Attorney General

Silver For Brodsky, RWDSU For Rice

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has formally announced his support of Assemblyman Richard Brodsky’s state attorney general run, saying he’s “proud” of the outspoken Westchester Democrat has taken on “difficult and controversial matters, and changed the outcomes.”

“We can elect statewide leaders who know how to build coalitions and fix problems,” Silver continued in a statement released by Brodsky’s campaign. “He’ll be a great attorney general.”

Silver’s endorsement does not come as a big surprise. He told me during an interview on “Capital Tonight” last week that he would be supporting Brodsky, just as he generally supports any of his members who are seeking other offices.

Brodsky also rolled out the endorsements today of four other Manhattan Democratic Assembly members: Herman Farrell, Jr., Jonathan Bing, Brian Kavanagh and Richard Gottfried.
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Schneiderman Goes On Attack Against Rice

Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s campaign just released a harshly-worded statement slamming his AG primary opponent, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, in the wake of her formal campaign announcement earlier today.

Schneiderman spokesman Eric Koch, to whom the statement is attributed, draws first blood by referring to the Manhattan senator was a “lifelong progressive Democrat” – a phrase intended to both 1) draw attention to the fact that Rice used to be a Republican, and 2) subtly call into question her claim (made at the DRC straw poll this weekend) that she has the “heart” of a Democrat.

Koch then goes on to question Rice’s “successful prosecutor” argument, seeking to cast her as an old school law-and-order type whose approach is out of step with the sort of left-leaning voters who have traditionally dominated Democratic primaries.

“Eric Schneiderman has worked to reform our criminal justice system with ‘smart on crime’ policies, like changing the Rockefeller Drug Laws and taking effective steps to stem the flow of illegal guns,” Koch said.

“On the other hand, the failed policies of the past used in Nassau County simply have not worked, with crime rates in recent years going up – the same time they were going down in New York City, New York State, and even Suffolk County.”

“During the course of the campaign, we look forward to a spirited debate between innovative smart on crime’ policies that make all New Yorkers safer, and the traditional approach that has not reduced crime.”

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CWA For Brodsky

The Communications Workers of America have reprised its 2005 endorsement of Assemblyman Richard Brodsky for state attorney general, throwing its support to the Westchester Democrat’s second attempt at statewide office this fall.

In a statement released by the Brodsky campaign, CWA District One Vice President Chris Shelton said the assemblyman “stands out in a crowded field of candidates,” adding:

“He has compiled an outstanding record of accomplishment on reform of State government, workers’ rights, property tax fairness, minimum wage, educational opportunity, worker’s compensation, living wage, and health care.”

“His principles are clear and his skills in translating those principles into real legislative achievements are unique.”

Shelton also specifically cited Brodsky’s fight to stop Verizon from selling its upstate phone network, push to force the Public Service Commission to enforce telephone service quality standards, and campaign for “universal, affordable telecommunications service for all New Yorkers.”
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Coffey Touts His Third-Place DRC Finish (Updated)

Attorney Sean Coffey sent an e-mail to supporters today touting his “strong third place victory” at the Democratic Rural Conference straw poll in Niagara Falls this past Saturday, noting he received “almost as many votes as the fourth and fifth place candidates combined.”

“When we began this campaign, not a single person who voted for me knew my name. In a short period of time, I quickly earned the invaluable support of a significant bloc of DRC members,” Coffey wrote in a message with the subject line: “Momentum.”

“….The fact is, the momentum is in my favor and people I’m meeting are telling me to keep going – because it’s time for new voices and new leadership in Albany, and to ensure that the next Attorney General is an experienced and independent advocate to fight against misconduct on Wall Street.”

Coffey received 52 votes, finishing well ahead of the two elected officials in the AG field – Sen. Eric Schneiderman (33 votes) and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (22 votes).
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Rice Grilled At Stonewall

While pitching the Stonewall Democrats last week, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice was put on the hot seat about a controversial 2007 burglary case prosecuted by her office against a gay cross-dresser who stole ladies’ beauty products.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Bruce Ayers tossed out the indictment, admonishing the DA’s office for prejudicing the grand jury by introducing the issue of sexual orientation, writing:

“Even the most generous interpretation of the evidence of the defendants’ sexual orientation as relevant – that because he dresses like a woman he likely stole the woman’s hair products and shoes – is such an incredible leap of logic as to astound this court.”

At the time, Rice spokesman Eric Phillips insisted to Newsday the cross-dressing was relevant to the case. When asked about the case at Stonewall, Rice, who did not personally elicit the testimony in question, replied:

“I was the DA at the time and I do not believe that was a fact that was brought out by the prosecution. Things that happen in the grand jury are ultimately ruled on by a judge.”

“But I can tell you that as the DA, I’m responsible for every case we prosecute and I accept responsibility for every case that’s prosecuted,” Rice replied.

During the Stonewall forum, Rice insisted she is a “pro-choice, pro-marriage equality anti-death penalty, progressive, tough-on-crime prosecutor.” She told the crowd that “your issues are personal to me,” noting she has a brother who is “a member of the gay community.”

