May 20th - 12:11 pm
Sen. Greg Ball, the firebrand Republican adept at national TV interviews and local meat-and-potato events, won’t make a run for Congress next year, his office said in a statement this morning.
Ball, a Putnam Valley lawmaker in his second term, has often been rumored to be a possible Congressional candidate, most recently against GOP Rep. Nan Hayworth in what could have been a potentially bruising primary.
After Hayworth was unseated by Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Ball’s name surfaced again as a possible Republican challenger for the Hudson Valley seat.
Ball, however, is removing himself outright from running — a full year before he would even likely have to make a decision.
“I want to make it clear that I am focused on finishing this legislative session and delivering for my current district and not running for Congress. Indeed, while I disagree with the current Congressman on most issues, we have a great working relationship and he and his office are to be applauded, for they have bent over backwards to mutually assist shared constituents,” said Senator Greg Ball. “As for my re-election in the current State Senate seat, I will make a final decision on that as the time nears.”
Though Ball is often considered someone who marches to the beat of his own drum — he breaks with Republicans on fracking, said he favored torturing the Boston bombing suspect if it meant useful intelligence — he represents a district that Democrats have long eyed as a potential pickup.
Despite occasionally courting controversy, Ball is a talented campaigner and strong in get-out-the-vote efforts. While he’d make a strong House candidate, the move means one less open seat the Senate GOP will have to defend in 2014.
May 16th - 4:03 pm
EMILY’s List today announced its first round of top contenders in the 2014 congressional races, and Tompkins County Chairwoman Martha Robertson, who recently announced her intent to challenge GOP Rep. Tom Reed in NY-23, made the cut.
Robertson and five other congressional hopefuls were put “On the List” by the political action committee, which focuses on electing pro-choice female candidates. This status is just short of a full endorsement, but means the organization is keeping a close eye on a particular race and is highly likely to offer full blown support as campaigns heat up.
Also, these preferred candidates get access to the PAC’s “powerful network of supporters,” according to a press release.
“I’m proud to have the support of EMILY’s List and pleased they have acknowledged the importance of this race,” Robertson said. “My opponent seems to think he represents the ultra-conservative deep south instead of New York families looking for bipartisanship and common sense.”
“In Congress, I will fight for middle class families looking for access to quality, affordable health care and to protect our basic rights to make our own healthcare decisions.”
Robertson threw her hat into the ring after Reed’s 2012 opponent, Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa, decided not to take another shot at trying to unseat the congressman. Shinagawa came surprisingly close to defeating Reed, but that in no doubt thanks in part to higher-than-usual Democratic turnout in a presidential election year.
Reed recently made headlines by announcing that he had undergone gastric bypass surgery and has already lost 70 pounds. This came on the heels of NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s revelation of a lap band procedure, which fed speculation that the Republican governor is trying to slim down in preparation for a 2016 White House run.
Others who received this EMILY’s List designation include: Ann Callis, challenging Illinois Republican Rep. Rodney Davis; Katherine Clark, who is running for Rep. Edward Markey’s Massachusetts House seat, which he would have to give up if he wins an upcoming US Senate special election; Jessica Ehrlich, running against Republican Florida Rep. Bill Young: Gwen Graham, challenging another Florida Republican, Rep. Steve Southerland; and Eloise Reyes, who is looknig to oust California Republican Rep. Gary Miller.
Apr 30th - 1:37 pm
New York’s largest public employees union, CSEA, seized on state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s report earlier today that overtime continues to increase at the state agencies as an opportunity to slam Gov. Andrew Cuomo for failing to keep staffing at adequate levels.
“The Cuomo administration continues to purposely understaff state agencies and mandate overtime to a perverse degree,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.
“They tell the public they’re cutting the public work force and improving operations when they are really eroding decent middle-class jobs, leaving people at risk and still costing the public plenty.”
The union noted that overtime in many agencies – especially those that deal with vulnerable populations, like the offices of People with Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health – is mandated, and union contracts don’t entitle state workers to overtime pay.
