NY-22: U.S. Chamber Endorses Babinec

Independent candidate Martin Babinec, who has touted himself as a “single issue” candidate focused on job creation, was endorsed Tuesday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Voters in the 22nd Congressional District have the choice between three candidates, two of which are running on alleged business acumen matched with extreme views. Martin Babinec, on the other hand, offers voters a third option as an independent reformer with a strong background of creating jobs. The U.S. Chamber is proud to stand with the local business community to endorse Martin Babinec,” Eileen Braden, Vice President, Political Affairs and Federation Relations, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Babinec is running in a three-person race for the 22nd congressional district in central New York, facing Republican Claudia Tenney and Democrat Kim Myers for the seat being vacated by Rep. Richard Hanna.

“We can reverse the 30 year decline of the upstate economy and keep our families together, but it is going to take a fresh approach and new ideas that focus on investing in our communities,” Babinec said. “I deeply appreciate the Chamber’s trust and confidence in my ability to be a partner in Washington for a stronger and more competitive business climate.”

Babinec has said he will caucus with House Republicans if elected to Congress.

Peace and Love Train Set to Depart Station

I think perhaps the greatest conversation I ever had the pleasure of witnessing between John Kelly and another person happened around budget time in 2015. We were staking out Governor Cuomo’s office on the second floor of the State Capitol when John explained to another reporter that he had been “rapping” with someone earlier. John had joined Cuomo’s press staff just a few weeks earlier, and everyone was just beginning to get used to his unique style. The reporter looked at him with slight puzzlement and asked, “Rapping…as in rhyming your words to a melodic beat?”

Ah, no. That is not what John Kelly meant. Not what he meant at all.

Call him “Quirky,” “off beat” even. Hell, even John himself breaks it down for us telling me, “Hey, I am not a normal f—ing guy.” Kelly is the type of individual to wear red pants. And no, he is not being ironic. A fellow who never actually had an office while he was in Albany. That’s why John was always perched at a windowsill, or the Albany equivalent of a stoop, sitting at the foot of some grand staircase, only near an outlet with three phones in his two hands. One could say this was a metaphor for John never feeling quite comfortable in Albany, and there is truth in that. But more likely it demonstrates a go-with-flow vibe that emanates off of one of the chiller, and more pleasant persons to deal with in New York State Government.

Yes, after nearly two years on the job, John Kelly is prepared to depart the Cuomo Administration to pursue  a new opportunity at CA Technologies, an enterprise software company you’ve likely never heard of. But that may all change soon because John will be handling Communications and marketing to help put the company’s name on the map. Asked about the move, Kelly says he’s learned to bring a political perspective to just about everything he does. It started when he was a kid, the youngest of seven. Everything was a negotiation with his older siblings whether it was which movie to watch or what to eat for dinner. John learned early on how to handle people in positions of power. Today, his two older brothers Bill and Al are both CEO’s of CAIA Association and Visa, respectively. ( Truth be told, I had never heard of CAIA either, and was deeply disappointed when I made a joke about how “CAIA” sounds an awful lot like what Bob Marley would call “kaya,” and Kelly didn’t get the reference. I mean, look at the guy. He should get that, amirite? ) But the point being that working in a storied and powerful administration like Governor Cuomo’s actually was a better fit for Kelly than even he might have initially realized. More on that in a minute. First let’s get back to funny pants.

Last July, Kelly accompanied Cuomo on a trip up to Syracuse. They were expected to hit a music festival, among other things and Kelly shows up on the plane wearing – ready for it – green pants. As they settled into their seats, Cuomo very respectfully turned to Kelly and said, “I want to ask you a question, but I don’t want to be rude.” John told him to fire away, and Cuomo responded simply, “why would you wear those?” Kelly proceeded to explain that it was a summer weekend, and the pants were “fun.” After listening patiently, the Governor turned to the State Trooper and said, “well, that is an answer.”

Then there was the time Kelly and Cuomo were traveling again right at the height of the public airing of grievances between the Governor and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Always looking for a peaceful resolution, John suggested to the Governor that one of his daughters should intern at the Mayor’s office for the summer, and one of de Blasio’s kids should work over at the Gov’s office on Third Avenue. This was met with delayed uproarious laughter hours later from the second aide who was on the plane when John made his peace pipe offering. Cuomo just looked at Kelly, but really never said anything at all. He didn’t have to.

