Now An Underdog, Grisanti Wants To Debate

Sen. Mark Grisanti, who is holding onto his seat by a thread afetr losing the GOP primary in September, has called for a four-way pre-general election debate in the 60th SD.

After deciding to continue his candidacy running solely on the Independence Party line, Grisanti needs to do everything he can to remind voters he is still in this race. Debates – something traditionally sought by underdog candidates, are a good way to make headlines, and going up against his significantly less experienced opponents would enable Grisanti to demonstrate his experience after four years in office and set himself apart from the pack.

“The outcome of this race will likely determine who controls the majority in the state Senate”, Grisanti said in a press release. “With so much at stake, and with the possibility of downstate special interest groups getting a stranglehold on state government, the voters of this district deserve to hear a thoughtful discussion on issues from all the candidates.”

Grisanti today released a letter he has sent to all the WNY media outlets asking for them to consider sponsoring a debate with his opponents: Democrat Marc Panepinto, Republican Kevin Stocker and Conservative Tim Gallagher.

“The issues facing our community, our region, and our state are critically important, and it is imperative that the residents of the 60th Senate District have the opportunity to hear directly from each of the candidates of their plans to address those issues,” the senator wrote.

“If you are willing to provide this valuable community service, a representative from my campaign will be available to discuss scheduling and format. We would, of course, request that all parties agree in advance that no portion of the video or audio of the debate could be used for commercial or campaign purposes.”

Grisanti helpfully provided a photo of one of his letters, written on his campaign letterhead, as proof that said letter (at least one of them) indeed exists.

Grisanti, who first won office in 2010, does have a history of debating, though he participated in just one pre-general election head-to-head with his 2012 opponents – Democrat Mike Amodeo and Conservative Chuck Swanick. At the time, Grisanti was leading in the polls despite his controversial “yes” vote on same-sex marriage, and – as is standard practice for frontrunners – didn’t want to take any chances with an event that could provide the chance for a highly public misstep.

Two Republican County Executives Endorse Cuomo

A pair of ads released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign feature endorsements from two prominent Republican county executives from upstate New York and on Long Island.

The ads are part of a broader effort, signaled by Cuomo last week, to draw in moderate Republican voters as he seeks to run up the score against Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

In the ads, Cuomo is endorsed by Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, two GOP elected officials he has worked closely with over the last four years.

Neither endorsement is much of a surprise.

Mahoney, at one point, was even floated as a potential running mate for Cuomo. She also co-chaired the Republicans For Cuomo effort in 2010.

Mangano, meanwhile, has often praised Cuomo’s handling of the state’s response to Superstorm Sandy, which devastated parts of the New York City region.

Both commercials make a note of Cuomo being able to get Republicans and Democrats in Albany “to work together.”

In Mahoney’s ad, Cuomo is praised on job creation.

“Upstate New York was in decline for decades. Jobs moved away, and many of our kids left for better opportunity,” Mahoney says. “Four years ago, Governor Cuomo began to change all that. He got Democrats and Republicans to work together. Governor Cuomo cares about Upstate. Just look around. Upstate New York is a different place today, with lower taxes and thousands of new jobs. I’m a Republican, and I’m supporting Governor Cuomo. We can’t afford to go back to the way things were. Let’s keep New York moving forward with Andrew Cuomo.”

Similarly, Mangano touts Cuomo’s handling of the storm response as well as helping avert a rail road strike.

“As long as I can remember, state government never worked, and certainly never helped Long Island,” Mangano said. “But four years ago, Governor Cuomo started shaking up Albany. He got Democrats and Republicans to work together, passing a property tax cap, created jobs, and solved the Long Island Railroad strike. When Sandy hit, he stood shoulder to shoulder with us, day and night, and then went to Washington and got us the money to rebuild. I’m a Republican, and I’m voting for Governor Cuomo, because his leadership is working for Long Island.”

The ad dovetails with a commercial released last week featuring Laurence Rockefeller, a Cuomo donor and Republican, who endorsed the governor and slammed Astorino for being an “ultraconservative.”

The move to the centers for Cuomo comes after he defeated Zephyr Teachout in a Democratic primary last month, emphasizing his support from labor groups and backing of social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Cuomo continues to push the women’s agenda in his campaign, but is also running on a record of fiscal successes such as on-time budgets and a cap on property taxes.

Unshackle Upstate Backs Cahill

Unshackle Upstate has announced its first endorsement in a statewide race, backing Republican John Cahill in his bid to unseat Democratic state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Unshackle Upstate’s outgoing executive director Brian Sampson called Cahill a strong candidate with the vision and integrity to tackle the Albany-status quo and stand up for upstate communities, taxpayers and small businesses.

