Mar 5th - 4:22 pm
Polls show Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has a ways to go to raise his statewide name recognition as he runs for governor, and he may want to start with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The longtime Assembly speaker at a news conference this morning incorrectly referred to the GOP gubernatorial candidate by the incorrect name when asked about the campaign.
“I really don’t know Bob Astorino at all, so I can’t tell you,” Silver said, shrugging. “But I think the governor’s record will speak for himself and I anticipate he’ll have an overwhelming victory in this state.”
Now, there are a few ways to read this.
Silver may have simply flubbed his name. Or the “mistake” may not have been much of an error at all. There’s a long, glorious history in politics of purposely mispronouncing an opponent’s name just to tweak them a bit.
Updated: Astorino spokesman Bill O’Reilly in a statement noted “everyone now knows who Sheldon Silver is” thanks to the spate of sexual harassment scandals in the chamber.
“One of the great tragedies in this state is that everyone now knows who Sheldon Silver is. He’s that guy who tried to pay off victims of sexual assault with taxpayer money — you know, the one who’s rear end was saved by Andrew Cuomo,” O’Reilly said. “Yes, that very guy whom newspaper editorial boards from around the state called on to resign. Everyone knows his name.”
Mar 5th - 3:19 pm
A coalition of business groups — including several organizations that have been strongly allied with Gov. Andrew Cuomo — sent a joint letter to his office on Wednesday raising concerns with design-build language in his $142 billion budget proposal that would, among other things, require project-labor agreements.
“Delivering projects faster saves taxpayers’ money, creates good paying, private sector construction jobs, and results in stronger communities with safer infrastructure,” they wrote. “Including arbitrary and unnecessary labor requirements on the program will have the opposite effect. Our organizations strongly oppose mandating PLAs in conjunction with design-build projects, and urge this proposal to be removed before the 2014-15 state budget is finalized.”
The design-build process, of course, was enshrined in the state’s law for five agencies back in the December 2011 session to use the alternative project deliver method for public works projects.
Cuomo’s original budget proposal would have made the design-build law, which is due to expire, permanent.
At the same time, the spending plan would have extended design-build to local governments for projects over $50,000.
But in Cuomo’s 30-day amendments, the design-build language changed.
Now the law would be granted a three-year extension as opposed to a permanent one.
Local governments were also removed, and project-labor agreements would be mandated on all design-build projects worth more than $10 million.
The business groups aren’t happy with the changes to a measure they had feted less than three years ago — especially the project-labor stipulation, according to the letter.
“This provision will stifle the progress that New York State has made in infrastructure improvement and storm recovery efforts. Requiring the use of PLAs on design-build projects will negate all of the program’s potential benefits, rendering the application of design-build useless,” the wrote.
Mar 5th - 3:11 pm
Lobbyists may be prohibited from buying lawmakers’ drinks, but apparently what goes underneath those drinks is fair game.
A reader forwarded this photo of a coaster that has been popping up in bars all over Albany, compliments of the state’s libraries.
The coaster is simple, direct and memorable way for libraries to urge legislators to fully fund their state aid at $102 million, as stiuplated in state Education Law. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014-15 budget included a 4.7 percent cut to library aid, providing just $81.6 million — the same amount that libraries and library systems received 16 years ago in 1997.
The coasters have been making appearances at establishments frequented by both legislators and legislative aids. This photo was taken at Pinto & Hobbs Tavern on Washington Avenue, but the coasters have also been spotted at Center Square Pub and LAX Lounge, and anecdotal reports place them at McGeary’s and The Victory Cafe, too.
So far, no one I’ve spoken to can recall ever seeing this tried before.
UPDATE: Mike Neppl, director of government affairs for the New York Library Association, sent me the following explanation of this initiative:
“NYLA is a statewide organization with 4000 active members, but we have a small staff. I needed a time and cost efficient way to get our message to policymakers that funding should reflect what New Yorkers have long recognized – libraries are a core component of our state’s educational infrastructure on which our children, families and seniors rely.”
“Having worked in government, I know that breaking through the wall of noise is difficult. So, why not get our message in people’s hands after-hours when they’re a bit more relaxed and might be more receptive? They’ve been in action for a week or so, and have gotten a great reception from members and staffers. Plus, they’re different. NYLA brought me on to ramp up our advocacy efforts and do things differently.”
Mar 5th - 1:58 pm
The internecine fight for the Republican Senate nomination in the Hudson Valley continued on Wednesday as Republican Jim Coughlan is knocking fellow GOP candidate Rob Rolison in a robocall.
Coughlan, the Dutchess county comptroller, is taking Rolison to task for a 3.75 percent energy tax in the county.
Rolison is the chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature.
In the call, Coughlan says Rolison “led the charge” to raise the energy use tax and ties it back to rising energy bills in the county during the winter.
Here’s the call’s script:
Good Evening, this is Dutchess County Comptroller Jim Coughlan, this past November I urged Legislative Chairman Rob Rolison to cut spending and not to vote for the Energy Sales Tax.
Instead, he led the charge to raise taxes on Energy usage and now Dutchess County energy bills are going to cost more in the coldest winter in recent memory.
