Molinaro Welcomes Pataki Comparisons

It would make sense for a Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York to want to be compared to former Governor George Pataki these days.

In 1994, Pataki upset incumbent Democrat Mario Cuomo to become the first member of the GOP to win the seat in 24 years. He also was the last Republican elected to that seat.

That same year, 1994, Marc Molinaro became the youngest mayor in America at the age of 19. More than two decades later, Molinaro is trying to emulate what Pataki did.

The party is not shying away from the comparison at all at its designating convention this year. Before the candidate made his acceptance speech, a short video played driving home all these points.

Pataki introduced Molinaro to the stage. He said similar to when he ran, the media is not giving the Republican much of a chance, but we should.

The similarities don’t end there. Like the former governor, Molinaro is viewed as a moderate who could appeal to disenfranchised Democrats and independent voters, two cross-sections of the electorate needed for a member of the GOP to win in this blue state.

Even during his convention speech, with an audience that was primarily Republican, the candidate brought an inclusive message. It’s something that no doubt will continue and possibly be even more pronounced as his campaign continues.

There are some differences from 1994. When Pataki won, he was buoyed by voters who were coming out in droves to voice their displeasure with Congress and the Clinton Administration.

This year, however, there is an expected “blue wave” of Democrats voting in opposition to President Trump and the Republican Congress. The GOP believes while they don’t have a Clinton, they do have another Cuomo to campaign against.

Molinaro and the preceding speakers continually talked about corruption in New York State government. They pointed out in the last 12 years a governor, an attorney general, and a comptroller have left their offices in disgrace – all Democrats.

Despite the fact he’s been in politics for more than half of his relatively young life, Molinaro is making the argument he represents fresh ideas and a voice for voters across the state, not just in his party.

At least George Pataki and a room full of enthused committee members seem to agree with him. Now he needs to convince the rest of the state.

Cuomo Cruises To 95 Percent At Convention

Gov. Andrew Cuomo secured 95 percent of the weighted vote on Wednesday at the state Democratic convention, easily winning the preferred candidate status of the committee.

His Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon, a public education advocate and actress, will have to gather petition signatures to secure a spot on the ballot this September.

The result likely did not surprise Nixon, who briefly appeared at the convention to listen to nominating speeches and then left before a roll call vote by Assembly district began.

“I think at the end of the day voters are concerned with the governor’s record,” Nixon said as she was leaving. “He’s a dynastic governor.”

Nixon’s insurgent campaign has drawn support from a variety of liberal advocacy groups, but has not penetrated the establishment of the party, which has largely lined up behind Cuomo, who has won the backing of labor unions and elected officials.

“He got 95 percent because he earned it the old-fashioned way,” said Jay Jacobs, the Nassau County Democratic chairman. “He did the work.”

Williams Says Clinton’s Appearance Hurts Party Unity

Candidate for lieutenant governor Jumaane Williams on Wednesday took issue with Hillary Clinton addressing the state party convention, saying her appearance hurts efforts to unify the various Democratic factions.

“The issue is people have been talking about unifying the party,” said Williams, a New York City councilman challenging Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. “There is a sense that that particular speaker isn’t what we need right now.”

Clinton is addressing the state party at its first day here at Hofstra University on Long Island and will endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bid for a third term.

Clinton is an interesting choice to speak, given the push by the left for Cuomo’s primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon.

“Usually when they talk about party unity, it’s the leadership telling people on the left to be quiet,” Williams said.

Still, Clinton remains popular in New York with Democratic voters, having won the state’s party primary for president over Bernie Sanders. She served in the U.S. Senate representing New York as well.

Williams acknowledged that Clinton “enjoys a lot of support here in New York state.”

agita to some people.

Quinn Expects ‘Hero’s Welcome’ For Clinton

The top officials at the state Democratic Committee insist Hillary Clinton can be the unifying force for the state party in New York — a party that increasingly is composed of supporters of her 2016 primary opponent, Bernie Sanders.

Clinton is due to take the stage here at the state Democratic convention on Wednesday at Hofstra University here on Long Island after her endorsement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bid for a third term.