CSEA has long insisted that mandated overtime, which is allocated at the discretion of managers who prefer it to hiring additional staffers that require health care and pension benefits, can be counterproductive by contributing to fatigue, burnout and the likelihood of both occupational injuries and on-the job mistakes – all of which costs taxpayers in the long run.
DiNapoli’s report, which found overtime pay for employees at state agencies grew by almost 11 percent last year to $529 million, also gave CSEA a chance to criticize Cuomo’s “misplaced priorities,” noting the administration petitioned the union to create 120 exempt class positions for the governor’s Empire Fellows program and retained an outside consultant to provide advice on recruiting to bolster the aging state workforce.
“The people of New York would be better served if Governor Cuomo showed more concern about managing his existing work force – providing them with the help, resources and respect that they need – rather than bringing in outside consultants and a new layer of political patronage,” Donohue said.
Cuomo has had a tense relationship with the state worker unions since his days as a candidate when he ran on a platform that called for wage freezes. His first contract negotiations with PEF (which endorsed Cuomo in 2010, but was later sorry about it) and CSEA (which did not) were rocky, and the unions weren’t thrilled (to say the least ) with the creation of a sixth pension tier, either.
It will be interesting to see how these two unions – and the rest of the labor community – react to candidate Cuomo when he’s running for re-election next year. New PEF President Susan Kent told me during a recent CapTon interview that her members aren’t prepared to re-endorse the governor at this moment, and if he wants their support, he’s going to have to work for it.
UPDATE: State Budget Division spokesman Morris Peters sent the follwing comment in response to CSEA’s claims:
“Since the Governor took office, agency budgets were cut by 10 percent in the first year and spending has remained flat ever since. Each agency is managing their workforce to stay within their budget. As a result, overall payroll spending is down.”
Apr 26th - 3:23 pm
Republican Greg Edwards today announced he won’t seek a third term as Chautauqua County executive, adding that he will not for governor in 2014.
Edwards had indicated in Capital Tonight interview he was interested in making a run for governor in what would have been an uphill battle against incumbent Demcorat Andrew Cuomo.
He would have been an attractive candidate for state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, who floated Edwards’s name in part because he has experience as a statewide candidate.
Edwards was the 2010 nominee for lieutenant governor. Though he was originally picked by former Rep. Rick Lazio as his preferred running mate, Edwards defeated Tom Ognibene in a primary, who at the time was yoked to Republican businessman Carl Paladino (governors and lieutenant governors run separately in New York).
At the Capitol earlier this year for a anti-gun control rally, Paladino said he would support an Edwards run against Cuomo in 2014.
It’s unclear for now what Edwards plans to do next.
Edwards is the second potential Republican candidate to Cuomo to rule out a challenge to the governor.
Earlier this month Hudson Valley Rep. Chris Gibson, another name floated by Cox, told the Times Union he would concentrate on running for re-election to his House seat.
Some Republican officials are still hopeful Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who faces re-election this year, will decide to run against Cuomo.
Apr 26th - 12:44 pm
It’s a little early yet to be talking about 2014 and the governor’s re-election bid, but, as you know, we like to do it anyway.
You’ll recall that in 2010, there were some labor unions (CSEA and NYSUT, most notably) that declined to back Cuomo, thanks to elements of his New New York plan that they found onerous – like the tax cap, for example, and salary freezes for state workers.
One union that did back Cuomo was PEF. But the second largest public employees union is now under new leadership, and the new president, Susan Kent, was among those who opposed the organization’s support of then-candidate Cuomo in the last election.
Kent was my guest on CapTon last night for her first interview since she ousted Ken Brynien last summer. I asked her if she thinks her members are at this moment prepared to overcome the bitterness they felt during the 2011 contract negotiations and Tier IV talks and back the governor again.
“At this point, I would say no,” Kent responded. “I would say no, but it is too early. But we have some more time to see if he’s going to turn things around. My membership feels very disrespected. They feel that they were bullied in the contract negotiations…Responsibility has to go on both sides, the union and the governor.”
“But when the governor seeks re-election, he is going to have to come to us. He is going to have to talk to us, which he didn’t have to do when he first ran. And that’s the major reason why my administration was against the endorsement. It was incumbent upon the union leadership at that time and the governor to come and speak to the union.”
