AD-133: Dem Candidate Officially Launches Campaign

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic candidate Barbara Baer is taking a second stab at New York’s 133rd Assembly District.

Baer officially launched her campaign for the Finger Lakes region seat yesterday. She first ran for the position two years ago, losing to Republican candidate Joe Errigo.

Although Baer lost that race by roughly 13 points, she felt she did well in the traditionally GOP-leaning district.

“I think the district’s been under-represented and under-valued for years,” she said. “It goes from Pittsford, through Livingston, through Hornell. It’s a fabulous district and basically the people who have been in the seat have basically said ‘no’ to things, rather than saying ‘yes,’ and I think I could bring some capital money and some new ideas to the district.”

Errigo was selected by local GOP leaders in 2016 to replace incumbent Republican Assemblyman Bill Nojay following Nojay’s suicide, and, prior to that, represented much of the district for a decade. But he will not be the Republican candidate this time around.

He lost last week’s GOP primary to attorney Marjorie Byrnes, although he hasn’t said if he’ll actively campaign on the minor party lines he still holds.

Byrnes welcomed Baer to the race, noting the two women are both committed to civil dialogue and serious debate. However, she said, they have a fundamental difference of opinion when it comes to the state’s and the district’s needs.

“I am confident that following serious dialogue, the people of the 133rd will see that the plans conservative-minded Republicans, like myself, are offering—limited government, tax relief for middle class families, less onerous regulations for small business, safety for our public schools and fewer Albany mandates—will serve our communities better than the policies proposed by Ms. Baer’s downstate-dominated Democratic Party,” Byrnes said.

New CLF Ads Target Brindisi

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC endorsed by the House Republican leadership, is releasing two more ads in NY-22 today, both of which target the Democratic candidate, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, and seek to cast him as a political insider who is too liberal for the moderate-to-conservative leaning district.

The ads will run in the Binghamton and Utica media markets, as well as on digital platforms, and is part of some $2 million worth of time the CLF has reserved in this hotly contested district for the fall.

The fist spot, dubbed “Sheldon and Nancy,” tries – yet again – to tie Brindisi both to disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whom the assemblyman has said he will not support to continue as head of the conference if he is elected to the House in November.

The ad also accuses Brindisi of being a “rubber stamp” for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s agenda, voting for Cuomo’s “agenda” over 90 percent of the time.

Among the issues highlighted here is single payer healthcare, for which the assemblyman voted “yes,” though technically speaking, that NOT a key agenda item for the governor – something that became a flashpoint during his primary battle with actress-turned-activist Cynthia Nixon.

Brindisi has sought to distance himself from the former speaker, releasing an ad of his own last month that highlighted his role in push the speaker to resign when he was hit with federal corruption charges.

That ad came out on the same day the CLF, which is working hard to boost the re-election chances of Brindisi’s opponent, Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, herself a former assemblywoman, released a different spot, which maintained the assemblyman had actually been Silver’s “go-to guy” in Albany.

Brindisi has also not been afraid to publicly criticize the governor, particularly when he felt Cuomo was ignoring the Mohawk Valley.

The second ad features a Chittenango woman, Sherry Menninger, who says she can’t support Brindisi because she’s concerned he wants to “make everyone eligible for Medicare,” which will raise the national debt and “wreck” the system for everyone.

“In Albany, Anthony Brindisi rubber-stamped Silver’s and Cuomo’s agenda over ninety percent of the time. Brindisi voted for single-payer health care, and a two hundred billion-dollar tax hike. Now Brindisi wants to rubber-stamp Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, supporting a thirty-two-trillion-dollar government takeover of health care, nearly doubling the debt. Anthony Brindisi is a tax-and-spend rubber stamp.”

“(Sherry): “I earned my social security and Medicare benefits, and I want Washington to keep their hands off them. That’s why I can’t support Anthony Brindisi. Brindisi wants to make everyone eligible for Medicare. And that’s a thirty-trillion-dollar budget buster. Brindisi’s plan would end Medicare as we know and explode the national debt, wrecking Medicare for seniors, raising taxes on everyone. Anthony Brindisi doesn’t get my vote.”

Espinal Welcomes Endorsements by Koo, Niou, Meng

Assemblywoman Ari Espinal welcomed endorsements in her re-election campaign for the seat in District 39 by City Councilman Peter Koo and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou. In a press release, her campaign also noted the endorsement of Rep. Grace Meng.

Espinal assumed her current role in a 2017 special election, following the resignation of former Assemblyman turn City Councilman Francisco Moya.

“I am thrilled to have the support of Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, Councilman Peter Koo, and Congresswoman Grace Meng. They are fierce advocates for our values and have delivered real results to support our students, advocate for our small businesses, and protect our rights. I am eager to continue working together to make New York City a great place to live for all New Yorkers,” said Assemblywoman Ari Espinal.

The Queens incumbent faces attorney and DREAMer Catalina Cruz in next week’s Democratic primary election on Sept. 13.

