Democrats

Parkside Hires

The Parkside Group, a Democratic political consulting firm that is poised to play a big role in the battle for control of the state Senate this fall, is beefing up its staff.

The firm sent out a press release yesterday announcing the arrival of Daniel Katz as general counsel and Austin Finan as a political associate.

Katz, who most recently served as political and legislative director for New Yorkers for Lawsuit Reform, has also worked for AG Andrew Cuomo and Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz. He’s replacing Damon Stewart, who departed Parkside to become vice president for State Government Affairs with DirecTV, which the firm reps.

Finan most recently managed Jerry Iannece’s unsuccessful NYC Council bid last fall. (Iannece lost the Democratic primary for the Queens seat to Kevin Kim, who lost the general election to Republican Councilman Dan Halloran).

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Q Poll: Gillibrand Advances (Slowly)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s standing with New York voters has hit an all-time Q poll high since she ascended last winter to the seat once held by Hillary Clinton, but the junior senator isn’t out of the woods yet when it comes to the fall elections.

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Poll respondents gave Gillibrand a 47-25 percent job approval rating and a 37-23 percent favorability rating. Thirty-nine percent still say they don’t know enough about the senator to have an opinion about her, despite the fact that she has been traveling the state, holding press conferences and issuing news releases with abandon.

Gillibrand easily defeats her first announced GOP challenger, Bruce Blakeman, 47-25. The poll did not include former Rep. Joe DioGuardi, who joined the fray in March, or David Malpass, who is formally announcing his candidacy tomorrow today.

Blakeman kicked off his campaign in January, but 87 percent of voters still have no idea who he is.

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Paladino Spokesman: Cuomo Behind Dirty E-mail Leak

On the heels of GOP gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino’s claim that someone “hacked” his computer, stole hundreds of sexually and racially explicit e-mails and released them to the media comes a charge by the candidate’s spokesman that presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee AG Andrew Cuomo is behind the leak.

Michael Caputo alleged the Western NY Web site where Paladino’s e-mails first appeared this morning is run by a “hardcore Democrat” who has written a number of critical posts about the Buffalo businessman – including the fact that he not only used to be a Democrat himself, but also contributed campaign cash to the very Democrats he’s now attacking.

Caputo alleged that this blogger is in fact in receipt of  “in depth research conducted by somebody’s oppo research team.” Asked whose team that might be, Caputo responded:

“We think it’s Cuomo and we think this is an indication of how the attorney general is going to go (in the general election). There’s no reason to think it’s (Rick) Lazio or (Suffolk County Executive Steve) Levy.”

“I mean, it’s not lost on me that a story came out on Levy today,” Caputo continued. “The people who are talking most about reform in Albany are getting attacked on smear levels today. We’re talking about reform, and they want to talk about sex with horses and S&M clubs.”

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Jacobs: Paladino ‘Completely’ Disqualified By ‘Disgusting’ E-mails

State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs just blasted GOP gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino, saying the racially and sexually explicit e-mails he forwarded disqualify him from leading the state.

“New Yorkers need a true leader to be our next Governor,” Jacobs said in a press release.

“The times are serious and only someone who represents our values and principles can marshal the resources to meet our State’s great challenges. Carl Paladino’s emails offer us a clear insight into the man, his vision, his contempt for so many of our citizens, and his extreme agenda. Unquestionably, his disgusting emails disqualify him completely from public service.”

Paladino has been taking fire from all sides today since a Western NY Web site posted e-mails forwarded by the Buffalo businessman – some of which are so X-rated (think beastiality) it’s difficult to even describe them here.

Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo has not denied outright that his candidate forwarded the e-mails, but did question the veracity of some of them, adding:  “We don’t know which ones are real and which ones are fake.”

Caputo did say that the content of some of the e-mails is “not the kind of content that Carl subscribes to,” and insisted that Paladino didn’t even read some of the e-mails before forwarding them on to a select group of friends.

Powell’s Theory

Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV today appeared to embrace the so-called “Paterson exit strategy” theory that first surfaced last fall, which more or less entails his opponent, Rep. Charlie Rangel, getting re-elected and sticking around just long enough to hand-pick his successor – perhaps providing a landing place for the embattled governor.

While Powell didn’t suggest outright Gov. David Paterson would be the beneficiary of this strategy, he was not shy about sharing his suspicion that the former Ways & Means Committee chair will run, win, resign and then pick his replacement through political dealmaking.

“When you run for two years – for a two year term, you’re supposed to stay there for two years,” Powell said at his campaign announcement this morning, which was covered by NY1’s Josh Robin.

“Rather than running with the idea that already you’re trying to figure out how you’re gonna manipulate  the process with a county committee and all of that to put somebody else in there. That is not right.”

A similar political sleight-of-hand could be accomplished if Rangel files petitions and then declines the nomination, enabling his committee on vacancies to select a candidate to run in his stead. In this case, however, it’s highly unlikely Paterson would be tapped, since he has too much baggage to run for his own job, let alone someone else’s.

