NY-22’s GOP Primary Could Be A Crowded One

From the Morning Memo:

Republicans look at the 22nd congressional district and practically salivate.

The district is considered ripe for a pickup opportunity next year: Won handily by President Donald Trump in 2016, the district is represented by a freshman Democrat, Rep. Anthony Brindisi, who is widely seen as the most vulnerable New York freshman in 2020.

Trump will be back at the top of the ticket next year. Declared and potential GOP candidates are stepping forward.

Already declared is George Phillips, a former congressional aide who will hold town hall meets on bread-and-butter issues like the economy and immigration, but doesn’t want to discuss the investigations into the Trump administration, the president’s campaign or his personal finances.

Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell this month also announced his candidacy.

Franklin Sager, a math teacher from Broome County, joined the race in May and is running as a supporter of the president.

Meanwhile, Binghamton Mayor Rich David, who met this week with Trump in the Oval Office with other local government officials, is weighing a bid, according to Republican sources.

And former Rep. Claudia Tenney, who Brindisi defeated last year, is also considering whether to win her old seat back.

Trump, though popular in the district, wasn’t enough to help Tenney. The president held a fundraiser in Utica for Teneny and members of his family campaigned with her. She lost anyway in what turned into a Democratic wave year.

Some Republicans, including Cornwell, have little desire to see Tenney jump back into the race.

“We need a strong candidate, with a proven record on the issues that Upstate New York residents care about — fighting crime, ending illegal immigration, fighting the opioid crisis, and helping put people back to work,” he said.

“I am, by far, the strongest candidate to take this seat back and represent the people. I can’t comment on what Ms. Tenney will or won’t do, but I know I’m the best candidate for the job.”

The primary for Republicans is shaping up to be not unlike primary contests for Democrats last year, in which a crowded field competed to win the nomination ahead of an expected good year for the party.

It’s not yet clear what sort of year 2020 will shape up to be for either party, of course, and whether Trump’s coattails will translate to down-ballot victories.

For his part, Brindisi’s campaign said he “is focused on doing the job New Yorkers elected him to do: fighting for veterans, working to bring down health care costs, championing the needs of farmers, and passing legislation to support American workers.”

State GOP Chairman Challenges Battleground Dems On Impeachment

New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy in a statement on Wednesday blasted the effort by some Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives to push an impeachment resolution of President Donald Trump.

In the statement, Langworthy singled out Democrats who represent swing districts in New York City and upstate New York to vote against the resolution: Reps. Max Rose, Sean Patrick Maloney, Antonio Delgado and Anthony Brindisi.

“Democrats are drunk with their obsession of trying to take out our President and they’ll stop at nothing to win,” Langworthy said.

“Voting ‘no’ won’t cut it; it’s time for these members to stop wasting taxpayers’ time and money and get to work for the American people instead of these cheap political stunts. If they fail to do what’s right, we’re going to make sure they’re held accountable by the voters who are sick and tired of the nonsense.”

The impeachment resolution is not expected to pass, but presents a challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s efforts to stave off the push as well as a challenge to Democrats who represent districts that do not back proceeding with the effort.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a separate resolution condemning tweets sent by the president over the weekend as racist, criticizing newly elected Democratic women and telling them to “go back” to their ancestral countries.

Binghamton Mayor Meets With Trump

Binghamton Mayor Rich David on Tuesday met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office amid talk of a potential congressional campaign.

David was in Washington with other local officials from the northeast to meet with the president about federal and local government concerns. The trio was organized by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs as part of Northeast Regional State Leadership Day.

“It was an honor and a privilege to meet with a sitting president in the Oval Office, representing Binghamton residents,” David said.

“President Trump took a personal interest in making sure top federal officials were accessible and responsive to counties, cities and towns. I shared Binghamton’s needs in infrastructure, housing affordability and economic development with the President and White House officials — literally the top policymakers in government. Local elected officials seldom have that type of opportunity. When decisions are made in Washington, communities like Binghamton must be kept in mind.”

A Republican source said Wednesday David is one of several potential candidates for the GOP nomination in the 22nd congressional district, flipped to the Democratic column last year by Rep. Anthony Brindisi.

Former Rep. Claudia Tenney is also considering a campaign. Republican Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell and George Phillips have previously launched bids for the seat.

NY-22: Republican Candidate Says He’ll Hold Town Halls, But Not Talk Trump Investigations

Republican candidate for Congress George Phillips will hold a pair of town halls in Binghamton and Utica next month as he runs for the GOP nomination in the 22nd House district.

