As Stefanik’s Star Rises, Democrats See Opportunity

From the Morning Memo:

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik’s role in the impeachment inquiry — a profile burnished as a staunch defender of President Donald Trump — is thrusting the three-term lawmaker into the national spotlight in a way she has been before.

The president on Sunday on Twitter wrote “A new Republican Star is born” as she has blasted the process in the House Intelligence Committee hearings as laid out by Democrats.

She has fundraised off the attention as has her Democratic opponent from 2018, Tedra Cobb, who is seeking the Democratic nod again for the 2020 race.

“With YOUR help we’ve just passed the $800,000 mark!” Cobb tweeted. “Will you rush a contribution right now to help us reach our $1 million goal?”

By Sunday evening, that fundraising total reached $1 million over the weekend, Cobb’s campaign said. That kind of money and attention can go a long way in a large district with relatively modest media markets.

Stefanik responded that Cobb is raising money from “Hollywood liberals calling me #TrashyStefanik. I’m just focusing on the TRUTH & FACTs in impeachment hearings.”

So, needless to say, the race for the 21st congressional district next year could be an intensely watched one, a race nationalized by whatever becomes of the impeachment drive in Congress.

Stefanik’s In Office

Stefanik was first elected in 2014, defeating a better-known Republican, Matt Doheny, in a GOP primary. She’s held the seat since then, winning by double-digit percentage points each time. She served on the staff of Rep. Paul Ryan, and was part of his debate prep team in 2012.

She had a measure of notoriety as the youngest woman elected to Congress in 2014, which was later eclipsed by the victory of another New Yorker, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Democrats have been frustrated by claims made in the press that Stefanik is a moderate amid her more centrist leanings on LGBT rights and immigration. Stefanik has also acknowledged being uncomfortable with Trump’s rhetoric at times. Like many Republicans, she was not pleased with the decision to pull back troops in Syria, allowing Turkey’s incursion against Kurdish forces.

And Stefanik has pushed Republicans to find ways of electing more women to Congress, dispersing money through political action committee backing women GOP candidates.

The District.

The 21st congressional district was redrawn in the last round of redistricting to better encompass the North Country region of the state. It covers the Adirondack Park and runs north to the Canadian border.

Military issues are key, given the district is home to Fort Drum and many veterans. The state’s North Country region is beautiful, but it also has an aging population and many of the economic hardships that face upstate communities.

The district has been viewed by Democrats as winnable over the years, in part due to the election of Rep. Bill Owens, the first Democrat to win the area in a century.

But the district, which voted for President Obama in 2012, could prove to be fool’s gold for Democrats. It has a conservative, if not outright libertarian, bent and President Trump carried it in 2016 by 14 percentage points.

It’s not an easy district to campaign in or perform constituent work. It’s major population centers — Plattsburgh, Glens Falls and Watertown — are spread out over a vast area of the state that can take hours to drive to. It’s a district that’s more like the rural seats you see out west, not in the northeast.

The Campaign.

With roughly a year or so to go until the election, it’s impossible to determine what issues Stefanik will face as she seeks re-election or if her prominent support for the president will help or hurt her.

To some extent, all congressional races are nationalized at this point, and Trump to a certain degree will loom large in different ways in all of them. To the south of the NY-21 is the 22nd, where Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi has voted to back the impeachment proceeding going forward. He represents a district the president won by a similar margin.

NY-17: Fine Introduces Herself In New Video

From the Morning Memo:

The nascent congressional campaign of Democrat Allison Fine on Monday is releasing a video highlighting her candidacy and biography.

Fine is a former national chairwoman of NARAL Pro-Choice America, but she acknowledges in the video voters may have not heard of her until now.

So she’s inviting them to a “living room conservation” about issues she’s focusing on, like climate change, job security and health care for women.

Fine in the video highlights her work in the community, such as being the president of her synagogue, and her time spent living in the suburban Westchester County district.

“As someone who’s fought to protect and expand women’s rights through local activism and as the immediate past national board chair of NARAL Pro-Choice America, I take the responsibility of being the only woman running to build on the legacy of trailblazer Nita Lowey very seriously,” Fine said in a statement.

“But for me, this race is really about a mom who lives and raised her three children in this district and wants to fight for the things that matter most to our community, like affordable health care, investments in green energy to address the climate crisis, and using my tech industry experience to push for strong online protections, especially for children. The work of rebuilding our country begins right here at home. And this is my home.”

Fine is running for the district being vacated by retiring Rep. Nita Lowey and her campaign is being overseen by Metropolitan Public Strategies.