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Wright On Powell vs. Rangel: Meh

Asked for his reaction to this morning’s campaign announcement by his Assembly colleague, Adam Clayton Powell IV, Keith Wright resorted to your basic verbal shrug.

“It doesn’t change much,” said Wright, chair of the Manhattan Democratic Party and an ally of Powell’s target, Rep. Charlie Rangel. “I think it will be the same result as it was in 1994 (the last time owell challenged Rangel for his father’s old seat and lost).

“…Whoever’s running now has to put it all on the line because they have to put it all on the line and they’ll be out of office, because I don’t perceive them as winning.”

Aside from Powell, Rangel is also being challenged by two other Democrats – Vince Morgan and Joyce Johnson – and a Republican, the Rev. Michael Faulkner.
Wright noted with some respect that Powell has a history of putting it on the line, so to speak. In 1997, back when he was a NYC councilman, Powell ran for Manhattan borough president and lost, effectively derailing his political career (albeit temporarily). Powell moved to Puerto Rico for three years where he worked for FEMA and participated in the Vieques protests to rid the island of the US Navy’s presence.

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Cuomo Parts Ways With Darrison

As he ramps up his all-but-announced campaign for governor, AG Andrew Cuomo has severed ties with fundraiser Cindy Darrison as of March, Darrison confirmed.

“They hired up full-time people, and I’m continuing to help; I’m putting together some tables for a Women for Cuomo event,” explained Darrison, who noted she now has no statewide clients – a fact about which she is actually “relieved” because “it has been an emotionally trying two years.”

It has actually been longer than that.

Darrison has been pretty much working non-stop since the Eliot Spitzer days. She raised money for him during the eight years of his tenure in the AG’s office and then in 2006 for his gubernatorial run. She departed Spitzerland not long after his election, but was brought back by Paterson in April 2008 after he ascended to replace Spitzer in the governor’s office.

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Bill ‘Nice Guy’ Samuels For LG

Bill Samuels formally kicked off his LG campaign this morning, pledging to fight in a Democratic primary battle against the running mate of presumptive gubernatorial contender, AG Andrew Cuomo, if necessary.

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Samuels is running on a “five pillars of reform” platform (redistricting, member items, outside income etc. – the usual), but insists he’s not a protest candidate and is in the race to win. The one thing he won’t do, however, is fight dirty.

Samuels has hired Ben Kallos (that’s Mr. Open Legislation, to you) to do “research,” stressing that “research” does not mean “oppo,” which he finds “boring.” (Interestingly, Kallos last worked for Mark Green’s 2009 public advocate campaign, during which Green said he swore off oppo, too).

Samuels said he notified Cuomo and Gov. David Paterson that he intends to run for LG, but hasn’t spoken to either of them in detail about his plans. He insisted he will go to the convention next month – “I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, I’m running against the entire party,'” – but will petition he way onto the ballot if necessary.

“I’m sure Cuomo will pick someone who is good and that person will probably have a different definition of how the lieutenant governor can play a constructive roll,” Samuels said. “…And to have a debate on the sate Senate president will be healthy.”

(Samuels also plans on running for the Senate president job, which the LG traditionally holds, presiding over the chamber and breaking ties, if necessary – although there’s been some debate over when he can cast that vote).

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Emanuel To The Rescue For Bishop

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will headline a fundraiser next Monday for Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop, who is in the crosshairs of several GOP candidates vying to try to take him out this fall.

According to an invite forwarded by a reader, Emanuel will join unspecified members of the New York congressional delegation at a $1,000 luncheon for Bishop ($2,400 for a VIP ticket that includes “preferred” seating and an honor roll listing) at The Helmsley Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South in Manhattan.

The fact that the Obama administration is taking an interest in the NY-1 race indicates just how serious things have gotten for Bishop, who was re-elected with 58 percent of the vote in 2008 (he was challenged by Republican Lee Zeldin, who now has his sights set on ousting Democratic Sen. Brian Foley) but has been under fire ever since.

A December 2009 poll commissioned by one of Bishop’s GOP opponents, businessman Randy Altschuler, showed Bishop under 50 percent – never a good place for an incumbent to be. Also not good for Bishop: Obama only carried the district by 51 percent and there’s a very active Tea Party movement in Suffolk County.

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Vallone Jr. Takes A Pass On AG Race

The Democratic AG primary came thisclose to becoming even more crowded as NYC Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. confirmed he had been taking a serious look in recent weeks at throwing his hat into the ring.

In a brief telephone interview yesterday, the Queens lawmaker said he was urged to get into the already-crowded race by numerous advisors (including his father, former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., who won the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial primary).

He ultimately decided to take a pass, citing a desire to spend time with his daughters.

“They’re 14 and 16 and still want to spend time with me,” Vallone Jr. explained. “As a divorced dad, I want to spend all my time with them right now. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I was running statewide.”

Vallone Jr. has been eyeing a run for higher office for some time now. He is widely known to have his eye on either the Queens district attorney’s office and also considered a run for Queens borough president.

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