“John Cahill has the experience and character New Yorkers deserve from the State’s chief law enforcement officer,” Sampson said. “He understands that the Office of attorney general should be independent, just and fair to all New Yorkers.”

“For too long, the attorney general’s office has been a complicit contributor to New York’s reputation as the tax and regulation capital of the country. John Cahill will change that and we are proud to support him.”

This isn’t a big surprise, since Unshackle Upstate tends to support Republican candidates.

Last month, the organization released its 2014 legislative endorsements, backing 10 Senate candidates and 13 Assembly candidates – all but two of whom (Sen. Dave Valesky and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger) were Republicans, even though the organization touted its “bipartisan” list of supported candidates.

It’s unclear if Unshackle will pick a favorite in the governor’s race, or repeat its neutral stance of 2010.

The business community was pleased with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo early in his tenure, applauding his spending and tax cuts. But the governor’s public pledge – as part of his endorsement deal with the WFP – to support a Democratic takeover of the state Senate has given many in the business world, including Sampson et al, pause.

In recent interviews, Sampson has sounded bullish about Cuomo’s GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, but so far, there has been no movement on a formal endorsement.

The state Business Council, which endorsed then-AG Cuomo for governor in 2010 – the first gubernatorial endorsement in its 30-year history – has also yet to endorse a candidate in this year’s race, and might very well remain neutral.

Both Cuomo and Astorino spoke to the Council at its annual meeting at The Sagamore in Bolton Landing last month.

Libous Releases First TV Ad Of Re-Election

From the Morning Memo:

Embattled Deputy Senate GOP Leader Tom Libous released his first television ad of the general election campaign this week.

The commercial focuses heavily on what Libous has brought to his Southern Tier district — an implicit nod to his longevity in the state Senate and a reminder of his influence in Albany.

“When we needed him, Tom Libous was here,” the ad’s narrator says. “Keeping the doors open at the Greater Binghamton Health Center, the children’s unit and the Broom Developmental Center. When we needed him, Tom Libous was here, helping our community rebuild after the floods.”

The ad comes as Libous faces a charge of lying to federal law enforcement stemming from a case in which his son was given a job at a politically connected law firm in New York City.

Libous, who is ill with cancer, faces Democrat Anndrea Starzak, the former Vestal town supervisor, this November.

He reported $637,159 in cash on hand in the most recent filing period. Starzak has $13,527.

Libous defeated Denver Jones in the September Republican primary.

Astorino Advisor: Senate GOP Didn’t Speak Against Silver

From the Morning Memo:

A top advisor to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino criticized Senate Republicans on Monday for not forcefully denouncing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s handling of his chamber’s sexual harassment cases over the years.

“I didn’t see any of the Senate Republicans coming out and calling for his resignation,” said Astorino advisor Bill O’Reilly on State Of Politics Live. “They went completely quiet because what you have in Albany is this deal to protect the status quo. You have a single party up there — the incumbency party.”

Astorino’s campaign on Saturday trailed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s multi-city bus tour.

Cuomo, campaigning on the Women’s Equality Express, was followed by Astornio’s “Shelly Silver Express” — an explicit nod at the sexual harassment scandals that have occurred in the Democratic-led Assembly during Silver’s tenure.

“There are good men and women up there who looked the other way,” O’Reilly said. “They let these women get abused, they looked the other way and they let the perpetrators get away.”

O’Reilly is no stranger to criticizing Senate Republicans in Albany and even contemplated running for open seat earlier this year before bowing out.

O’Reilly dismissed criticism of the anti-Silver bus tour coming over Yom Kippur weekend, saying Silver remains a focus of criticism before and after the Jewish holiday.

The Astorino campaign needs to rely on such public actions in order to gain some traction — and ground in the polls, for that matter — against Cuomo.

For now, O’Reilly says the strategy over the next four weeks to is run a “scrappy” campaign.

“We need to work harder everyday and we need to be scrappy,” he said. “If you look at Rob’s schedule, he is out everyday meeting with individual people.”

He also insisted the long-shot bid to beat Cuomo, who has more than $23 million in the bank compared to Astorino’s $1.5 million, can succeed based on working hard.

“Basically, we have to outwork the Cuomo campaign and I think we’ve done that,” he said. “We’ll do that right up until 9 p.m. on Election Day. There’s just no other way to do it.”