“But I don’t know if he wasn’t ask or if he declined. So that’s why I can’t lay blame either way. But for the next round of endorsements, and for the endorsements that we just did, we ensure that there will be accountability for our members.”
“So, no one will receive an endorsement from PEF without coming before the leadership, coming before the executive board, talking to them about where they stand on issues. And one big issue the governor’s going to have to overcome with my membership is about continually contracting out services.”
Apr 22nd - 3:54 pm
Rep. Chris Gibson’s 2014 campaign is already getting the help of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Today, the group put Gibson and ten other Republicans from across the country in its Patriot Program, an initiative aimed at helping Republicans in vulnerable districts with fundraising and strategy.
The move comes as investor and political activist Sean Eldridge explores challenging Gibson next year. Eldridge is married to Facebook co-founder and New Republic publisher Chris Hughes.
Last year, Gibson won re-election against Democrat Julian Schreibman, even after his district was dramatically altered by redistricting.
Apr 15th - 4:34 pm
Sean Eldridge, a Hudson Valley investor and political activist who is mulling a potential challenge next year to GOP Rep. Chris Gibson, has raised $311,215 over the past three months, according to a report filed with the FEC.
During that same period, Eldridge spent $31,517. (His expenses include $10,000 to KnickerbockerSKD, which has been handling the press for his unofficial campaign). He has $279,607 on hand.
“We’re grateful for the strong support and interest Sean is receiving as he considers a congressional bid,” Knickerbocker’s Mike Morey told me this afternoon.
The report covers a three-month period from January 1 to March 31.
A source close to Eldridge confirmed in early February that he was eyeing a possible run for Congress, and later that some month, Eldridge and his husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, reportedly purchased a $2 million home in Gibson’s district. (NY-19).
UPDATE: I’m told Eldridge and Hughes purchased their new home in January – before reports of Eldrirdge’s potential congressional run started to leak out.
Hughes maxed out ($5,200 – $2,600 each for primary and general) to Eldridge’s committee, but so far, the wealthy couple has not put a substantial amount of cash behind this endeavor – something that generally occurs in the form of a loan with potential self-funders.
There are a number of contributors of note in Eldridge’s filing, including Tim Gill, a prominent gay rights activist and donor ($1,500); and John Barabino ($2,600), who is a member of the Gill Foundation Board of Directors; and attorney and gay rights advocate Evan Wolfson ($1,000).
Also of note: George Soros gave $1,500, Jennifer Soros $2,600 and Jonathan Soros $2,600. Jonathan Soros (Friends of Democracy) and Eldridge (Protect Out Democracy) are both investing in a push by well-heeled New York Democrats to establish a publicly funded campaign finance system in New York. Both groups spent heavily in last year’s tight Senate race that was ultimately won by Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk.
Eldridge so far hasn’t formally announced he’s running, but this strong fund-raising show increases the likelihood he’ll ultimately throw his hat into the ring. (At the end of December 2012, Gibson had $15,016 on hand and just over $1,000 worth of debt).
Apr 3rd - 9:00 am
The National Republican Congressional Committee is once again singling out Rep. Bill Owens in an online ad campaign that is starting this morning.
Owens, a North Country Democrat, has been a frequent target of national Republicans, in part due to the conservative upstate House district he represents.
Despite the challenge from Republican Matt Doheny in 2012 — who had the advantage of no Conservative Party spoiler in the race — Owens was able to win by a decisive margin on Election Day.
Still, the campaign season never really goes away, judging by how the NRCC’s counterparts at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have kept up their criticism of Republican lawmakers representing swing districts.
The ad released today criticizes Owens for voting against a Repubblican-backed budget plan that included language for eliminating first-class flights for lawmakers.
It’s a particularly sensitive area for Owens, given the flack he received for a trip to Taiwan that was arranged by lobbyists and paid for by a local university there. Owens repaid the $22,000 immediately.
Here’s the script:
That didn’t take long. Unfortunately for us, Congressman Bill Owens fits right in, in Washington, DC.