In addition to Fine, Sen. David Carlucci, Assemblyman David Buchwald and former Justice Department official Mondaire Jones are seeking the Democratic nomination.

Here And Now

Good morning! Hopefully you had a relaxing and restful weekend. Here’s the news.

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with nothing public planned.

At 9:25 a.m., New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at the 2019 Thrive Conference. New York Law School. 185 West Broadway, New York City.

At 10 a.m., the New York City Council will hold a hearing on body cameras for police. Council Chambers. City Hall, New York City.

Also at 10 a.m., CC Move, a new initiative to support people in need who live in rural areas, will be introduced by Catholic Charities. 143 East Main St., Amsterdam.

At 10:30 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul wil deliver remarks. 135 N Water St., Peekskill.

At 11:15 a.m., New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will speak at the Young Invincible Forum. 25 Broadway, New York City.

At 2:15 p.m., Mayor de Blasio will deliver remarks. New York Law School, 185 West Broadway, New York City.

At 6 p.m., the Assembly Minority Task Force on Water Quality will meet. Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building, Legislative Cambers, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola.

At 7 p.m., Lt. Gov. Hochul will give at a keynote speech at the New York League of Conservation Voters reception. New York Yacht Club. 37 W 44th St., New York City.

Also at 7 p.m., Mayor de Blasio will be live on NY1’s Inside City Hall.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo discussed jumping into the presidential Democratic primary race with top advisors amid concerns former Vice President Joe Biden was faltering.

“It’s flattering on one hand. Part of it is because I’m governor of New York, and the most senior governor in the country just about,” Cuomo said in a radio interview when asked about running for president. “And I was in the president’s cabinet, et cetera. So, on paper, I can see why people would make that speculation. Also, we have done great things in this state.”

Newsday has published a comprehensive investigation finding unequal treatment by real estate agents of minority homebuyers.

As he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized on Sunday for backing stop-and-frisk policing while in office.

Nevertheless, the policy remains a controversial part of Bloomberg’s legacy while he was mayor — especially for black and Hispanic communities.

Both Mayor de Blasio and police unions blasted Bloomberg for his stop-and-frisk apology.

Syracuse University is suspending all fraternity activities for the rest of the semester after a string of racist incidents on campus.

Republican state lawmakers want answers on the alleged leak a vote from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics to Gov. Cuomo.

The leak investigation has shined a light on the selective public disclosure by the state inspector general.

A donor to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is suing JCOPE, arguing its investigations into supporters of a non-profit backing the mayor are illegal.

Hillary Clinton was aboard a plane that had to be grounded at LaGuardia due to mechanical issues.

Traffic safety advocates in New York City are urging the presidential candidates to treat the issue as seriously as gun control.

President Donald Trump has kept his tax returns private, breaking with tradition that candidates for president release them. But now, a subpoena to an accounting firm with the taxes could lead to them being released to New York prosecutors.

Top officials at the MTA insisted the panel determining the specifics of congestion pricing for New York City can meet in secret.

Chaos at New York City shelters has driven many to the streets and subway stations.

The white nationalist group Proud Boys called Gov. Cuomo “Fredo” in a banner — leading to a rebuke from the governor.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned consumers to be on the lookout for over-the-counter Chinese made medications.

The former CEO of the Ibero American Action League announced she’s running for state Senate on Saturday.

Mental Health Advocates of Western New York trained a group of Niagara Falls High School teachers Saturday about its Just Tell One program.

Nate McMurray has all-but cemented the support needed for a second congressional run, but Erie County Democrats are yet to weigh in.

Gov. Cuomo’s administration has increasingly turned to Republican staffers from the state Senate to fill posts in his administration.

Annual property tax increases have slowed significantly in recent years, according to a report from Comptroller DiNapoli’s office.

New York City is putting in place a program that will provide support for people who will benefit from an upcoming bail reform law.

Assemblyman Harry Bronson is seeking re-election in 2020. Bronson made the announcement Sunday while standing alongside dozens of labor workers and community members.

Connecticut’s proposed tollbooths could create a traffic bottleneck for drivers trying to avoid paying the fee.

The organic wine trend is a big hit in New York, which is home to the biggest market for the increasingly popular product.

In national news:

An adviser to Vice President Mike Pence testified in a closed-door impeachment hearing, detailing efforts to shape Ukraine policy around getting the country to investigate Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has no idea if the impeachment inquiry will be concluded by the end of the year.

The Republican defense of the president is now shifting to a blunter message: He did nothing wrong.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland kept officials in the president’s administration apprised of the push in Ukraine.