Debate in State Comptroller’s Race Set for Oct. 15 (Updated)

Time Warner Cable News and NY1 are pleased to announce that Democrat Tom DiNapoli and Republican Bob Antonacci have agreed to a live, televised statewide debate in front of an audience at Baruch College on Wednesday, Oct. 15th.

The hour-long debate will be moderated by NY1 Political Anchor Errol Louis, who will be joined by panelists Liz Benjamin, the host of “Capital Tonight” on Time Warner Cable News; Juan Manuel Benitez of NY1 Noticias; and Jimmy Vielkind, the Albany Bureau Chief of Capital NY.

The debate will be held at 7 p.m. in Baruch’s historic Mason Hall and will be seen across the state on Time Warner Cable News, NY1 and with Spanish translation on NY1 Noticias. The debate will be held with NYC Votes, the voter engagement campaign of the New York City Campaign Finance Board. The debate will be free and open to the public.

Register here.

Loss for Robertson & Woolf is Rep. Maloney’s Gain

The DCCC is charging to the rescue for Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, launching its first TV ad against the congressman’s GOP opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth, as the NY-18 race tightens.

The ad, which appears below, picks up on Maloney’s main campaign theme – that Hayworth is a Tea Party extremist.

It uses her own words against her, employing footage of Hayworth declaring: “I’m proud to be a radical” at a Tri-State Sons of Liberty rally when she first ran for Congress in 2010.

The ad goes on to slam Hayworth for opposing abortion rights, noting she voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and also in support of privatizing Social Security while serving in the House.

The ad hits the airwaves today, and will run on cable stations through Election Day. The buy is about $750,000.

The DCCC is increasing its efforts to protect a handful of incumbents across the nation – including Maloney – who are in competitive races, and the investment is coming at the expense of several candidates who were underperforming.

That includes two Democratic challengers in upstate New York – Martha Robertson, who is trying to unseat GOP Rep. Tom Reed in NY-23; and Aaron Woolf, who’s running for the North Country seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Bill Owens in NY-21.

In an act of “triage”, the DCCC has cancelled TV air time that it had planned to run in these two districts – and 10 others elsewhere in the nation – during the last two weeks of the campaign.

This comes on the heels of a decision by the House Majority PAC to pull some $300,000 worth of air time reserved for Woolf.

The House Democrats need 17 seats to win back the majority next month. But at this point, it looks like they’re likely to lose seats – even here in Democrat-dominated New York. During a CapTon interview last night, DCC Chairman Steve Israel, a Long Island congressman, was reluctant to discuss the lack of support for Woolf, though he admitted the Democrats’ battle in the traditional GOP district is a tough slog.

The Republican candidate, Elise Stefanik, had a 13-point lead over Woolf in a September Siena poll, and just posted what her campaign said was an historic fundraising quarter.

Woolf’s campaign said he had his “strongest quarter,” too, bringing in some $800,000. But Stefanik accused her opponent of lending himself the bulk of that money, and his campaign admitted some of the cash is indeed the candidate’s own.

Details won’t be available until the candidates file their latest fundraising reports with the FEC, which aren’t due until Oct. 15.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City, as is President Obama.

At 8:30 a.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss appears on WLEA 1480.

At 8:45 a.m., the AARP holds a roundtable breakfast with Erie County community leaders to discuss Boomer Flight and impact of the 50+ on the local economy, Buffalo Hyatt Regency Hotel, 2 Fountain Plaza, Buffalo.

At 9 a.m., GOP AG candidate John 9 a.m. Cahill attends a Clergy United Breakfast, Robert Ross Family Life Center, 172-17 Linden Blvd., Jamaica, Queens.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo attends the Global NY Summit and makes an announcement, Jacob Javits Center, Special Events Room, 655 West 34th St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will call on the FAA to halt flights from Ebola-stricken nations until proper screening procedures are instituted, Southwest Corner of the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 47th Street and 1st Avenue, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Howie Hawkins, Green candidate for governor, and Brian Jones, Green candiate for LG, discuss their plan for funding public education, Hawkins campaign HQ, 2013 E. Genesee St., Syracuse.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and state Conservative Party leaders urge people to vote yes on Proposal #2 on the ballot in November, 486 78th St., Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, Bowne Playground, 142-30 Barclay Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Moss tours Hudson Falls businesses with Washington County Board of Supervisors chairman Jim Lindsay, 210 Main St., Hudson Falls.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Neil Breslin and AQE release a report on upstate school funding, LCA Press Room (130), Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., LG Bob Duffy will deliver remarks at the at the 17th Annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., Astorino will tour various Queens Hispanic-owned small businesses along 82nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue, starting at Sabor Ecuatoriano Bakery, 40-42 82nd St., Queens.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Comptroller Tom DiNapoli holds a conference call to release his annual Wall Street report.

