NY1/Siena Poll: Rangel Has 13 Percentage-Point Lead Over Espaillat

Longtime Harlem Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel has a 13-percentage point lead over his main primary challenger, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, a NY1/Siena College poll released Thursday found.

The poll found Rangel continues to have broad support among black voters, with 70 percent of voters polled supporting his re-election bid for 23rd term in Congress.

Espaillat, who would be the first Dominican-American to serve in Congress, receives 52 percent of Latino voters, not nearly enough to offset Rangel’s support among black voters, according to the poll.

Overall, Rangel leads Espaillat 47 percent to 34 percent. The Rev. Michael Walrond would receive 7 percent and Yolanda Garcia garnered 4 percent.

The results come after Rangel criticized Espaillat in a televised debate asked derisively of Espaillat, “Just what the heck has he actually done besides saying he’s a Dominican?”

The Espaillat campaign responded to the poll by pointing to its latest endorsements from The New York Times and the Spanish-language El Diario.

“Polls don’t capture the strength of our ground game or the passion of our supporters. The 13th district is ready for change the New York Times, El Diario, the NY Observer, dozens of elected officials, community leaders and unions all agree. We’re confident that our broad coalition of support will bring us victory on Election Day,” said spokeswoman Chelsea Connor.

Rangel’s campaign in a statement said the poll’s results were an affirmation of his time in office representing the district.

“From Norwood to Inwood to East Harlem and every community in between, there is strong, grassroots momentum for Congressman Rangel’s reelection from the voters of the 13th Congressional District,” said advisor Hank Sheinkopf. “While the Congressman is not taking anything for granted, this poll demonstrates that voters agree that we can’t afford to lose the experience, record and seniority Congressman Rangel brings to the table.”

Fifty-six percent of voters polled say they have a favorable opinion of Rangel with 30 percent holding an unfavorable opinion.

Espaillat, who nearly defeated Rangel in a Democratic primary two years ago, has favorable rating of 42 percent, compared to a 25 percent unfavorable.

The poll of 707 likely primary voters was conducted from June 14 through 18. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

13th CD NY1 Primary Poll 6-19-14 — Final by Nick Reisman

DiNapoli Endorsed By RWDSU

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has gained the endorsement of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union on Thursday, the third labor-related organization to support his re-election effort.

“I’m humbled and honored to have the support of RWDSU,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “From a higher minimum wage to better healthcare for workers, RWDSU has been instrumental in advocating for the progressive issues that matter most to working families in our state. I’m proud to have their support, and look forward to continuing our work together in the months and years to come.”

DiNapoli was previously endorsed by the labor-aligns Working Families Party as well as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

DiNapoli’s victory in 2010 was helped in part by support from labor.

The Democratic incumbent faces Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci this fall.

“Tom is a Comptroller for all New Yorkers and he continues to prove that by advocating for better shareholder policy that benefits public sector workers while pushing for better private sector worker protections,” said Stuart Applebaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. “His willingness to stand with the labor movement and working people throughout this city makes the RWDSU proud to endorse him.”

Doheny Endorsed By Two In Senate GOP

Republican congressional hopeful Matt Doheny on Thursday was endorsed by two GOP state senators: Sens. Joe Griffo and Patty Ritchie.

Doheny is seeking the GOP nomination in the 21st congressional district, a House seat that encompasses a large swath of the North Country.

“Matt Doheny understands what it means to be from the North Country and he’ll be a strong advocate to defend the jobs we already have at Fort Drum and throughout the region, and he’ll bring home the tools and investment we need to create even more opportunity. He’ll be a great partner in building a better and stronger future for the North Country,” said Ritchie in a statement.

Griffo, a central New York-area senator, mentioned he lines up with Doheny on taxes, regulation and second-amendment issues.

“Matt Doheny and I share similar beliefs: We both support pro-growth policies that reduce red tape on businesses, support lower taxes and responsible budgeting and oppose bills that impinge on our Second Amendment rights,” Griffo said. “He will be a great advocate for our area in Washington – and I’m pleased to give him my support.”

Doheny faces Elise Stefanik in a primary next week.


It’s likely to be a very late night down at the state Capitol. As of this writing, there’s still no bill form of the medical marijuana deal the governor and legislative leaders announced this afternoon, which means conferences AND voting – assuming the Senate GOP lets the measure to the floor – have yet to take place.

Also, the Senate Republicans have discussed the teacher performance evaluation program bill the governor sent up from the Second Floor, but the Assembly Democrats have yet to do so, which could take a while.

The Assembly could, as it often does, buckle down for a marathon bill-passing frenzy that lasts into the wee hours of the morning. The Senate may well wrap things up at a more respectable – albeit still late night – hour and return to the Capitol to finish up tomorrow. So, while we’re waiting for further information on the plan, here are some headlines to peruse:

Zephyr Teachout received the support of the Jim Owles Democratic Club for her primary effort against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Two upstate companies have been awarded contracts for the second round of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Greek yogurt school lunch pilot program.