Send a message to Rob Rolison and tell him we can’t afford any more taxes.
Visit my website jimcoughlan.com and sign my petition to repeal the energy tax.
Paid for by Jim Coughlan for Senate, the Independence and Conservative Party choice. 845-418-5965
Both Coughlan and Rolison are vying to compete for the Senate seat held by Sen. Terry Gipson, a Democrat who won a three-way race in 2012.
Coughlan has the designation from the local Independence and Conservative party organizations, while Rolison is supported by the local GOP.
Mar 5th - 1:20 pm
State Democrats reacting to the news that Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is entering the race for governor took a dig at the GOP’s penchant for primaries.
State Democratic Party spokesman Peter Kauffmann in a statement didn’t even mention Astorino by name, but spoke of an “entertaining primary process.”
“We look forward to an entertaining Republican primary process and are ready to to run against whomever their nominee is in September.”
Republicans, of course, had a rather “entertaining” primary in 2010, when Carl Paladino defeated the party’s designated candidate, former Rep. Rick Lazio, for the GOP nomination. Paladino would go on to lose in a landslide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
For now, Astorino is the only Republican officially declared in the race, though Donald Trump has claimed he is interested in running. Paladino, too, has indicated he would run for governor on an independent ballot line.
Democrats in Westchester County, meanwhile, wasted little time to knock Astorino.
The county party formed an Astorino “truth squad” to criticize his record in the suburban county.
“Rob Astorino failed to tell the truth about property taxes, he mislead Westchester voters when he promised to do his job as county executive, and there are certainly more false statements to come. We are launching the Astorino Truth Squad to set the record straight and let the people of New York know that what Rob Astorino says is almost never what he does,” said County Legislator Ken Jenkins.
Mar 5th - 12:59 pm
The war of words between former Oliver Koppell and the IDC, whose leader, Sen. Jeff Klein, the former councilman is eyeing as a potential political target, escalated still further this morning, with Sen. Diane Savino jumping to Klein’s defense.
In a statememt, Koppell accused Klein of declaring “war on Democrats across the state” by endorsing a Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant’s second primary challenge to “regular” Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy in Buffalo, and discussing a potential challenge to Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins by Westchester County Legislator Virginia Perez.
Koppell noted that Stewart-Cousins is the first woman to serve as a legislative leader in Albany, and laced into Klein for daring to consider backing someone against her.
“He is nothing but a lapdog for Senate Republicans,” Koppell said of the IDC leader. “In acting to weaken Democratic Senate leaders, he is empowering Dean Skelos and his Republican colleagues to block progressive legislation.”
Savino responded to Koppell during an interview on “The Capitol Pressroom” with Susan Arbetter, calling the former councilman’s attack “most ridiculous comments” he has made to date.
“When it comes to be declaring war on Democrats and democracy, Oliver Koppell is guilty of that in spades,” Savino said. “…I think he should be very careful about the allegations or the charges he throws around.”
Savino noted that in 2009, it was Koppell who introduced the bill that extended term limits in New York City, allowing then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg and all Council members who were about to be out of a job – including himself – to ask voters to let them stick around in office for another four years.
“That was not just a slap in the face of the Democratic Party,” said Savino, who pointed out that Bloomberg’s Democratic challenger, former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson, should have had a clear shot at the office and came close to unseating the billionaire mayor that year. “That was a skap in the face of democracy, directly overturning the will of the people.”
Mar 5th - 12:26 pm
As David Paterson proved, lieutenant governors do indeed matter.
There are a few molds that newly minted Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino can choose from: Someone who brings either money, regional balance or diversity to the Republican candidate.
Here are a few potential choices, based on conversations this morning with a few in-the-know observers:
Assemblywoman Jane Corwin: The western New York lawmaker checks literally every box. As the wealthiest member of the state Legislature, she would offer an upstate counterbalance to Astorino’s suburban New York City roots. Adding a woman to the ticket could help Astorino counter the attacks from abortion-rights groups that are already knocking his conservative stance on the issue. The downside is that she lost a close special election to Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul and never really found her footing in a race that hinged on Paul Ryan’s austerity budget plan.
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin: The Albany-area Republican has been one of the fiercest critics of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, taking to Twitter to vent his frustration about various administration policies. He’s affable and as a businessman in the solar energy industry could attack the governor on the economic issues. McLaughlin even considered running for governor himself before more or less concluding he couldn’t raise the money. Conservative activists in the state also like him. However, McLaughlin as mentioned has no money and stuck his foot in his mouth when he said Cuomo’s legislative tactics would make Hitler and Mussolini proud. He later apologized.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro: Another popular Republican rising star, but it seems unlikely he’d join the ticket that already features Astorino, who has a similar resume.
Donald Trump: Just kidding, probably not.
Mar 5th - 12:07 pm
Assemblyman Keith Wright, the state Democratic Party co-chairman, shrugged off the long-expected news that Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will run for governor against Democrat Andrew Cuomo this year, saying the GOP “had to find somebody.”
