reached the pep rally stage on Monday, as convention officials were welcomed for a two-day tour.

Councilwoman Inez Barron, who represents East New York, isn’t supporting de Blasio’s push for Brooklyn to host the convention because there’s no evidence it will help the low-income residents in her district.

The convention could bring a “traffic nightmare” to the Big Apple.

A Brooklyn state Supreme Court justice threw out Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legal challenge to the residency of his Democratic primary opponent, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout. The Cuomo campaign is vowing to appeal.

Cuomo attorney Marty Connor: “As the judge himself noted in his decision, Ms. Teachout admitted under oath that she misrepresented her address on official and tax documents. Will Ms. Teachout be paying the taxes owed to the state of New York?”

Now Teachout is upping the pressure on Cuomo to debate her before the Sept. 9 primary.

A new Siena poll found New York voters view corruption in state government as a serious issue, yet only about a third of them have followed recent developments about Cuomo’s disbanded Moreland Commission closely enough to be able to offer an informed opinion.

US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called the US attorney’s investigation into the defunct commission “smart,” and did not defend Cuomo’s actions. “It’s important to have transparency in government,” she said.

More >

Poloncarz ‘Partially’ Blames Kennedy For Dem Losses in Erie County

A war of words between two of the most high-profile Democrats in Erie County continues to escalate. The latest shot came from Executive Mark Poloncarz who told Liz Benjamin, Monday that State Senator Tim Kennedy is partially to blame for Democratic losses at the polls

“Tim created an enemy himself last year when he, working with (former Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman) Steve Pigeon and his associates, put in nearly $100,000 into Steve Pigeon’s PAC which was used against candidates who were running on the Democratic line for the Erie County Legislature,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz said he endorsed Kennedy’s opponent, Erie County Legislative Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant, not only because he feels comfortable with her but because he believes Kennedy’s actions “partially” cost the Democrats the Majority in the Legislature.

“Betty Jean Grant was the Chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature, in the Majority, until we lost the Majority last year partially because of the money Tim Kennedy put in to run against other Democrats,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz denied the endorsement was political payback and said he would ultimately support the winner of the primary. Kennedy narrowly defeated Grant in a primary for the 63rd State Senate District two years ago. Poloncarz did not make an endorsement then.

“I could have sat back and did nothing but I truly believe Betty Jean Grant would be a better State Senator to the people of this district,” Poloncarz said.

Kennedy, for his part, has not been shy about firing back at Poloncarz.  Last week he called the Poloncarz endorsement “irrelevant” and given by “failed leadership in Erie County.”

Kennedy’s office elaborated on that statement Monday Night and suggested the County Executive’s endorsement is a response to Kennedy shedding “needed light on major deficiencies within Erie County government.”  Specifically, Kennedy’s camp highlighted what it called problems in Erie County Child Protective Services.

“The glaring flaws that New York State uncovered have helped bring about new statewide reforms prompted by Erie County’s failures. The County Executive remains resentful that Senator Kennedy called for this needed state intervention in county government, and as a result, he is backing his opponent.”

As far as Kennedy’s contribution to the WNY Progressive Caucus, Kennedy’s Campaign defended the move.

“Senator Kennedy contributed to a PAC that supported strong, progressive Democrats who vowed to bring change and a hardworking mentality to Erie County government and who could win against Republicans in the November elections.”


US Sen. Chuck Schumer thinks Hillary Clinton would be “so, so happy” if the 2016 Democratic National Convention is in Brooklyn.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie, head of the Republican Governors Association, says he does support Rob Astorino’s challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but won’t be sending the Westchester County executive financial support any time soon. (If the race gets closer, he’ll “consider” investing).

Top Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz was subpoenaed in a case involving a contract that was taken away from a seasoned Western New York construction company that is alleging the state won’t take the blame in an election-year for delays in a high profile development in Buffalo.

Twenty donors poured more than $10,000 each into Democratic LG Kathy Hochul’s campaign, providing more than half of her $523,130 total haul.

Is Cuomo “bulletproof“? (Politically speaking).


The HillaryPac commissioned Taos, NM artist Kimberly Webber to paint a portrait of the former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential contender.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may or may not run for president in 2016, but he doesn’t want a political process “in which we anoint” a candidate.

The seemingly ever-growing Buzzfeed received a $50 million investment from blue chip venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which values the company at $850 million.

De Blasio, who has been fairly sparing with his endorsements, is backing Democrat Rodneyse Bichotte, a Flatbush district leader vying to succeed outgoing Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs.

Steven Cohen, executive director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, is disappointed both Cuomo and de Blasio “see the environment as a secondary policy arena.”

Federal officials are hoping for a psychiatric evaluation of a Rochester man who allegedly made online threats to President Obama, Cuomo and LG Bob Duffy.

NBC’s White House correspondent Chuck Todd is reportedly the likely replacement for David Gregory as host of “Meet the Press”, though nothing is set in stone.