Cruz has previously been endorsed by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, as well as several progressive groups such as Citizen Action of New York.

Stringer Endorses Cruz For Assembly

Democratic candidate for Assembly Catalina Cruz on Monday was endorsed by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Cruz is running for the Democratic nomination in the 39th district.

“We are proud to welcome Comptroller Scott Stringer to our campaign. He has been an effective advocate for working people and small businesses. He has been on the forefront of protecting integrity in government and making corporations accountable for their actions,” Cruz said. “I am honored to have his support and I look forward to working closely with him to make New York an even better place to live, work, raise a family, and retire.”

Cruz, who was born in Colombia and arrived in Queens when she was 9, would be the first DREAMer elected to the state Legislature.

“I’m so honored and excited to put my support behind Catalina Cruz for NYS Assembly. As a Dreamer she is a shining example of the American Dream. An example of what can happen when we give immigrant communities a fair shot at realizing that dream,” Stringer said.

“As a lawyer and former council Chief of Staff she has fought for others to have a fair shot at the dream too. A lifelong advocate, Catalina has been committed to serving this community from fighting unscrupulous landlords in housing court, to passing legislation protecting workers’ and immigrants’ rights. Catalina is deeply qualified to represent this community in Albany. She is the leader we need and I am proud to stand by her.”

Updated: Nathan Smith, a spokesman for Assemblywoman Ari Espinal’s campaign, responded.

“We can add ‘Second’ Stringer to the pile of wealthy, white Manhattanites backing Cruz and her developer friends,” Smith said. “Maybe with the Stringer kiss of death, he’ll learn to lose gracefully this time when Queens voters send him and his candidate packing.”

Rivera Endorses Septimo In Bronx Assembly Primary

From the Morning Memo:

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera on Monday will endorse Democrat Amanda Septimo for Assembly in the Bronx, her campaign said.

“I am excited to support Amanda Septimo as she runs for Assembly,” Rivera said in a statement.

“Now more than ever before, we need leaders at the state level who will relentlessly fight to protect our progressive values and deliver real results. Amanda has been working throughout her career to help working families in the South Bronx succeed. We need her energy and determination in the Assembly to ensure a more thriving future for the Bronx and New York State.”

The lawmaker is the first elected official to back Septimo over Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, who she is challenging in the Sept. 13 primary.

“I am thrilled to have the support of Senator Rivera,” Septimo said. “He is a powerful progressive leader who has devoted his career to fighting to better the lives of everyone who calls the Bronx home. We need change in Albany, and I will be a strong voice for our students, seniors, and working families in the Assembly.”

Septimo has picked up several labor union endorsements, including the AFL-CIO, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, DC 37 as well as the Working Families Party. She is a former aide to Rep. Jose Serrano and most recently worked for the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators.

Heastie Makes JCOPE Appointment

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie appointed former Essex County District Attorney Julie Garcia to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, his office on Wednesday announced.

“Ms. Garcia’s extraordinary résumé and unwavering commitment to public service assure me that she will help the commission carry out its duty of ensuring the highest level of integrity in state government,” said Heastie in a statement. “Throughout her career, she has fought tirelessly to deliver justice and promote public safety, and I am confident her talents will be an asset to the State of New York.”

Garcia is currently an attorney in private practice.

As Assembly speaker, Heastie appoints three members to the ethics and lobbying regulator.

JCOPE has come under criticism this election year, with candidates questioning the watchdog’s effectiveness on overseeing corruption and wrongdoing in Albany as well as its handling of sexual harassment cases involving officials in state government.

Assembly Candidate Seeks Transparency From Catholic Church

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Erie County Legislator and state Assembly candidate Pat Burke is circulating an online petition calling for transparency from the Catholic Church, and for the state Legislature to pass the Child Victims Act.

Burke’s petition comes in response to yet another report, this time out of a grand jury in Pennsylvania, detailing child sexual abuse by priests and the church’s longstanding effort to cover up that abuse.

Some of the hundreds of priests named in the latest report have ties to the Buffalo diocese.

Dozens of priests from Western New York and the Southern Tier have already been accused of similar abuse, and Bishop Richard Malone has promised to take action. Burke said a childhood classmate of his was among the victims that has come forward.

“The sexual abuse of a child is one of the most heinous and despicable crimes,” he said. “Covering up those crimes is incomprehensible. Both of the priests from my childhood were suspected of pedophilia. I did not serve as an altar boy, nor did I interact with them closely, but many of my friends did. This will not end until community leaders speak up and use their platforms to make this happen.”

Burke also wrote a letter to Malone asking about his friend’s case, in which the accused priest has been reinstated. He asked the bishop to release the results of the diocesan investigation so the public can understand why the decision was made.

Burke is running on the Democratic line for the 142nd state Assembly district against incumbent Erik Bohen. He lost to Bohen, a Democrat who is once again running on the Republican line, in a special election earlier this year.