The only stipulation: He won’t talk about investigations into President Donald Trump’s administration or finances. Instead, he wants to focus on pocketbook issues, immigration and national security concerns.

“I will answer questions on any topic except for the Trump investigations,” Phillips said. “We need to focus on real issues such as jobs, the economy, health care, immigration and national security.”

Phillips is running for the Republican nod in a district that Trump won in 2016 by 16 percentage points against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump last year campaigned for and fundraised with Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, who lost to Democrat Anthony Brindisi.

Tenney last year sought to tie herself closely to the president in what turned into a Democratic wave year. Next year the district is being eyed by Republicans as a potential pickup opportunity with Trump back at the top of the ticket.

“President Trump has been investigated almost non-stop since days after his election,” Phillips said. “A more than two year investigation from a special counsel found nothing and yet Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats continue to focus their agenda on investigating him and wasting taxpayer time and money.”

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report determined there was not enough evidence to sufficiently show the president or his campaign worked with Russian intelligence agents to interfere in the election.

But the report also did not exonerate Trump for seeking to stymie or block the investigation from proceeding.

Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell is also seeking the Republican nomination in the 22nd congressional district.

Katko And Stefanik: Trump’s Tweets ‘Were Wrong’

Republican Rep. John Katko in a statement on Monday called President Donald Trump’s weekend tweets criticizing four Democratic congresswoman and telling them to “go back” to their countries “wrong” and urged the focus be shifted back to policy.

Trump in a series of posts on Twitter blasted “the squad” of freshman Democratic women — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, and incorrectly inferred they are not Americans. Three of the women were born in the United States.

Democrats, who have been locked in their own ideological intraparty battle over the future of the party, have called the tweets racist and bigoted for implying women of color cannot be from the U.S.

Republicans have tread far more lightly, however, amid concerns any statements could upset the president’s base of supporters.

“The President’s tweets were wrong,” Katko said. “I have vehemently criticized lawmakers on the far-left when I disagree with the direction in which they want to take the country – but criticism should focus on policy.”

Katko is running for re-election this year to what has historically been a swing battleground district in central New York.

Update: Rep. Elise Stefanik in a tweet echoed a similar sentiment.

“While I strongly disagree with the tactics, policies, and rhetoric of the far-left socialist “Squad,” the President’s tweets were inappropriate, denigrating, and wrong,” she said. “It is unacceptable to to tell legal U.S. citizens to go back to their home country.”

Katko Launches Re-Election Bid, Raises $521K

From the Morning Memo:

Rep. John Katko’s campaign on Thursday announced he had raised $521,623 in the second quarter fundraising period of 2019 as he seeks re-election to a central New York House seat.

The campaign cash haul is a record total for him in a single fundraising period. His campaign’s fundraising announcement was also coupled with the not-unexpected announcement he would run for re-election in 2020.

Katko is running for a fourth term in what has been an unpredictable swing district, with voters turning out incumbents virtually every election year.

Katko, a Republican and former federal prosecutor, has been able to maintain a hold on the seat. Last year, he defeated Democrat Dana Balter.

Green Light Law Reverberates In Local Government Politics

From the Morning Memo:

The lawsuits are beginning to pile up against New York state’s new “Green Light” Law which allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.

A day after Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns filed a civil action in federal court, the Monroe County Legislature authorized its county executive, Cheryl Dinolfo, to bring her own suit.

The Legislature voted 17-10 to authorize Dinolfo, a Republican, to move forward, asserting specifically that the law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment “by putting citizens and non-citizens on unequal footing under the law.”

Dinolfo thanked county lawmakers following the Tuesday night vote.

“Our goal is simple: to challenge and stop Albany from implementing this policy that would put state law at odds with federal law by giving licenses to those who are here illegally,” she said. “I’m especially proud to be among a group of county officials, both Democrat and Republican, who are standing tall against Albany on behalf of our residents, who have made their opposition to this law heard loud and clear.”

Dinolfo said Kearns and other county clerks situations are different than hers because, since the subject is directly connected to their statutory obligations, they are empowered to bring lawsuits on their own. Democratic Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello, who is running against Dinolfo for county executive, has expressed concerns about the new law but also indicated he will enforce it.

“Cheryl Dinolfo is taking a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook – using government resources to bolster her campaign and distract from her record,” Bello said.