So, it might not have seemed like a great match at first, but according to Kelly it wound up being a fantastic experience. The Cuomo team is results driven, and while John may have approached things differently, at the end of the day all that matters is the outcome. Chief of Staff Melissa DeRosa accepted Kelly right away as a solid contributor, and eventually so did Cuomo. As John also puts it, coming into the administration at age 45 was a bit of a “different hang in the organization,” even if he was an “unfamiliar type.” Kelly says he gives enormous credit to Governor Cuomo “for accepting a lunatic” like him. Through it all they formed a strong bond, and Cuomo’s parting words to Kelly were, “don’t be sorry [ for leaving ]. I respect you.”

So, while you may expect to meet a guy like John Kelly in a different era. An electric kool aid acid test party in 1967 would be my first guess,  with a young Jerry Garcia providing the soundtrack along with house band the Grateful Dead, Kelly is an adapter. A guy who not only ended up excelling while in Cuomo land, but maybe even helped bring them down to earth on certain things. Dare I say, we could all use a person like that in our lives. John Kelly will be missed. His last day is Friday.


Schumer Has Cow, Will Run

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is expected to win re-election handily over Republican Wendy Long.

But that isn’t stopping Schumer from hitting the airwaves with region-specific TV ads. For upstate, the ads have been especially on the nose: Chuck at a Buffalo Bills tailgate, Chuck with a cow.

The latest ad to hit the cable and broadcast rotation is Chuck with a cow, with Schumer touting his support for the dairy industry in New York and pushing New York-produced yogurt into school lunches.

The ad concludes with Schumer, who may become the U.S. Senate majority leader next year, eating yogurt with some kids.

Schumer On Tesla-Panasonic Deal: ‘It’s Almost A Miracle From Heaven’

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, acknowledged an agreement to have Panasonic produce solar cells in Buffalo is not a done deal. The agreement,. announced Sunday, is contingent on the Tesla board of directors approving the $2.6 purchase of SolarCity.

But Schumer said having one of the biggest electronics manufacturers in the world on board, in principle, with Elon Musk’s vision for sustainable solar energy should alleviate board members concerns.

“I think it’s great news. It’s almost a miracle from heaven that Panasonic has stepped in,” Schumer said,

If the merger goes through, Panasonic would produce photovoltaic cells at the Buffalo Billion-funded RiverBend manufacturing complex. That technology would work in concert with the batteries Tesla already produces and the panels SolarCity plans to manufacture at the hub in the near future.

“Panasonic is one of the biggest chip manufacturers in the world. They have their process. SolarCity had its process and now we’re going to have both centered on one of the largest solar panel manufacturing plants in the country and in the world.”

The senator, speaking in Buffalo Tuesday, said his role thus far has been to help secure profitable tax credits for SolarCity, to make the company viable in Western New York. He said the more the company (or companies) commits to the area, the more he’ll push for an environment where it can maximize profits.

Cuomo To Attend White House State Dinner

Gov. Andrew Cuomo later tonight will travel to Washington, D.C. for a state dinner at the White House honoring Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

It’s not clear when Cuomo made the decision to attend the dinner; his schedule released Monday night showed him in New York City with nothing public planned.

Cuomo’s trips out of state are rare and he usually chooses to leave for a day and come back without staying the night.

Cuomo’s first trip to the White House as governor was in 2012, when he pitched federal officials on an aid package for the state following the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Quoting Michelle Obama, DiNapoli Blasts ‘Inflammatory’ DFS Report

The rift between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Tuesday deepened after a report released this week was critical of the comptroller’s handling of the state pension fund.

DiNapoli, in a radio interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300, blasted the report released by the Department of Financial Services as “inflammatory” and “embarrassing for the lack of professionalism” after it was issued with little notice to his office.

The report even dusted off a previous Cuomo proposal: Completely remove the comptroller’s office from handling the fund. Without mentioning Cuomo by name, DiNapoli questioned whether DFS — an arm of the governor’s administration — questioned whether the agency was fit to make such a recommendation.

“Others have commented on the tone of the report — certainly not the kind of verbiage you expect from a regulator, particularly from a department that’s supposed to be professionally staffed in terms of financial services,” he said. “I’ll channel my inner Michelle Obama: ‘When they do low, we go high,’ and I’m not going to change from that.”

The report took issue with fees generated by investments from hedge funds use to bolster the common retirement fund, of which DiNapoli has sole management and oversight.

Coincidentally, DiNapoli in the previous week had called for restoring his office’s oversight of procurement procedures for non-profits after nine people, including a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, were arrested in an alleged bid rigging scheme. DiNapoli on Friday said more oversight and transparency of the state’s economic development projects was needed, but he refused to criticize Cuomo’s handling of the situation, saying that would not be productive.

