29 April, 2006

Cuomo Gets Key Manhattan Endorsements

New York State Attorney General candidate Andrew Cuomo received key endorsements today from Manhattan.

The Democrat's campaign announced backing from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who's Congressional district covers parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Cuomo also announced the backing of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senate Deputy Minority Leader Eric T. Schneiderman, who's district covers parts of Manhattan and the Bronx, and Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, whose district is on the Upper West Side Manhattan.


The New York State Libertarian Party today chose its candidates for this year's elections. The party is backing William Weld for governor. Jeff Russell was nominated for U.S. Senate. The Libertarians are not an official party in the sense that they have no automatic spot on the ballot, so they must petition to have their candidates listed. Weld, of course, is seeking the GOP line as well.

28 April, 2006

Fasso Jumps In Latest GOP Governor Poll

John Fasso has pulled ahead of William Weld in the latest Strategic Vision poll. The GOP pollster puts the former Assembly Minority Leader, Fasso, up 23% to 17% over the former governor of Massachusetts who is now running for the same post here in New York. A full 60% of Republicans polled remain undecided.

Just a month ago in a poll by the same firm Weld led Fasso 15% to 9%, but Randy Daniels and Pat Manning were still in the race (though they combined for only 7% in the March poll). Undecideds in March were at 69%. So it seems of those who left the Daniels and Manning camps, or are making up their minds for the first time, Fasso seems to be their choice.

When paired off one-on-one against Democratic frontrunner State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, both Republicans are about 30 points behind. Spitzer, by the way, remains light years ahead of Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, a Democratic challenger.


Sen. Hillary Clinton slipped a little bit in the latest Strategic Vision poll. She leads her Republican challenger, former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, 58% to 24%. Last month Clinton led Spencer 63% to 24%. Clinton leads KT McFarland, the former Reagan Defense Department official, 59% to 24%. McFarland wasn't included in the March poll.


-Sen. Charles Schumer's approval rating among New Yorkers is higher than that of Sen. Clinton (60% to 55%)

-President Bush's approval rating in New York is 23%

-Rudy Giuliani and Clinton are well ahead in their respective parties in the 2008 presidential preference portion of the poll.

-Only 23% of those polled think Gov. George Pataki should run for president.

-82% expect another terrorist attack in the U.S. the next six months.

-60% would prefer immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

-67% disapprove of Bush's handling of the war and 70% disapprove of his handling of the economy


Tom Suozzi, who is well behind Eliot Spitzer in the Democratic race for governor, will reportedly try to petition his way onto the fall ballot. Capitol Confidential reported today Suozzi has decided not to seek a spot on the ballot at the state party convention. Capitol Confidential is the political blog of the Albany Times-Union.

OUR TWO CENTS: Anti-War Day At NYPols

We strive to give everyone's point of view here at NYPols but we also have thoughts of our own and from time-to-time we DO take sides. Today is one of those times.

When it comes to war, we're against it and we say so!

So we'll start today with some free publicity for an anti-war protest being held tomorrow morning in New York City. Click here for details and we hope you'll go.

Next, some free publicity for Neil Young. Not that he needs it. His new song `Let's Impeach the President' was released today. It has a lot to say about the war. His Web site, NeilYoung.com has been crashing all day because of the huge number of people wanting to hear the song and the album. If you're having trouble logging on to the site, the next best thing is the lyrics, which I've copied below.

Let's Impeach the President

Let's impeach the president for lyin'
Misleading our country into WAR
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

Who's the man who hired all the criminals
The white house shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new story
Of why we have to send our men to war

Let's impeach the president for spyin'
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking ev'ry law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

What if AL QUAEDA blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way?
Sheltered by the government's protection
Or was someone just not home that day?

Let's impeach the president for hijacking
Our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected

Thank GOD he's crackin' down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There's lot's of people lookin' at big trouble
But of course the president is clean

Next: A plug for Jonathan Tasini. The anti-war candidate waging a somewhat improbable bid to unseat Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Tasini's camp announced today a "Ride For Peace." On May 11 Tasini will begin a 600-mile bike tour of New York state to call attention to his campaign against Clinton and against the war.

And just for the heck of it, because he's not rolling in campaign dough, here's a re-run of an anti-war campaign ad Tasini posted on his Web site a few weeks back.
new ad (WARNING: Photos are VERY disturbing!)

The war has been taking a back seat in the news lately. We just thought it was time to let it ride shutgun again, at least for today.

27 April, 2006

Dems, GOP Clash Over Gas Prices; Each Offer Plans To Ease Pain; NJ's Menendez Leads Dem Proposal

One thing about politicians. They have good ears. They have heard Americans' angry protestations over high gas prices and, now that yet another of their many vacations has ended, they are getting right to work to pacify the angry mob.

The Republicans are offering a $100 rebate to taxpayers to offset the spike in energy costs to consumers. You should be able to fill up your SUV once or even twice if you go back before the needle slips below 1/4 full, under this "bold package," as it was called by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Of course the "bold package" comes with a string. The Senate GOP proposal would also allow drilling in Alaska's wildlife refuge.

New Jersey Sen. Robert Mendendez, a Democrat, has a plan of his own. He's calling for for a 60-day suspension of the 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax and the 24-cent a gallon diesel tax. He said it would provide immediate relief of $100 million a day for motorists.

So on that trip to the Jersey shore, even if you add in an extra 2 gallons for sitting in traffic, you'll save about $1.50

The AP has details on the plans and the politics.


Quinnipiac University released its latest New Jersey poll today and it shows Menendez with a 6 percentage point lead over his Republican challenger Tom Kean Jr. That's up from a 4 point lead in the last Q Poll. The two have been trading the lead in various recent polls.


Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill, reports the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has chosen 22 Democratic challengers to be part of the DCCC's Red-to-Blue campaign.

The list of 22 candidates includes Kirsten Gillibrand, who is challenging Republican Rep. John Sweeney for his seat in New York's 20th District.

Those chosen will be given campaign funding by the committee because their candidicies are seen as promising.

The DCCC is also helping Gillibrand by highlighting her opponent on its Web site GOPAuctionHouse, which calls attention to GOP lobbying activity. The DCCC named Sweeney the GOP Crony of the Week and highlighted his contributions from "big oil."

Sue Kelly, the Republican incumbent from the 19th District did not go unnoticed by the DCCC's Web site. Kelly faces several Democratic challengers this fall, none of which made the DCCC's Red-to-Blue list.

26 April, 2006

Economy, Gas Prices Drive Bush's, Congress' Approval Ever Lower; Dems Picking Up Some Of The Blame

An NBC /Wall Street Journal poll released tonight shows President Bush's approval rating at 36%, the lowest it's ever been in this poll.

It also shows Congress' approval rating at 22%, with more voter vitriol seemingly being directed at Democrats.

By a 45% to 39% margin, registered voters in this poll said they would prefer to see the Democrats win control of Congress this year. But, just a month ago, that number favored the Democrats 50% to 37%. So the margin has closed to 6 percentage points from 13 points in one month.

Voters listed political bickering as the No.1 reason they disapprove of Congress (44%), while 36% said nothing important gets done in Washington. Corruption was a close third at 34%. (Respondents were asked to name the two main reasons they disapprove of Congress.)

More than two-thirds of those polled said America was on the wrong track and 45% of those polled said gasoline prices are their No. 1 concern.

Property Taxes In Dramatic Spurt Since 2000, State Comptroller Says

I once had a boss who had a good explanation for why we were going to run a story that I felt might not be newsworthy.

"It might not be news, but it is information." Who could argue with that? Especially since he was the boss.

