Albany

Where Do We Stand? (Updated)

Sorry for the delay folks. It was a rather late night/early morning. My co-anchor, Roma Torre, and I didn’t get off the desk last night until close to 2 a.m. – after Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli delivered his victory speech.

It was a big night for New York Democrats, who provided a bright spot of success in a nation that saw big GOP gains. The Dems swept the statewide races, picking up the offices of governor, LG, both US Senate seats, attorney general and comptroller (it appears).

As for the congressional races, it looks like the GOP picked up five – and possibly six – seats in Democrat-dominated New York, which helped the party re-gain control of the House. They are:

NY-13 Michael Grimm beats Rep. Michael McMahon.
NY-19 Nan Hayworth beats Rep. John Hall.
NY-20 Chris Gibson beats Rep. Scott Murphy.
NY-24 Richard Hanna beats Rep. Michael Arcuri.
NY-29 Tom Reed defeats Democrat Matt Zeller to win an open seat that used to belong to Democratic former Rep. Eric Massa.
NY-25 Rep. Dan Maffei leads Mary Ann Buerkle by just 5,000 votes. (NOTE: I’m told this race has tightened further, with only several hundred votes separating the two candidates, and about 7,500 paper ballots still out).

The state Senate is still too close to call. The Democrats’ best hope is 32-30 to retain the majority. The GOP’s best is 33-29 to regain control. The rundown of what we know:

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Mrs. Duffy Speaks

The local Rochester station, 13 WHAM, sat down for an extended interview with Second Lady-in-waiting, Barb Duffy, wife of Andrew Cuomo’s LG running mate, Bob Buffy.

Sadly, the video isn’t embeddable, but the interview reveals Barb Duffy to be a supportive yet somewhat reluctant political wife. She also says she and her husband will not likely be relocating to Albany if and when he is elected to be Cuomo’s second-in-command.

“If Bob was chosen for upstate – this is more upstate than Albany is,” she said. “What we’d try to do is go back and forth and see how that worked.”

Gov. David Paterson kept his primary residence in Harlem when he was elected LG in 2006, but he also had a home in Guilderland that he had purchased during his state Senate days. When he ascended to his current post in the wake of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s March 2008 prostitution scandal, Paterson and his family started using the executive mansion part-time.

Cuomo, who lives in Westchester with his girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee, has joint custody of the three daughters with his ex-wife, Kerry Kennedy. Unlike his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, he’s not expected to live full-time in the executive mansion on Eagle Street.

Cuomo Rips Donovan

Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s campaign wasted no time in disseminating Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo’s slam on Staten Island DA Dan Donovan today. I received the quote in three different forms: First just as text, next as a recording and lastly as a video.

With the AG’s race tied (according to yesterday’s Siena poll) Schneiderman is clearly hoping to catch hold of Cuomo’s coattails and ride them to victory tomorrow.

“If we don’t have Eric Schneiderman, you’re basically going to retire that (attorney general’s) office from service,” Cuomo said during a GOTV rally in Albany earlier today.

“His opponent literally says, ‘I don’t want to be the Sheriff of Wall Street.’ What do you mean, you don’t want to be the Sheriff of Wall Street? The job description is: You’re the Sheriff of Wall Street. If you don’t want the job, don’t run for the job.”

Reporting From Albany, It’s Andrew Cuomo

And now, a moment of pre-election levity.

Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo was in an unusually giddy mood today, perhaps due to a combination of his wide lead in the polls, ability to finally see the finish line in what has been an (at times) arduous race and lack of sleep.

After a GOTV rally at the Albany Labor Temple with Sen. Eric Schneiderman and Rep. Paul Tonko, the AG joked around with reporters, playfully grabbing the mic from CapTon’s Kaitlyn Ross and sticking it in DN Capitol Bureau Chief Ken Lovett’s face. The following exchanged ensued:

Lovett: “I don’t know what you’re implying.”

Cuomo: “I just wanted to be on the other side for a change. Answer the question! Answer the question! Do you refuse to answer?”

A Senate Dem Departure

The exodous has begun.

A Senate Democratic source confirmed that Christopher H. Sealey, the majority’s $120,000-a-year director of Creative Services, has departed the public payroll as of last Friday.

According to this source, Sealey informed his bosses “several months ago” that he planned to leave for “another opportunity.” (Details were not immediately available). He was asked to stay on through Election Day, and very nearly made it.

This source insisted Sealey’s decision to hightail it out of the Senate has nothing to do with the fact that the Democrats are locked in a battle to the death with the GOP and very well could lose the majority tomorrow – a loss that could prove very difficult to come back from if the Republicans control the next round of redistricting.

Sealey, who worked in the music and marketing industries and DJed for Prince and Mick Jagger, was hired by then-Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith in 2009, much to the chagrin of not a few veteran staffers who wondered why someone with no previous government or political experience was making so much money.

Sealey got himself in hot water early on by Tweeting things like: “Hey Senate bosses….Two words: Company Car.”

Despite that incident, Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson kept Sealey on. My source insists he was a “dedicated member ” of the majority team.

Domenici To Breslin: ‘Come Out Of The Dark’

Republican state Senate candidate Bob Domenici called on his Democratic opponent, Sen. Neil Breslin, to authorize the State Police to release any information related to his traffic stop and field sobriety test and even suggested all interactions with troopers should be made public – even if they don’t result in charges.

