May 16th - 9:02 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has invited all the Democratic county chairs to the executive mansion for dinner this evening, according to party sources who plan to attend.
This will be the first time since Cuomo took office in January that he has hosted these local political leaders en masse at his Albany abode.
The get-together comes in advance of the state Democratic Party’s spring meeting in Hauppauge, Suffolk County this week.
(Interesting choice of locale, considering the county executive race taking shape there this fall and the battle to replace the Democrat-turned-Republican incumbent, Steve Levy, who failed in his 2010 bid to challenge Cuomo and isn’t running for re-election, thanks to a campaign finance scandal).
As I reported yesterday, rumors about the imminent ouster/replacement of state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs by Cuomo’s hand-picked party Executive Director Charlie King are starting to circulate again. Jacobs told me he has no plans to resign, nor is a chairman vote on the agenda for this week’s party meeting.
However, Jacobs also said he’s been asked to stay on only “for the time being”, which seems to indicate a possible change in party leadership sometime in the not too distant future.
Cuomo largely stayed out of the fight for control of the state Senate last year (some, like Bill Samuels, have accused him of not doing enough to help the Democrats and contributing to their loss of the majority – an allegation that is being refuted). If he is interested in helping the minority in its rematch against the Republicans in 2012, the party apparatus might provide him with a mechanism for doing so, much like Eliot Spitzer tried to do.
UPDATE: A top Senate Democrat emails:
“Senate Democrats disavow and disagree with any notion that the governor didn’t work hard for us during the campaigns. He endorsed and worked hard to support challengers and incumbents in all of our top races and we look forward to working with him for a stronger state and stronger Democratic Party.”
May 15th - 3:27 pm
…(political demise, that is), are greatly exaggerated, the state Democratic Party chairman maintains.
The persistent chatter about Jay Jacobs imminent departure and replacement by his current executive director, Charlie King, (hand-picked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the 2010 campaign), has grown louder in advance of this week’s state party meeting in Suffolk County.
A reader forwarded a Community Free Democrats newsletter in which state committeeman Daniel Cohen writes the “word on the street” is that King will be taking Jacobs’ place, adding:
“This has been much discussed but not confirmed for months, and, if true, at least it finally resolves the leadership issue for the State Party.”
Cohen goes on to note that he has known King since his CFD days, and postulates that it would be “helpful” for Upper West Side Dems to have a connection to the party leadership. (Not that they don’t now, since King, an on-again/off-again Cuomo ally/opponent, is already pretty high up the food chain).
Cuomo hasn’t really done much with the party since he took office, although he used it to run the coordinated campaign during the 2010 race, installing HTC political director Neal Kwatra (now working for AG Eric Schneiderman as his chief of staff) to oversee that effort. Also, via statements released by King and Jacobs, the party provided the governor with some backup during the budget battle.
I reacher Jacobs this afternoon on his cell phone, and he informed me he has no plans to step down this week, noting that if there were to be a resolution call on him to go, it would have had to be placed in the 10-day notice, which it was not.
Jacobs, who was elected to a two-year term last fall, told me he spoke about a week and a half ago with Team Cuomo and was asked to “continue doing this job for the time being.”
As long as he would like me to be there and I can do the job, I’m happy to do it,” said Jacobs, who is also still running the Nassau County Democratic Party. “The chair serves at (the governor’s) pleasure and at this moment in time, it seems to be that’s what his pleasure is.”
Mar 17th - 11:29 am
Veteran New York Democratic operative/activist June O’Neill is stepping entirely off the political stage, giving up all her remaining duties in both the state and local organizations she once headed, The Watertown Times reports.
According to the paper, O’Neill – pictured her with her state chair replacement, Jay Jacobs – is leaving her position as state Executive Committee chairwoman and also from her post as vice chair of the St. Lawrence Democratic Party. More from the story:
“The move will come as a surprise to no one; Mrs. O’Neill, a Morley resident, is open about her desire to retire and spend more time with her family.”
“…There’s no word yet on who will replace her at the state party, but the rumor mill has also swirled about the potential departure of Jay Jacobs, Mrs. O’Neill’s counterpart at the party.”
O’Neill once worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. Given her history with the Cuomo family, there was some speculation very early on that O’Neill might be brought back to re-take the reins from Jacobs, who was seen as a David Paterson loyalist, particularly after Tom Suozzi’s surprise loss to Republican Ed Mangano in the 2009 Nassau County executive race.
O’Neill was tapped by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer as part of an upstate-downstate team to head the state party. Her downstate counterpart, Dave Pollak, was forced out shortly after Paterson replaced Spitzer three years ago today.
Jacobs was tapped by Paterson to replace O’Neill, who moved down to head the executive committee. Instead of ousting Jacobs, Cuomo chose to supplement him with an on-again/off-again loyalist, Charlie King, as party executive director – a post the former LG and AG contender took on during the 2010 campaign.
