Cuomo Leans Toward Third Party Candidates In Debates

Everyone in the pool?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Friday indicated he backed having all candidates who qualified for the November statewide ballot appear on stage for a gubernatorial debate.

But he added on The Capitol Pressroom that the potential sponsors of the debate wanted a one-on-one event with him and Rob Astorino, the Republican nominee.

“I don’t know how you exclude people who are legally on the ballot,” Cuomo said in the interview. “Now the sponsors of the debates, most of the invitations, say they don’t want anyone else. They just want the two people. That’s what they’re working through.”

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins has pushed to be included in any televised debates. A Siena College poll released today shows him polling at 7 percent.

But in recent days Astorino has indicated Hawkins should be included in a debate, potentially as Republicans see the chances of the Green Party nominee capturing liberal supporters of Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law School professor who challenged Cuomo for the Democratic nomination this month.

“I do believe Howie Hawkins has a role in these debates,” Astorino said this week.

Still, the poll today doesn’t show Cuomo’s support among liberals declining all that much, with 74 percent supporting him over Astorino.

The only gubernatorial debate of 2010 featured every candidate who appeared on the ballot for governor, most memorably Rent Is 2 Damn High candidate Jimmy McMillan, and the forum itself was widely criticized for devolving into farce.

Cuomo in the interview today said the questions over a debate are being worked out by the campaigns “literally as we speak.”

Pressed if Hawkins should be specifically included in the debate, the famously hands-on governor said, “It’s not really up to me.”

Cuomo Shrugs At Declining Favorable Rating

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to lead his Republican opponent Rob Astorino in the polls, with a Siena College survey released this morning showing him with a 29 point advantage.

But despite that lead, Cuomo’s favorable rating among voters in New York continues to ebb: 55 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the incumbent Democrat, while 40 percent do not.

Cuomo in a Capitol Pressroom interview this morning placed the blame on the sagging numbers, in part, on the heightened politics of the campaign influencing voters’ opinions.

“I think we’re in the campaign season. There’s a natural gravitation towards a campaign season people become more political,” he said.

But he also pointed to uncertainty nationwide on the economy as well as security concerns, which he has placed a special emphasis on in recent weeks.

Voters, rightly or wrongly, assign blame to those in charge, Cuomo said.

“These are not good times,” Cuomo said. “The economy is still not great, there’s fear in terms of terrorism. So things are not good and the executive becomes a sort of barometer of the times. These are scary times, these are not good times.”

The lower numbers come after Cuomo and his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, survived a primary challenge from two little-known college professors, Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu.

Cuomo’s re-election numbers remain high among self-identified liberals.

Asked about whether he’s shifting his tactics post-primary, Cuomo said he wouldn’t change his approach to public workers and teachers labor organizations.

“I knew what I was doing when I did not cater to the teachers union. I didn’t have to take the endorsement of the teachers union the first time, by the way.”

He also pointed to the low turnout as a reason to Teachout’s relative success.

“You have a primary in which 11 people voted, then you wind up with 60-40,” he said.

Panepinto’s First Ad: A ‘Middle Class Champion’

Democratic Senate hopeful Marc Panepinto’s campaign released its first television ad with an introductory spot that emphasizes his working-class roots.

Capital New York had the heads up on the ad this morning, before it was released widely.

The 30-second commercial points to Panepinto’s support for increasing the state’s minimum wage, women’s rights and ending tax breaks for companies sending jobs out of the U.S.

“His mom was a hair dresser and his dad worked in construction,” the ad’s narrator says. “From them, Marc Panepinto learned what hard work says about your character.”

It concludes by calling him a “middle-class champion” from western New York.

The ad comes as Panepinto faces a complicated filed this November.

Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti lost his GOP primary to Kevin Stocker, but retains the Independence Party ballot line and will continue on with his campaign.

Grisanti is the last sitting Republican senator to have supported same-sex marriage in 2011, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not ruled out endorsing his re-election.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, met with Grisanti last week, fueling even more intrigue in what the state Senate may look like next year.

In the Buffalo area, not all Democrats appear to be on board with Panepinto’s candidacy with some Erie County elected Democrats not attending a “unity rally” and the county chairman issuing some qualified support for him.

Greg Ball Endorses Maloney In NY-18

Retiring Republican state Sen. Greg Ball crossed party lines on Friday to endorse Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a freshman running for re-election in a battleground Hudson Valley district.

Ball, ever unpredictable, pointed to the work he’s done with Maloney on veterans’ issues in 18th congressional district.

