Jul 19th - 4:55 pm
Now that it has officially endorsed a primary opponent against him (Gustavo Rivera), the Working Families Party is stepping up its effort to oust Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., sending out an on-line fundraising appeal that deems the controversial Bronx lawmaker “the worst politician in Albany.”
“State Senator Pedro Espada has repeatedly blocked progress for working New Yorkers. He’s used taxpayer money for his own enrichment and switched political parties to kill pro-tenant legislation, shut down the state government, and increase his own power,” WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor wrote.
“…Espada’s not going down without a fight. He’s funded by Albany lobbyists and big real estate interests, and they’ll spend serious cash to keep him in power.”
“But Espada’s constituents in the Bronx are sick of him siding with landlords over tenants and diverting their tax dollars to fund his personal schemes. Espada doesn’t even live in his own district, preferring a mansion in the suburbs.”
“Our candidate, Gustavo Rivera, is a true community leader. He’s spent years as an educator, organizer and progressive political leader. Putting him in office will be a huge step toward making Albany work for us.”
“There’s no doubt about it: if we want living wage jobs, stronger hospitals and schools, more affordable rents, lower property taxes, a cleaner environment, and a state government that actually gets things done, politicians like Pedro Espada have got to go.”
Jul 19th - 3:36 pm
Assemblyman Sam Hoyt sent out a press release earlier today that trumpeted his “unanimous” endorsement by the state Independence Party’s executive committee, which overrode the recommendation of the party’s local leaders and endorsed the Democratic incumbent.
Hoyt’s primary challenger, Joseph Golombek Jr., had been trumpeting his endorsement by the Independence Party (see the last paragraph of the e-mail that appears after the jump). The local party is allied with Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.’s counsel, Steve Pigeon, the former Erie County Democratic chairman and a longtime Hoyt adversary.
State Indy Party Chairman Frank MacKay called Hoyt “a champion of reform in state government” in a press release blasted out by Hoyt’s office, adding: “He represents the issues and priorities of the state Independence Party and we are proud to endorse him for his reelection. New York State needs strong, independent leaders like Sam Hoyt who are driven by reform in state government.”
Art Voice, a Buffalo publication that has far more insight into local politics in the Queen City than I do, sees the hand of MacKay ally, Mayor Bloomberg, at work, noting Bloomberg recently hosted a fundraiser for the assemblyman. Bloomberg, like Hoyt, is a big charter school supporter, and charters are an issue in this race.
Jul 19th - 3:02 pm
Republican US Senate hopeful David Malpass’ campaign sent a photo late last week of this young individual who was assiduously recording the candidate on the Binghamton leg of his “Stop the Debt” tour.
The gentleman in question is working for Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and informed Malpass spokeswoman Jessica Proud that he’s “on the road.”
Malpass isn’t the only Republican trying to unseat Gillibrand. He’s in a primary battle with Bruce Blakeman, the GOP designee, and (it appears) former Rep. Joe DioGuardi, who petitioned his way onto the September ballot and also has the Conservative nod.
Jul 19th - 2:49 pm
YNN’s Seth Voorhees caught up with GOP/Conservative designee Rick Lazio in Rochester today for what I think was the candidate’s first extended interview since his campaign revealed his latest fundraising numbers – $688,821 on hand, thanks to a $200,000 personal loan from the former congressman.
The numbers were so bad that even GOP observers who had been predicting Lazio would come in under $1 million were taken aback. But Lazio himself continues to insist he’ll have sufficient funds to not only continue to campaign, but to defeat AG Andrew Cuomo and his $23.6 million war chest (minus $1.39 million worth of primary cash).
“We will have all the money that we need to win this campaign,” Lazio said “It’s an election, not an auction, which I remind people.”
“And people need to look past, I think, the ups and downs of polls and who’s got the most campaign money, and focus on the issues that are really going to impact on our future. We don’t want to be disappointed afterwards by making decisions based on what somebody else told us.”
Lazio dodged a question about whether he’ll be pumping more of his personal cash into his campaign to keep it afloat, but did say he’s “hoping and expecting” New Yorkers to “rally” behind his commitment to “turn this state around.”
He also rejected the suggestion that he might lose a GOP primary to Carl Paladino, who has so far spent $1.6 million of his own cash on his bid for governor and says he’ll go up to $10 million, and end up a spoiler on the Conservative Party line.
Jul 19th - 2:18 pm
For a first-time candidate and long-shot Democratic primary challenger to a well-established incumbent, Reshma Saujani’s fundraising numbers have been pretty impressive.
By tapping the donor list she built up helping former US Sen. Hillary Clinton raise campaign cash, Saujani has managed to bring in $1.19 million through the end of June. She has spent a lot – $768,507 – but still has $428,363 on hand for her bid to unseat Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
The only trouble is that only about $271,800 of that is primary cash, according to an analysis conducted by a pro-Maloney source. The rest is general election money that Saujani can only spend if she’s successful at defeating Maloney, which would more or less guarantee her a victory in this Democrat-dominated city.
Maloney, by contrast, has $2.1 million on hand, $1.5 million on which is primary cash. And Maloney has been focused on bringing in primary money, with $409,000 of the $515,000 she raised in the second quarter good for spending on the September battle, according to Maggie Haberman.
Saujani’s campaign did not dispute the numbers I’ve presented here, but insisted she’ll have sufficient funds to fight hard against Maloney over the next eight weeks. I’m still awaiting an official statement.
UPDATE: As promised, here’s the statement from Saujani spokesman James Allen:
“With the money we have and the money we expect to raise in the next two months, our campaign will have the resources we need to communicate with voters and win this election.”