Our story today on taxes may not be news to you- New Yorkers pay a heck of a lot in property taxes - but it is, undoubtedly, information you'll want to chew (or perhaps choke) on.

According to a study released by state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, local property taxes statewide rose 42% between 2000 and 2005. Inflation rose 13% during the same time period, according to the study.

The study also shows that per-capita property taxes in New York are 49% higher than the national average, and 28% higher when taken as a percentage of personal income (we make more here so that lessens the crunch of high property taxes a bit).

Outside of New York City, property taxes are 55% higher than the national average, Hevesi's report shows. And in the NYC suburbs, $65 of every $1000 earned is spent on property taxes, while the state median is $53/$1000.


It is a tried and true political strategy. If you're behind in the polls call for debates in the hope your opponent has a "Jimmy-and Amy-talk-nukes" moment. If you're ahead in the polls, avoid debates like the plague. Tom Suozzi must be (and is) WAY behind in the polls. The Nassau County Executive who is challenging State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for the Democratic nomination for governor is proposing the two men debate two times - every month. Suozzi says the debates should be "issue-based" and held twice a month from May through the September primary.


Spitzer, campaigning in the Hudson Valley last night, said New York's 19th Congressional District, held by Republican Rep. Sue Kelly, is a "must-win" for the Democrats. (Read the Journal News' account here.) The seat, which is still thought to be Kelly's to hold onto by most analysts, has shown some signs of being in-play. Several Democrats are seeking the party's nomination to take on Kelly.

25 April, 2006

KT Wants No "Cat FIght" With Hillary

KT McFarland, one of two GOP hopefuls for Sen. Hillary Clinton's seat this fall, says she hopes to debate issues and not personalities if she squares off one-on-one in the general election against Clinton. McFarland told a gathering at Columbia University that the public would be turned off by partisan bickering and said she is not interested in "cat-fighting" with Clinton, according to a story today in the university's newspaper the Columbia Spectator.


A Democratic challenger to Clinton Jonathan Tasini picked up the endorsement of the Albany-area chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America.

24 April, 2006

Bullish On The Dems? Report Says Dems Got More Money From Wall Street In 2005 Than The GOP

Is it a blip or a trend? Bloomberg News reported today that the Democrats beat the GOP in fund raising on Wall Street last year. According to the report, the Dems got 52% of the financial industry's political donations last year. In 2003 and 2004, it was the GOP who got that same 52%. Is there some hedging going on on the Street?


The Washington Post reported recently both the Democratic Congressional and Senate campaign committees are keeping pace, or surpassing, their Republican counterparts.

According to the Post, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee raised $6.9 million in March, bringing its total for the 2005-2006 election cycle to $56.4 million, with $32.1 million in the bank. The National Republican Senatorial Committee reported raising $5 million in March, bringing its total to $50.4 million for the cycle,with $16.5 million in the bank.

Meanwhile the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported having $23 million in the bank after raising about $9 million in the first quarter of the year. The Republican Congressional Campaign Committee reports having $24.4 million in the bank after also raising $9 million in the first three months of this year.


Sen Hillary Clinton said over the weekend she would introduce legislation linking Congressional pay raises, percent-by-percent, to boosts in the minimum wage. Clinton argues the proposal would assure periodic gains in the minimum wage. The national minimum wage of $5.15/hour was last raised in 1997.

Just to balance out her walk to the political center. The Senator said a few other things this weekend that didn't sit as well with the progressive wing of her party. Clinton says she supports walling out illegal immigrants. She told the Daily News "a wall in certain areas would be appropriate." Clinton also called for phased-in legalization of illegal immigrants who are already here. As the paper reports today, the stance is not sitting well with immigrant advocates.

Bush Is Running On Fumes; Two More National Polls Put His Approval At Lowest-Ever Levels

CNN/USA Today and Gallup released a poll late this afternoon that shows President Bush's approval rating hitting a new low - 32%. That's down from 36% in March for this particular poll. It seems gasoline prices may be playing a roll in the sliding poll numbers. Of those polled, 70% said they would be "very worried" if gas prices doubled - as some analysts suggest may happen. Another 21% said they would be somewhat worried. Sixty-nine percent said rising gas prices have caused financial hardship in their household already.

Boy how times change. I did a Google search to find today's CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll and came across this one - posted in early November of 2001, less than a month after 9/11.

1. Question: Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?



No opinion

National Adults (Nov 2-4)




National Adults (Oct 19-21)




Anyway, back to the here and now.

The American Research Group also released a presidential approval poll today. In that one Bush polls at 34%, while 31% approve of his handling of the economy. A total of 67% of Americans rate the economy as bad, very bad or terrible, and 67% of Americans feel their own financial situations are getting worse.

23 April, 2006

More Signs The House May Be In Play; Five NY Seats - Including The 19th District- Among Those Listed As Takeover Targets

According to a a Congressional Quarterly report the GOP has everything going for them in this year's House elections, except popularity with voters.

CQ Weekly published the first of three special reports on the 2006 elections. The report suggests that if the Republicans maintain control of the House it will be due primarily to built-in political benefits.

"The Republicans, at this still relatively early juncture in the 2006 campaign, remain favored to retain control of both the House and Senate if only because the party enjoys a set of structural advantages that clearly place Democratic challengers on an uphill slope. Redistricting has locked in scores of safe seats, most of them belonging to the GOP, and the party continues to enjoy a fundraising prowess that will enable its leaders and backbenchers alike to put the best possible face on their legislative records."

The report points out that Conress' popularity, according to recent polls, is at levels not unlike those seen in 1994 - when the entrenched Democrats were tossed out of office.

In addition, the report says it is unlikely the GOP can do much to change those poll numbers without a major legislative success, and soon.

"They essentially have between now and the start of the summer recess on July 28 to make progress on a legislative program that convinces the electorate that the GOP should remain in control of the national agenda for another two years. By the time they return after Labor Day, the intensity of the campaign season will be turned up so high that the moment for productive lawmaking will have passed.

"The majority party's rather uncharacteristic disarray so far this year suggests that it will have a hard time reversing the downward trend. Before leaving the Capitol for the congressional spring break, which ends this week, both House and Senate leaders were forced to jettison high-priority initiatives more because of Republican divisions than Democratic opposition.

"Absent a big (and successful) legislative push, Republicans will go into the fall elections in a defensive crouch - hoping against hope that the bad news from Iraq, the Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay legal proceedings, and last year's devastating hurricane season will not be followed by any more such politically debilitating experiences."

The CQ Weekly report also lists seats that seem to be, at least to some degree, flippable. Among them are five from New York. The 24th, an open seat, is listed as "no clear favorite." Listed as "Republican favored" are the 19th, 20th, 25th and 29th districts.

Here's what the reports had to say on the two Hudson Valley districts on the list:

New York 19 - Sue W. Kelly (R)
- 2004 vote for winner: 67%
- Summary: Though Kelly dodged a potentially competitive primary challenge in the Republican-leaning Hudson Valley district, Democrats have the six-term congresswoman in their cross hairs. Six Democrats are vying to be the challenger, aided by a grass-roots group called Take19, which argues that Kelly, who pursues a centrist profile, allies herself too often with the right wing of the Republican Party. Lawyer Judy Aydelott, an ex-Republican, has a solid fundraising lead in the Democratic field, with $466,000 in receipts at the end of March. The primary is Sept. 12.