MTA board member Allen Cappelli has started circulating petitions to launch a Democratic primary against Sen. Diane Savino, but says he’s not yet definitely in or out.

Long Island Rep. Pete King is headed back to New Hampshire on Saturday, his sixth trip since announcing he was testing the waters for a presidential run in 2016.

A second African-American Erie County legislator who was thinking of mounting a Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Tim Kennedy has decided not to run.

Gadfly blogger Martínez Alequin, who was banned from press conferences by ex-NYC Mayor Bloomberg, has been hired by the de Blasio administration.

The Buffalo Bills are now officially for sale, and the NFL has contacted potential bidders.

Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly made a surprise visit to Bills practice, giving the team an inspirational speech before the final practice at Buffalo’s mandatory mini-camp.

A survey from Harper Polling found Elise Stefanik leading GOP primary rival Matt Doheny 45-37 in NY-21.

In a new mailer, Rep. Charlie Rangel slams Sen. Adriano Espaillat for voting “yes” on repealing the commuter tax.

State Democratic Party Chair David Paterson seemingly came to the defense of the same Senate Republicans that Cuomo has said he is seeking to oust from leadership.

Fresh off his mistrial, Sen. Malcolm Smith made it up to Albany for the last scheduled day of session.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino says he’ll start airing TV ads soon. “Two-thirds of the state doesn’t know who I am yet. They will learn about us soon.”

The Drug Policy Alliance was “pleased” with today’s medical marijuana breakthrough, but makes clear “this is not the bill we wanted.”

A Medical Marijuana Deal, With A Gubernatorial ‘Fail Safe’

New York is poised to become the latest state to allow medical marijuana, but with a ban on smoking as well as a “fail safe” option that allows the governor to pull the plug based on recommendations from health and law enforcement officials.

The deal on the measure known as the Compassionate Care Act comes after a weeks of lobbying and negotiations that came down to the final day of the legislative session.

Under the agreement, about a half-dozen illnesses — ranging from Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDs and multiple sclerosis would be allowed under the program that will be administered by the state Department of Health.

The bill would initially provide for up to 20 dispensaries and five sites for medical marijuana, and broad oversight by the state Department of Health.

Doctors would be required to go through a training regiment before being allow to prescribe medical marijuana.

The bill would also impose felony charges on those he seek to sell medical marijuana under the guise of the program.

Patients that qualify for the program can ingest the marijuana through vaporization, oils and in pill, but not smoking, which had been opposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat who is the key lawmaker in the Senate on the legislation, said it was a necessary compromise in order to gain Cuomo’s support, who had raised deep concerns of the safety and health aspects of the program.

Advocates for medical marijuana had insisted that smoking was the most effective form for relieving pain.

At a Thursday news conference announcing the agreement, Cuomo stressed the balance between public safety and relief for patients was the hallmark of the deal, calling the compromise “the best of both worlds.”

Key to Cuomo’s support for the bill as well was a provision that would give the governor the authority to suspend the program should a significant public health or law enforcement issue arise.

Cuomo said he reversed his position on medical marijuana — he opposed the measure last year, this year sought a more limited “pilot program” — based on the protections built in to the agreement.

Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein said he expects the bill to pas his chamber, which is controlled by a majority coalition of Republicans and his five independent Democrats.

Klein predicted the measure would pass with a large amount of Republican votes. Several Republican lawmakers from different regions of upstate New York have signed on to the bill.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos was not present at the news conference.

NYSUT Backs Evaluation ‘Pause Button’

The president of the statewide teachers union on Thursday backed an agreement that would delay the impacts of Common Core testing on teacher evaluations, calling the move a “pause button.”

“We’re excited we’ve reached a tentative agreement,” Magee told reporters. “Teachers will now have the opportunity to be treated like the professionals they are.”

The agreement, along with a program bill introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon, comes after the state budget agreed to delay aspects of the Common Core education standards for students.

The bill would suspend for two years evaluating teachers grade 3 through 8 in relation to Common Core-based tests.

Teachers covered on the deal are those rated “ineffective” and “developing” — a combined 11,000 members of the New York United Teachers union, Magee said.

Magee termed the bill a “pause” or a “reset” because it can allow for fixes to Common Core implementation.

“It’s not a delay or a moratorium, it’s a reset at this point,” she said.

The state Education Department remains pleased with the resolution as well, with Commissioner John King in a statement calling the bill a “safety net.”

“Despite that very small number, anxiety around the link between higher standards and teacher evaluation has persisted,” King said in a statement. “The short-term safety net around evaluation consequences proposed by the Governor and legislative leadership should relieve that anxiety while preserving a multiple measures evaluation system that includes student performance.”