“On many issues we disagree, but when it comes to fighting for our nation’s veterans I have found no stronger ally than Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney,” Ball said in a statement. “When veterans needed him most, and regardless of politics, Congressman Maloney was there with critical support. When Sean joined forces with me to create a set-aside for service-disabled veterans, some political hacks on both sides of the aisle cringed. The Congressman didn’t pay attention to the political naysayers, instead he did the right thing by me and for our veterans and by standing shoulder to shoulder we delivered for our injured heroes.”

Ball at one point had been rumored as a possible candidate in the 18th congressional district, but took himself out of the running last year.

While the endorsement is eyebrow-raising to some extent, Ball has always been one to march to the beat of his own drum, often challenging the leadership of Republicans in Putnam County and in Albany.

Maloney and Ball are also frequently collaborators in their overlapping districts when it comes to bread-and-butter constituent issues.

Maloney faces a re-match this November from Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth in the Hudson Valley congressional seat.

A Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll last week found Maloney leading Hayworth 50 percent to 42 percent.

WEA At Play In LI Assembly Race

Also from the Morning Memo…

Much has been written about the role of Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act in the battle for control of the state Senate. The issue has even spurred the governor to create a new minor party in hopes of galvanizing the female vote in November.

But the issue is also at play in contested Assembly races, and is the subject of a hard-hitting ad that started running yesterday on Long Island.

Its target is Republican Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, who is being challenged by Democratic Suffolk County Park Police sergeant Tom Schiliro.

The ad, titled “Absurd,” links Palumbo with former Republican Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, a 2012 Tea Party-backed US Senate candidate who infuriated both sides of the aisle with his comments during a TV interview about “legitimate rape.”

Akin lost his challenge to Sen. Clarie McCaskill, who had been viewed as the most vulnerable Democratic senator in the 2012 cycle.

Palumbo, like many fellow Republicans, has said he supports 9 of the 10 points in the Women’s Equality Agenda. He opposes the abortion-rights plank, which has prevented the act’s passage in the closely-divided Senate.

The Assembly, which is dominated by Democrats, passed the act in its entirety by a vote of 88-43 this past session.

In a press release, Assembly Higher Education Chairwoman Deborah Glick called Palumbo’s claim that dentists will be able to perform abortions under the WEA “outrageous” and “factually incorrect.”

“Here we go again with another colossally out of touch Republican man telling bizarre lies in order to deny women their constitutionally protected rights,” Glick, a Manhattan Democrat, said.

“…These comments call into question whether Mr. Palumbo is fit for office. He is either unable to understand the legislation he votes on, or he is being willfully misleading so he can advance his extremist anti-women agenda. Either way, it’s disgraceful.”

Similarly themed ads will soon be running in other Assembly races, paid for by DACC, according to a Democratic source familiar with the conference’s political playbook.

Here’s the script of the new ad:

Female narrator: When it comes to women’s health, some politicians say the most ridiculous things. Remember the Senate candidate who said rape never results in pregnancy because…

GOP Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (circa 2012): “If it’s a legitimate rape, uh, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”

Female narrator: Now here on Long Island, Assemblyman Palumbo is worried the Women’s Equality Act will interfere with his next teeth cleaning.

Palumbo: “I look at this and say; ‘So, you’re allowing dentists to perform abortions, isn’t that right?”

Female narrator: “No, Assemblyman Palumbo. That isn’t right. It’s absurd.”

Watch Here >>

About That WNY Unity…

From today’s Morning Memo…

Earlier this week, Marc Panepinto’s campaign made a big to-do about the so-called “united front” of normally fractured Western New York Democrats coalescing behind his state Senate campaign since Sen. Mark Grisanti’s upset loss in the GOP primary.

There was a “unity” rally at Panepinto’s headquarters, followed by a press release that featured glowing statements from almost all of Erie County’s top Democratic leaders, including: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Sen. Tim Kennedy and Rep. Brian Higgins.

Democratic activist Bill Samuels was also involved, and he called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to quit his flirtation with a potential Grisanti endorsement and get on board the party’s unity train.

It turns out, however, that “unified” might be too strong a word to describe the Erie County Democrats when it comes to Panepinto’s campaign.

Not surprisingly, given the party’s history of infighting, there are divisions over just how much support the various players are willing to give, and even over whether Panepinto should be on the ballot at all.

Though their statements were included on Panepinto’s press release, Higgins and Poloncarz did not attend the unity rally.