New York 20 - John E. Sweeney (R)
- 2004 vote for winner: 66%
- Summary: Sweeney hasn't faced a serious challenge in four elections in a district that runs along the state's eastern border from Lake Placid to Poughkeepsie. But Democrats are hammering Sweeney on ethics issues - including a ski trip to Utah in January that they are branding as a junket- and have rallied behind lawyer Kirsten Gillibrand, a political novice who raised $716,000 through March 31 to compete with the well-funded incumbent.

Meanwhile, a National Journal "insiders" poll indicates that activists from both parties seem to think a reversal of House control is becoming more possible. On a 1-to-10 scale (10 being the highest probability), the average score of GOP members polled was 4.8 while that of Democrats was 5.6. The last time party insiders were asked, back in February, Republicans put the liklihood of a Democratic takeover of the House at 3.5 (on 1-10 scale), while the Democrats put it at 5.0.

Stuart Rothernberg, in the latest post on his Rothenberg Political Report blog, concluded the House is definitely "in play." Rothenberg boosted his estimate of Democrat gains to 7-10 seats from the 5-8 seats he previously expected them to gain. To win control of the House, the Democrats need to gain 15 seats.

TIME magazine will have a story tomorrow on what the White House hopes to do to change the fortunes of the GOP at the polls in November and President Bush for the remainder of his term.

In a story by Josh Allen, TIME reports new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has a five-point plan to recover the Bush presidency (comments in brackets are strictly the opinion of NYPOLS) : 1.) Deploy Guns and Bandages (get tough on illegal aliens); 2. Make Wall Street Happy (self-explanatory); 3. Brag More (is this possible?);4. Reclaim Security Credibility (Donald Rumsfeld still heads the Defense Department); 5. Court The Press (If you love me, you have a funny way of showing it.)

20 April, 2006

Bush Legacy? One Historian Makes The Argument For "Worst President Ever"

Historian Sean Wilentz has a piece in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone which argues the case that historians may look back on George W. Bush as the worst president ever.

"George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history."

Read the rest of the story here. President Bush Photo


The New Republic has a profile this week on Ned Lamont, the Connecticut businessman attempting to wrestle Sen. Joe Lieberman's seat from him. The (off)colorful story says Lamont has been a surprise to political pundits in the state and may provide a stiff challenge for Lieberman.


The Daily News' political blog The Daily Politics reports Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is in town tonight, to help Kirsten Gillibrand raise funds for he Congressional race. Gillibrand is challenging Republican Rep. John Sweeney in New York's 20th District.

The Albany Times-Union's political blog Capitol Confidential offers this take on Kerry's visit.

Perusing The Polls: FOX News Poll Puts Bush Approval At Lowest Level Yet; Approval Of Congress Also On The Skids

FOX News released a poll today that put President Bush's approval rating at 33%, the lowest level of his presidency. That's down from 36% just two weeks ago and 39% a month ago. Also for the first-time Bush is sub-70% with Republicans. Only 66% of Republicans polled by FOX say they approved of the president's job performance. A total of 48% of those who disapproved of Bush's performance mentioned Iraq as the chief reason, while 24% say he is doing a bad job in general and 11% say they just don't like him.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is keeping Bush company down in the 30s. His approval rating was 35% in the poll. Americans are evenly split on whether Rumsfeld should remain in his position.

Bush and Rumsfeld's number don't look so bad compared to those of Congress as a body. Only 25% of voters approve of the work Congress has been doing of late.

Click here for a complete breakout of the FOX poll numbers.


A Pew Research Center poll backs up the FOX numbers on the public's dissatisfaction with Congress. Some 53% of those polled by Pew say they would like to see "most" members of Congress defeated this fall, and 28% said they'd like to see their own representative thrown out, which is a high number for that metric.

Of those polled 51% said they hope Congress is controlled by the Democrats when all is said and done in November, compared with 41% who would rather see the GOP remain in control. Some 51% of independents favor Democrats, while 31% of independents favor the GOP.

Pew's poll summary said the numbers are reminscent of 1994, when a politcal tidal wave wiped out the Democrats.

The public's strong appetite for change in Washington is seen both in the majority of voters who say they would like to see most members of Congress defeated in November (53%), and in the sizable minority who wants to see their representative turned out in the midterms (28%). Both measures reflect anti-incumbent sentiment not seen since late in the historic 1994 campaign, just before Republicans gained control of Congress. In recent elections, far fewer voters evinced a desire for change: in October 2002, just 38% said they did not want to see most members reelected and 19% said that about their own representative.


Quinnipiac University's latest poll for Florida is also out today. The local angle here is that Sen. Hillary Clinton and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani -as has been the case for a few months- lead the presidential preference polls for their respective parties in Florida by wide margins. Giuliani leads John McCain 42% to 26%, while Clinton leads John Edwards 43% to 16%. Guiliani would take Florida in a head-to-head battle with Clinton, 52% to 41%.

19 April, 2006

Civil Service Union Said To Be Ready To Endorse Spitzer Tomorrow, Plus a Few Other Campaign Notes

Capitol Confidential is reporting tonight that the Civil Service Employees Association will announce the union's endorsement of Eliot Spitzer for governor tomorrow.


It may not be quite as big as CSEA backing, but Sean Patrick Maloney, currently running third in the polls in the race for state attorney general on the Democratic side today, picked up the endorsement of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay rights organization, according to the Associated Press . Maloney is the only openly gay candidate in the race.


CQPolitics.com, the Congressional Quarterly's Web site has taken notice of Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic challenger in the race for the 20th Congressional District seat in New York, mostly because of the money she has raised so far. Gillibrand has raised more than $700,000 through March 31, which has prompted CQ to change the status of her race against incumbent Republican Rep. John Sweeney to "Republican favored" from "safe Republican."


Governor Geore Pataki's office announced today that Pataki has nominated Christopher Jacobs of Buffalo for the vacant Secretary of State post. He'll serve as acting secretary until he faces a confirmation vote in the state senate. The position has been vacant since Randy Daniels left last fall to begin his aborted campaign for governor. Jacobs is a real-estate developer involved in Buffalo's revitalization efforts and served for more than two years as Deputy Commissioner of the Erie County Office of Planning and Economic Development a few years back.


The New York Times reported today that Rudy Giuliani, who is undecided about a presidential bid, spent yesterday trying to bloster the fortune's of ultra-conservative Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Meanwhile, Giuliani is also scheduled as a headliner at a luncheon for Ralph Reed, who is running for Lieutenant Governor in Georgia this year. Strange company for the socially liberal Giuliani to be keeping.

What They're Saying About The White House Changes

Two of the more well-known names at the Bush White House became part of the staff shakeup going on under new Chief of Staff Josh Bolten.

Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has been taken off of day-to-day policy decisions and will concentrate on the area he knows best - politics.

And White House spokesman Scott McLellan is out altogether.

The Wall Street Journal Online's Washingon Wire says the changes are mostly about perception, aimed at putting a savvier voice then McClellan's on Bush policy and at appeasing critics who say politics and policy have been too closely tied under Rove.

Stuart Rothenberg, a political analyst who is well known inside the Beltway, says he doubts the changes will have much effect on Bush's political fortunes. As a guest columnist on the Political Wire blog Rothenberg says the changes are not of the magnitude that will catch the attention of the general public. He says a change at, say, Secretary of Defense might catch the public's eye. Rothenberg has his own blog, the Rothenberg Political Report, which is worth checking regularly.

The opinion journals, right and left, have not weighed yet on their Web sites, but it's certain they will. We'll keep you posted. Meanwhile the New York Times has a scorecard of sorts on the changes.