“I guess the Republicans had to find someone, anyone, someone with a pulse,” Wright said in an interview. “I know they’ve been flirting with Donald Trump so I guess Astorino is the lesser of whomever that they could find. I guess he’s the only one who has expressed any interest.”
Cuomo is in “tremendous shape in this election season,” Wright said.
“He’s going to stand on his own record,” Wright said of the governor.
“Governor Cuomo’s going to be running a very spirited race and he’s not going to worry about Astorino. I guess they had to find somebody.”
Astorino does indeed have little statewide name recognition, though he is considered a potential thorn in Cuomo’s side, considering that he has won two terms in a Democratic heavy county.
Astorino is also considered to be a strong retail politician and so far has demonstrated message discipline in a round of interviews leading up to the campaign.
Still, Democrats are confident Cuomo will win a second term.
“I personally think he’s going to win by a wide margin,” Wright said.
Mar 5th - 11:08 am
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on Wednesday formally entered the race for governor to take on Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo.
Astorino made the announcement in a video released online this morning that focuses on the state’s economy.
“I’m announcing my candidacy for governor of New York state because I’m tired of listening to the fairy tale that everything is just great, when it’s just the opposite,” Astorino says in the video. “I’m tired of watching New York’s decline. Living in New York shouldn’t sound like a prison sentence, but that’s too often what you hear today.”
The six-minute video featuring Astorino talking directly into the camera also takes Cuomo to task for “demonizing law-abiding gun owners” and pushing a plan that would let prison inmates access to higher education.
Astorino vowed to end “Cuomo’s Common Core” and give local schools more control over their education standards. He also promised to push for more charter schools, a day after Cuomo appeared at a pro-charter schools rally in Albany.
Astorino accuses Cuomo of “protecting” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver following a spate of sexual harassment scandals in the chamber by not calling for the longtime speaker’s resignation.
And he blasted the governor for not making a decision on the controversial natural gas extraction process known as hydrofracking.
He also touts his own Westchester County record, where he notes he was re-elected in November.
“There’s a reason why Westchester has the highest credit rating in New York, a higher rating than the state itself,” Astorino says in the video (the county’s bond rating was recently downgraded). “And there’s a reason why Westchester has created more private sector jobs than anywhere in the state of New York.”
The video is the prelude to a statewide kick-off campaign.
On Thursday, Astorino will be in the Bronx and later Buffalo, where he’ll appear alongside Rep. Chris Collins, who at one point considered running for governor himself.
On Friday, Astotrino will tour the upstate cities of Rochester, Syracuse and Albany.
A note on the schedule says he will be available for Spanish-language media.
Now in his second term, Astorino last reported $1 million in his campaign account, though he has been fundraising across the state since the start of the year.
Cuomo in January reported $33 million in cash on hand.
At the same time, the Republican has little statewide name recognition and will run against a governor with a well-known Democratic name who is known for hard-charging campaigning.
Already, NARAL Pro-Choice New York in a statement knocked Astorino’s conservative stance on abortion, while an environmental group took him to task for his fracking stance.
Nevertheless, the state party has been enthusiastic about an Astorino candidacy, even as mogul Donald Trump made noise about a possible run that so far has not materialized.
The hope is that Astorino will be able to mount a more traditional statewide campaign than the 2010 effort from businessman Carl Paladino, who was defeated by Cuomo in a landslide.
Republican Chairman Ed Cox, who gave Astorino’s county executive campaign a maximum contribution in December, in a statement said, “Goliath meet David.”
Mar 5th - 10:55 am
Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is yet to formally announce his candidacy for governor, but NARAL Pro-Choice New York is already taking him to task for his stance on abortion.
The group released a statement this morning knocking Astorino’s opposition to abortion — a likely taste of what’s to come in a campaign featuring a social conservative in Democratic heavy New York.
From NARAL’s Andrea Miller:
“Rob Astorino is expected to announce today that he wants to be the next Governor of New York. Yet, he has shown flagrant disregard for the core values of the millions of pro-choice New Yorkers. Astorino has at every turn demonstrated a profound lack of respect for women’s fundamental rights and basic health care needs. Astorino has a long history of showing his hostility to women’s health and rights. As Westchester County Executive, he repeatedly undermined women’s and teens’ access to reproductive health care and information. In the buildup to his gubernatorial campaign, he dismissed concerns about the erosion of women’s reproductive rights and took every opportunity to fear monger about the highly popular and necessary Women’s Equality Act, even calling its protections for pregnant women’s health ‘hideous.’ Rob Astorino is bad for women and bad for New York. And NARAL Pro-Choice New York will make sure that New York voters understand the threat he poses to our most basic health and rights.”
Keep in mind, though, that despite Astorino’s opposition to both abortion and same-sex marriage, he has been successful in Westchester County, where Democrats outnumber the GOP 2-to-1 by largely focusing on fiscal issues.
The success of winning two terms in the suburban county is expected to be a major selling point for his candidacy against Cuomo, a Democrat who is moderate on issues like taxes and spending, but has championed gun control, the women’s agenda and, of course, the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York.
At the same time, Cuomo could leave it to groups like NARAL and the Westchester County Democrats to knock Astorino while staying largely above the campaign fray — for now.