“I think we’ve seen since the election Hillary is someone who has been able to bring people together — bringing people together around progressive causes, bringing people around representation of women,” said Christine Quinn, the former city council speaker and vice chair of the Democratic committee. “So, I think what we’re going to see today a hero’s welcome and a message that really does bind everyone together and electrify our message between now and November.”

Clinton can renin a polarizing figure nationally, but in New York with Democrats she is popular, having handily won the state’s
presidential primary over Sanders in 2016.

Clinton may be anathema to supporters of Cuomo’s primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon, who nevertheless endorsed her candidacy for president.

Quinn believes Clinton can provide a galvanizing message for Cuomo and the state’s Democrats.

“That’s a key message that’s going to jazz up the base even more,” she said.

James Touts Her Upstate Routes

Public Advocate Letitia James may be a New York City resident, but she insists she’s got ties to upstate New York.

In an interview, James pointed to her decade of experience as an attorney working for the Legislature — living in Schenectady, a city she said is her favorite upstate community.

“I think it’s important for 10 years I lived in Albany when I worked in the state Legislature, was an attorney in the state Legislature,” James said.

“For 10 years I roller-skated in the state Capitol, for 10 years I traveled, lived in Schenectady. So, I guess I consider myself somewhat of an updater and a downstater combined.”

James is competing for the AG nomination against Leecia Eve, a former Cuomo administration official from Buffalo, and Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham Law school professor.

Democrats are expected today to select their preferred candidate for attorney general at the state party convention.

James, however, isn’t taking upstate New York for granted, she said.

“I’ve reached out to state committee persons in all 62 counties,” she said.

Heastie Endorses James For AG

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Wednesday endorsed New York City Public Advocate Tish James for attorney general, giving her another major endorsement of a top Democrat as the party meets for the first day of its convention at Hofstra University.

“Public Advocate Tish James is an incredible leader and a champion for New Yorkers from every walk of life,” Heastie said in a statement. “That’s why I was proud to be one of Tish’s earliest supporters when she was seeking to become New York City’s Public Advocate, because I believe all citizens deserve a strong voice in our government.”

James is among three Democrats seeking the AG nomination. The Legislature on Tuesday appointed Barbara Underwood, who had been serving in an acting capacity, to fill out the remainder of Eric Schneiderman’s term.

“For years, Speaker Carl Heastie has been a great leader in New York and it is an honor to receive his endorsement,” James said. “I look forward to continuing to work with Speaker Heastie to help New Yorkers from the Bronx to Buffalo and in every corner of our great state. As our Attorney General, I will be committed to protecting the rights of every single New Yorker and making sure our working families have a watchdog in government who is always looking out for them.”

Dems Meet Amid Push For Party Unity

From the Morning Memo:

By all indications, Democrats in New York have the catbird’s seat heading into their convention in Nassau County for the next two days.

The party is drawing Hillary Clinton to speak today, the Democratic nominee for president who remains largely popular with its members.

Republicans have a ticket that remains up in the air for the offices of attorney general and comptroller, largely drawing unknowns to run for the offices.

The resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman may prove to be barely a blip on the ballot, with Democrats swiftly coalescing around New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who would be the first black woman to serve in the role.

And Democrats overall are gearing up to what amounts to a potential wave year for the party, a liberal reaction to the president of Donald Trump that could hand them firm control of the state Senate, more seats in the House of Representatives and firm control of all statewide offices.

Yet, fissures remain for New York Democrats, some an unavoidable product of an ideological push and pull that has engulfed the party nationally.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, an education advocate and actress who is running to the governor’s left flank and has sought to expose weaknesses on issues like the deteriorating subways and mass transit system in New York City.

Nixon’s success is yet to be fully realized, but her supporters point to shifts Cuomo has made on issues like recreational marijuana and a concerted push to help Democrats gain control of the Senate — both areas in which allies of the governor say have long been in the works before Nixon’s candidacy.

Still, Cuomo has been pressing his advantages over the last month that do not include his campaign war chest, likely more than the $31 million he reported in January.

Cuomo has lined up the support of organized labor in the state, with endorsements solidifying after the Working Families Party endorsed Nixon over him and labor unions departed the organization.