18 April, 2006

McFarland Scores A Big One With Backing Of New York County (Manhattan) GOP

The Republican Party in New York County, which most of us know more readily as Manhattan, has endorsed KT McFarland for governor, according to McFarland's campaign Web site. That's the largest endorsement yet for the former Reagan Defense Department spokeswoman, who also announced Monday the backing of the Montgomery County GOP. With those endorsements, McFarland is nearly three-fifths of the way to the 25% of delegates she needs to put her on the primary ballot. The Urban Elephants blog is keeping a running tab of the endorsement announcements and the weight each endorsement will carry at the party convention. The UE site puts John Spencer's weighted total at 40%.


John Kean Jr., the son of New Jersey's former governor, has jumped ahead of Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez in their race for the seat Mendendez inherited from John Corzine when he became governor. The Rasmussen Reports poll has Kean at 43% and Menendez at 36%. You might want to take the results with at least one little pebble of salt however, as the previous polls we reported on had the race very close. In addition, the Rasmussen polls tend to run a little lopsided toward Republicans. As an example of what I mean, Rasmussen does a daily poll on President Bush's job approval and in the past week the numbers have run from 39% to 42%, several points above all of the recent polls done elsewhere.


Yesterday we did a short blurb on the high cost of running for Congress. Today there are more numbers out to back up that point. Congressional Quarterly's Web site, QCPolitics.com, reviewed the recently filed first-quarter campaign financial reports and found that one-fifth of incumbent House members have raised at least $1 million so far, with the real campaigning yet to begin. And, as we know, most of those seats - created through gerrymandering - are pretty safe. Challengers are doing pretty well too, according to the CQ report. Thirty-six challengers reported having at least $200,000 to work with as of March 31, with 28 of those challengers being Democrats.

17 April, 2006

A New Statewide Poll, Same Old Results; Sienna Poll Shows Spitzer Winning In A Walk And GOP Candidates Searching For An Identity

There's a new poll out today from the Siena Research Institute.

Here are the highlights:

In the Democratic race for governor, likely Democratic primary voters pick Eliot Spitzer over Tom Suozzi by 71%-11%.

On the Republican side, John Faso leads Bill Weld 18%-15% with 62% undecided.

The Republican race for Senate remains equally wide open at this point. KT McFarland leads John Spencer 20% to 18% with 63% undecided

According to the Sienna pollsters, GOP voters remain undecided because the candidates are unknowns at this point in the race.

"The four Republican candidates are virtually unknown to three-quarters of Republican primary voters. Weld’s favorable/unfavorable rating is 16% to 7%, while Faso is at 19% to 6%. Spencer has a favorable/unfavorable rating of 15% to 6%, while McFarland is at 15% to 7%," the poll report said.

Andrew Cuomo continues to lead Mark Green in the race for the Democratic nod for attorney general, but the lead has slipped since Sienna's last poll in December. In the latest tally Cuomo has a 34% to 21% lead, or 13 percentage points. In the December poll Cuomo had a 17 point lead.


The Daily News' political blog The Daily Politics reports Al Gore is hooking up once again with a key aide in his 2000 presidential campaign, Roy Neel, purportedly to help Gore boost his profile as a chief voice on the issue of global warming.

And the New York Post reports Rudy Giuliani, who - like Gore- is not running, can expect a hero's welcome when he visits Iowa (the first state to have its say in the presidential political sweepstakes) next month.


No not gasoline, although that is too. The price of representative Democracy just keeps putting more and more candidates on the sidelines.

In a private chat with a local politician not so long ago, I asked her why she has never considered a run at Congress. This politician, who is a veteran in her current post, told me she'd love to run but it takes $500,000 to $1 million to run a decent race and you can't get that kind of money unless you tap special interests - which she refuses to do.

I guess my friend may have undershot the mark though. According to a story in today's Utica Observer-Dispatch, the cost of the race to replace retiring Republican Rep. Sherwood Boehlert in New York's 24th District may reach as high as $5 million

15 April, 2006

Money Flows In New York's 20th District As Dems Have Seat In Their Sights

The Democrats have been looking at New York's 20th Congressional District for a while now as a place they can make some headway in their quest to gain control of the House.

Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand is seen by party leaders as a real possibility to unseat Repblican John Sweeney.

If money counts for anything - of course we know it counts for more than it should in our political system - Gillibrand's putting up a good battle.

In her first-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission, Gillibrand reported taking in $346,000, for a total of $716,000 to date. Sweeney, the incumbent in the race, took in $397,000 in the latest quarter for an election cycle total of $1.18 million.

Gillibrand's total for the quarter outpaces the three incumbent House members in the Rockland-Westchester area (the home turf for this blog). Democrat Eliot Engel (17th) logged $198,130 in the latest quarter, Democrat Nita Lowey (18th) took in $136,000 and Republican Sue Kelly (19th) reported a haul of $144,000 for the quarter and has now raised $1.04 million during this campaign cycle.

Of course, of the three local incumbents only Kelly has any challengers of note, at least if you go by fund-raising ability.

Among the Democrats running in the 19th, Judy Aydelott of Katonah had the most impressive quarter, raising $126,000 for a cycle total of about $430,000. John Hall of Dover Plains still seems to be in the financial running, bringing in $86,000 for a cycle total of $143,000. Two other candidates, Jim Martorino of Yorktown and Darren Rigger of Peekskill each posted less than $25,000 in the first quarter and neither is near the $100,000 mark for the cycle. We couldn't access a report for Ben Shuldiner of Crompond.

(All numbers are rounded)

14 April, 2006

Santorum Scoring Funds From New York

Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the Republican who is fighting for his political life against Democratic state treasurer Bob Casey Jr, is getting some help from friends in the Big Apple.

The New York Observer's political Blog, The Politicker, says Santorum, who trails Casey
by 11 points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll for Pennsylvania, has listed several New York funding sources in his first-quarter campaign finance report with the Federal Elections Commission.

Endorsement Ledger Strongly Favors Spencer In GOP Senate Battle

The folks at Urban Elephants have been keeping a running tally of support for the two GOP candidates for U.S. Senate here in New York. Based on announced endorsements and the weight assigned to each county at the party convention later this spring, former Yonkers mayor John Spencer has the support of just under 40% of delegates while former Reagan Administration official KT McFarland has the backing of about 9%. Under party rules a candidate must have weighted support of 25% of the delegates to be placed on a primary ballot. McFarland can petition her way onto the ballot if she falls short of the 25% cutoff.

New Rudy Movie On The Way Paints A Not-So-Flattering Picture

'Giuliani Time' a documentary about former Mayor Rudy Giuliani is on its way. Judging from this quote from the film's Web site, I don't think Hizzoner is painted as a hero in this movie.

Kevin Keating's chilling documentary examines Giuliani's rise to power, his policies and his so-called turnaround of New York City. Interviewing journalists, activists, legal experts, and many of the city's poor, "Giuliani Time" reveals that while the Mayor touted his Broken Windows, Quality of Life and Zero Tolerance policies, the reality on the streets was police brutality, violations of the First Amendment and racist actions.

Then 9/11 happened and Giuliani's actions endeared him forever to Americans. Should we allow that to overshadow the darker moments of his administration?

Click here for a synopsis of the film by its producers, and here for a review by Variety and this one by the New York Times.

The film will be released commercially in New York next month.

Good News/Bad News For The Dems And Their Quest To Take Over Congress; And Why Howard Dean's Long-Term Goals May Get In The Way

The Washington Post's political blog The Fix - always a good read and particularly on Fridays - takes a look at the Senate races coming up later this year and says it appears "certain" the Democrats will make gains there.

Meanwhile, in Thursday's Post, Jonathan Weisman reports the Dems - barring a political tidal wave - still face long odds at taking over the House.