I’m told Buffalo Assemblyman Sean Ryan wasn’t there, either, and Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner – who just survived an attempt to oust him from his leadership post – was AWOL, too, though he had a previously scheduled family responsibility that kept him from attending.

A well-informed Erie County Democrat said there’s a lot of trepidation about Panepinto, and not just because of his 2001 misdemeanor conviction for collecting fraudulent voter signatures on designating petitions – though that is a concern, particularly given the implosion of Dave Denenberg’s campaign on Long Island.

(In 2005, Denenberg pleaded guilty to falsifying petitions – a situation similar to the one Panepinto experienced. The GOP was making hay of the incident, but something much bigger tanked Denenberg’s campaign).

There’s also some history between Zellner and Panepinto, who briefly was a candidate for Erie County Democratic chairman in 2012 (the year Zellner was first elected) and backed out.

During a brief telephone interview yesterday afternoon, Zellner told me:

“As of right now, we’ve endorsed Marc Panepinto…that means this is politics, and anything can happen.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

There was talk in Erie County Democratic circles that Panepinto was a supporter of Amherst Councilman Mark Manna’s unsuccessful challenge to Zellner (also backed by Kennedy and Brown, by the way).

Zellner said he had heard that rumor, but he hasn’t yet had a chance to speak with Panepinto about it.

“If I found that out, I would be surprised and not happy,” the chairman said. “…We’ll be talking soon, and I’m sure we’ll work it out.”

There was also a rumor floating around after the Denenberg debacle that some Democrats would prefer to get Panepinto off the line altogether by nominating him for a judgeship. Zellner said he had heard that one, too.

“I find it really hard to believe,” the chairman told me. “(Panepinto) is working really hard, and putting in a lot of time..”

“..Do I think him leaving for a judgeship could happen? Anything could happen if someone found a catastrophic poll that showed he was getting murdered. You never know.”

“But I find it hard to believe, given that he has the Democratic line in a heavily Democratic district and I know his work ethic. I think he has a paid canvass in the field right now, and he’s really hitting a lot of doors.”

Meanwhile, Grisanti is forging ahead with his re-election bid on the Independence Party line, and flirting with IDC Leader Jeff Klein, who is clearly trying to strengthen his post-election bargaining position with the so-called “regular” Democrats by growing his conference.

Remember: Grisanti used to be a Democrat, and he is fairly moderate (consider his “yes” vote on gay marriage), through he does hold conservative positions on some key matters, like, say, the DREAM Act.

And to complicate things still further, Kevin Stocker, the attorney who defeated Grisanti in the GOP primary, isn’t saying who he’ll be caucusing with in Albany next year if he wins the November election.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will host an Environmental Roundtable at City Hall with advocates, elected officials, and stakeholders, where they will discuss the administration’s new climate policy, One City: Built to Last. This roundtable is closed press.

Later, de Blasio will meet with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Manhattan. This meeting is also closed press.

At 6:40 a.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss appears live on “The Morning Newswatch” on WHCU News/Talk 870 AM Ithaca.

At 8 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill will be a guest on “Utica Talk of the Town” with Mark Piersma & Frank Elias, WUTQ 100.7 FM.

At 9 a.m.. state Education commissioner John King visits Gloversville Middle School, 234 Lincoln St., Gloversville.

At 9:30 a.m., Cahill will be a guest on “Binghamton Now” with Bob Joseph, WNBY News Radio 1290 AM.

At 10 a.m., Cahill attends a meet-and-greet at the Great Kills Senior center, 11 Sampson Ave., Staten Island.

At 10:30 a.m., King visits HFM BOCES Regional P-TECH, Jansen Avenue School, 305 Jansen Ave., Johnstown.

At 11 a.m., Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathy Hochul tours Eveningside Vineyards, 4794 Lower Mountain Rd., Cambria.

At 11:30 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will deliver the keynote address at the Long Island Clean Cities Coalition “Advancing the Choice Conference”, Carlyle on the Green, Bethpage State Park, 99 Quaker Meeting House Rd., Farmingdale.

At noon, Cahill will hold a press conference on domestic violence, Seaman’s Society for Children and Families, 50 Bay St., Staten Island.

Also at noon, Moss addresses the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Government Affairs Committee, Metrocenter, 49 Court St., Binghamton.

Also at noon, a pre-recorded interview with Moss airs on on “Talking Back with Shannon Joy” on WYSL 1040 AM Rochester.

