Attorney General


The new Democratic Party apparently has a lot of room for former Republicans.

According to records from the Monroe County Board of Elections, AG Andrew Cuomo’s LG candidate, Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, was registered as a Republican back in 1991.  

The following year he disaffiliated and didn’t re-register as with any party after the general election.

In 1993, Duffy joined the Democratic ranks following the general election.

This means there could be two people on the Democratic ticket come November who were once Republicans.  

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, one of the five Democratic AG contenders, enrolled in the GOP when she turned 18 and first registered to vote.
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AG Consternation

The buzz among delegates at this morning’s convention breakfast is decidedly negative in response to state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs’ decision to let all five of the AG contenders onto the ballot.

One delegate who told me she supports Sen. Eric Schneiderman, (who was expected to get onto the ballot if the party went the one-vote route), was downright furious over Jacobs’ flip-flopping on the AG vote.

“Four years ago there were seven or eight candidates for AG and there was no talking about any of this,” she fumed.

“It makes delegates irrelevant. If you had to petition to get on (in 2006), you did it. The big thing for most of us is that one, or a couple of people, took it upon themselves to make an executive decision to decide to suspend the rules.”

“I was wondering where these people get off to make a decision like this for the whole group…I don’t think this is anywhere close to a Democratic process. We have a couple of people at the top deciding to suspend the rules? Why have them at all?”

She has a good point.

I covered the convention in 2006 and there was a big fight over getting on the ballot (if I remember correctly, Andrew Cuomo even sent an aide to the airport to chase down the proxy of a departing delegate).

At that convention, only Cuomo got sufficient support to get onto the ballot with 67 percent of the weighted vote.
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Vacca, Washington County Dem Chair For Rice

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice is continuing to roll out the endorsements of her AG bid, announcing today that Bronx NYC Councilman Jimmy Vacca and the Washington County Democratic chair have backed her bid to succeed Andrew Cuomo.

Vacca called me earlier today to stress that he’s the first elected official from his borough to go with the Long Island DA.

(I believe the Bronx Democrats are so far unpledged, and a number of individual lawmakers have gone with her primary opponent, Sen. Eric Schneiderman, whose district extends into the borough – it was shifted north during the last round of redistricting, which prompted the senator to buckle down on his efforts to learn Spanish).

The councilman told me he hopes his endorsement will encourage other “moderate, outer-borough Democrats” to follow suit and endorse Rice.

“I was looking for someone with prosecutorial experience because I think the race in November will be much tougher than most people expect,” Vaccao said.

“…(Staten Island DA) Dan Donovan is certainly attractive candidate to people in districts like mine.”

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Holtzman Takes A Pass On AG, Doesn’t Endorse

Not that this is any big surprise, but former NYC Comptroller/ex-Rep. Liz Holtzman has decided not to run for AG after all, leaving Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice the lone woman in the field.

“As I began to campaign around the state, I was heartened by the enthusiasm of voters for my possible candidacy. So many urged me to run and I thank them all,” Holtzman said in a statement released this morning.

“However, in spite of the positive response and encouraging poll numbers, getting in at such a late stage in the process created insuperable obstacles to waging a winning campaign.”

Holtzman’s release went on to note that her background as a former Brooklyn DA and “anti-corruption” congresswoman who “stood up to Nixon during Watergate,” she was “perfectly suited for the job” and “confident” that she would have been able to do it.

She also signaled a desire to stay in the political game, saying the state needs leaders to take on Wall Street (even though she had declined to pledge not to accept finance industry campaign cash), clean up Albany, champion marriage equality and fight environmental polluters.

(Holtzman’s full statement appears after the jump).

Holtzman has been looking for a way back into elected office for a while now.
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Jacobs Has a Change Of Heart On AG Ballot

Less than 24 hours after deciding to have a single ballot for the AG race – a move likely to benefit only three of the five contenders, at best – state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs has had a change of heart.

“I want to be very clear on this: Because we’ve had five candidates who have, over the year, worked hard to get substantial support throughout the state committee and have that support, I am going to allow a two ballot process which will end up letting all five on the ballot,” Jacobs told me this morning.

“…Important county chairs took a look at the reaction to our decision,” the chairman continued. “And I am now anxious to make sure the process is as inclusive as possible for these candidates, who really have received substantial support.”