And in The New Republic, senior editor Noam Scheiber theorizes that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's goal of making the party competitive in 50 states again may be taking resources away from the party's short-term goal of a Congressional takeover in 2006

Hillary Raking It In; Campaign Chest At $20 Million

Missed a day yesterday so I'll try to catch up some today.

One major item that deserves a mention is Sen. Hillary Clinton's first-quarter campaign finance report. According to several sources includimg Hotline On Call, Clinton's re-election committee raised $6 million in the first three months of the year and has $19.7 million in the bank.

Meanwhile, Clinton's GOP challengers raised quite a bit less, according to Capitol Confidential, the Albany Times-Union's political blog.

No word yet on fundraising from Jonathan Tasini, who is challenging Clinton on the Democratic side. Tasini's camp did announce an endorsement yesterday, from the Ithaca Progressive Democrats for America.

And Tisini got a bit of exposure on the Huffington Post blog (one of the biggies among the left-wingers). As a guest blogger Tasini wrote that the immigration problem in the U.S. is the result of our economic and foreign policies. Tasini argues that most of the recent immigrants come from countries where they faced political oppresion at the hands of regimes the U.S. supported, or from places where our free-trade agreements have forced governments to slash aid to their people.

One more note on Hillary Clinton. Dick Morris, a former political consultant to President Bill Clinton, writes in The Hill that two recent polls (both of which we've reported on exhaustively here) indicate that Sen. Clinton may not be the sure bet for the 2008 Democratic presidential nod that many say she is.

12 April, 2006

Congressional Candidate Hall Proposes Closing Indian Point, Opening "Sustainable Energy" Research Center

John Hall, running for Congress as a Democrat in New York's 19th District, proposed today that the Indian Point nuclear facility be closed and replaced with a research center for "sustainable energy."

The center would conduct research in the development and use of biodiesel, and biodiesel-fueled gas turbine electric generation, wind power, solar energy, hyrdoelectric power, tidal energy and hydrogen as sources of power.

According to Hall the center's goal would be to make the U.S. energy-independent and eliminate the effects of fossil fuels on global warming.

In a 34-page study released today, Hall said the research facility would cost "hundreds of millions of dollars." He proposed several funding sources including a boost in the New York State "systems benefit charge" by what amounts to 20 cents a month for the average individual ratepayer, according to the study. That alone, the study contends, would raise $150 million. The study also suggests applying for federal grants, developing partnerships with private industry and seeking funds from private foundations and individuals.

Hall argues the research center would provide jobs during its construction and long-term, quality jobs once the center is up and running.


From time to time we cross the New York border and take a look at what's going on just to the east. In today's Hartford Courant, Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is not loved by the center-left-to-left wing of his party, says he would not rule out running as an independent to retain his seat if he decides that's his best chance of winning. Lieberman is being challenged on the Democratic side by Ned Lamont, a businessman from Greenwich. Lieberman has been harshly criticized by Democrats for siding with President Bush on several key issues, most notably the Iraq war.


In the latest Qunnipiac Poll of New York City residents - not surprisingly - a clear majority feel New Jersey governor John Corzine should butt out of any discussion about the future of the Ground Zero site in lower Manhattan. The poll also indicates New Yorkers feel public education is the number No. 1 problem facing the city. In addition, by an overwhelming margin (77%-17%), New York City residents think immigration reform should include a provision to put illegal aliens on the road to legal residency rather than making felons of them. Similarly, by a 63% to 30% margin, New Yorkers oppose making it a crime to aid illegal immigrants.

11 April, 2006

No Numbers In This Poll, But The Message Is Clear

Vice President Dick Cheney throws out the ceremonial first pitch for the home opener between the New York Mets and Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium, Tuesday, April 11, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Photo by Associated Press

We've told you about dozens of polls over the past few months, what they say and what they might mean.

A poll of sorts was taken today at RFK Stadium, where Vice President Dick Cheney threw out the pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener. (Scouts say he's got a shotgun for an arm). Anyway. To view and listen to these poll results, as recorded by the Associated Press and posted by Google News, click here, scroll down and click on "play video."
(WARNING:You'll have to view a 30-second ad first).


One new poll out today offers bad news for the GOP, but results that are in line with other recent surveys.

A Cook Political Report/RT Strategies poll shows President Bush's approval rating at 37%, down from 40% nearly two months ago. In addition, voters polled in this survey, by 46% to 36%, said they would rather see Congress controlled by the Democrats rather than the Republicnas.

One Republican bright spot to this poll, in the obligatory presidential preference question, those polled favor Arizona Sen. John McCain over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton 44% to 39%. However, the last time this poll was conducted, two months ago, McCain led Clinton by 10 points.

10 April, 2006

Sen. Clinton To Give Major Speech On Economy In Chicago; Bush "Approval" Still In Decline

Sen. Hillary Clinton will be in Chicago tomorrow to address the Chicago Economic Club. In advance of the speech Clinton spoke with Bloomberg news, expressing concern about "skyrocketing" health care costs, the widening trade and budget deficits and the loss of middle-class jobs.


Today it's the ABC/Washington Post poll. In this latest look at Bush's job approval numbers, the president hits an-all-time-low (for this poll) of 38%. According to the poll, 55% of registered voters plan to vote for a Democrat for Congress this year, while 40% plan to vote for the GOP.


As he said he would, former New York secrtetary of state Randy Daniels pulled out of the GOP race for governor today, throwing his support behind former state Assembly minority leader John Fasso. Daniels told the New York Sun Fasso is now guaranteed to have enough support to get on the ballot to set up a face-off with state GOP favorite William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts.


The Associated Press today reported that state Sen. John Marchi of Staten Island will not run for re-election. Marchi is 84 and has held his seat since 1957. Marchi, who is the longest-serving state legislator in the country, has suffered mounting health problems.


You may recall last week, in an opinion piece, we mentioned that Rep. Jeanne Schmidt was holding a fairly large lead against her Republican primary opponent Bob McEwen. Schmidt, you may recall, intimated that Rep. John Murtha- a 30-plus year veteran of the Marine Corps - was a coward for calling for an end to the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Another recent poll, done by Zogby, shows Schmidt may not be having such an easy time of it in the race after all. The poll shows she leads Mcewen by a 35%-33% margin.

09 April, 2006

Clinton's Jobs Promise Under Scrutiny

Sen. Hillary Clinton promised back in 2000, during the campaign for her current Senate term, to create 200,000 jobs in upstate New York.

She has not delivered. In fact, the state has lost jobs since Clinton took office.

An article in the Utica Observer-Dispatch today takes a look at that promise and why it has gone unfulfilled. The article concludes the high level of state taxes has much more to do with the state's loss of jobs than anything Clinton has or has not done.

The article points out Clinton recruited downstate financiers to fund high-tech businesses in Buffalo and Rochester and has used her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee to get more miliarty jobs for the state.

The senator, according to the article, admits to one miscalculation though. Clinton said she expected Al Gore, not George W. Bush, to win the 2000 election and continue the economic policies of the Clinton-Gore administration.

Meanwhile in a meeting with the the editorial board of the Syracuse Post-Standard on Friday, Clinton placed the jobs problems here in New York squarely at the feet of the Republicans, as the paper reports in this post on its Web site. The interview touched on Clinton's thoughts on other topics, including the war (setting a date to leave is not a good idea) and health care (the Massachusetts model of requiring it is something to look at).


