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Posts by Liz Benjamin
May 26th - 7:51 am
AG Andrew Cuomo will announce today that he has selected Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy as his preferred LG running mate, according to a press release from the Cuomo campaign.
The announcement will come at 11 a.m. at the Sheraton in Manhattan.
Duffy is a former police chief and, according to sources I spoke with in the Rochester area, is “squeaky clean.”
He has been locked in a local battle of late over trying to take control of the public school system (a la Mayor Bloomberg), but other than that, there’s been no huge controversy in his administration that I’ve been able to discern.
His selection enables Cuomo to address the criticism, levied at his by Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, that he lacks executive experience himself.
Rick Lazio took a similar approach when he named Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards as his preferred running mate.
I’m using the phrase “preferred running mate,” because the ticket isn’t set in New York until after the primary. It’s possible Cuomo could – like his father before him – end up with a No. 2 he didn’t select.
That’s how former Gov. Mario Cuomo ended up with LG Al DelBello and not his chosen running mate, H. Carl McCall.
May 26th - 7:38 am
The Democratic convention officially gets underway in Rye this morning with a breakfast hosted by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, who are expected to easily placed on the ballot by the party faithful.
Also today: The AG vote, which was supposed to be a floor fight, but is now expected to result in a five-candidate ballot.
AG Andrew Cuomo is believed to be poised to announce his preferred LG running mate.
And the news…
Indy Party Chairman Frank MacKay said the line will give Republicans a “safe” place to vote for Cuomo.
Cuomo said he has already chosen his preferring running mate, but wouldn’t reveal his/her identity.
…Could it be this guy? His name was on everyone’s tongue at the convention last night.
Mike Gormley on Bill Samuels “dumb move.”
Not everyone is pleased with Cuomo’s selection of ex-Gov. George Pataki’s longtime spokesman, Mike McKeon, to help head up a GOP outreach effort.
May 25th - 6:11 pm
Rick Lazio welcomed the Democrats to Rye with a full-page newspaper ad that called AG Andrew Cuomo “the problem,” and himself “the solution.”
Former Sen. Efrain Gonzalez Jr. was sentenced to 84 months in prison. He has to surrender on June 30.
“Governor Paterson Announces NY Giants and Jets to Host Super Bowl XLVIII at New Meadowlands Stadium in 2014.” (Cue SNL).
Mayor Bloomberg thinks NYC will benefit, even though the Super Bowl will be in (wait for it!)….New Jerrrrrrrrrrsey!
Cuomo saw no conflict in accepting the state Independence Party’s nod, despite the Manhattan DA’s ongoing investigation.
The Bloomberg administration has launched a “charm offensive” to try to lure new media companies to the city.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver remembered Jay Gallagher as “one of the brightest spots in the Albany press corps.”
Lazio went on junkets when he was in Congress after criticizing his 1992 opponent for doing the same.
The Senate Democrats launched a new-and-improved version of their political Website.
May 25th - 4:48 pm
Round II of NYSUT’s mail campaign against the Senate Democrats ups the ante considerably, comparing the majority members to ostriches with their heads in the sand when it comes to education spending cuts.
Round I was fairly tame in comparison, calling on lawmakers to “Stand up for Kids,” with pictures of a sad-faced little girl sitting at her desk.
The teachers union is on the warpath over the Senate’s refusal to restore the $1.4 billion worth of cuts Gov. David Paterson proposed in his executive budget (way back when).
The targets of this latest round of mailers remains the same: Darrel Aubertine (he’s featured in the piece pictured here), Craig Johnson, Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein, Dave Valesky, Joe Addabbo, Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., Shirley Huntley and President Malcolm Smith.
NYSUT is really flexing its political muscles these days.
It recently raised the possibility that it won’t endorse anyone in the gubernatorial race due to a considerable difference of opinion with AG Andrew Cuomo’s platform, which includes increasing the number of charter schools and a property tax cap.
May 25th - 3:37 pm
Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice is continuing to roll out the endorsements of her AG bid, announcing today that Bronx NYC Councilman Jimmy Vacca and the Washington County Democratic chair have backed her bid to succeed Andrew Cuomo.
Vacca called me earlier today to stress that he’s the first elected official from his borough to go with the Long Island DA.
(I believe the Bronx Democrats are so far unpledged, and a number of individual lawmakers have gone with her primary opponent, Sen. Eric Schneiderman, whose district extends into the borough – it was shifted north during the last round of redistricting, which prompted the senator to buckle down on his efforts to learn Spanish).
The councilman told me he hopes his endorsement will encourage other “moderate, outer-borough Democrats” to follow suit and endorse Rice.
“I was looking for someone with prosecutorial experience because I think the race in November will be much tougher than most people expect,” Vaccao said.
“…(Staten Island DA) Dan Donovan is certainly attractive candidate to people in districts like mine.”
May 25th - 2:40 pm
Here’s an amusing moment from today’s leaders meeting in the Red Room at which some progress – however slight – appeared to be made toward breaking the budget logjam.
Compared to last week’s meeting, this one was downright sedate.