“We have real challenges facing our community that warrant the immediate attention of county government and its resources. Unfortunately the County Executive would rather spend money and scarce resources pursuing a lawsuit against legislation that is already subject to litigation. This unnecessary, duplicative lawsuit is nothing more than political grandstanding by the County Executive to aid her re-election campaign at taxpayer expense.”

Dinolfo said the lawsuit will have no “net cost” to taxpayers and has directed the law department to file a complaint as soon as possible. Her office said it is also reviewing Kearns complaint and has not ruled out consolidating suits.

The Rensselaer County Clerk has also said he plans to file his own lawsuit.

Langworthy Doesn’t Close Door On GOP Backing Democrat For Queens DA

From the Morning Memo:

New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy did not rule out on Monday backing a registered Democrat in the race for Queens district attorney, but said the issue was ultimately up to the local party committee.

A recount is underway in the extraordinarily close Democratic primary race between Melinda Katz and Tiffany Cabán, with a legal challenge that could drag on for weeks amid affidavit ballot reviews.

A Cabán victory has spurred talk of Republicans in Queens backing a registered Democrat for the post — a not-unheard-of-move, including in statewide races and in areas where Democrats easily outnumber Republicans.

Just last year, Republicans backed Jonathan Trichter for state comptroller who launched his campaign while still a registered Democratic voter.

Republican candidate Daniel Kogan last month raised the possibility of not running against Cabán.

Katz, the Queens borough president who has the backing of establishment Democrats, has ruled out running on the Republican line.

Langworthy, who has pledged to re-invigorate the New York Republican Party, said it it’s understandable GOP officials would eye a wider array of candidates, which could entice middle-of-the-road voters.

“In places where you are very outgunned in terms of enrollment, sometimes you have to get creative to make a difference in the race,” Langworthy told reporters during a stop at the Capitol on Monday.

But he also noted no decision on who runs under the GOP banner will come soon, given the lengthy court battle underway on the Democratic side.

“We’re going to have a long haul there, but I do think the Republican Party in Queens is leaving just about everything on the table to discuss how to make the best difference they can,” Langworthy said. “They want to give voters a choice in that election. I think it’s critically important we have elections right up to November; things aren’t settled on primary day.”

NY-27: Another Republican Eyes Collins’s Seat

From the Morning Memo:

Another potential candidate has entered the fray in New York’s 27th Congressional District.

Attorney Beth Parlato says she has been exploring a campaign for several months and will make a decision about whether or not to run soon. Parlato has technically campaigned before as a former judge in the small town of Darien.

She also occasionally does commentary for Fox News, typically on issues involving women, moms and family.

“I have a voice and it’s a new voice,” Parlato said. “Conservative women are underrepresented in Congress.”

She said right now there are only 13 conservative women in the House of Representatives and that number is dwindling. When it comes to fighting for “traditional family values” and against issues like abortion, she believes it’s important to have women who are not liberal in the room.

Parlato said she wants to lead the fight against the socialism movement in America, currently pushed by new members of Congress like New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“I’m the antithesis of AOC,” she said.

So far only current Republican state Sen. Chris Jacobs has officially entered the NY-27 race. Parlato said in the state’s reddest district, she believes whoever wins the primary will win the election, and she fully expects state Senator Rob Ortt, Erie County

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, and potentially Assemblyman Steve Hawley to enter, as well.

“My goal is to set myself apart from however many men jump into this race,” she said.

Parlato said a potential primary won’t impact her decision about whether or not to run but she paused briefly when asked about recent Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia who has not decided if he wants to be a candidate.

“I respect his service, but at this point no (it won’t affect my decision). If I enter this race I’m going to be in 115 percent,” she said.

Parlato also serves on the board of Moms for America, a conservative leaning 501C-3 organization. The group is holding a rally for Gold Star Moms on Independence Day with actor Jon Voight as the keynote speaker.

Kolb Fundraises With Molinaro

kolbmolinaroAssembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb today will appear at a fundraiser for Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

Tickets to the event being held today range from $150 to $500.

The event is an interesting one, given both Kolb and Molinaro ran for governor last year and even floated the possibility of a unity ticket.

Ultimately, Kolb abandoned his bid for the Republican nomination early in the year after being one of the first Republicans to enter the race. Molinaro received the nomination and lost to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the general election.

Molinaro, a former member of the state Assembly, is seeking a third term as Dutchess County executive. He faces Democrat Joe Ruggiero.