Cuomo has also aligned himself with James’s candidacy, whose career in public office began with the support of the key support of the WFP.

But the national tug-of-war playing out between liberals and the establishment wing of the party remains a clear challenge for Cuomo, who has been viewed with suspicion by activists on the left during his time as governor.

That will come to a head today, when Clinton makes her appearance at the convention at Hofstra University — a vestigial reminder for Bernie Sanders supporters of what they saw at worst was a rigged effort to foist her nomination and, for her backers, a reminder of what should have been.

What To Expect At The GOP Convention

From the Morning Memo:

The state Republican Party’s convention kicks off today.

GOP Chairman Ed Cox says he expects no early surprises, predicting both gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, and his hand-picked running mate, former state Senate candidate Julie Killian, should be officially nominated this morning without any hitches or challenges.

Cox said he’s looking forward to an exciting convention that will be a referendum on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The chairman pointed, as he often does, to a former top Cuomo aide, Joe Percoco, who was recently convicted in a federal corruption trial, and another trial on corruption charges of former top SUNY official, Alain Kaloyeros, which is scheduled to start next month, as proof that the governor is vulnerable this election season.

“The governor is sinking in the polls, and he’s got some real problems with another trial coming up,” Cox said. “All of this is happening during the campaign. It’s time for a change here in New York, and that’s what this convention is about, and that’s why we’re excited.”

While the main focus of Republicans this year is to unseat Cuomo, they are not taking for granted the other two major statewide races.

Some members of the party believe their chances to win the attorney general’s office, which is unexpectedly vacant as a result of the abrupt resignation of former Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman, took a bit of a hit when 2014 candidate John Cahill decided not to run.

But Cox seemed to be very high on the candidate he now believes is the favorite to receive for the nomination: Keith Wolford, a New York City lawyer who was born in Buffalo and attended public school there.

“He wants to clean up Albany and really do the professional job of an attorney general rather than having the attorney general being an aspiring governor and thinking of politics,” the chairman said of Wofford. “He has not been in politics. He just wants to do the job right in a professional way.”

Wofford is a very late addition to the AG mix. Previously, the Republicans appeared poised to support another NYC attorney, Manny Alicandro, who stepped up to challenge Scheiderman in what was widely believed to be a slam-dunk re-election effort for the Democrats. Alicandro has said he is continuing to seek the GOP nomination, despite the upheaval in the race.

As for comptroller, the chairman said there are several good candidates who offer different things to the races but he believes investment banker Jonathan Trichter, a longtime Democratic political consultant, is the leader.

Cox said Tricther has important experience dealing with pension funds, which is a major component of the office, though his Democratic registration, which would require a Wilson Pakula to run on the GOP line, is a significant drawback for many rank-and-file Republicans.

Meanwhile, the chairman said he doesn’t expect the president to make any surprise appearances at the convention, even though he’ll be not far away – on Long Island – for an event regarding the MS-13 gang.

Given the Democrats’ relentless effort to tie every single Republican candidate running this fall to the president, who is polling very low in his home state, though continues to maintain support among staunch GOP voters, it’s probably wise for the president to stay away from the convention.

Protestors are planning to demonstrate outside his Long Island event, and it’s a safe bet his name will come up multiple times – and not in a good way – as the Democrats gather for their convention at Hofstra.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public events scheduled.

The state Legislature is in session.

The state Democratic and GOP conventions are taking place, on Long Island and in Manhattan, respectively.

Two former presidential candidates – Hillary Clinton and ex-VP Joe Biden – will be addressing the Democrats, today and tomorrow, respectively, and also endorsing Cuomo for re-election to a third four-year term.

Former Gov. George Pataki – the last Republican to hold statewide office in New York – is scheduled to introduce Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro at the GOP convention before he accepts the party’s nomination to challenge Cuomo in the November general election.

President Donald Trump is also expected to be on Long Island today. He’ll participate in an immigration roundtable at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage at around 2 p.m.

After that roduntable, Trump will head to the Lotte New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan, where he will participate in a roundtable and dinner with supporters, after which he will return to the White House in Washington, D.C.