Jacobs has been diligently trying to pay down the state party’s debt and also acting in conjuction with King as an attack dog, lambasting Republicans at all levels of government as the administration’s surrogate.
Mar 11th - 5:12 pm
Ever since news of the arrest of Democratic Assemblyman William Boyland and Democratic Senator Carl Kruger, State Republican Chairman Ed Cox has been firing of statements to the media, painting this as a Democratic problem with corruption. Connecting this incident to the downfall of fellow Dem Assemblymen Tony Seminario and Brian McLaughlin.
Now, Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs is hitting back. (And considering the bevy of politicians arrested from both parties in the past decade, it wasn’t like we didn’t see this coming.)
“The party of Joe Bruno and Vincent Leibell who tried hard to woo Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate are the last ones who should be talking about government corruption (and where WAS “silent” Ed Cox when Leibell went down?). After breaking their campaign promises on independent redistricting and ethics reform, it’s clear the GOP’s ethics problem is that they don’t have any. Corruption is a problem for both parties and Governor Cuomo wants sweeping ethics reform that everyone should get behind immediately.”
Not surprising that Jacobs hit Senate Republicans for their failure to address redistricting reform. State Party Executive Director Charlie King was at the capitol earlier this week, handing out “Truth Juice” to the Senate Republicans – a reference to their failure to keep their pledge to former NYC mayor Ed Koch.
Mar 11th - 12:35 pm
A reader could not help but noting the irony of this statement from state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs in response to former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s conviction on federal corruption charges back in May 2010:
“For years, Albany has been described as dysfunctional but the case of Joe Bruno makes it clear that something else has taken firm root in our state’s capitol: corruption.”
“The fact that the state’s highest ranking Republican has been sentenced to prison for abusing the public trust is a loud wake-up call for New York – for the elected officials in Albany AND for the voters who send them there.”
“Something must be done to drain the venality from the swamp of corruption that is consuming Albany and Democrats are committed to using the lessons of the Bruno affair to implement real ethics reforms that are needed to make government work again.”
In other words, state GOP Chairman Ed Cox doesn’t quite have the market cornered on bombastic and misguided finger-pointing.
Less than six months later, of course, the IG released his scathing report on the AEG mess that implicated a number of Senate Democratic leaders, including now-Minority Leader John Sampson, then-Senate President Malcolm Smith and several rank-and-file lawmakers.
The Democrats went on to lose control of the chamber to the Republicans, and now they’re in the crosshairs yet again after their former Finance Committee chairman, Sen. Carl Kruger, has been hit with federal corruption charges in a complaint that makes it clear he tried hard to influence key members of the conference – including “Senate Leader No. 1″ – whoever that might be.
Mar 3rd - 8:42 am
State GOP Chairman Ed Cox fired back at his Democratic counterpart’s criticism of the Senate Republicans yesterday, accusing the minority conference of suffering from “amnesia.”
In response to state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs’ slam that the Republicans are rivaling IHOP in their flip-flopping on ethics and redistricting reform, Cox said:
“In the last two years, when Democrats controlled every part of state government, they set a record for broken promises and failure.”
“They treated businesses and families as their own personal piggy bank by increasing spending by $14 billion and raising taxes by $14 billion. Now, Democrats are turning their backs on taxpayers once again by lobbying for an extension of a tax hike that hits thousands of small businesses and hard working families.”
Cox is referring, of course, to the so-called millionaire’s tax, which the Assembly Democrats have pledged to include in their budget proposal. Yesterday, 20 Senate Democrats sent Cuomo a letter advocating for him to reconsider his opposition to continuing the temporary PIT increase on the state’s wealthiest residents.
The state GOP chairman also reminded the Democrats of their overspending while they were in the majority, the AEG scandal and their failure to bring up a redistricting reform bill.
“Senate Democrats promised reform, but in two years they never acted on a single redistricting reform bill,” Cox noted.
“In fact, the Senate President at the time, Malcolm Smith, said he looked forward to using the process to ‘redistrict Republicans into oblivion.’”
“…When it comes to the Democrats’ record on taxes, spending and reform, taxpayers are still paying for their broken promises.”
Mar 2nd - 2:24 pm
NYS Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs is joining the Senate Democrats in calling out the Senate Republicans for breaking a series of promises since reclaiming the majority.
“Since Senate Republicans regained the majority, they’ve flip-flopped more than the International House of Pancakes,” Jacobs said in a press release.
“They promised fiscal discipline only to massively expand their own staff, adding more than two-dozen employees and $1 million in new salaries. They promised ethics reform, yet won’t walk the walk by requiring legislators to reveal the names of their legal clients.”
“And, now, after promising voters that they would support independent redistricting, Republicans claim that the whole initiative is unconstitutional. The Constitution didn’t change after the election. The only thing that did change was the Senate GOP’s willingness to live up to their commitments to New Yorkers.”