When I asked Jacobs who had gotten to him since we last spoke, he laughed at first.

He then turned serious, telling me that he had received an earful from a number of sides – particularly the Democratic Rural Conference county chairs who had given their nod to Eric Dinallo in their straw poll and felt the one-ballot process disadvantaged him.

They have a point.
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Higgins For Rice

Rep. Brian Higgins has added his name to the growing list of endorsers of Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice’s bid to replace Andrew Cuomo, saying she has the “the experience, the passion and the vision to be an excellent attorney general.”

The Buffalo-area Democrat said Rice is “truly a standout” in a field of “very impressive candidates,” and also cited his expectation that she will advocate on behalf of Western NY.

“Like the people of this community, she knows what it takes to stand up and fight for what’s right,” Higgins added in a statement released by the Rice campaign.

“She has the integrity it takes to reform government, the toughness it take on violent criminals and white-collar thieves, and the legal experience it takes to advocate for the rights of New Yorkers across the state. I wholeheartedly support her candidacy and I look forward to campaigning alongside her during the months ahead.”

The timing of this is, of course, designed to demonstrate that Rice has statewide support going into the convention tomorrow.

Erie County accounts for 5.54 percent of the weighted vote and is so far unpledged in the AG’s race. Rice has already passed the 25 percent mark necessary to get onto the ballot. The higher she can run up her weighted vote tally, the more of her opponents she force to go the petition route – or drop out of the race.

One Ballot For AG At Dem Convention

The question of how the AG vote will work at the Democratic state convention in Rye this week has been answered: There will be a single ballot and the “chips will fall where they may,” according to a county chairman with knowledge of the process.

The idea of simply letting all five Democratic AG contenders onto the ballot by having multiple votes was briefly considered, but apparently that has since been shot down.

“The only way to let everyone on is through multiple ballots,” the chairman said. “That’s a machination and a manipulation.”

“…At the end of the day the sense of a lot of people is that if we do that, then what we’re basically saying is: Why even bother having a state committee and a party at all?…The rules are the rules. You follow the rules or you manipulate them.”

This decision will benefit Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, who is the current frontrunner of the Democrats vying to replace AG Andrew Cuomo – both in today’s Siena poll and in county chair support, as she has Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn, Albany, Greene, Chemung and Oswego in her corner.
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Wasting No Time…

As promised, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky issued a statement immediately following Andrew Cuomo’s announcement, declaring his candidacy for Attorney General.

Brodsky is one of five Democrats hoping to replace Cuomo as the state’s top lawyer.  He placed fifth at the Democratic Rural Conference straw poll, but he’s has received a handful of endorsements, including that of his conference leader, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Brodsky’s statement formally launching his campaign (which comes weeks after the launch of his Richard Brodsky for Attorney General website) appears after the jump.

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And Now a Word from Richard Brodsky…

In case there was any doubt, Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky is running for Attorney General and he will finally be ready to officially launch his already highly visible campaign after Andrew Cuomo is finished officially announcing his long anticipated campaign for Governor later this afternoon.

We just received this media advisory from Brodsky’s already well-staffed campaign:

“Given the fact that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will be announcing
his candidacy for Governor at 2:30pm today, Assemblyman Richard
Brodsky will be declaring his candidacy for Attorney General shortly

Brodsky has been actively running for AG for some time now – see our blog posts on his campaign from over the last several weeks here, here, here, here, here, here and here.  In fact, he made his case for why he’s the best choice for AG when he was a guest on “Capital Tonight” back on April 26.

A House Divided

A reader picked up an interesting point that I missed in the post about Albany County Executive Mike Breslin joining his longtime political nemesis, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, putting their differences aside to endorse Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice for AG.

Breslin’s brother, Sen. Neil Breslin, has backed one of Rice’s primary opponents, Sen. Eric Schneiderman, becoming the eighth of the Manhattan lawmaker’s Senate colleagues to endorse his statewide bid.

That ought to make for fascinating family dinners.

The Breslin brothers are one of Albany’s best known political duos and generally are closely allied with one another. In this case, however, it appears to be a case of chamber ties are thicker than blood.

(It should be noted that many of Assemblyman Richard Brodsky’s colleagues – including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – are supporting his AG bid).