Epstein And Nixon Endorse Each Other

Manhattan Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Epstein on Thursday endorsed Cynthia Nixon’s bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor in the Sept. 13 primary.

Epstein is the third lawmaker in the state Assembly to back Nixon over Cuomo, joining Democratic lawmakers Andrew Hevesi and Tom Abinanti.

“I am proud to endorse Cynthia because I believe she is truly committed to fighting for a more just and equal New York,” Epstein said. “Together, we will work to advance issues of social and economic justice so that every citizen has a chance to thrive. From reforming our criminal justice system that disproportionately targets low-income people of color, to fixing the MTA and making public transportation more efficient and accessible, I believe that Cynthia will be an excellent ally in this work.”

Nixon in turn backed Epstein’s re-election as well.

“I’m thrilled to receive the endorsement of Assembly Member Harvey Epstein and proud to stand with him in the fight to make New York a state for the many,” she said. “As we’ve seen all across the country, when bold progressives stand together and fight back, we can bring about real change. I look forward to working with Harvey to fix our subways, rein in Cuomo’s housing crisis, and usher in a new era of progressive leadership in New York on Thursday, September 13th.”

TWU Endorses Espinal In AD-39

From the Morning Memo:

The Transport Workers Union on Wednesday endorsed the re-election bid of Democratic Assemblywoman Ari Espinal as she seeks re-election to her Queens district.

“Assemblywoman Ari Espinal is a true champion for our workers, and TWU is proud to support her as she runs for re-election,” said Michele Gilliam, the political director for TWU Local 100.

“Born and raised in a union family in this community, Assemblywoman Espinal knows the struggles our working families face and has worked tirelessly to improve workers’ safety, ensure fair wages, and protect unions’ right to organize. She is someone who has stood with us for years, and we are excited to stand with her now.”

Espinal faces Catalina Cruz in a Democratic primary on Sept. 13.

Espinal’s previous endorsements include Reps. Grace Meng and Jose Serrano as well as New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“I am thrilled to have the support of TWU. Our working families are the backbone of our community, and with the federal government attacking rights of unions, it is critical that our state leaders fight for our workers,” Espinal said.

“Our city is in the midst of a transit crisis, and the working families in the outer-boroughs, especially Central Queens, pay the price. I will continue to fight for improvements to our subways and bus lines.”

Pay for Play Accusations in Rochester-Area Assembly Race

The campaign for Republican Assemblyman Joe Errigo is calling into question a $20,000 payment his primary opponent made to Jason McGuire, the chairman of the Livingston County Conservative Party and a regional vice chair for the state Conservative Party.

According to campaign finance reports and confirmed by McGuire, GOP candidate Marjorie Byrnes contracted him to do consulting work for her campaign. He said he did not begin working for Byrnes, a former Rochester City Judge, until roughly a month after his county party endorsed her.

However, he was already Byrnes’ campaign manager when he wrote an email supporting her to the state party’s executive committee. McGuire released the July 12 correspondence on Tuesday in which he disclosed he was assuming the responsibilities.

The committee ultimately decided to authorize Byrne as its candidate for the 133rd Assembly District, but some members did not realize McGuire was receiving compensation and felt misled. State Party Chairman Mike Long said in the aftermath he asked for the regional vice chair’s resignation.

McGuire complied in an ensuing email to Long and committee members on July 23rd, in which he also announced he would return the $20,000. He said he didn’t mean to mislead anybody.

“I have every intention of continuing to support her as I have all along and still believe her to be the better candidate for this office, but I would rather do it as an unpaid campaign volunteer with integrity intact, than live under a cloud of suspicion before you with compensation,” McGuire said.

Long said he took the right steps and after reviewing the facts decided the incident was the result of a “clear misunderstanding.” He chose not to accept McGuire’s resignation.

The actions were not enough for Errigo’s campaign though, who said it “smacks of Albany pay-for-play.”

“This is the worst of what New York state politics is all about and it should not happen,” campaign spokesperson Arnie Rothschild said. “The fact that Mr. McGuire now says he has returned the money is an indication he recognizes this was wrong. However, if you rob a bank and return the money two days later, you’re still guilty of robbing a bank.”

Rothschild questioned why McGuire did not recuse himself from the state committee’s conversation about the race. He also said $20,000 is an unusually large amount to pay for an Assembly race and, to his knowledge, McGuire has not served as a campaign consultant before this year.

The Livingston County chair said he has in fact been involved in numerous campaigns although he typically works for free. The Errigo Campaign said it is reviewing the incident with attorneys and has not filed any formal complaints, although they believe it is potentially a felony.

The state Conservative Party is continuing to support Byrnes, although Long said it is not an indictment of the incumbent. He said Errigo has done a good job filling the seat left vacant when Assemblyman Bill Nojay committed suicide, however the party intended him to be a stabilizing candidate, not a long-term one.

Byrne also has the endorsement of the Livingston County Republican Committee while the Monroe County GOP is supporting Errigo.