“Sadly, Republicans believe breaking their campaign pledges on the budget and on ethics is easier than making the hard decisions necessary to confront the challenges facing this state.”
Jacobs’ release features a series of links to news stories to back up his “promises made/promises broken” claims. Leading the list is Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ backing away from the NY Uprising pledge on redistricting reform signed by all 32 GOP members during the 2010 campaign.
Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, the driving force behind NY Uprising, met with Skelos at the Capitol yesterday and told me on CapTon that he’s holding out hope – based on a statement the majority leader released seeming to back away from his backing away on the pledge – that he might yet come around.
The state Democratic Party was on a bit of a post-election hiatus, but has suddenly re-engaged this week.
First Executive Director Charlie King came out swinging in defense of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, slamming 42 local Democratic elected officials who dared to question the governor’s progressive chops in an open letter.
(That was followed by a pro-Cuomo letter signed by a long list of local electeds who are Cuomo allies – from Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings).
This is all very interesting, particularly when you consider the fact that Cuomo is the de facto head of the state party, and it’s highly unlikely any of these statements are going out with out the OK from the second floor.
The governor has so far declined to directly criticize the Senate GOP, no doubt recognizing he’s going to need them as allies in the budget battle – particularly when it comes to his more conservative agenda items like the property tax cap.
Dec 16th - 2:15 pm
State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs told me during a CapTon interview yesterday that he has not yet discussed his future with Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, and is focused in the meantime on paying down the state Democratic Party’s $185,259 worth of debt.
Jacobs, as you’ll recall, was hand picked by outgoing Gov. David Paterson to replace former Chairwoman June O’Neill (an ex-Mario Cuomo aide and Spitzer administration holdover). He stuck around through the campaign, although Cuomo added his on-again/off-again ally, Charlie King, to serve as executive director.
The state Democratic Party spent far more than it raised in the final weeks of the campaign ($2.10 million to $1.89 million, although it started the period with $281,167 in the bank). Jacobs said Cuomo sent some $2 million to the party’s coffers to pay for the coordinated campaign.
The bulk of the debt – $125,000 – is owed to former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who is a Jacobs ally (Jacobs, remember, is also the Nassau County Democratic chairman, and hasn’t exactly been doing too well in local elections over the past two years). There’s also $17,750 owed to Red Horse Strategies.
Jacobs pledged to raise sufficient cash to cover the party’s outstanding bills, even though he’s yet uncertain if he’ll be sticking around. (The full interview with the chairman will air during the week after Christmas when we’re running a series of 30-minute shows looking back on 2010).
“We raise our money,” Jacobs told me. “If you take a look at how much was raised and how much came into the party from Andrew Cuomo and other sources, you can see that when we need it, we get it.”
“And yes, we have debts that have to be paid, and I’m going to work hard after the first of the year to get those debts paid, and, you know, we’re going to get that done as we have always gotten that done.”
Oct 6th - 2:35 pm
Here’s state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs giving me some details during a CapTon interview last night about the new coordinated campaign approach being rolled out this week, starting with a trio of upstate rallies today.
The party’s standard-bearer, Andrew Cuomo, hosted a meeting last weekend with representatives from all the statewide candidates – including state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, whom the AG still has not endorsed – as well as DACC and DSCC.
Jacobs told me Cuomo will soon hit the hustings with some of the Senate Democrats’ candidates in key districts and “doesn’t look at this as a race for him alone.”
The chairman also told me Cuomo has he’s been very free with the dollars”, which translates into just over $1 million pumped into the state party’s coffers by the Cuomo campaign since late August.
While purusing the state party’s 32-day pre-general election filing, I was struck by the fact that it owes $125,000 to former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who made the loan back in December 2009, shortly after his surprise loss to Republican Ed Mangano.
Jacobs is also Nassau County Democratic chairman and he and Suozzi are allies.
The party’s biggest expense – actually its only expense since the last filing – was $295,237 for TV ads attacking Carl Paladino.
Sep 28th - 5:41 pm
The state Democratic Party responded to the Republicans’ new “more of the same” ad campaign with this little Web video, which reminds GOP and Conservative leaders how they used to feel about Carl Paladino – ‘lo those many moons ago before they embraced him as their gubernatorial standard-bearer.
“Up until Paladino won the primary, the chairmen of the Republican and Conservative Parties agreed that Paladino was ‘a dangerous candidate‘ and that his conduct ‘stands in stark contrast’ to bedrock New York values,” state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said in a press release.
“They may have changed their official party line to save their political fiefdoms, but Paladino is as much of a train wreck as ever. As New Yorkers of all political stripes are starting to realize, Paladino’s extreme views don’t reflect our state’s values and would derail any chance for progress on the challenges we face.”