John Faso

Flynn Lands 1st Labor Endorsement in NY-19 Dem Race

From the Morning Memo:

Brian Flynn, one of seven Democrats vying for the right to challenge freshman Republican Rep. John Faso in NY-19, is poised to announce he has landed the first labor endorsement of the primary battle.

Flynn, a businessman from Hunter, is being backed by the Transport Workers Union, a national labor organization, whose international president, John Samuelsen, (also FORMER president of TWU Local 100 here in New York), said in a statement to be released by Flynn’s campaign that the candidate is “a leader who understands that the economic security of families must be the highest priority of Congress, and that unions are a necessary partner in that mission.”

“From his advocacy to strengthen airport/airline security after his personal loss in the Lockerbie bombing, to his complete grasp of labor struggles, including the expected impact of Janus, Brian Flynn is the ally the entire TWU membership needs in Washington,” added Angelo Cucuzza, chairman of the New York TWU Conference, comprised of locals across the state.

The TWU represents more than 140,000 men and women in the airline, railroad, transit, service, utility and gaming industries across the U.S., and 43,000 of them are members of Local 100 in New York City.

Flynn has a long-standing and very personal tie to this union. One of its founders and first president, Michael Quill, was Flynn’s great uncle. He successfully organized New York City subway workers in the 1930s, and then secured contracts for them that – for the first time – granted them weekends off, pensions and health care coverage.

“To be the first and only candidate endorsed by labor in this race, particularly by an organization that holds such a deep and personal legacy for my family, is a profound honor,” Flynn said. “Unions are a powerful weapon in the fight against inequality, wage stagnation and a system that doesn’t represent the needs of a large majority of American workers.”

“They work to tackle racial and gender inequality by raising wages of women, black and Hispanic workers. I believe in an America That Works For All of Us. That’s why reinvigorating unions is a major tenet of my Plan For the American Worker. At the end of the day, this is about economic justice.”

Flynn is the only candidate in this race – actually, the only candidate in the entire state – whose campaign staffers have unionized, which, apparently is something of a mini-movement at a handful of congressional campaigns (all Democratic candidates) across the country.

So, TWU in New York is, as mentioned, pretty much a downstate entity. But in a Democratic field this crowded, any small leg up – via organizing, or independent expenditures, or phone-banking, or what have you – could make a difference leading up to the June primary.

Flynn Formally Launches in NY-19

The candidacy of Brian Flynn, a Greene County Democrat and medical device manufacturing company president, in NY-19 next year has not exactly been a secret.

This past spring, Flynn’s name appeared on an ever-increasing list of potential candidates – I believe we’re up to eight at this point? – interested in challenging freshman Republican Rep. John Faso, whose swing district is one of the Democrats’ top targets in the upcoming midterm elections.

And over the summer, Flynn reported raising more political cash than anyone else currently in the race – even the congressman himself – though that was thanks in large part to a $500,000 loan he floated to fund his campaign. (A spokesman for Flynn said there’s no limit at this point to the amount the candidate is willing to spend on this effort, and he also has no expectation of ever being repaid).

Today, however, marks the official launch of Flynn’s bid, which he marked with a video that focuses on the tragic death of his older brother, JP, who was killed in the 1988 terrorist attack on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and how that spurred the younger Flynn to a life of service, activism and action.

“My older brother and best friend was killed…and my mother picked up the phone, and she slammed down the phone and said: He’s dead. You look for meaning; why did this happen? Why would someone kill your brother. And I heard my brother talking to me and saying, alright, now you’re living for two of us,” an emotional Flynn recalls.

“So, I was 19 years old, and I get in the car and I drive to Washington to get justice for the victims of this terrorist attack. The government tried to tell us that it could have been an accident. But we knew right away that wasn’t true. I was just a teenager, but I learned when you see something that is wrong, you have to do something about it.”

“We fought tirelessly to get safety regulations for airlines that would prevent this kind of terrorist attack…I’ve been fighting for change ever since.”

Flynn goes on to recount his family’s history – three generations living in the Green County area – remembering that his grandfather was a bartender in Leeds, and his great-uncle Mike Quill “started the union that protected subway workers.”

There’s also some personal testimony from Flynn’s sister, Kerry Mariani, and Lynn Gaffney, identified as “a small business owner.”

The video ends with Flynn criticizing Faso for failing to “fix things” in Washington, and instead working with President Donald Trump to make things “worse” with “chaos, dysfunction, (and) hateful rhetoric.” In particular, the video cites Faso’s “yes” vote on the health care reform bill, which has been a flashpoint for the left that is organizing against the Republican lawmaker.

Flynn also launched a new campaign website today, which can be found here.