At 12:30 p.m., Republican state comptroller candidate and Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci attends the Town of Salina senior meeting, Town Hall, Liverpool.

At 1 p.m., Senate candidate George Amedore will join Moss for a brief tour and rally at Cranesville Block company, 774 Route 55, Amsterdam.

At 2 p.m., Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Pete King join advocates and labor leaders to urge 9/11 cancer victims to register for Victim Compensation Fund, 7 World Trade Center, Manhattan.

At 2:30 p.m., Duffy makes remarks at Union College’s Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Awareness Seminar, Nott Memorial, Union College, 807 Union St., Schenectady.

At 3 p.m., Moss greets employees during shift change at Remington Firearms Plant, 14 Hoefler Ave., Ilion.

At 4:15 p.m., President Obama attends a DNC fundraiser, White Street Restaurant, 212 White St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Astorino will host a Smithtown Town Hall meeting, Elks Lodge Smithtown, 120 Edgewood Ave., Smithtown.

At 7 p.m., Green Party LG candidate Jones hosts an education discussion forum, University United Methodist Church, 1085 East Genesee St., Syracuse.

At 8 p.m., Astorino attends a fundraiser hosted for him by the Babylon Town GOP, Unqua Corinthian Yacht Club, 31 Unqua Pl., Amityville.

Headlines…

After traveling down from California, through the Panama Canal and up the East Coast, and then waiting at a dock in Jersey City, N.J., for months, one of the world’s largest floating cranes made its debut near the bridge it is helping to build, the new Tappan Zee. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on hand to greet it.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino said Cuomo has a responsibility to tell the people of New York how the new Tappan Zee Bridge is being paid for. The governor insisted the exact price won’t be known for “months and and months and months.”

“You need to know how much the bridge is going to cost before you know what the tolls are going to cost,” Cuomo said, adding he wants the cost to commuters to be as low as possible.

The state Board of Elections has rejected the Independent Democratic Conference’s efforts to convert its political action committee into an independent expenditure committee, potentially rendering unlawful the $329,000 it spent on behalf of several candidates for last month’s primary.

An independent expenditure entity with ties to the Real Estate Board of New York received more than $1 million since Friday for its bid to aid three Republicans running for the state Senate.

California Rep. Janice Hahn is throwing NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s name into the mix to be the next director of the embattled Secret Service. A spokesperson said he wants to stay in New York.

The NYC Council’s 13-member transportation committee voted unanimously to advance a bill to require businesses with 20 or more full-time employees in the city to offer federal commuter tax benefits for transit fare. The full council is expected to vote on the bill today.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had “absolute faith” in Rachel Noerdlinger, a top City Hall aide whose failure to disclose a troubled boyfriend on a background check prompted a formal city inquiry last week.

De Blasio is expected to announce today an ambitious initiative that would channel some $130 million into tattered parks and playgrounds in low-income neighborhoods across New York City, according to several people briefed on the plan.

More >

Extras

Republican candidates spent more than $1.5 million over the past three months to try to win three Long Island seats considered essential to controlling the state Senate, far outpacing Democrats.

A month into the school year, districts are unsure how to proceed with the state-mandated teacher evaluation system because Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not yet signed his own bill amending it.

In a move of triage, the DCCC has cancelled its TV buys in the final two weeks leading up to the general election in NY-21 and NY-23.

The DCCC is also expanding its media buys in six competitive districts held by incumbent Democrats – including NY-18.

Bronx Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. is set to endorse GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino tomorrow.

Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul served cookies on the Women’s Equality Express tour bus this past weekend, saying: “The governor said it’s part of the official L.G. duties.”

Sen. Simcha Felder could be in the king – of queen – maker seat yet again after the Nov. 4 dust clears.

Bob Hardt: “Cuomo would serve himself well in the final weeks of this race if he would at least have something new and fresh to point to – beyond his warmed-over Women’s Equality Agenda.”

Assemblyman Al Stirpe’s bankrupt business owes $1,410 on an outstanding New York tax warrant from 2005, according to state records, but the lawmaker says the judgment is a mistake.

Former President Bill Clinton and ex-presidential contender Mitt Romney are their respective parties most effective surrogates.

Cuomo is having a love affair with a piece of heavy machinery.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio declared “case closed” on the Rachel Noerdlinger matter.