Also at noon, the State Board of Elections meets, 40 North Pearl St., Fifth Floor, Albany.

At 1 p.m., Sen. Patty Ritchie and Dutchess County Legislator/state Senate candidate Sue Serino host a discussion on agriculture, Eastern View Nursery, 1167 Noxon Rd., Lagrangeville.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul tours Maid of the Mist dry docks with Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, Discovery Center, 200 Robert Moses Parkway North, Niagara Falls.

At 2:30 p.m., Moss appears at Scott’s Guns & Accessories, 306 Watkins Rd., Horseheads

At 4 p.m., Hochul tours Williamsville Octoberfest with Mayor Brian Kulpa, 5565 Main St., behind Village Hall, Williamsville.

At 6 p.m., Hochul attends the Botanical Gardens Gala, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo.

At 6:30 p.m., Moss attends and delivers remarks at the Cattaraugus County Republican Committee Annual Dinner, The Old Library Restaurant & Inn, 116 South Union St., Olean.

Headlines…

Staten Island Zoo officials are considering banning the practice of allowing the mayor to hold the rodent during the annual Groundhog Day ceremony, after it was revealed that the most recent “Chuck” died days after being dropped by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio in February.

Police increased security measures at transit hubs around New York City hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that his security forces uncovered a plot to attack its transit systems.

The assertion by Iraq’s prime minister was greeted with some skepticism by American intelligence officials, who said they were looking into it nonetheless.

De Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, Cuomo and MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast rode the subway to demonstrate its safety, and the governor said no specific threats had been made.

Cuomo said he was mugged on the subway as a teenager, but characterized the experience as “somewhere between harassment slash mugging, low-level mugging and harassment.”

Jimmy Vielkind: “Jeff Klein may or may not follow through on a tentative deal to end his Independent Democratic Conference’s alliance with Republicans and form a new coalition with Democrats come November. But there is one goal he is doggedly, indisputably fixated on in the meantime: growing his conference to maximize his own influence.”

Cuomo said it was “irresponsible” for his GOP opponent, Rob Astorino, to question and suggest a political element to his security meetings and anti-terror collaboration with NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

Nearly half of registered voters in the suburbs said they held an unfavorable view of the new mayor, while one in three like him, according to a Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist College poll this week. The rest were unsure or said they had never heard of him.

The de Blasio administration is sticking by Rachel Noerdlinger, despite reports that she has a long-term live-in relationship with a convicted killer and drug trafficker who considers police officers “pigs” and continues to get in serious scrapes with the law.

More >

Siena Poll: Cuomo Leads Astorino By 29 Points

Gov. Andrew Cuomo maintains a wide, 29-percentage point lead over his Republican rival Rob Astorino with less than 40 days to go before Election Day, a Siena College poll found.

The survey released Friday morning found Cuomo leads Astorino, the Westchester County executive, 56 percent to 27 percent. Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins receives 7 percent of the support from those polled.

The poll found Cuomo’s favorability rating has dropped slightly since August, but not significantly.

Fifty-five percent of voters polled have a favorable opinion of the governor, down from 57 percent last month. Meanwhile, 40 percent of voters in the poll today reported an unfavorable opinion of Cuomo, an increase from 36 percent last month.

Astorino’s favorable-unfavorable spread is more narrow: 29 percent of voters hold a favorable opinion, while 30 percent do not. Forty percent have no opinion or don’t know enough about him to provide an answer.

The poll comes after Cuomo defeated his Democratic primary rival, Zephyr Teachout, a little known Fordham Law School professor, and political activist Randy Credico.

Both Teachout and Credico combined for 40 percent of the vote against the incumbent Democrat.

In the poll’s cross tabs, Cuomo leads in practically every demographic group, save for enrolled Republicans and self-identified conservatives.

Cuomo receives support from 51 percent of men polled, while he’s also getting the support of 59 percent of women.

Among liberals, Cuomo garners 74 percent of the support against Astorino. Among upstate voters, he leads Astorino 47 percent to 34 percent.

A majority of voters — 54 percent — believe Cuomo has made the state a better place to live, with 41 percent saying he has not.

The race for state attorney general, meanwhile, tightened, though incumbent Demcorat Eric Schneiderman still leads Republican John Cahill by 16 percentage points.

The poll found Schneiderman leading Cahill, a former top aide to Gov. George Pataki, 50 percent to 34 percent.

Last month, the Siena poll found Schneiderman leading Cahill 54 percent to 27 percent.