Cook Political Report Downgrades Rep. Faso’s Chances To Keep Seat

The Cook Political Report, an online campaign analysis newsletter, downgrade New York’s 19th Congressional District from Lean Right to Toss Up on Friday. In total, the report changed the rating of ten house races in favor of Democrats.

“Multiple public and private polls now show House Republican incumbents who won by wide margins last fall, tied with or trailing real and hypothetical opponents,” analyst David Wasserman wrote.

In regards to NY-19, he noted incumbent John Faso was one of only 15 Republicans to win by single digits in 2016. This cycle, eight Democrats have already announced intentions to run.

“Now he’s facing a deluge of opponents,” Wasserman wrote. “Democrats are perhaps most high on West Point graduate and Iraq veteran Pat Ryan, but the dynamic could change if 2016 nominee Zephyr Teachout or Ulster County Executive Mike Hein get in.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is celebrating the downgrade as a victory. It sent out a press release Friday.

“This ratings change shows once again how vulnerable Representative Faso is ahead of next year’s election,” said DCCC Spokesman Evan Lukaske. “Our strong Democratic field, coupled with Faso vote for the Republican repeal bill, which would increase premiums and gut pre-existing conditions, make Faso ripe for replacement.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee meanwhile, is not taking much stock in the new grade.

“Just a few weeks ago, the same beltway prognosticators who predicted a Hillary Clinton landslide placed Georgia’s 6th district in the toss-up column – and we all know how that ended,” spokesperson Chris Martin said. “Now they’re doing the same in New York’s 19th, where a crowded Democratic primary field is going to force the eventual challenger to embrace far-left positions unpalatable to general election voters.”

Collins And Katko Hosting Meeting About Lake Ontario Shoreline

From the Memo:

Upstate Republican Congressmen Chris Collins and John Katko will host a meeting in Washington D.C. today to discuss flooding and damages along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Collins’s office said county leaders from Orleans, Niagara, Monroe and Wayne Counties will participate in the discussion. Representatives from various government agencies are also expected to be in attendance.

Specifically, the focus will be on how the International Joint Committee has regulated the levels of the lake and the St. Lawrence River. The congressman’s office said the IJC’s Plan 2014 is directly connected to the “devastation” along the shoreline.

Collins and Katko are calling on the commission to renegotiate the plan.

“Plan 2014 is the IJC’s plan to regulate the water levels in Lake Ontario creating higher-highs and lower-lows and at a more frequent pace. Lake Ontario’s current water levels are higher than they have been in over a century and experts predict it will be months until the levels drop. Increased water levels have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to homeowners, businesses, and municipalities in Central and Western New York,” Collins’s office wrote in the press release.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo confirmed she will be at the meeting. She said she will advocate for closer monitoring and the creation of physical barriers to mitigate the water’s impact in the future.

“Everyone has acknowledged that there is damage along the shores of Lake Ontario and that Plan 2014 anticipates an increase in the amount of damage over previous plans,” Dinolfo said. “I intend to seek from them, solutions for Monroe County’s shoreline residents and businesses and I will urge those representatives to put pressure on the United States’ appointees on the International Joint Commission to act in the interests of residents and businesses along the southern shore of Lake Ontario.”

The meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. is closed to the press but attendees will be available for comment. Spectrum News has a crew covering the event.

DCCC Targets Faso/Collins For ACHA Support

Upstate Republicans Chris Collins and John Faso are among 14 members of the U.S. House of Representatives the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting in a new digital ad campaign. The ads criticize the congressman for moving the failed American Health Care Act forward in their respective committees.

Collins is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee while Faso is on the Budget Committee. The 5-figure ad buy, which starts today, will be featured on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“This targeted ad campaign makes clear that every House Republican who voted in committee for this devastating Republican repeal bill will be held accountable from now through Election Day,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said.

He goes on to say in statements that both Collins and Faso both “knowingly voted for a bill to raise premiums and deductibles, slap an age tax on older folks, and rip insurance away from 24 million hardworking Americans.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee said only 13 percent of American want to keep the current health care law as is, referencing a Morning Consult poll from this month.

“John Faso and Chris Collins should be applauded for pushing forward the debate on this disastrous law and putting the spotlight back on the need for property tax relief across New York State,” NRCC spokesman Chris Pack said.

NY-19: Another Super PAC Enters The Fray

From the Morning Memo:

Yet another Super PAC has decided to weigh in on the NY-19 fight to replace outgoing Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, adding to the rapidly mounting tally of outside spending on this hotly contested race. 

National Horizon, a conservative group, this morning is launching its first – and so far only – TV ad in New York, aiming to boost the Republican contender in this contest, former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso. 

The ad echoes a theme Faso and his allies have been pushing hard lately, accusing the Democrat running in NY-19, Zephyr Teachout, of wanting to significantly raise a plethora of taxes. 