A new report on Pennsylvania’s failures in regulating fracking underscores the concerns of Southern Tier opponents and proponents of the natural gas drilling technique.

Nearly one-third of Syracuse-area residents aren’t paying all of their bills and haven’t in quite some time, according to a new report.

A judge has ruled that prosecutorscan pursue one of two criminal charges against Robert Wiesner, husband of Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, in a local development corporation controversy.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s right hand man, Dan Doctoroff, sold his upscale Upper West Side townhouse for $11.25 million. He paid just $1 million for the limestone mansion in 1993.

David Weigel was surprised by the anti-Common Core sentiment in today’s Siena poll results. “When independents break against something by a 14-point margin, politicians generally look awkwardly for the escape hatches.”

Maureen Dowd is joining the staff of The New York Times Magazine – a move that brings some fresh star power to the glossy Sunday supplement.

Today was the funeral for one of Gov. Mario Cuomo’s closest advisers during his administration from 1983 to 1994, Fabian Palomino.

Cuomo Campaign To Appeal Teachout Ruling

A state judge’s ruling on Monday that kept Zephyr Teachout’s primary campaign against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo alive will be appealed, attorney Martin Connor said in a statement.

The Cuomo campaign is challenging Teachout’s eligibility for the ballot, arguing she does not meet the required five-year in-state residency rule.

Connor, a former state senator, singled out part of Judge Edgar Walker’s ruling this afternoon that noted “whether or not Ms. Teachout misrepresented her actual residence address to regulatory bodies in NY or elsewhere” the matter isn’t relevant for the court to consider.

Connor has pointed to a variety of personal documents including her driver’s license that showed Teachout listed Vermont as her address, not New York.

“As the judge himself noted in his decision, Ms. Teachout admitted under oath that she misrepresented her address on official and tax documents. Will Ms. Teachout be paying the taxes owed to the State of New York? We will be appealing today’s decision.”

Walker, in his ruling, wrote that it was clear Teachout had lived in New York state since June 2009 in order to teach at Fordham University.

RWDSU Endorses Esposito In LI Senate Race

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union on Monday endorsed Democratic Senate hopeful Adrienne Esposito in the third Senate District.

The Suffolk County district, currently represented by Republican congressional candidate Lee Zeldin, is considered one of several battleground Senate races around the state.

Esposito’s Republican opponent is Tom Croci, the Islip town supervisor.

“I am honored to be endorsed by the hardworking men and women of RWDSU. I come from middle class roots, and the RWDSU has a long and proud history of fighting and winning battles for working families like mine. I look forward to working with RWDSU as a Senator to make life better for the hardworking residents of Suffolk County,” Esposito said in a statement.

RWDSU is a labor group that is known for its early endorsements in closely watched races. RWDSU President Stuart Applbaum praised Esposito’s work as an environmental advocate on Long Island.

“Adrienne has an extensive understanding of issues that are important to working people, said Stuart Applbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Her work in Albany as well as her grassroots efforts to uplift the Long Island community will make her a strong addition to the Senate Democratic Party and her dedication to fight for the public interest of New Yorkers make her a true supporter of the progressive movement.”

Teachout Survives Cuomo’s Ballot Challenge (Updated)

A state judge on Monday ruled Zephyr Teachout can remain on the Democratic primary ballot next month, setting up a three-way contest between the Fordham law professor, incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo and comedian-activist Randy Credico.

In a statement, Teachout renewed her call for a debate with Cuomo.

“Today we beat the Governor and his old boys club in court. His two attempts to knock me off the ballot have failed — first by challenging my petition signatures, and second by challenging my residency. We won Rounds 1 and 2. Now it’s time for Round 3: a debate,” she said in a statement. “New York Democrats deserve a debate between Andrew Cuomo and myself about the issues that real New Yorkers care about: schools, fracking, corruption and building a fair and strong economy.”

Cuomo’s re-election campaign challenged Teachout’s residency on the grounds she did not meet the five-year residency requirement to run for state office in New York.

Teachout, a former campaign advisor to ex-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, argued she had been teaching and living in New York City since 2009.

A judge sided with Teachout’s claims in a ruling Monday afternoon following a two-day hearing that included Teachout’s own mother, a judge in Vermont, testifying in her defense.

Cuomo’s campaign did not challenge the ballot status of Credico, who has run for mayor of New York City and U.S. Senate.

A primary challenge means Cuomo can raise an additional $19,700 above the maximum contribution of $41,400.

Teachout had initially sought the Working Families Party ballot line in May, but lost the endorsement to Cuomo, who won the support of the labor-backed party with a promise to help Democrats retake control of the state Senate.

Updated: In the ruling, Judge Edgar Walker writes “It is evident that, since June 2009, Ms. Teachout has clearly ‘lived’ in New York, as that term is commonly understood, in order to pursue her career as a Fordham professor.”