A doctor for President Trump declared him “healthy and energetic” after a checkup.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg has jumped out in front in Iowa, according to a new poll.

Sen. Kamala Harris is facing questions from Democrats in California over whether it’s time to drop her bid for president.

The Democratic governor of Louisiana was re-elected despite a strong push by President Trump on behalf of the Republican candidate.

The back-to-back losses for Republicans in southern gubernatorial races offer a warning to Trump and to Republicans ahead of 2020.

The president is stepping away from a ban he supported on flavored e-cigarette products.

From the editorial pages:

The New York Post says despite Mayor Bloomberg’s reversal, stop-and-frisk still works as a policing tactic.

The Daily News writes that “the fix is in” at the public campaign finance commission.

The Times Union says secrecy at JCOPE only serves the elected officials who appoint the commission, not the people of the state.

The Buffalo News points to problems that arose during early voting this month need to be addressed ahead of next year’s elections.

From the sports pages:

Josh Allen tied a career high with three touchdown passes and ran for another score Sunday to help the Buffalo Bills complete a season sweep of the Miami Dolphins by winning 37-20.

It was a big game for the Jets’s QB Sam Darnold as well, who delivered a career-best performance for the team’s third win of the season.

Colin Kaepernick’s much-discussed workout this weekend with NFL scouts became derailed over media access.

Roger Stone’s New York Impact

Way back in 2005, when I was a know-nothing intern, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno floated a mystery candidate for governor.

Bruno, who was about to become the last Republican standing statewide in New York with George Pataki’s retirement after three terms as governor, wasn’t thrilled with the candidates already under discussion: Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso.

Bruno’s mystery candidate turned out to be Donald Trump, who never did launch that campaign for governor of New York.

But about a year or so later, Bruno would formally turn to Trump ally for political advice: Roger Stone, the flamboyant political dirty trickster and natty dresser. Stone on Friday was found guilty in his case stemming from lying to lawmakers about his contact with WikiLeaks, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation.

Stone has been a fringe character in New York politics for years. He would resign as Bruno’s consultant in 2007 after he was recorded threatening the father of then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer. But ultimately Stone would get something of the last laugh over Spitzer, spreading the unverifiable claim that the governor wore knee-high black socks in encounters with high-end escorts.

But this was the rub with Stone: He was seen as a colorful character, with virtually every profile legally required to remind us about his Nixon back tattoo. He had also drawn a reputation as a bully.

It was the sort of odd bodkin bailiwick Stone would hang his bowler on during the Spitzer-Paterson years in New York. He emerged in 2010 as an advisor to Kristin Davis, the alleged Manhattan madame who was among the cavalcade of unusuals running for governor that year.

Stone, due to his commitment for the Davis campaign, did not work for the campaign of Republican nominee Carl Paladino, who instead turned to Michael Caputo, a Stone friend and protege. Caputo was kicked out of the Stone trial earlier today.

Caputo very much came from Stone’s world, having worked as his driver and a political consultant in his own right.

Caputo had later tried to make another run at Trump running for governor in 2014 against incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo, another campaign that didn’t launch.

Warren County Urges Delay In Criminal Justice Measures

County officials in Warren County on Friday backed a resolution urging the delay of the implementation of changes to the state’s criminal justice laws that are set to take effect in the new years.

The county, located at the border of the Adirondack Park, is one of the first to pass a resolution raising formal concerns with the end of cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies as well as new discovery law requirements.

The resolution backed by the Board of Supervisors urged that “the fundamental responsibility of governments to protect the vulnerable in society demands that the shortcomings of these laws be remedied prior to their effective date” of Jan. 1.

Republican lawmakers around New York in recent weeks have held news conferences also urging the delay a delay of the measures taking effect.

Local prosecutors have also urged state lawmakers to back more funding for discovery law changes, which require a faster processing and turnover of evidence to the defense in criminal cases. Attorney General Letitia James has called the changes, in essence, an unfunded mandate for her office and district attorneys.

Assembly Codes Committee Chairman Joe Lentol on Thursday said the laws should take effect as planned, but did not rule out funding for areas that are in need, such as pre-trial services.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has defended the funding issues, pointing to the savings reaped for local governments by a decline in the number of people residing in local jails.

“New York State is creating a more equitable justice system as we eliminate cash bail for minor offenses, speed the time to trial, transform the discovery process, raise the age of criminal responsibility, decriminalize marijuana, and invest in indigent defense,” said Freeman Klopott, a spokesman for the state Division of Budget.

“There is no question resources are available for the implementation of these critical reforms as the State invests more than $300 million to support them and local governments will recognize hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings from a declining inmate population.”