The script features a female narrator who says: 

“More of the same, that’s Zephyr Teachout. More taxes. More political double-talk. Teachout opposed a cap on property taxes here. She backed a new ten billion dollar tax on investments. and on energy, Professor Teachout wants something she calls a quote fee and dividend system, a quote tax is what regular folks might call it. Zephyr Teachout, more of the same with more taxes.”

Republican strategist Nelson Warfield, who has long been involved with National Horizon, said the Super PAC is spending about $150,000 on this ad, ($10,000 of that is to cover production costs), which will run on Albany-area network and cable stations for the next week. 

Warfield said National Horizon decided to get involved in this race because it believes Teachout “presents a unique threat to the public purse,” adding: “A kooky professor is fun at a cocktail party, but in Congress, it’s another matter entirely.” 

This is a potentially potent line of attack against Teachout, especially when it comes to her opposition of the popular property tax cap, which she first expressed in 2014 when she was challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. 

Teachout recently released a video explaining her position on taxes and pushing back against what she characterized as “lies” about her position. She expressed support for a circuit breaker, which is an idea long embraced by progressive advocates and organizations in New York. 

National Horizon hasn’t done much work in New York since 2012, when it spent $500,000 to assist Republican Wendy Long, who was then challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. 

Long ended up losing to Gillibrand in a landslide that year. She’s now running a long-shot campaign against the state’s senior U.S. senator, Chuck Schumer. 

Gibson Stars In Faso Ad

Retiring Rep. Chris Gibson has made a point during his tenure in the House to try to appeal to a wide range of constituents by adopting a pragmatic approach in D.C. – even when his won conference has leaned steadily to the right.

As a result, Gibson is popular in his closely divided district (NY-19). He won an easy re-election there two years ago against his Democratic opponent, political newcomer Sean Eldridge; and also in 2012 against former Ulster County Democratic Chairman Julian Schreibman, despite the fact that redistricting had skewed the district southward, making it more Democrat-dominated.

Gibson declined to take sides in the GOP primary battle for his seat, which he is vacating at the end of the year, but has since endorsed the winner of that fight, former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso.

Now Gibson, who is giving up politics altogether for a life in academic, is trying to transfer some of his popularity to his would-be successor, starring in a new TV ad on his behalf.

The ad was released today, and, according to an accompanying press release, highlights Faso’s “long-standing commitment to his community” – a dig at his Democratic opponent, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout, who only recently moved into the district – and his “friendship” with the retiring congressman, who, as it turns out, lives right down the street from Gibson and his family.

Here’s the script for the ad, which will run on cable television and digital outlets throughout the district, as well as broadcast television in the Albany market. No immediate details on the size of the buy were provided.

Gibson: I’m retiring from Congress but I don’t have to go far to find the right person to keep representing us.

John Faso, he’s not only a friend… he’s my neighbor.

He and his wife Mary Frances raised their family in this house down the street from mine.

John pushed for the property tax cap and helped pass the STAR program.

He gets results for taxpayers.

Okay over to you John.

Faso: Thanks Chris. I’m John Faso, and I approve this message.

Faso: Teachout A ‘Leftist Elitist’

As mentioned in an earlier post, congressional candidates who made it successfully through the primaries this past Tuesday wasted no time in turning their attention to their respective general election opponents.

In the case of the NY-19 primary winners – Democrat Zephyr Teachout and Republican John Faso – the verbal barbs started flying just hours after the polls closed and both defeated their opponents by wide margins.

Teachout and Faso sniped at one another in their victory speeches, with him noting right off the bat that he and his wife have lived in the district for decades, (unlike Teachout, who is a recent transplant), and her deeming him an Albany insider beholden to rich special interests who contributed to his campaign.

Today, the candidates are at it again, with Faso’s campaign manager Dain Pascocello releasing a lengthy “state of the race” memo, in which he paints Teachout as an inexperienced and out-of-touch liberal elitist.

“Professor Teachout has a radical ‘progressive’ agenda that has nothing in common with the values of the 19th Congressional District,” Pascocello wrote. “She is simply looking for a perch to launch a national crusade for taxpayer-subsidized elections and other left-wing causes.”

“In fact, she’s already called for higher taxes on individuals and small businesses; she supports an energy plan that would increase our electricity costs; she promises a single-payer health care system that would further destroy our health care and economy; and she wants to force federal gun restrictions that would take away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

“In short, Professor Teachout is a leftist elitist who thinks she knows better than we do.”

Pascocello also reiterates the “carpetbagger” criticism, lumping Teachout in with retiring Rep. Chris Gibson’s 2014 Democratic opponent, Sean Eldridge, who purchased an expensive home in the district with his husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and then spent the bulk of his unsuccessful (and poorly run) campaign fending off accusations that he was trying to buy his way into Congress.