State Democrats Knock Astorino On Property Taxes (Updated)

Westchester County has the highest property taxes in the country, and that’s Rob Astorino’s fault, according to a new TV spot released by the state Democratic Committee.

In the ad, Astorino is lashed to the sky-high property taxes in the suburban county, where he has been county executive since 2009.

The ad points to Astorino’s efforts to crack down on taxes when he ran for county executive, but vetoed legislation to do so.

The heart of the ad’s message: “If you can’t trust him to manage taxes in Westchester, how can trust him as governor?”

Astorino’s campaign earlier this morning released a statement blasting the ad as untrue, blaming Cuomo for the state’s status as home to the nation’s highest property taxes, and pointing to the ongoing kerfuffle over whether the home he shares with Food Network star Sandra Lee has been properly assessed after considerable improvements, giving the couple what amonts to a property tax break.

“Governor Cuomo, who was just caught red handed cheating on his own property taxes, is now running television ads across New York State about Westchester’s status as the county with the highest property taxes in America,” said spokeswoman Jessica Proud.

“We are thrilled that the governor is finally bringing this up, because those high taxes are directly driven by his failure as governor.”

The campaign added Astorino has “shrunk the size of government” in Westchester County and placed the blame on the continued high taxes on mandated spending from Albany.

Cuomo Releases Teacher Evaluation Adjustment Bill

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday has introduced a measure that would provide adjustments to the state’s 2013 teacher evaluation law — a measure that comes after the state budget tweaked the roll out of the controversial Common Core education standards.

The changes to Common Core in the state budget impacted mainly students.

But Cuomo in April said he would seek changes to the evaluation law, which is intertwined with Common Core-based tests.

The Assembly had previously passed a two-year moratorium bill, which Cuomo had rejected.

But this bill would delay the impacts of the standards on evaluations through the 2014-15 school year.

Like the budget agreement, the bill is aimed at Common Core-based testing in grades 3 through 8 for math and English examinations.

It is unclear at this point whether the introduction of the bill represents an agreement between lawmakers and the governor on the legislation.

Today is the final day of the legislative session.

In an accompanying bill memo, the governor’s office stresses the New York will remain a “leader” nationally in rating the effectiveness of teachers in the classrooms.

Gpb 56 Teacher Evaluation Bill by Nick Reisman

Gpb 56 Teacher Evaluation Memo by Nick Reisman

Deal ‘Close’ On Medical Marijuana

The two lawmakers who have been pushing legislation that would legalize medical marijuana said Thursday they are “very close” to an agreement with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the measure.

Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat and member of the Independent Democratic Confernece, along with Manhattan Democratic Assemblyman Dick Gottfried huddled privately with the governor this morning.

“We’re making very substantive progress and we hope to have everything wrapped up as soon as possible,” Savino told reporters after the meeting.

Savino and Gottfried stopped short, however, of providing details and whether they expect an agreement will be announced today.

Both declined to say whether allowing the smoking of medical marijuana would ultimately be allowed in a final agreement.

However, Savino said a final version of the legislation will ultimately be different than the current version of the Compassionate Care Act.

“It’s going to be different than the one that’s currently before them,” she said.

“There will be some changes, some things will be the same,” she added. “It’s a tremendous piece of public policy, so we want to make sure we get it right.”

Lawmakers earlier in the week amended the legislation to accommodate some of Cuomo’s concerns, which included removing illnesses such as diabetes and lupus from the bill, as well as giving more oversight power to the state Department of Health.

Today is the final day of the legislative session.

Savino said she expects the Legislature will be at the Capitol on Friday.


Astorino Backs Up Skelos

As his consultant continues a public dispute with Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos over the effectiveness of the GOP conference, Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino says Senate Republicans have done a “very good job.”

Astorino, in an interview with our colleagues at Time Warner Cable News in Buffalo, said his advisor Bill O’Reilly use of the phrase “prison punk” to describe Skelos and his relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo was out of line.

O’Reilly, in an interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300 this morning, said he regretted using the phrase, didn’t apologize for the “sentiment” behind it.

But O’Reilly has doubled down on his criticism, writing a Newsday column criticizing the Senate GOP for not providing a loyal opposition to Democratic rule.

In the interview, Astorino said the Senate GOP has done a good job in a Democratic state — essentially backing up the Republicans’ talking points that they’ve provided a strong counterbalance.

“Dean Skelos is a good man,” Astorino said. :The Republican Senate, the majority I think, has done a very good job. If not for the Republican Senate we would have a state that’s losing even worse than it is today.”

Astorino went as far as to suggest that Skelos and company have held Gov. Andrew and the Democratic-dominated Assembly “in check” over the years.

He added that if elected governor, lawmakers will have to fall in line with his agenda, which includes ethics reform for the Legislature.

“They’ve at least been able to hold the Governor and the New York City Assembly members in check but going forward look we need the Republicans in the Senate to well and they need me to do well quite frankly,” Astorino said.