R519 2019 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Caputo Kicked Out Of Court During Stone Verdict

Western New York political operative Michael Caputo was kicked out of federal court today as a jury found fellow operative Roger Stone guilty of witness tampering and lying to Congress.

The Washington Post reported Caputo was removed from the courtroom for refusing to stand for the jury after the verdict and – when ordered to do so – turning his back to the panel. Friday afternoon, Caputo confirmed on Twitter he was indeed kicked out.

The political strategist and former Donald Trump campaign staffer also insinuated a U.S. Marshal threatened him as he was escorted out. Caputo, in a text Friday, said he was not ready to do any interviews about the verdict yet and was still “processing.”

He and Stone are long-time friends. When Stone visited Buffalo in September for an event raising money for his legal fund, Caputo referred to him as a “big brother.”

The two men said they had not had contact with each other during the duration of the trial because of a court order.

Lentol Bill Would Create Mental Health Community Clinics

Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Joe Lentol on Friday announced a measure that would create integrated mental health community clinics in the state.

The facilities would focus on issues like eating disorders, substance abuse and suicide prevention as well as other behavioral issues.

“While preventative and proactive care of physical health is important, the same must be said for mental health,” Lentol said. “New York State continues to fail individuals and families who suffer from brain disease that manifest as symptoms of mental illness. No matter the health care discussion, mental health always gets left behind.”

The proposal would require the state Department of Health to create the clinics and equip them with services to expand access to treatment.

“We must treat mental health as comprehensively as we do physical health,” he said. “Expanding access to mental health services is not only the right thing to do, but it is a public health emergency. New York State must provide comprehensive and accessible means of mental health treatment for those who need it.”

NYSUT Names New Director Of Legislation

From the Morning Memo:

The New York State United Teachers union is filling a key legislative role ahead of the 2020 session.

The union has named Alithia Rodriguez-Rolon its director of legislation, a role that will have her supervising and managing NYSUT’s team of representatives for the Legislature, analyze legislation and shape formal legislative positions for the group.

Rodriguez-Rolon has worked as a legislative representative since 2014, working as the director of state government affairs for the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. Before that, she lobbied on behalf of the state Department of Health and the New York State Nurses Association.

“Alithia is a fierce advocate for our public schools, colleges and hospitals,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta in a statement.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside her and NYSUT’s entire legislative team during the 2020 session to advocate for policies that benefit our students and their families and hard-working unionists across New York.”

Here And Now

Good morning! TGIF. Here’s the news.

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with nothing public planned. Mayor de Blasio is in New York City with noting public scheduled.

At 10 a.m., Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Council Member Diana Ayala, and Dr. Cary Goodman, Executive Director of the 161st Street Business Improvement District, will host a press conference on the Nike and MLB merchandise contract update. 850 River Avenue, the Bronx.

Also at 10 a.m., Sen. Pam Helming along with local law enforcement leaders will urge for the halt of the implementation of the new criminal justice reform laws. Ontario County Office Building, First Floor Conference Room, 20 Ontario Street, Canandaigua.

At 12:15 p.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will discuss flood mitigation efforts. Irondequoit Public Library. 1290 Titus Avenue, Irondequoit.

At 1 p.m., Lt. Gov. Hochul will tour Monroe County flood resiliency projects. Irondequoit Bay Marine Park. Culver Road, Irondequoit.

At 1:45 p.m., Lt. Gov. Hochul will tour Wayne County flood resiliency projects. Ontario Wastewater Pump Station. 2200 Lake Road, Ontario.

At 2:30 p.m., Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and NYPD union officials will speak out against bail law changes. PS 38, 421 Lincoln Ave., Staten Island.

At 6 p.m., New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks. New York Historical Society. 170 Central Park West, New York City.


Assemblyman Joe Lentol on Thursday did not rule out adding more money for local governments to implement criminal justice law changes.

One of the ripple effects of criminal justice law changes: Ending cash bail could have an adverse impact on animal shelters and potentially endanger their cruelty cases against abusers, the Albany DA warned.

Republicans in the state Senate, meanwhile, continued to press for the criminal justice law measures’ enactment to be delayed.

The inspector general’s office won’t say if Gov. Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie were interviewed as part of an investigation into a leak from a JCOPE meeting to the governor.

to be delayed.“>A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling found support for minor parties to qualify ballot access, a result that comes as a commission considers raising the vote threshold for retention.

The Department of Education is investigating alleged anti-Semitism at New York University.