Rice For AG, Officially

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice this morning sent an e-mail to supporters with a video formally announcing her candidacy for AG and presenting herself “not as a career politician, but as a career prosecutor.”

“Today’s announcement is not just the culmination of months of listening and traveling throughout the state; it is also a new beginning,” Rice wrote in the message that accompanied the video.

“Today marks the beginning of a campaign we’ll run together. With your help, I’ll be able to share my tough and innovative record of reform with our state. Together, we can offer bold solutions to the state’s most difficult issues – from the need to reform Albany to the importance of holding Wall Street accountable. ”

“Our campaign will be an issue-based movement that will challenge the status quo and put a career prosecutor into the Attorney General’s office.”

Rice was initially planning on releasing this video yesterday, but pushed that back due to the Times Square car bomb. She’s scheduled to receive the endorsements from her home county Democratic organization, headed by state party Chairman Jay Jacobs, and the Suffolk County Democratic Party.

Spurred by a growing perception that Rice is the preferred candidate of AG Andrew Cuomo – a belief Cuomo is doing nothing to dispel – a number of county organizations are poised to also back the DA, including Brooklyn and Queens. One insider said the Queens Dems’ nod would be particularly telling, since Cuomo grew up in the borough and still has deep ties there.

AG Straw Poll: Dinallo, Rice, Coffey (Updated)

Here are the results of the Democratic Rural Conference AG straw poll:

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Eric Dinallo: 166

Kathleen Rice: 79

Sean Coffey: 52

Sen. Eric Schneiderman: 33

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky: 22

Dinallo, who has been endorsed by 21 Democratic county chairs, came into this contest – the first official match-up of the campaign – as the frontrunner. He has been working the upstate vote hard since last August.

“Thank you so, so much; thank you DRC,” Dinallo told the crowd. “You represent what is best in all of us. I went out there I listened I learned. We produced ideas together…You’ve done so much for me as a first-time candidate.”

“I cannot thank you enough. Whatever happens this is one of the most amazing experiences in my life…I promise you I will never forget. I will always be there for you, for the party, for the DRC, and for the people of this state, all across this state.”

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Coffey Hires A Field Operation

Would-be AG Sean Coffey has scrapped his original plan to skip the state Democratic convention and head straight to an effort to petition his way onto the ballot, but he is nevertheless already putting the pieces in place for a field campaign.

Doug Forand of Red Horse Strategies confirmed that Coffey has hired his firm specifically to focus on field, which is always a crucial component of any campaign, but is likely to be extra important in the crowded AG primary.

Forand noted that he and his Red Horse partners, all of whom are veterans of the Senate Democrats’ political operation, have a background in organizing.

Forand started out with NYPIRG. Marc Lapidus worked in the labor world. Nathan Smith was once with ACORN.

The trio also learned that field is crucial in special elections where turnout is the name of the game. Forand, Smith and Lapidus worked on Sen. Craig Johnson’s successful campaign in 2007 and Sen. Darrel Aubertine’s winning bid in 2008.
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Markowitz For Schneiderman

On the heels of a reception last night at which Brooklyn Democratic Chairman Vito Lopez professed his support for Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice for AG, one of her primary opponents, Sen. Eric Schneiderman, is poised to announce he has landed the endorsement of the borough’s BP, Marty Markowitz.

“Eric Schneiderman will be an outstanding Attorney General for the residents of Brooklyn and all New Yorkers,” said Markowitz.

“He is a bona-fide reformer, and I know as Attorney General he’ll put equal and fair justice above all. I served in the Senate with Eric and was impressed with his integrity and intellect.”

“He’s just what we need and I’m excited to support him, and look forward to his work to standing up for economic justice, keeping our streets safe and ensuring state government is reformed to work more effectively for the residents of New York.”

Markowitz is a popular figure in Brooklyn. He was re-elected with some 86 percent of the vote last fall, although he didn’t really have a significant challenge.
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Donovan For AG

Staten Island DA Dan Donovan is close to finally getting off the fence and declaring his intention to run for the AG office Andrew Cuomo is expected to vacate to run for governor, multiple sources confirm.

Over the past week or so, Donovan has called GOP leaders, including former Gov. George Pataki, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Reps. Susan Molinari and Bill Paxon to inform them of his decision. He also touched base with state Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long.

“He made it very clear that he’s getting serious about making a decision,” said a recipient of one of Donovan’s calls. “I would think he’s leaning heavily that way.”

It’s unclear if Donovan has touched base yet with state GOP Chairman Ed Cox. “He’s not high on the call list,” a source close to the DA said. (The two Republicans had a bit of a tiff in the media recently; Cox was speculated to be interested in keeping the AG slot open in hopes of convincing gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio to switch races).

Donovan will not likely formally announce his campaign until Cuomo makes his announcement and officially indicates he won’t seek re-election, a source close to the DA said.
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