The Clinton Presidential Library will release thousands of pages of previously-secret Clinton White House documents Friday.

Queen Elizabeth II has bestowed an honorary knighthood on former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, but he will not be “Sir Mike.”

NY-4 Democratic candidate Kathleen Rice today called for “aggressive” investments in public education, while Republican Bruce Blakeman reiterated his calls to simplify tax codes and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The famed Waldorf Astoria will be sold to a Chinese insurer for $1.95 billion – the most expensive hotel sale in US history.

Worth Magazine put US Attorney Preet Bharara at the pinnacle of its “100 Most Powerful People in Finance” list, two slots ahead of even President Obama.

George Soros to the rescue for Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk – again.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was named a top 10 investor in the world by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

NY-11 Democratic candidate Domenic Recchia Jr. is portrayed as a circus clown in a GOP mailer, lambasted for his vote to raise property taxes and his support of congestion pricing.

The Long Island Environmental Voters Forum backed GOP AG candidate John Cahill over Democratic AG Eric Schneiderman, and made no endorsement in the governor’s race.

NY-24 GOP candidate John Katko says Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei’s bill introduction record – 13 in two years with few co-sponsors and no passages - is inadequate.

Get ready for “Huck Finn’s Playland.”

Happy Birthday NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Cuomo To Senate Dems: Run On My Record

Democrats face an uphill climb in trying to gain full control of the state Senate, according to a trio of Sienna College polls on Monday showing incumbent freshman trailing their Republican opponents by double digits.

Meanwhile, don’t expect Governor Andrew Cuomo to be able to help much, at least when it comes to traditional public campaigning.

“I don’t think Andrew Cuomo is the asset in some upstate Senate districts that he would be in some downstate Senate districts were he is viewed very favorably,” Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg said.

Cuomo has a wide lead in the polls, usually around 30 percentage points, over his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino.

But upstate voters in these key Senate districts are not as supportive of the governor.

In the 46th Senate district, where Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk faces a rematch against Republican George Amedore, voters there back Astorino over Cuomo 43 percent to 35 percent.

Cuomo is also running within the margin of error against Astorino in Democratic Sen. Terry Gipson’s district, where he leads 45 percent to 42 percent.

In Sen. Ted O’Brien’s district, Cuomo leads by 10 percent points, but the incumbent there faces a strong challenge from Rich Funke, who is ahead by 25 points, the poll today found.

On Long Island, meanwhile, Cuomo’s standing with the suburban voters there is much better: In the open Suffolk County seat, he leads Astorino by 13 points. In Republican Sen. Jack Martins’ district, Cuomo bests Astorino 51 percent to 38 percent.

There’s a variety of factors why Cuomo fares so poorly in some of these districts, ranging from staunch opposition SAFE Act to his truculent relationship with public-worker labor organizations (never mind that Tkaczyk, a Democrat who narrowly won her race by 18 votes in 2012, did not cast a vote for or against the legislation considering her race had not been resolved at that point).

In short, it is within these Senate districts that the governor lost to Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law School professor who challenged him in the Democratic primary.

“A large piece of that is the public employees, state workers, public employee unions. But a piece of it is also the SAFE Act,” Greenberg said. “There’s no question that both of these are having an impact on how voters are feeling about Andrew Cuomo.”

In all likelihood, the most help Cuomo can do for Tkaczyk, O’Brien and Gipson is to direct state Democratic Committee funds toward their races. That’s a process already underway with a series of joint state committee and Democratic Senate Campaign Committee mailers in swing races.

For his part, Cuomo this year has endorsed a full Democratic takeover of the chamber, helping broker a deal to form a new coalition between the mainline conference and the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference up receiving the backing of the labor-aligned Working Families Party.

Cuomo on Monday says he’ll be helping Democratic candidates in the Senate.

“I am campaigning for them and I think we have a very strong message and a very strong record and I think they do. I think the more they communicate it, the better they’re going to do,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo suggests the Democrats run on his record of the last four years, pointing to job creation during his first term and state budgets approved on time.

“We’ve had a very successful four years in government,” Cuomo said at the Tappan Zee Bridge construction project. “Was it perfect? No. But have we turned the ship of state around — pardon the pun since we’re on a ship right now — yes, I think we have.”

Still, that’s a record that Senate Republicans, too, can claim as their own after holding power in the Senate since 2011.

Senate Republicans, ironically, have stayed close to Cuomo, perhaps counting on him to want to preserve the IDC-GOP balance in the Senate by the end of the year even as they stand to benefit from Cuomo backlash upstate.