Teachout, meanwhile, sent out a fundraising email today that landed in my inbox only minutes after Faso’s memo, asking donors to help shore up her finances to prepare for what she expects will be a hard fought = and nasty – general election race.

” We have to be ready for my opponent John Faso, a lobbyist, to run a very negative campaign, and for his SuperPACs to throw everything AND the kitchen sink at me,” Teachout wrote. ” believe that the future of our country lies in our people, not in big money donors and lobbyists who seek to divide us for their profit. I believe in the great American spirit of democracy, where every person’s voice matters, not just that of billionaires.”

“So we are building from anger to hope, from community to isolation. We are building a strong, broad, resilient, spirited and grounded grassroots fighting force, ready for anything that John Faso’s SuperPACs throw our way!”

This race promises to be one of the most hotly contested in the state this fall. Unlike Gibson, who has gone to great lengths to portray himself as a political pragmatist, both Teachout and Faso are strongly associated with the left of center and right of center, respectively, which could make it difficult for them to appear to a key voting bloc: independents.

Faso: Nearly $625K Raised In First Quarter

Republican congressional hopeful John Faso announced Wednesday he had raised $624,750 in the first quarter as part of his bid to win the Hudson Valley House seat held by outgoing Rep. Chris Gibson.

The campaign will report having spent $66,250 during this filing period, and will have $558,500 in cash on hand.

“What’s happened to this country over the past two decades is simply unacceptable, and the fault lies squarely at the doorstep of a federal government that has grown too expensive, too expansive, and too self-serving,” Mr. Faso said. “This district has been blessed with solid representation these past five years — I’ve known Congressman Gibson for 30 — and I am ready to step in and advance the fight for New Yorkers in our nation’s capital. I am enormously grateful for the outpouring of support I have received since announcing my candidacy just a few short weeks ago, and to each and every person who has donated to this cause.”

Faso, a former Assembly minority leader, is running for the seat alongside fellow Republican businessman Andrew Heaney, a businessman from Millbrook. Two state Assembly members — Peter Lopez and Steve McLaughlin are considering launching campaigns as well.

Gibson is retiring at the end of the current term as he eyes a potential run for governor in 2018.

Faso Launches Super PAC

John Faso, a former Assembly minory leader and the 2006 GOP gubernatorial nominee, has launched a new 527 committee for this campaign cycle – also known as a Super PAC – that will focus on raising cash to assist Republican congressional candidates around the state.

The new committee called “New York 2014” was first reported (on Twitter) by NYT reporter Thomas Kaplan. In a subsequent telephone interview, Faso confirmed his involvement, but was not forthcoming with details like who else is involved, how much cash has been raised to date or which candidates the money will be used to support.

“The motivation is to support House candidates who believe in economic opportunity, economic growth and free enterprise,” Faso said. “That is all consistent with my own political philosophy, as you know.”

Additional details will “soon become known” when New York 2014 files its disclosure reports next month, Faso said.

I asked if the decision to get involved at the federal level at a time when the GOP has a full slate of statewide candidates and is battling to retain and/or improve its slim hold on shared control in the state Senate indicates that Faso doesn’t think much of his fellow Republicans’ changes at the state level, and he insisted that was not the case.

I may become involved in something more state centric, but the first one we are involved with is federal,” Faso said.

Faso would not disclose the names of the individuals with whom he’s involved in this endeavor, saying only that they are people sympathetic with positions of economic growth,” adding: “Disclosure means I disclose the contributors and the expenditures, but I don’t have to disclose anything else, nor would you with a reguklar PAC if you set up something under federal or state law.”

There are several contested congressional races taking place in New York, including the battle for NY-19, where GOP Rep. Chris Gibson is being challenged by Democratic newcomer Sean Eldridge; and NY-21, where two Republicans – Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny – are battling in a primary for the right to take on another Democratic newcomer, Aaron Woolf, in the general election fight for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.

Faso has been in the private sector since he lost the 2006 governor’s race to then-Democratic state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Four years earlier, Faso lost the state comptroller’s race by a very slim margin to Democrat Alan Hevesi, who ended up resigning in disgrace thanks to the so-called Chauffeurgate scandal and then serving time behind bars for his role in a massive pay-to-play pension fund scandal exposed by Spitzer’s sucessor in the AG’s office, Andrew Cuomo.

Since his loss to Spitzer, Faso has been mentioned on and off as a potential candidate for numerous office, but has opted to stay on the sidelines. He has remained politically involved, however, and was spotted last week at the state GOP convention at the Westchester Hilton in Rye Brook.