Gannett’s planned merger with GateHouse, creating the largest newspaper company in the country, is being met with increasing skepticism.

Mayor de Blasio sharply criticized the MTA over spending and mismanagement, calling on the agency to “clean up its own house.”

An MTA official invoked the Sept. 11 attacks when defending the plan to hire 500 new transit cops.

The mayor is back to reveling in the “town hall” format of interacting with the public, which he cut back on during his run for the presidency.

State officials knew for years former open government director Robert Freeman had harassed women, but did nothing to remove him.

In a move that could reverberate across the “gig” economy, Uber is being fined $649 million for declaring that its drivers are not employees.

The federal corruption trial of former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spot and his former top aide is getting underway.

The New York City Council has approved legislation meant to make Hart Island more accessible.

The New York City schools chancellor is boycotting his own parents advisory group amid a bitter internal battle.

A controversial push to desegregate public schools in Brooklyn has led to increased diversity, a report found.

Next summer’s racing season is still more than eight months away but New York State Racing Association leaders are already planning to stick with a shortened weekly schedule at Saratoga Race Course.

The New York State Nursing Association is responding to Albany Medical Center’s mandatory flu vaccination policy.

A new program is training New York City employees to help homeless New Yorkers get off the street.

Another racial incident has been reported at Syracuse University — the second in a week — according to a Facebook post by the university’s Department of Public Safety.

Monroe County Legislature Republicans are defending proposed changes to the county charter outlined in the CABLE Act, a day after the other side of the political aisle accused them of an attempted power grab.

Stockholders approved the sale of Empire Resorts on Wednesday to the company’s two largest shareholders, making the once public company now privately owned.

The New York City Council on Thursday approved a controversial plan to protect parts of Manhattan from future storms by building 2.5 miles of barriers along the East River.

Although he was nowhere to be seen after ignoring a subpoena, Rudy Giuliani’s name was invoked more than 50 times in nearly five-and-a-half hours of testimony in the first public impeachment hearing Wednesday.

Dozens of supporters of Poughkeepsie sisters Julissa Dawkins and Jamelia Barnett — seen in a viral police arrest video from March — lined the steps of the Dutchess County family courthouse, before the girls entered for a hearing on Wednesday in the criminal case against them.

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin is yet to sign off on a plan for south Troy meant to ease truck traffic congestion.

Westchester County is renting floor space so the D-league Westchester Knicks can still play in the county.

In national news:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised the possibility that President Trump committed bribery when linking military aide to Ukraine in exchange for investigations of Democrats.

Social media sites and YouTube are trying to keep the name of the alleged whistleblower off their sites, but it is not working out well so far.

President Trump denies knowing anything about a phone call in which he allegedly told EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that he cared more about an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden than he did about Ukraine.

President Trump is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to shield his tax returns from prosecutors, a move that will determine whether the president can be criminally prosecuted while in office.

Investigators were searching the home of a 16-year-old suspect Thursday night after a deadly shooting at a Santa Clarita school.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized for making sexist remarks as his presidential campaign begins to ramp up.

Ten Democrats are expected to meet next week on the presidential primary debate stage.

A new ad from a pro-Cory Booker super PAC says there is no need for more candidates in the presidential race.

From the editorial pages:

The Buffalo News credits help from Albany for the city of Buffalo’s surplus.

The Times Union says SUNY should consider alternative energies after a contract prevented it from using clean energy for dormitories.

Newsday says the public campaign financing commission has the opportunity to reshape New York’s campaign laws for the better.

From the sports pages:

The curse of the Knicks’ season is they can only beat one time, and it’s Kristap Porzingis’s Dallas Mavericks.

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels has won the American League MVP.

Yeah, um, you can’t do this in football.

NY-17: Jones Releases First Campaign Video

Democratic House candidate Mondaire Jones on Thursday released the first video of his campaign that highlights his biography, his family’s struggles against racism and the history-making nature of his candidacy.

“My grandfather used to tell me a story about how when he would walk to school growing up in Virginia, there were white students who got to take the bus,” he said in the video.

“And they would spit on him through the school bus windows as he was walking the dirt path on his way to school. I was raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs, and we still needed food stamps to get by. I didn’t come from money. I’m black, I’m gay, and so I don’t see people like me in office very often.”

The video was produced by WIN Media, which has been behind ads for campaigns including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Rep. Lauren Underwood and congressional candidate Randy Bryce.

Jones’s video was released the same day Allison Fine, a former NARAL board chairwoman, announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the suburban district to replace Rep. Nita Lowey. Sen. David Carluccci and Assemblyman David Buchwald previously announced their campaigns.