The ruling comes despite lawyers for the Cuomo campaign submitting evidence that showed Teachout’s driver’s licence during the last several years was for Vermont and that she initially used her parents’ Vermont address.

Walker ruled that Teachout’s “physical presence” in New York demonstrated she planned live in the state permanently.

Document by Nick Reisman

Astorino Campaign: Race Tightens For Moreland Watchers

Though he’s still more than 30 percentage points behind Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo, the campaign of Republican Rob Astorino still finds a silver lining: Among voters who have heard of the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption, the race much tighter.

The Siena poll released this morning found the troubles surrounding the Moreland Commission barely put a dent Cuomo’s lead over Astorino, which stands at 32 percentage points.

But among voters who have heard about the Moreland Commission controversy, the race is a closer one: 49 percent for Cuomo and 41 percent for Astorino.

“We don’t pay much attention to polls this early, but Siena does show what we are anecdotally noticing within the campaign: When people realize they were burned again by another Albany politician, they become quickly ready to throw Andrew Cuomo aside,” said Astorino campaign spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “New Yorkers have been promised the moon by the likes of Andrew Cuomo before; they won’t be fooled twice.”

Still, the poll found only 32 percent of voters are even aware of the commission, much less the governor’s office’s efforts to direct or block subpoenas from the anti-corruption panel Cuomo created last year.

And among those 32 percent aware of the commission, a plurality — 37 percent — are Republican voters.

If anything, the poll shows a very small window for Astorino to jump through between now and when voters begin to come engaged in the race for governor.

The Siena Poll In Charts

Today’s Siena College poll includes some helpful charts to visualize Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s standing in the horse race with Republican challenger Rob Astorino, as well as some prospective on his favorable-unfavorable ratings since he took office in 2011.

To wit, the head-to-head match up with Astorino shows little has changed since June of this year, with the results mostly falling within a margin of error.

And while the numbers have fluctuated over the years, consistency also holds for Cuomo when voters are asked if they prefer a generic “someone else.” The question has recorded Cuomo under 50 percent only once, back in March, when 49 percent said they would support his re-election.

One trend that has tightened over the last 3-1/2 years has been the governor’s favorable-unfavorable figures which started, unsurprisingly, at a sky-high level and has slowly come back down to earth.

August 2014 Charts by Nick Reisman

State Democrats Point To Astorino’s Federal Entanglements (Updated)

As federal prosecutors continue to investigate Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption, state Democrats are pointing out Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino also has headaches with the federal government.

Astorino is being deposed by prosecutors in the county’s ongoing dispute with the federal government over an affordable housing settlement that was agreed to by his predecessor as county executive, Democrat Andy Spano.

“If Rob Astorino still has that jug of bleach, he might want to use it on himself,” said Democratic Committee spokesman Peter Kauffmann in a statement this morning. “He’s been slinging mud and now New Yorkers see that he’s just plain dirty. Rob Astorino’s petty battles with the federal government have cost Westchester taxpayers millions of dollars already, and he is still the only county executive in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws. It’s time for Rob Astorino to come clean and stop lying about his racist housing policies.”

Sensing this would be a line of attack for Democrats, the Astorino campaign over the weekend released a lengthy statement saying comparisons between U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation of Cuomo’s meddling in the Moreland Commission and a deposition requested by the Department of Housing and Urban Development is apples and oranges.

“County Executive Astorino is being deposed over a federal housing settlement signed by his predecessor, current Cuomo aide Andrew Spano,” said Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud, referring to Spano’s appointment to the state Board of Elections. “Westchester is in complete compliance with the terms of the settlement — indeed, it is ahead of schedule — yet the federal government is demanding things that were not in the 2009 agreement. Mr. Astorino has made public statements about that overreach, as is his First Amendment right. The deposition was requested by a HUD housing monitor in an attempt to muzzle Mr. Astorino’s criticism of Washington bureaucracy overstepping its Constitutional boundaries.”

She added the effort to draw attention to the deposition is another “Cuomo ruse.”

“Mr. Cuomo has retained a criminal defense attorney in the Moreland case and refuses to address details of the investigation. Rob Astorino will talk passionately about his First Amendment case with anyone interested,” she said.

Updated: Republican Chairman Ed Cox also weighs in, calling the move by Democrats a desperate one.

“This is what desperation looks like: as the US Attorney leads a federal criminal investigation into Andrew Cuomo’s corruption of his own corruption commission, Cuomo, hiding behind his surrogates, is promoting the ridiculous narrative that Rob Astorino’s simple deposition with the federal housing monitor regarding Westchester County’s dispute with HUD, Andrew Cuomo’s old stomping grounds, is comparable,” Cox said. “It’s not. That’s why the spotlight of the national political media is focused on the ever-expanding scope of Cuomo’s scandal. New Yorkers know nonsense when the see it, and they aren’t buying what Cuomo is peddling.”