“That might not be a bad idea so we don’t have confusion in the future,” Domenici said earlier today at a press conference called by his campaign following the TU’s report this morning that the senator admitted he had been drinking the night he was pulled over – a direct contradiction of a Senate spokesman’s account of the Oct. 19 incident.

Breslin has gone underground since speaking Wednesday night about his brush with the law. He did not show up at any of the public events he was scheduled to attend today. That left the media cycle to Domenici, who dutifully did his best to keep the story alive.

“We’re in the dark,” Domenici told reporters. “We don’t know, and he won’t say, and nor will anyone else say. We need to come out of the dark. Maybe Neil Breslin needs to be here answering the question. What really happened?”

“This goes to the heart of why people don’t trust our government, because technically he was the one in the car here, and technically he needs to come forward and say exactly what happened. Neil Breslin is the one here in question. His integrity is in question.”

AEG In An Assembly Race

The AEG scandal has now oozed over to the other side of the Capitol and is infecting a state Assembly race.

The bombshell IG report singled out Andrew Goodell, a Republican Assembly candidate in the 150th AD, AEG’s compliance counsel and the personal lawyer for the group’s controversial founder Karl O’Farrell.

The bankrupt Australian gaming operator was reportedly the real reason officials ultimately nixed the AEG bid earlier this year.

In 2007, the Lottery Division of New York determined O’Farrell was not eligible to receive a VLT license in New York state. The IG accused Goodell of trying to minimize his client’s role in the group’s bid – a claim Goodell denied.

Goodell’s denial didn’t stop DACC from running this TV ad slamming him for being mentioned in the IG report. He’s running against Democrat Nancy Bargar for the seat being vacated by retiring Assemblyman Bill Parment.

The script of the ad appears after the jump.

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Bloomberg: There Oughtta Be A Comptroller Law

Mayor Bloomberg this morning floated a proposal that seems tailor-made to assit his current state comptroller candidate of choice, Republican Harry Wilson, saying there should be a legal requirement that New York’s top auditor and its governor have different party affiliations.

“What we really need is more independence,” Bloomberg told WOR’s John Gambling during the duo’s weekly radio show this morning.

“And all this stuff about independent candidates notwithstanding, it’s – nothing is – when people who are being judged shouldn’t be running the contest.”

“…Eleven out of the last 13 New York state comptrollers were from a party different than the governor. There should be a state law requiring you to be a different party because the comptroller is the watchdog for the governor’s Office. And you know, it would be good for the City as well.”

Bloomberg has split his statewide endorsements this fall, backing two Republicans – Wilson and Staten Island DA Dan Donovan for AG – and a Democrat, Andrew Cuomo for governor.

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Breslin Contradicts Spokesman’s Account Of Sobriety Test Incident

The TU reports this morning that Sen. Neil Breslin admitted he had been drinking the night he was pulled over by a State Police trooper and given a field sobriety test (which he passed), directly contradicting a Senate Democratic spokesman’s account of the incident.

From the story:

“I had a couple of glasses of wine. Period,” Breslin, D-Bethlehem, said. “If I didn’t think I was fine, I wouldn’t have driven.”

The senator spoke briefly before a Wednesday evening banquet for the Whitney M. Young Health Center. For a week, Breslin has declined to answer repeated inquiries about the details of the evening, when he was given a field sobriety test by a State Police officer and, as he said, drove himself home.

This week Breslin revealed that a state trooper administered a field alcohol breath test, but he refused to authorize police to share the results of that test or any other information with the public.

Breslin said he had attended two events on the evening in question (Oct. 19): A fundraiser at a Central Avenue bar for Schenectady County Legislator Susan Savage, a Democrat who is challenging veteran GOP Sen. Hugh Farley, and a cocktail party at the Dale Miller restaurant for the Civil Service Employees Association.

Previously, Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran had told both me and the TU that the senator was “absolutely” not drinking on the night he was pulled over. We had quite a back-and-forth about why the senator had been given a field sobriety test if he had given the trooper no reason to suspect that was necessary.

Breslin told the TU a completely different story, saying he had indeed indicated to the trooper that he had “a couple” of glasses of wine and then got in his car to drive home.

He said Shafran’s account of the incident, which the spokesman said he gave after speaking with the senator and members of his staff, was “absolutely wrong” and insisted he hadn’t wanted Shafran to speak for him in the first place.

The senator, who is running for his his eighth term against Republican Bob Domenici and Reform Party candidate Michael Carey, insisted: “I’ve told you the truth, I have nothing to hide. So let’s let it go at that, OK?”

Breslin refused to allow the State Police to release any information about his traffic stop. He also went to great lengths on Oct. 21 to avoid speaking to a YNN reporter camped outside his Capitol office for several hours, waiting behind closed doors while his staff informed the reporter he wasn’t present. The senator eventually spoke to the reporter, and gave him much the same account as Shafran had given to me.

Hook Out

Who will shut off the lights at the end of the Paterson administration?

Gov. David Paterson just announced the departure of his long-suffering communications director, Morgan Hook, who is resigning effective Nov. 12 to assume that same title for SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and the University Administration.

“Morgan has been an invaluable member of my administration and I thank him for his counsel and tireless work on behalf of the State,” Paterson said in a press release.

“During Morgan’s tenure in my administration, he has worked closely with me and displayed incredible dedication. I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

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