As we mentioned Friday, a group of peace activists in Providence, R.I. planned to deliver a message to Clinton whether she wanted to hear them out or not. Clinton, who was at Brown University Saturday to deliver an address on women and leadership, was interrupted a few minutes into her speech. The Associated Press reports the protesters, who wanted to challenge Clinton on her voting record on Iraq, managed to get in four minutes of commentary before they were ushered from the auditorium.


The Associated Press has done a piece suggesting that the actions of the Clinton campaign indicate that the Senator's camp would rather face former Yonkers mayor John Spencer than former Reagan Administration Defense Dept. spokeswoman KT McFarland in the general elction. One Democratic strategist quoted in the article, Hank Sheinkopf, said Spencer is "way out to the right" and an "easy target" in New York state, which he described as "centrist by nature."

OUR TWO CENTS: A New Holiday To Commemorate? I Think I'll Pass

FOX News recently posed the question of whether Iraq "Liberation Day" should be a national holiday in that country. Now a group called Families United For Our Troops and Thier Mission seems to be proposing that the day be set aside here in the U.S. for commemoration. In fact they are suggesting an entire week, beginning today.

The group is advertising on conservative-leaning Web sites, trying to get electronic signitures to send to the news media, which the group says "glosses over" the accomplishments of the troops. The group is urging that the troops be allowed to"finish their mission."

U.S. troops, from 1776 to today, deserve our enduring gratitude and respect for their bravery, courage and sacrafices. But I'm not sure April 9th, 2003 is a day to celebrate here or in Iraq or anywhere.

On that day the treachery of one regime was ended. But it was also the day that created the current power vaccum that has allowed the factions in Iraq to unleash their fury on one-another leading to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of broken lives.

Celebrate that if you will. But count me out.

08 April, 2006

Daniels To End Gubenatorial Bid, NY Times Reports

The New York Times is reporting that former New York secretary of state Randy Daniels will drop out of the governor's race and support John Faso. According to the Times, both men said no deals were cut in relation to Daniels' departure. Daniels reportedly said he wanted to step out of the race and promote unity within the GOP and the state Conservative Party.

The narrowing of the race to two may help shed more attention on Faso, the former Assembly minority leader, who has been shown in recent polls to be somewhat of an unknown even though he leads most polls. Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld is Faso's remaining competition.

In a move that got little press, Faso late this week unveiled a school property-tax relief plan. The plan calls for the doubling of the STAAR expemptions for senior citizens over a four-year period. In addition, Faso is proposing to cap increases in local school tax levies by 4% a year, except in the case of enrollment increases or increases for new construction. Faso also wants to give local school districts a break by eliminating costly state regulations and making it more difficult for the state legislature to dump "unfunded mandates" onto the districts.

The Journal News today seems to have caught GOP senatorial candidate John Spencer in a bit of an inconsistency in his criticism of Sen. Hillary Clinton for taking money from an Iranian American PAC. In a January press release, Spencer criticized Clinton for taking money from the PAC, which he described as supportive of the Iranian regime. In today's story, the Journal News reports Spencer has had no such criticism for Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., who was the beneficiary of a fund-raising event held by the same PAC last summer. Feeney, the newspaper reported, is a key Spencer backer who hosted Spencer's visit to Washington to meet conservative lawmakers on Thursday.

Why Did The Immigration Compromise Fail? Most Fingers (Including Those On The Left Hand) Point To Harry Reid

By now you know that the great compromise on immigration, presented as a near-mirculous feat by Senate leaders of both parties Thursday, became nothing more than a pile of political ashe by Friday afternoon.

On the weekends I like to peruse the various national news magazines and opinion journals to get their take on the week's events. Today, I fully expected certain magazines to blame the Democrats and certain others to lay it all at the feet of the Republicans. It's as predictable as violets in May.

I was surprised to find, however, that nearly everyone was pointing fingers at Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

TIME magazine placed blame for failure mostly on Reid's shoulders, though the TIME story theorizes Reid may have been acting on fears that a bill coming back to the Senate from a conference committe with a more hardline House would be indefnsible and a bad bill.

Certainly the folks at The Nation would have a different story to tell. So I logged on to look for a rebuttle. Instead I found a link to an article by Marc Cooper, a long-time contributing editor to the The Nation. It too puts the blame at the feet of Reid, in no uncertain terms.

OK The New Republic, help me out here. While TNR had no story yet on the failed compromise it did have a piece on immigration which noted that President Bush is being touted as the voice of reason in the debate. Once you get past the first paragraph or two though, the world turns rightside up again. The TNR article goes on to call Bush's "guest-worker" program "un-American" and says it will create a caste system.

Surprisingly, the Web sites of two of the prominent right-leaning opinion journals -The Weekly Standard and The National Review - haven't posted a story on the immigration-plan failure yet.

Meanwhile, on the broader topic of Washington politics in general, Washington Monthly takes the mainstream media to task for perpetuating what writer Amy Sullivan calls the myth that the Democrats are so innefectual they can't improve their lot even with the roof caving in on the Republicans.

In The Weekly Standard, William Kristol argues that the Bush Administration is being way to shy in defending itself in the wake of the latest revelations in the leak scandal, namely that President Bush has been fingered by Scooter Libby as being the top leaker. Kritsol argues that Bush's actions were legal and claims that evidence is mounting the Saddam Hussein was indeed in the terrorism business.

07 April, 2006

Bush Hit's Low-Water Mark In Popularity, Handling Of Foreign Policy; Dems Seem Happy With Their Leaders

The latest AP-Ipsos poll indicates President Bush's approval rating has hit rock-bottom and shows a major slide for him in the areas that used to be his strong suit.

The poll, released Friday, shows the president has hit a low-water mark in three key areas: 36% approve of his job performance, 40% approve of his performance in foreign policy and 35% of the public approve of Bush's handling of the war.

The picture is not much prettier for the Republicans as a whole.

Just 30% of the public approves of the GOP-led Congress' job performance, and Republicans seem to be taking the biggest hit. By a 49-33 margin, the public favors Democrats over Republicans when asked which party should control Congress, the largest advantage the party has ever had in a AP-Ipsos poll.

Not surprisingly, Democratic Party insiders seem to be happy with their leadership at the moment, while the same can not be said about GOP stalwarts.

In the National Journal's latest Insider Poll, 56% of Democratics give their party's Congressional leaders a grade of either 'A' or 'B' for their efforts in dealing with President Bush. Some 68% of Republicans, on the other hand, give the White House a grade of 'C' or below for its effectiveness in dealing with Congress.

The Insider Poll has an interesting story to tell about the now-collapsed efforts at immigration reform.

Of the Republicans polled, 54% said the best result for their party on the immigration issue would be the enactment of a temporary guest-worker program and tighter borders, while 32% said tightening the borders only would be the best politically for the GOP.

On the other side of the aisle, 53% of Democrats said enacting a path to citizenship and tightening borders would be the best for their party politically.Some 26% said the party would best be served by enacting nothing.

Clinton Likely To Face Anti-War Crowd In Visit To Brown University Saturday

Sen. Hillary Clinton will be in Providence, R. I. tomorrow to give the innaugural address at a symposium on women and leadership at Brown University. She is also being asked, somewhat forcefully, to do some other speaking as well - to peace advocates in the Providence area. The Brown Daily Herald today printed an open letter, signed by a large number of faculty members and grad students at Brown, demanding Clinton meet with a local anti-war group. The letter says Clinton has so far ignored an invitation to meet with members of an organization of military families opposed to the war and a local representative of the group Code Pink.

Bill Clinton - the former president and husband of the Senator - is quoted on an array of global economic and social issues in the upcoming issue of Business Week. When asked what his role would be in a Hillary Clinton administration, the former president said he would do whatever he is asked to do for his country, just as he has done for President Bush.

John Spencer, one of Clinton's two GOP senatorial challengers, was profiled today by the Associated Press. Spencer has been portrayed by some as the "angy candidate," but he tells the AP he doesn't know why. Spencer, the former mayor of Yonkers, claims he just says what he's thinking.

And, you kind of wonder what the other GOP candidate, Manhattanite KT McFarland must be thinking this evening. As she was picking up the endorsement today of the head of the Erie County Republican Pary, Bob Davis, - her biggest county nod yet - the Buffalo News was reporting that Davis plans to step down as county chairman later this month. The report says Davis will leave well before the Republican State Convention in June to give the new head a free hand in nominating candidates at the party pow-wow.

The Buffalo News report said Davis is leaving to become more involved in New York Gov. George Pataki's political action committee, as Pataki preps for a possible run at the presidency. Vanity Fair magazine in the May issue - which it is calling its first "Green Issue" - gives Pataki props for bucking his party on environmental matters. Pataki shares the mention with the governator himself, Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Earning effusive praise in the article is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for his work with Riverkeeper, an environmental group that keeps tabs on the Hudson River's ecosystem and the area's water supply.

Making his own plans for 2008 - possibly - is former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. The New York Times reported today there is more evidence Giuliani is laying the groundwork to run. The article quotes supporters as saying they don't expect Hizzoner to make a decision before the November elections.

06 April, 2006

NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGNS: Howard Dean's Campaign Manager Trippi Joins Hall's Congressional Campaign

Joe Trippi, the man who gained fame as the mind behind the internet-based campaign that brought Howard Dean to temporary frontrunner status in the 2004 presidential campaign, has signed on with the John Hall campaign. Hall is one of several Democrats hoping to replace Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, who is running for re-election in New York's 19th District.

"This year it's more crucial than ever that the Democrats get it right and John Hall is the right candidate to win in November," Trippi said in a press release from the campaign. If nothing else, the appointment shows Hall has been able to attract some serious experience to run his campaign. We'll soon see how the fundraising is going in that race. FEC filings for the first quarter are due April 15.


Capitol Confidential, the political blog of the Albany Times-Union, is reporting that Republican senatorial candidate K.T. McFarland will announce two more county chairman endosements, from Erie County and Orleans County. The Erie endorsement would be the first for McFarland from one of the larger counties in the state.

Meanwhile, the McFarland campaign has announced the hiring of former Westchester County legislator Rob Astorina as campaign manager.

Media Watchdog Groups Accuse TV Stations Of Airing "Fake News"; 5 New York Stations - 3 In NYC - On The List

Five television stations in New York state, including three in New York City - the nation's largest TV market - are among 77 stations that have been identified by two media watchdog groups as having used what the groups are calling "fake-news" reports in their broadcasts.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and FreePress released results of a media monitoring study, done by the CMD, which documented use of video news releases and "satellite media tours" in local television news broadcasts.

Video news releases are produced by professional communication companies on behalf of private companies or government agencies in a format that makes them look just like any other report shown in a news broadcast. The so-called satellite media tours are one-on-one interviews done by satellite and arranged by a PR firm in advance of release of a new product, movie, book etc... Kind of a satellite-based book tour.

In their report, the watchdog groups accused the stations of passing off the canned reports as their own work.

"In each case, these 77 television stations actively disguised the sponsored content to make it appear to be their own reporting. In almost all cases, stations failed to balance the clients' messages with independently gathered footage or basic journalistic research. More than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged VNR in its entirety," the watchdog groups said in a summary of their study.

According to the CMD, 69 of the stations aired video news releases, none disclosed the clients that were behind the production of the releases and often the stations disguised the releases as their own reporting.

"In every VNR broadcast that CMD documented, the TV station altered the VNR's appearance. Newsrooms added station-branded graphics and overlays, to make VNRs indistinguishable from reports that genuinely originated from their station. A station reporter or anchor re-voiced the VNR in more than 60 percent of the VNR broadcasts, sometimes repeating the publicist's original narration word for word," the report said.

The media wathdogs named WCBS-TV (channel 2) , WPIX TV (channel 11) and NY1 in New York City among those stations it studied that used either video news releases or the pre-arranged promotional satellite interviews. WKBW (channel 7) in Buffalo and WSYR (channel 9) in Syracuse were also named. The CMD's report summary did not say which of the stations used video news releases, which used the satellite interviews and which, if any, used both. But it did provide a copy of one report done by WCBS-TV and the VNR it was derived from.

To view the list of television stations CMD claims used the canned resources click here.

To view a list of the allegedly fake reports and view the footage click here.

To read a summary of, and view the report which the CMD said was aired by WCBS-TV in New York, as well as the original video news release, click here.

The Radio-Television News Directors Association, in testimony before the FCC last June, argued that the use of VNRs is not wide spread and advocated that they continue to be available to editors for use. In its testimony, the RTNDA said it's code of ethics provides that "electronic journalists clearly disclose the origin of information and label all materials provided by outsiders."

The issue was hot lost summer when the Government Accountability Office criticized the Bush administration for pervasive use of the VNRs by various governmental agencies.

05 April, 2006

OUR TWO CENTS: What's Going On With The Folks Back Home? This Blogger Can't Believe What's Happening In Ohio

It's been more that 20 years since I packed up my Datsun 210, left mom's house in Ohio and headed for the Big City. I just don't know what has happened back home since then!!

Despite the blue collar nature of its many medium-sized cities, and it's long history of a strong labor movement, Ohio has always been a bit conservative. It was never a gimmee state for either party. Hence its reputation as a swing state.

But I look at two polls today and I just have to scratch my head

Yesterday the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a story on Ken Blackwell, one of the Republican candidates for governor. Turns out he "accidentally" bought stock in Diebold Inc., the company that makes electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail and are in use in the state.

So what's wrong with that you ask?

Nothing, except that Blackwell, as secretary of state in Ohio, is in charge of running elections. Nothing, except for the fact that Diebold's ex-CEO (who was at the helm in 2004) sent out campaign literature promising to "deliver Ohio" for George Bush.

You'll recall, the election in Ohio in 2004 was a bit , shall we say, problematic. The actual results were not really in line with the usually very reliable exit polls done by the campaigns themselves. Lots of people, in mostly "Democratic" areas, stood in lines for up to 8 hours to cast their ballots on machines that seemed to be in short supply in those areas.

And now Mr. Blackwell is running for governor. And the latest poll by SurveyUSA shows him leading, at least on the Republican side.

You may also remember the name Jean Schmidt. She's the freshman representative from the Southwest corner of the Buckeye State who inferred, on the House floor, that 37-year Marine Corps veteran and respected long-time Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania was a "coward" for publicly opposing the war. That is likely the only knowledge most of you have of Schmidt, because it is the only time she's made any news at all as a member of the House.

Still, Schmidt leads her Republican opponent in the latest SurveyUSA poll as well.

You will also recall that Ohioans last fall were given a chance to rectify the problems they've been having of late with their elections, but failed to pass the measures necessary to clean up that mess.

So, as I write this, 400-some miles east of the land of my birth, I can only sit back and wonder, where did "my" Ohio go and what ARE those people thinking?

04 April, 2006

Voters Shedding G-O-P Tag In Favor Of IND, Gallop Says

A recent Gallop poll indicated that America is pretty much divided equally among Democrats (33%), Republicans (32%) and independents (34%). Going behind the numbers, as they like to say on TV, Gallop analyts have found an interesting trend. The number of voters who identify themselves as Republicans has dropped by 4 percentage points since 2000, with virtually all of those voters now in the independent column. Click for a video report from Gallup.