The Siena poll of 809 likely voters was conducted from Sept. 18 through Sept. 23. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

SNY0914 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the subway to demonstate its safety in the face of unspecified terror threats to the system, and had a “chance meeting” with his erstwhile primary opponent, Randy Credico.

Cuomo reportedly revealed he is a Miley Cyrus fan, and his daughters loaded her music into his iPod.

Staten Island Zoo spokesman on Chuck/Charlotte’s demise: “We don’t know how the animal suffered the injuries but we don’t think it was from the fall.”

“When you’re talking about a celebrated icon…do you really want to tell children Santa Claus died?”

A new Rasmussen poll showed Cuomo vs. Rob Astorino at 49-32 with 12 percent undecided.

The nation’s first black US attorney general, Eric Holder, is resigning, but plans to remain in office until a successor is confirmed.

Rev. Al Sharpton said he is in “immediate conversations” with the White House about crowning Holder’s successor.

US AG Preet Bharara?

Or maybe California AG Kamala Harris will become the second woman to hold the position of America’s top law enforcement officer.

Rachel Noerdlinger, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray’s chief of staff, is in a serious relationship with a convicted killer and interstate drug trafficker who last year nearly ran over a New Jersey police officer while driving her car.

President Obama reads a lot of news – both online and in print - but doesn’t watch much TV news.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his $3 million campaign fund are targeting veteran Republican Assemblyman Gary Finch, starting with an $80,000 television ad buy for Democratic challenger Diane Dwire.

Nine New York City Council members called on the Clinton Global Initiative to end its partnership with the controversial room-sharing startup Airbnb to provide housing to AmeriCorps volunteers.

Assembly Republican Minority Leader Brian Kolb defended the use of a GPS tracker to determine if Assemblyman Edward Hennessey actually lives in the district he represents.

For a second straight year, Rockland County has been labeled the most fiscally stressed municipality in New York by the state Comptroller’s Office.

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s new diversity program is supported by $1.2 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

How Sen. Diane Savino deals with rogue cyclists: “I just scream at them out the window of my car…I yell, ‘Hey, find a #$@!ing bike lane, and get in it!”

A hand recount placed Bronx Assemblyman Victor Pichardo just two votes ahead of his Democratic primary challenger Hector Ramirez, which could leave the freshman legislator with one of the narrowest margins of victory in state history.

Two political analysts – Stuart Rothenberg and Larry Sabato – have decided Rep. Dan Maffei’s re-election is no longer a safe bet, citing a new poll by Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard and Siena College.

GOP Rep. Tom Reed and his Democratic challenger Martha Robertson will participate in three debates next month in NY-23, but she wants more.

More than 100 people may have to sue to get records showing where police in Onondaga County used license plate readers to photograph their cars.

Former President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address next month at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) annual National Dinner.

How to make Washington work better? Make Congress 51 percent women to better reflect the population, says US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Justice Department Voices Support for NYCLU Lawsuit

The U.S. Justice Department is putting its weight behind a lawsuit against New York State, the New York Civil Liberties Union said Thursday.

The lawsuit claims that the state is violating its constitution by not guaranteeing legal counsel to low-income New Yorkers. If you’ve seen basically any television show about crime, you’ll hear the phrase, ‘If you can not pay for an attorney, one will be provided for you.’ The NYCLU says in New York that’s not the case.

According to the organization, Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement earlier today, saying in part:

“To truly guarantee adequate representation for low-income defendants, we must ensure that public defenders’ caseloads allow them to do an effective job. The Department of Justice is committed to addressing the inequalities that unfold every day in America’s courtrooms.”

The lawsuit isn’t anything new. It’s actually been working its way through the courts for seven years now, but is finally set to go to trial early next month. To back up its claims, the NYCLU also released a report last week about the status of public defense in New York. Corey Stoughton from the organization was on Capital Tonight last week to talk about that report and their upcoming trial.

On the heels of Eric Holder’s support, the NYCLU was in Albany Thursday to show off their ‘Wheel of Justice’, a 7-foot high, brightly colored Price-is-right-esque wheel. Through megaphone, participants were asked to spin the wheel.

Several planks lined structure, worded with reasons why a defendant may miss out on a public attorney, including ‘racism’ and ‘homeless’ to name a few. Each of those planks included a real story from a New Yorker who had gone through trial without representation.

The NYCLU is set to go to trial October 7th, with pro-bono representation for the plaintiff.

Catch more on the Wheel of Justice here:

Watch Here >> (TWC ID required)