But there was still some levity, which came when Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson poked fun at his GOP counterpart, Dean Skelos, for seeming to endorse the reforms proposed by AG Andrew Cuomo in his gubernatorial platform.
Skelos, who has endorsed fellow Republican Rick Lazio for governor, noted that all of the candidates – including Cuomo – have espoused fiscally conservative positions that the Senate GOP has long pushed, including a property tax cap, holding the line on taxes and a ban on borrowing to close the budget deficit.
That sparked the following exchange:
SAMPSON: “I just want to say, Senator Skelos, did I hear an endorsement of Cuomo?…I just want to make sure.”
SKELOS: “If you know what I said, if you listen to what I said, all FOUR gubernatorial candidates have agreed on no new taxes, a state spending cap, a property tax cap, job creation credits, and no debt. No new debt.”
May 25th - 2:12 pm
Democratic LG hopeful Bill Samuels said today he won’t seek to be nominated at the convention, but will petition his way onto the ballot to primary whomever AG Andrew Cuomo picks as his preferred running mate.
In a press release, Samuels recalled the 1966 Democratic convention at which his father, Howard, became the LG candidate following a “revolt” on the floor.
“While obviously history will not repeat itself, this week’s Democratic convention should be a unifying event for our nominee, Andrew Cuomo,” Samuels said.
“I do not want to detract in any way from this, nor do I want my campaign to be a source of divisiveness during the nominating process,” he added. “Different visions for the job will be better debated through the primary process.”
May 25th - 1:47 pm
Parked outside the Rye Brook Hilton where the Democrats are in full convention-prep mode is a bus festooned with red-white-and-blue bunting and campaign signs for Gail Goode.
A volunteer handed me some literature on my way into the hotel, and it reads: Gail Goode, Democrat for US Senate. The better choice for New York.”
Goode, a little-known attorney in the Bloomberg administration, has taken a leave from her job to challenge Gillibrand – a quest many Democrats before her, from Reps. Steve Israel, Carolyn Maloney and Carolyn McCarthy to labor activist Jonathan Tasini, have found too challenging to date.
The lead line on Goode’s lit:
“New York Democrats deserve a choice. Money and political insiders shouldn’t determine who represents us in the Senate. That decision should be made by the people. ”
“A recent poll by the Siena Research Institute found only 27 people of voters are prepared to re-elect Gillibrand, while 40 percent prefer ‘someone else.’”
(The whole point, of course, is that Gillibrand was never elected to the post she inherited from Hillary Clinton, thanks to Gov. David Paterson).
Gillibrand’s numbers have improved somewhat in the latest Siena poll. She has a wide lead over all her would-be GOP challengers: David Malpass, Bruce Blakeman, and former Rep. Joe DioGuardi.
She’s scheduled to be nominated at the convention tomorrow morning, along with Sen. Chuck Schumer. It’s unclear if Goode will have sufficient support even to be nominated (you need 10 state committee members’ signatures on a petition first).
May 25th - 1:26 pm
AG Andrew Cuomo, in Troy to accept the support of the state Independence Party’s executive committee, said he has selected a running mate, but refused to disclose that person’s identity, YNN’s Steve Ference reports.
Cuomo, who has now been an official gubernatorial contender for all of four days, said he selected someone who “could be governor of New York.” He declined to name any names, but did call Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, who is of particular interest to the Capital Region press corps, a “good man.”
In making his pick, Cuomo said he looked for someone who could step in and lead if “something happened” (whatever that might be). He also looked for someone “who has manifested competence, performance and integrity in their position.”
There has been much speculation about Cuomo’s pick for No. 2 – a position that has been elevated considerably since Gov. David Paterson was abruptly elevated to the position of governor in the wake of ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution scandal.
Names floated have included: Jennings, Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, and Paterson’s former public safety czar Denise O’Donnell, although that last one came out of left field somewhat.
There has also been talk that Cuomo would go for an LG candidate who isn’t political at all. One name floated by RPI’s Shirley Ann Jackson, whom Spitzer also tried to land. (She wasn’t interested). No word on whether there’s anything to that, however.
There are two declared Democratic candidates for LG: Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Bill Samuels. St. Lawrence, who has been speculated as a potential state Senate candidate (for Tom Morahan’s seat) or Rockland County executive contender if Scott Vanderhoef runs for Morahan’s slot, as is expected, has said he won’t primary Cuomo’s pick if it isn’t him. Samuels says he will.
May 25th - 12:31 pm
State GOP Executive Director Tom Basile released a statement just now announcing that he is not, in fact, going to run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Morahan.
I have been asked by a number of individuals in the Party in Rockland to consider running for the Senate seat,” Basile said.
“I am truly humbled that leaders from the Rockland County GOP would consider me to follow our great Senator Morahan who has served our Party and our people so effectively over many years. While I have explored the opportunity, I will not be a candidate for State Senate.”
“I remain fully committed to realizing Chairman Cox’s vision of a revitalized State Republican Party that will offer New Yorkers an alternative to the Democrat policies that have brought this state to the brink of financial ruin.”
“In this critical election year, the Party and our candidates are my top priorities.”
I believe, in my limited knowledge of sports analogies, they call this taking one for the team.