Earlier in the summer, DiNapoli’s office had released reports critical of economic development spending in New York under Cuomo’s administration.

“I am who I am; I’m too old to change,” DiNapoli said in the interview. “I’m going to do my job the way people expect me to do it; I’m going to stand up for the pension fund even when people attack it; I’m going to defend my staff when they do the right thing; and in this era when we need more transparency and accountability in state government across the board, my office is uniquely set up to do that job. And these kind of side ambushes are not going to detract me from that part of our mission as well.”

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NY-22: House Majority PAC Takes On ‘Both’ Republicans In Race

The latest TV ad released by the super PAC backed by House Democrats on Tuesday is a two-for-one punch at both Republican Claudia Tenney and independent candidate Martin Babinec in the 22nd congressional district.

The ad released by the House Majority PAC paints Tenney, a state lawmaker, as a career politician and ties Babinec to Donald Trump.

“The Republican candidates are battling each other out in NY-22, but both are clearly wrong for Upstate New York,” said House Majority PAC Communications Director Jeb Fain. “Democrat Kim Myers is the only candidate with the right combination of commonsense community leadership and business experience to get things down for Upstate New York’s hardworking families in Washington.”

Babinec, running on the self-created Upstate Jobs Party ballot line, has signaled he will caucus with House Republicans if elected.

The ad will air on cable, broadcast and digital platforms in the 22nd congressional district in central New York and is part of a $1.8 million expenditure by the super PAC in the area.

SD-39: Anti-Larkin Super PAC Pulled By Viamedia

A super PAC ad targeting Republican Sen. Bill Larkin over his vote for the legislative pay commission has been yanked by cable advertising providing Viamedia, Inc.

The ad, released by the independent expenditure committee Fund For Great Public Schools, was pulled on Monday by Cablevision in the Hudson Valley Senate district after lawyers for Senate Republicans complained about the ad’s claims.

Specifically, the ad claims Larkin supports a 47 percent increase in the base pay of lawmakers. The vote Larkin took was to create the pay commission, which is determining whether to approve a legislative pay increase. A decision on the pay increase is not expected until after Election Day.

Larkin faces Democratic Senate candidate Chris Eachus next month.

Biz Council PAC Endorses Senate GOP

The Business Council’s political action committee on Tuesday endorsed more than a dozen incumbent Senate Republicans for re-election as well as three GOP challengers.

The endorsements, coupled with nods for two Democrats and 10 Assembly Republicans, come after the GOP conference unanimously approved an increase in the state’s minimum wage that was included in this year’s budget.

The Business Council had opposed the wage hike, which would increase the base pay in New York to $15 in the New York City region and $12.50 in upstate New York over the next several years.

Senate Republicans were deeply torn on the issue, but ultimately approved the measure (the political calculation hinged on having all Republicans vote for the bill out of solidarity, making attacks on the measure’s approval for an individual lawmaker all the harder).

Supporters of the Senate GOP’s narrow majority have considered the Republicans a check on a state government that is otherwise dominated by Democratic elected officials.

“The individuals receiving our PAC’s endorsement today have demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the business climate of New York State,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “While we will never agree on every issue, each of the endorsed candidates recognizes the challenges facing our state and is prepared to face those challenges with legislative solutions that will improve the lives of all New Yorkers. We look forward to working with each of the endorsed candidates next year as we push a pro-business, pro-growth agenda and get New York back to business.”

The PAC’s endorsements include the majority leader, John Flanagan, and his deputy, Sen. John DeFrancisco.

Among the non-incumbent Republicans backed by the PAC are Pam Helming, who is running for Sen. Michael Nozzolio’s seat, Julie Killian in Westchester County and Jim Tedisco, who is running for the Capital Region district being vacated by Hugh Farley.

SD-7: Phillips TV Ad Addresses Taxes

Republican state Senate candidate Elaine Phillips in a TV ad released Tuesday pledged to address taxes and school funding if elected.

It’s a traditional thread for a Republican candidate running in New York’s suburbs, where the taxes are among the highest in the nation, but the schools are generally among the best in the country as well.

“High taxes and the high cost of living are driving young people away,” she says in the ad. “So, as mayor, I cut property taxes so people could keep more of their hard-earned money. In Albany, I’ll fight for more jobs, less taxes, and Long Island’s fair share of school funding.”

Phillips is running for the open Senate seat in Nassau County that is being vacated by GOP congressional candidate Jack Martins. She faces Democrat Adam Haber.