Aug 2nd - 8:21 am
Randy Altschuler, the Conservative contender in NY-1 and one of three Republicans vying to take on Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop on Row B in November, is the latest GOP candidate to try to make political hay from the mosque proposed for construction near Ground Zero.
Last Friday, Altschuler launched an on-line petition and Web video calling on New Yorkers to “stop this travesty and stand-up for the memory of the victims of September 11th.”
In the video, the full script of which appears after the jump, Altschuler makes the Pearl Harbor argument (the US would never let the Japanese government erect a “shrine” to its WW II emperor there – not that such a thing was ever actually suggested) that I’ve also heard another GOP candidate who has seized on this issue, gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino, make on several occasions – including during a recent interview on “Capital Tonight”.
As the WSJ’s Jacob Gershman reported this morning, the mosque is poised to clear its final regulatory hurdle this week, which means the fight to block it will now be taking place enitrely in the court of public opinion.
Aug 1st - 3:26 pm
George Demos, one of the three Republicans vying for the right to take on Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in November, is engaged in war of words with the future father-in-law of one of his primary rivals, Chris Cox.
Maggie Haberman reported earlier that the man in question, Democrat-turned-Republican supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis, whose daughter, Andrea, is engaged to Cox, the son of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, fired off a strongly-worded letter to Demos and called on his to drop out of the race.
Catsimatidis called Demos “a person lacking in integrity” and cited SEC allegations of which Demos insists he has been cleared. Here’s Demos’ response, in which he avoids taking on Catsimatidis directly and instead hits Cox for “using” his future relative to “engage in dirty tricks”:
Aug 1st - 1:42 pm
The 40th SD GOP primary just keeps getting dirtier.
Lauren J. Pistone, a former girlfriend of Assemblyman Greg Ball, stood with him last week along with other female supporters as the SRCC targeted him with a mailer that highlighted allegations he engaged in sexual assault and stalking.
She followed that appearance up with an e-mail in which she accused the campaign of Ball’s primary opponent, the SRCC-approved Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy, of approaching her and asking her to “slander Greg.”
All this intra-party fighting bodes well for the Democrats in their quest to win what has long been a GOP-held seat. (Sen. Vincent Leibell is retiring to run for Putnam County executive). The Dems are running Westchester County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz.
The rest of Pistone’s rather eye-popping e-mail appears in full after the jump.
Jul 30th - 3:53 pm
State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs told me this afternoon there’s “no question” the characterization by Rep. Mike McMahon’s campaign of Michael Grimm’s donations from “Jewish” donors was “offensive”, but he insisted the congressman took swift and appropriate action to address the incident.
Jacobs also lambasted the Republicans for trying to capitalize on the gaffe, but agreed that if more staffers than just the now-fired communications director were involved, they too should be dealt with in a similar fashion.
“I would tell you this: The voters know a dumb move when they see it and they accept an apology when it’s genuinely made,” said the chairman, who weighed in on the NY-13 race earlier this week, calling for Grimm to apologize for comments he had made to The Hill newspaper.
“They can also smell political opportunism from a mile away. I think Mike McMahon, as soon as he found out, terminated the staff member responsible and apologized for the offense, which was appropriate. For the Republicans to make more of this is just political opportunism.”
Jul 30th - 2:36 pm
The state GOP is weighing in on Rep. Mike McMahon’s “Jewish donor controversy,” saying the Staten Island congressman’s firing of his communications director is “entirely insufficient” and calling on him to resign if he was aware of – and condoned – the release of information about Republican Michael Grimm’s contributors.
” The remarks themselves, delivered on McMahon’s behalf, represent a segregationist outlook that is not only wholly inappropriate, but also demonstrative of the Congressman being entirely out-of-touch with New York’s voters, and standards of decency,” a statement released by state GOP spokesman Alex Carey declares.
“…It appears that there is deep and systemic problem within the congressman’s campaign which has not been as yet addressed. ”
“Rep. McMahon has obviously shown terrible judgment in hiring a team of individuals, some of whom are apparently capable of such reprehensible views and deplorable political tactics. It’s the kind of politics New Yorkers can do without.”
“McMahon has shown he is not fit to serve and should resign if it is shown he was at all aware of this line-of-attack.”
Carey says McMahon campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Nelson has "taken the fall for her boss," but also notes Nelson herself told the New York Observer that the list of Grimm's "Jewish money" was complied by the congressman's chief fundraiser.
The Republicans are clearly not going to let this issue go, smelling blood in the water in a race that had previously not been heading in their direction due to an intra-party primary between Grimm (who is widely viewed as the frontrunner) and Michael Allegretti.