At 8:45 a.m., Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon will hold a press conference on the Long Island Railroad platform of the Hempstead Transit Center before heading to the Democratic convention.

9 a.m., the MTA board meets, MTA Board Room, 2 Broadway, 20th floor, Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings opens a Neighborhood Pop-Up Court to hold hearings on recently issued Department of Sanitation summonses, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres’ office, 573 E. Fordham Road, Bronx.

Also at 9 a.m., state Sens. Robert Ortt and Catharine Young and others rally for increased employment opportunity for New Yorkers with disabilities, Legislative Office Building, The Well, Albany.

At 10 a.m., Elizabeth Crothers, a former Assembly staffer who accused then-Democratic majority counsel Michael Boxley of rape, will join NY-25 candidate Rachel Barnhart to discuss the race for the seat of the late Rep. Louise Slaughter, Hampton Inn, Greece, 500 Center Pl Dr., Rochester.

At 10:30 a.m., Nassau County Police PBA President James McDermott will join other police officials in a media availability to discuss Trump’s visit to Long Island, 89 East Jericho Turnpike, Mineola.

At 11 a.m., the state Senate is in session, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza will visit a 3-K for All class and will make an education-related announcement, Learning Through Play Pre-K Center, 535 Union Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 11 a.m., Long Islanders will hold a #UnitedAgainstHate rally to “denounce Donald Trump’s appearance in Bethpage,” Morrelly Homeland Security Center, 510 Grumman Rd. W.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Councilman Rafael Espinal announces a bill to ban plastic straws at New York City establishments, Pier A Harbour House, 22 Battery Place, Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., the American Heart Association backs NYC Councilman Ben Kallos’ bill designed to take sugary drinks off the kids menu at New York City restaurants, outside City Hall Park on the Broadway side, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., NYC Council members Vanessa Gibson, Daniel Dromm and Keith Powers join advocates to support alternatives to incarceration and prisoner re-entry programs, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., the NYC Council meets, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., state Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa speaks on a panel about reinvigorating civics education in New York schools, Teachers College, Columbia University, Milbank Chapel, 525 W. 120th St., Manhattan.

At 4:30 p.m., Assemblyman Michael Blake hosts a Democratic National Committee reception and briefing at the New York State Democratic Convention, Hofstra University, 100 Hofstra University, Hempstead.

At 6 p.m., the New York Republican State Committee hosts its annual gala and honors Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Ziegfeld Ballroom, 141 W. 54th St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Former Dallas sheriff Lupe Valdez won the Democratic primary runoff yesterday to become the state’s first-ever openly gay and Latina gubernatorial nominee from a major party.

Stacey Abrams won the Democratic primary in Georgia’s gubernatorial race, becoming the state’s first woman nominee for governor from either major party. If she wins the general election in November, she’ll become the first black female governor in the US.

A Senate panel rebuked Trump’s efforts to ease sanctions on the Chinese telecom firm ZTE, which the intelligence community and trade regulators have warned poses a national security risk for the U.S.

The House voted 258-159 to approve legislation rolling back the landmark Dodd-Frank law, sending the bill to Trump. He is poised to sign it into law to deliver on a campaign pledge of gutting Dodd-Frank.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said financial records of Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen appear to have been leaked from his agency and the inspector general is investigating.

Evegny “Gene” Freidman, a New York taxi kingpin and business partner of Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen, has agreed to cooperate with the government.

A group of House Republicans who have been among the most vocal critics of Robert Mueller renewed their calls for a second special counsel to investigate the Justice Department and FBI’s handling of the investigation into the president’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

The New York Stock Exchange is set to get its first female leader in its 226-year history. Stacey Cunningham, the NYSE’s chief operating officer, will become the Big Board’s 67th president.

The state Legislature named Barbara Underwood as the first woman attorney general of New York in a rare joint legislative session, just weeks after Eric Schneiderman resigned in disgrace over reports that he abused four women.

“It is a tremendous honor,” Underwood said in a statement. “I’ve served in many roles in government throughout my career. But I believe this job — at this moment in history — is the most important job I have ever had.”

Underwood will remain in the AG’s office through the end of the year; she has said she will not run in the fall elections to keep the job.

The symbolism of Underwood’s appointment — in an age of #MeToo and renewed and reinvigorated calls for women’s equality in the workplace — was deeply felt in Albany, particularly among female members of the Legislature.

On the eve of the Democratic state convention on Long Island, NYC Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James got a major boost in her bid for attorney general when Gov. Andrew Cuomo endorsed her — a move that all but assured she would become the nominee to run to replace Schneiderman this fall.

Cuomo called James “a talented lawyer and a powerful advocate” and said that “as Attorney General she will champion our progressive values and fight back against Donald Trump and the ultra right wing Republicans’ divisive, hateful agenda.”

Two Buffalo-born candidates are running for state AG – Leecia Eve, a Democrat; and Keith Wofford, a Republican.

Businesses that take advantage of a controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week and bar workers from bringing class action lawsuits against their employer would have to disclose it in their job ads under legislation proposed by James.

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh forced a vote on S1733a at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing – a bill that would allow judges to issue temporary orders prohibiting someone from buying or possessing a gun, which passed 19-3.

Cop killer Herman Bell, who was recently released from prison, is among the more than 24,000 parolees granted conditional pardons by Cuomo so they can vote. The governor’s office did not provide a list of names of those pardoned, but a state corrections website shows Bell was issued one.

The NYC Council and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio have launched dueling Charter Review Commissions — and now the council’s will include a de Blasio primary foe: Sal Albanese, a former councilman and vocal critic of the mayor who ran against him for the Democratic primary in September.

Nick Libous, the son of late former state Sen. Tom Libous, announced his candidacy for the state Assembly’s 122nd district seat.

More >

Extras

President Trump said that his planned summit meeting next month with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, might be delayed.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said a meeting between law enforcement officials and congressional investigators to discuss release of Russia-probe documents will happen Thursday.

The Democratic state convention will be the Gov. Andrew Cuomo vs. Cynthia Nixon show, with a side dish of “who will get the AG nod” intrigue, for good measure.

While Cuomo has been a vocal critic of Trump, the two New Yorkers have had a number of donors and supporters in common, including former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and former NYC Mayor-turned-Trump-attorney Rudy Giulani.

Former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s 2016 laptop and emails are back in the spotlight, this time causing problems for FBI leaders as part of a forthcoming inspector general report that is expected to fault bureau officials for sitting on those emails in the first place.

Cuomo has issued the first set of conditional pardons for restoring the right to vote to New Yorkers on parole, and says more than 24,000 individuals will be included.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco says he will skip the convention in New York City this week where members of the New York Republican State Committee will nominate a candidate for governor that isn’t him.

The law firm of Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti was hit with a $10-million judgment in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after he broke his promise to pay $2 million to a former colleague.

Turnout for school budget votes has plummeted 37 percent since 2012, the state School Boards Association said, as voters appear complacent if their districts stay under the property-tax cap.

Upstate district attorneys are not making plans to follow New York City’s decision to no longer prosecute people who are arrested for publicly smoking marijuana or low-level possession.

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who is retiring after 2018, turned down an offer from the Trump administration to be the next ambassador to Australia.

The New York Times takes a deep dive into MTA Chair Joe Lhota’s reach as a power broker, which has grown with new board appointments in Manhattan and on Long Island, giving him extraordinary sway over some of the most important aspects of New York life – and a number of potential conflicts of interest.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are turning a blind eye to “the largest health and insurance fraud in New York” to protect a key witness in the case against former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, an attorney for the disgraced Nassau County Republican said.

Suffolk Democrats will not hold a party convention to designate candidates before petitions to qualify contenders for the ballot go out on the street June 5.

The royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – now the duke and duchess of Sussex – was a huge ratings draw, with 29 million people tuning in on Saturday morning, according to Nielsen’s total of the 15 channels that showed the nuptials.

The New York State Republican Party is holding its annual gala tomorrow night in midtown Manhattan, just a few blocks from where Trump will be attending a separate fundraiser, but the president will not drop in on the state GOP event.

The Power Play Burger from Syracuse’s Ale ‘n’ Angus Pub is the best burger in New York, according to the New York Beef Council.