The New York Times reported this morning that Republican Senate candidate John Spencer is using his role as potential Hillary slayer to kick off a 30-state solicitation of funding for his campaign. The campaign is being bolstered by a letter-writing campaign to GOP bigwigs, seeking the party's support (money). The Politcker blog got its hands on one of those letters.

Meanwhile, conservative icon William Buckley Jr. told Bloomberg News in a recent interview he thinks Sen. Clinton has a very legitimate shot at becoming the nation's first woman president.

Crossing the Hudson into Jersey, a Rutgers - Eagleton poll puts incumbent Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez five points ahead of GOP rival Thomas Kean Jr. That's the third time is less the past week a poll has shown that race changing hands. Obviously there's no frontrunner here yet. One interesting tidbit from this poll, according to poll analysts about 12% of respondents seem to be confusing Kean with his dad, the former governor of the Garden State.

03 April, 2006

Ah Nostalgia! Republican Congressional Campaign Committee Brings Back An Oldie And Not So Goodie - Red Baiting

Not sure what they were thinking at the National Republican Congressional Committee, where they are clearly worried that they may be overseeing the transfer of control of the House of Representative from their party to the other guys this fall. Wonkette posted the top graph or two from a press release from the committee which accuses the Democrats of turning to a communist organization for help this fall. In the press release the NRCC refers to this article in the People's Weekly World , which simply points out what many other observers are beginning to realize, New York may be in for a big shift this year as the governor's office is expected by many to change parties and New York may contribute one or more of the seats Democrats nead to flip to take control of Congress. What a subversive, commie article this is!! What a s-t-r-e-t-c-h this is by the NRCC.


Meanwhile, the Democrats are hard at work trying to gain the upper hand in the Senate as well, a possible, but still improbable feet according to most pundits. If the change takes place, New York Magazine reports this week, it will be in no small part due to New York Sen. Charles Schumer who is heading up the overal campaign for the Democrats in the Senate.


A New Zogby poll out today shows Sen. Hillary Clinton and Democratic gubenatorial candidate and current state Attorney General Elliot Spitzer well out ahead in their races. Clinton has a 54-33 lead over former Yonkers mayor John Spencer. President Bush's job approval rating is sub-30 in this poll and when asked which party they would like to see lead Congress after the elctions, voters say the Democrats by a 27-point margin over the Republicans. Some of these numbers were jointly released by Zogby and the Wall Street Journal over the weekend and it should be pointed out that while Spencer still trails Clinton by a wide margin, he did pick up 10 points on her since the last poll in January.


Clinton sent out a letter to supporters today calling for a windfall profits tax on oil companies, which would require them to place the funds in an alternative energy research fund. She also calls for consumer tax credits for those who buy hybrid cards and financial incentives for auto makers who produce more fuel-efficient cars. If you didn't get one, you can read the letter outlining the plan in detail here:

Like so much else, America's energy policy is going in the wrong direction. We actually import more oil from the Gulf today than before the beginning of the Iraq War. Increased energy costs are squeezing American businesses and consumers, with working families paying more to go to work, while seniors face too-high bills to heat their homes.

Yet, the Bush administration continues to support increased subsidies for oil and gas companies that are already making record breaking profits.

Hillary believes we must change course.

"Assess the oil companies an alternative energy development fee, taken solely out of unanticipated profits from sky high oil prices, to be put into a new Strategic Energy Fund. The Fund would promote adoption of existing clean energy and conservation technologies; stimulate research and investment by the private sector into the next generation of energy technologies; and help consumers cope with spiraling energy costs. It's not about new energy taxes on consumers - it's about redirecting the hidden 'tax' that middle class Americans are already paying to OPEC and the oil companies in the form of higher prices and harnessing it to secure our energy future."

Hillary believes we must invest in reducing demand for oil by getting more hybrids and other advanced technology vehicles on the road; we should expand consumer tax credits for these vehicles and offer incentives for American automobile manufacturers to produce new, even more efficient technologies.

To reduce demand for electricity and natural gas, we should be doing much more now to make homes and businesses energy efficient. But the President’s budget cuts back on efficiency, such as a program for low-income housing that reduces heating bills an average of 31%!

We also need to develop and deploy alternative sources of energy. The largest wind farm east of the Mississippi is being built in upstate New York, and a large biofuels facility is planned nearby. These renewable energy projects will help achieve energy independence and strengthen rural economies. We should be expanding use of these and other alternative sources of energy, including geothermal and solar.

And we must increase funding for energy research. Hillary has sponsored legislation to create an Advanced Research Project Agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. This new agency would fund a diverse portfolio of cutting-edge energy research projects to reduce oil dependence, increase energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is a nation of innovation when we set our minds to it," Hillary said. "We know investment in public-sector research works - it's what brought us the Manhattan and Apollo Projects and the Information Age, from the Internet to Google and beyond. ...The energy revolution can be as big and important as the industrial revolution and the explosion of the information age."

For the sake of our future, we must change the direction of America's energy policy. Hillary will be addressing this important issue in the coming weeks. If you are interested in learning more, please let us know by clicking here.

Thank you, as always, for being a Friend of Hillary.


Ann F. Lewis

Ann F. Lewis

02 April, 2006

Newsmags Put Immigration Front and Center As The Debate Only Gets Hotter

As might be expected, the news and opinion weeklies coming to your mailboxes tomorrow highlight debate over immigration that has captured the nation's attention this past week.

Of course we told you Friday night about TIME magazine's poll and related piece on Americans' attitudes toward illegal immigrants.

William Kristol, in this week's Weekly Standard, says House Republicans - with their law-and-order approach- are threatend to ruing the GOPs chances of being a long-term ruling party by turning it into the "anti-immigration party."

And, Newsweek has a great piece that puts a human face on the people we argue endlessly about in the abstract.

Check them out. They're worth your time.

01 April, 2006

McCain Pushes His Immigration Plan At Local Campaign Event; Rock Stars Take Sides In Local Congressional Race

Ariz. Senator John McCain, a top contender for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, was in the Lower Hudson region tonight pushing his immigration plan and stumping for a fellow Republican.

McCain keynoted a $500-a-plate fundraiser for Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, who is seeking re-election in New York's 19th District.

MidHudsonNews.com reports McCain reiterated his support for allowing the 11 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S. to stay and earn their citizenship. McCain was equally clear that the U.S. needs to tighten its borders to stem the flow of undocumented workers into the country. The Web site reports McCain also said the U.S. needs to explore "clean nuclear energy" and that aging plants need to be shut down, but he was non-committal on the future of Indian Point.

Billboard magazine, meanwhile, reports some big names in rock music have thrown their support behind one of the many Democrats in the 19th District scrum. Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown and Graham Nash have all signed an e-mail soliticing financial support for John Hall, the former member of the band Orleans, which had a couple of big hits in the 70s.

It's hard to determine what, if anything, is happening in the race for the 19th. The district is on a few watch lists as deserving at least a glance now and then to see if the seat has a chance to change hands. Five Democrats are, or at one time declared that they are, interested in running for the seat. Only Judy Aydelott of Katonah showed any substantial fundraising activity when the last FEC reports came out just after the first of the year. With the first-quarter fundraising deadline now past, new numbers should be coming out soon and we will take a look to see if any of the Democrats were able to garner any significant financial support in the past three months. When the reports are in we'll let you know and maybe we'll have a better idea of whether this race can take off.


Andrew Cuomo's campaign announced today yet another county-level endorsement for his bid for state attorney general. The Democratic Party of Jefferson County is now in the Cuomo column.