Jul 19th - 12:57 pm
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s long-time Press Secretary Dan Weiller is leaving the Legislature to work for the powerful lobbying firm, Patricia Lynch Associates.
Weiller will be the managing director of the company’s communications unit, PLA-Comm.
The complete press release is after the jump.
Liz adds: Pat Lynch is, of course, Silver’s former communications director – a post the speaker never filled after her departure to establish her firm in 2001.
Weiller is joining another Albany veteran at PLA: Darren Dopp, who has been with the firm since he left the Spitzer administration, post-unpaid suspension, in the wake of the Troopergate scandal.
Weiller is a veteran public employee. He came to Silver’s shop from the state comptroller’s office (at the time it was Alan Hevesi). His departure kind of comes out of nowhere – at least for me – and is sure to add fuel to the fires of speculation about Silver’s future if Cuomo gets elected governor.
Jul 19th - 12:40 pm
The state is now officially in the red.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli just released the June Cash report for the general fund. And for only the second time in modern history (according to the press release) New York ended the first fiscal quarter with a negative balance of $87.1 million.
DiNapoli goes on to suggest there are some positive signs that our financial picture will improve in the future. But he continues to warn that the current budget, minus the revenue plan, could easily fall out of balance if some money streams lawmakers are counting on don’t come to fruition.
“There are fiscal storm clouds rolling in. The next school aid payments are due in September, and New York’s cash umbrella may not be big enough,” DiNapoli said. “The state could, once again, be seriously in the red. Final action on a complete budget is needed and we must continue to closely monitor spending and revenues.”
Jul 19th - 10:37 am
NARAL Pro-Choice NY is out with its first round of legislative endorsements, and the list of 10 Senate candidates who have won the group’s backing includes not a single incumbent.
NARAL is only supporting “100 percent pro-choice candidates,” and has “serious concerns about the current Senate leadership’s commitment to reproductive health and rights,” which is why not sitting senators received its endorsement “at this time.”
This issue, according to NARAL spokeswoman, Samantha Levine, is the fact that the Reproductive Health Act, which strengthens the state’s protection of abortion rights with an eye toward the possibility of the weakening of Roe v. Wade at the federal level, has not been brought to the floor for a vote.
Democratic Senate hopefuls who made the cut include:
Regina Calcaterra (1st SD, challenging Sen. Ken LaValle), Dave Mejias (6th SD, challenging Sen. Kemp Hannon), Carol Gordon (8th SD, challenging Sen. Chuck Fuschillo ), Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (12th SD, running unopposed for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. George Onorato), Charlie Ramos (32nd SD, primarying Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.), Didi Barrett (41st SD, challenging Sen. Stephen Saland), Sue Savage (44th SD, challenging Sen. Hugh Farley), Kathleen Joy (50th SD, challenging Sen. John DeFrancisco), Pamela MacKesey (53rd SD, running for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. George Winner) and Robin Wilt (56th SD, challenging Sen. Joe Robach).
Interesting that six of the 10 candidates listed are women, which dovetails nicely into an interesting piece Jimmy Vielkind has today about the “year of the woman” in NY politics, mirroring a national tend (except it’s really year of the GOP woman, nationally speaking, and here we’re focused on Democrats).
NARAL did endorse quite a few incumbent Assembly members. That full list appears here.
Jul 19th - 9:47 am
Jonathan Tasini, one of several Democrats who filed petitions to challenge embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel in a primary this September, e-mailed over a copy of the general objections filed to his signatures at the city Board of Elections last week.
Interestingly, the objectors are Kevin Wardally and Luther Smith – both residents of the district, but also both employees of Bill Lynch Associates, Rangel’s longtime political consulting firm.
One of two contacts listed in both cases is Henry Berger, a veteran Democratic election attorney.
I’m a little surprised by the overt connection to Rangel’s campaign here. Often candidates use obscure “regular voter” types (or at least district leaders) to file challenges to avoid looking too blatant about their effort to bounce opponents from the ballot.
Tasini, a labor activist who dropped a challenge to US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to set his sights on ousting Rangel, has been running on the congressman’s left, challenging him particularly hard of late on the Afghan War.
“Charles Rangel has no respect for democracy and is feeding the dysfunction and frustration people feel about politics,” Tasini said in a statement.
“By resorting to corrupt party politics to try to block debate in this election, he is sending a clear message to the scores of volunteers – not paid people – who collected more than five times the number of signatures I needed to qualify for the ballot: that your passion for change and healthy politics does not count or matter.”
Tasini insisted he’ll weather these challenges and be on the ballot in September. He challenged Rangel to “stop playing games and have the courage to debate the issues in front of the voters, not try to kill democracy with dirty political tricks.”
Jul 19th - 9:06 am
In case you missed the second item in my DN column today:
One of the five Democrats vying to replace Cuomo, Sean Coffey, is poised to dump another $1 million of his own fortune into his campaign, bringing his self-funding tally to $3 million.
Coffey said he’s making the investment so he can bring his on-hand tally up to almost $4 million, which is what the perceived Democratic AG front-runner, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, has available. (To be exact, she’s got $4.1 million on hand).
“I think she sees that the race is going to end up a horse race between her and me, and I want her to know I accept the challenge and am looking forward to it,” Coffey said.
I spoke to Coffey at some length yesterday afternoon, and couldn’t fit all of what he told me into the column. So here are some outtakes:
Coffey hopes to emulate Mario Cuomo’s successful 1982 campaign for governor by doing well upstate.