While New York families are trying to live within their means, Bill Owens voted against balancing our budget.
He even voted to allow Congressmen to fly first class on the taxpayers’ dime.
Out of touch New York Congressman Bill Owens. Fewer jobs for us. First class airfare for him.
Update: DCCC spokesman Jared Smith sends along this statement.
“Washington Republicans are attacking Representative Owens because he wouldn’t back the Ryan Budget that gives tax breaks to billionaires and special interests while ending the Medicare guarantee,” said Jared Smith, Northeast Regional Press Secretary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Unfortunately for Washington Republicans, that’s exactly what the people of his district wanted him to do.”
Mar 22nd - 10:26 am
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney is criticizing a new ad released by a Super PAC linked to House Speaker John Boehner. The ad, paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund, criticizes Maloney for joining every other Democrat and ten Republicans in voting against the Ryan Budget yesterday. The budget passed 221-207 in the House, but was rejected by the Senate.
Maloney’s spokesperson, Stephanie Formas, tells me, “This is simply a shady group of billionaires trying to end Medicare so they can get another tax cut. Representative Maloney was proud to join Republicans like Chris Gibson in opposing Paul Ryan’s radical Tea Party budget because he believes it’s wrong to end Medicare for seniors just to give more big tax breaks to billionaires.”
Last year, the Congressional Leadership Fund spent about $9.5 million to help keep Republicans in control of the House.
Mar 14th - 2:21 pm
Rep. Charlie Rangel is insisting he hasn’t made a decision about his next campaign, despite the fact that multiple sources say he has quietly informed people in his Harlem district that he won’t seek re-election in 2014.
During a brief telephone interview Tuesday, the 83-year-old Democratic lawmaker did not indicate one way or another whether he will be seeking a 23rd term next year. But he did repeatedly challenge me to reveal who, exactly, was spreading what his office called a “rumor” that he has already made up his mind and won’t be running.
“I am so busy trying to catch up on Ways and Means stuff I haven’t dealt now with re-election, and it will be a long time before I do,” Rangel said.
But a Harlem Democrat said Rangel indicated he would not be running again while speaking at a sparsely attended ribbon-cutting ceremony in the district last Friday.
And another Democratic source said the congressman has been quietly informing close friends and potential successors – a list that includes Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who unsuccessfully challenged Rangel in a very tight primary last fall; Sen. Bill Perkins and Assemblyman Keith Wright – that he won’t likely be on the ballot in 2014.
Rnagel demanded to know the identity of my sources, which I did not reveal. He also noted there were no reporters at the ribbon-cutting. Shortly after the congressman and I hung up, Rangel spokeswoman Hannah Kim emailed me the following statement:
“I don’t know where the rumors are coming from but one thing for sure is that the Congressman has just been re-elected four months ago and is working hard to get to know his constituents in the newly drawn district and represent their interests in the 113th Congress.”
Given Rangel’s age and the tumultuous last several years, which saw him censured for ethics violations by his own colleagues and weathering several multi-candidate primaries, there has been persistent speculation that he might be poised to throw in the towel – perhaps mid-term, so he could pave the way for a hand-picked successor.
Wright, the Manhattan Democratic chairman, has long been viewed as Rangel’s preferred candidate to inherit his seat, which black officials feel strongly about maintaining in their hands despite the increasing dominance of Latinos in the district.
I asked Wright if he and Rangel had discussed 2014 lately, and the assemblyman told me that he talks to the congressman almost every day, but has no idea whether he’ll be running next year.
“That’s far away, more than a year away,” Wright replied. “You never know with Charlie Rangel.”
Shortly after his narrow victory over Espaillat, Rangel sent out a fundraising appeal to supporters insisting “the fight isn’t over.”
For what it’s worth, former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, who unsuccesfully challenged Rangel in 1994 and 2010, and whose father was defeated by Rangel four decades ago, doesn’t think the congressman is running in 2014. Powell endorsed Rangel last year, but has also said he’s likely to make a third run for his seat – but this time, only if the congressman isn’t on the ballot.