Jul 30th - 1:27 pm
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy today announced he is closing the door completely on a potential run for governor, deciding against seeking statewide office on an independent line and throwing his support behind his erstwhile opponent, Rick Lazio.
“While I realize that it would not be possible to win the governor’s seat without major party backing, I considered running on a third line in order to keep attention focused on important policies for which I care deeply,” Levy said in a statement.
“I am, however, heartened by the fact that many of the innovations I championed in my campaign have now been adopted by other candidates in the field. My call for a local property tax cap and a state spending cap are now part of the platforms of these candidates.”
“They are also talking about reforming the pension process, giving the governor the ability to impound funds, freezing salaries and benefits and working toward the elimination of burdensome state mandates including the Triborough Amendment, which provides automatic step salary increases.”
As you’ll recall, after failing to get onto the ballot at the GOP convention in early June, Levy insisted (contrary to statements made by his chief champion, state Republican Chairman Ed Cox), that he was still contemplating a run on an independent line. He also refused to endorse Lazio, saying he needed some time to let the dust settle.
Today’s announcement comes as no big surprise. I don’t think anyone really thought Levy would go for a long-shot third party run. He’s not circulating petitions to collect the 15,000 signatures necessary to create a new line, which are due on Aug. 17.
Jul 30th - 12:35 pm
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said (through a spokesman) that he supports AG Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent property tax cap proposal, and also thinks an expanded circuit breaker “must be an integral part” of the plan.
Here’s the full statement from OSC spokesman Dennis Tompkins:
“Comptroller DiNapoli supports a property tax cap. His audits and reports have identified the need to control both state and local government spending. New Yorkers cannot afford endless tax increases.
“Comptroller DiNapoli supports Attorney General Cuomo’s tax cap proposal and he strongly believes that an expanded ‘circuit breaker’ must be an integral part of any property tax cap plan. The state must also evaluate the costs it pushes down to local governments.”
NOTE: I’ve updated this post throughout and re-titled it because I was wrong: Apparently Cuomo’s plan DOES include a circuit breaker (see P. 52 of his “New New York Agenda” to provide relief to middle class homeowners). Mea culpa.
Jul 30th - 11:42 am
Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is reconsidering his decision not to run on a third party line of his own creation in the general election if he fails to win the GOP primary in September, a source familiar with the Buffalo businessman confirmed this morning.
The announcement of Paladino’s change of heart could come as early as this afternoon.
According to this source, Paladino has been iniundated with calls and e-mails from supporters – particularly those who want to run on his independent Taxpayers line – asking him not to forgo a run in November, even if he would potentially take on the role of a spoiler and making it that much harder for Lazio to defeat the frontrunner, Democratic AG Andrew Cuomo.
Rus Thompson, a Western NY Tea Party activist who wants to run for state comptroller on Paladino’s Taxpayer line, wrote on his blog that he is “bending (Paladino’s) ear every chance I get”, and has been for weeks, in hopes that he would reconsider.
Thompson’s reasoning: With Paladino at the top of the Taxpayers ticket, the chances are higher for the creation of a new third party, which could perhaps rival the state Conservative Party – a big goal of some right-leaning voters who are upset with Chairman Mike Long and his decision to back a moderate like Lazio.
Paladino said during an “Inside City Hall” interview earlier this week that his main concern is “taking down” Cuomo, explaining: “If we don’t win the Republican primary we’re going to be gone at that point, because we’re not going to be a spoiler.”
UPDATE: Paladino’s statement about his intention to “preserve all my options” appears in full after the jump.
Jul 30th - 11:12 am
Ah, Friday at the height of the silly season.
The state Democratic Party is keeping the heat on GOP gubernatorial Rick Lazio for the $1.3 million bonus he received from JP Morgan, releasing a new Web ad that features a crying cartoon baby (who sort of reminds me of Baby Herman) and a call to supporters to “tell Rick to stop being a baby” and return the cash.
…a totally far-fetched request that will never be heeded, of course.
This is in keeping with an on-line petition with the same message that the Dems launched earlier this week.
Jul 30th - 10:48 am
The Senate Republicans are playing hardball with Assemblyman Greg Ball, sending out an unusually explicit mailer that highlights sexual assault and stalking complaints lodged against him by two women.
This comes on the heels of Ball’s press conference yesterday at which he was defended by an ex-girlfriend and other women who accused his opponents of smearing his good name.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif this morning released a statement slamming Ball, who is under investigation by the Assembly Ethics Committee, accusing one of the women who defended the controversial assemblyman of making accusations that were “slanderous and are subject to legal liability.”
The SRCC is backing Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy against Ball in the GOP primary for the seat Sen. Vincent Leibell is vacating to run for Putnam County executive. The Democrats are hoping this intra-party squabble could provide a path to victory for their candidate, Westchester County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz.