31 May, 2006

GOP Convention's Biggest Question To Be Answered Thursday

The Republican convention hall is quiet for the night, but you can bet there's plenty of politicking still going on at local bars and backrooms.

The big question of the week will be answered tomorrow. Who will get the party's nod for governor?

John Faso, the former state Assembly minority leader, picked up a huge head of steam in the past few weeks, putting him ahead of William Weld in expected delegate support - for now.

The hosts of the this party, the Nassau County GOP, hold the wild card, controlling more than 10% of the delegate vote. Nassau is one of a handful of counties that has not committed yet in the race. Should be interesting when it's their turn at bat tomorrow.

Meantime, the Albany Times-Union reports some Orange County supporters of Faso, who had previously given their proxies to county chairman Bill DeProspo (a Weld supporter), now say they want their votes back.


George Pataki closed out the evening, and his tenure as party head, with a speech to the delegates, looking back over his 12 years as governor and telling party members they can win in November. He also unveiled a kind of farewell video on his Web site tonight.

(Hey, if you sat through Hillary's you can sit through this one).

Homeland Security Funds For New York City Cut 40% By Feds

The Department of Homeland Security has cut funding for New York City by 40% for the year. The New York Times Web site, reports federal funds for the city's security efforts have been cut to $124.5 million this year from $207.6 million last year.

New York Congressman Peter King, in an interview with WINS Radio said the Bush administration is "declaring war" on New York City.

Washington D.C., the other city attacked on 9/11, had its funding cut by 40% as well.

King said the decision to cut was made on procedural grounds, which he said was "disgraceful and absolutely wrong."


Federal homeland-security aid for the Newark-Jersey City area will increase by 77% this year over last, the Associated Press reports. But, while aid to those cities will be up substantially, New Jersey as a state will also see a cut - by about $4 million from 2005 levels.

Spencer Wins, But KT Makes The Cut

Photo Credit: Scott Sala UrbanElephants.com

Former Yonkers mayor John Spencer has won the state GOP nod as its choice in the race for U.S. Senate. But KT McFarland, the former Reagan Defense Department spokeswoman from Manhattan, got well more of the 25% of the vote she needed to force a primary in the fall.

According to UrbanElephants.com the final tally puts Spencer's delegate support at 63.48% of the vote. McFarland garnered 36.52%.

McFarland, who entered the race very late, was flirting with the magic 25% mark in recent weeks, as county party endorsements started to come in at a steady pace.

Despite a last-minute endorsement from Sen. Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, and some politicking on the convention floor at Hofstra, Spencer's team was unable to keep McFarland from gaining a spot on the primary ballot.


Earlier in the day, the woman who started this campaign as a candidate for the Senate seat, was named the GOP's nominee for attorney general. Jeanine Pirro had no opposition for the nomination.

Hillary's Big Day, Dems Back Her For Relection

Hillary Clinton, to much fanfare but no one's surprise, was nominated for re-election to the U.S. Senate today by New York's Democrats gathered in Buffalo.

Clinton urged her Democratic collegues to "stand up" for just about everything:

"Stand up for this Democratic ticket and stand up for Democrats this election. Stand up for the promise of New York and the American Dream right here in our state. It will take hard work... but we can continue the journey... continue to achieve great things, together, standing up for the great state of New York."

The campaign also released a new video at the convention with the "stand up" theme.

There may be a chink in Clinton's armor, if not in this election than the one many anticipate will involve her two years from now. The race for the presidency.

A Zogby International poll released yesterday indicates that if Clinton were to face an anit-war candidate in her Senate bid, 38% said they would support Clinton, 32% said they would vote fore the unnamed anti-war candidate and the rest were unsure or would vote for someone else. The poll involved all voters, not just Democrats.

The suburban and independent vote appear to be her biggest challenges.

In the New York City suburbs, 40% said they would vote for the anti-war candidate, while 31% said they would vote for Clinton. Among independents, it was 38% to 28% in favor of the anti-war candidate.

Jonathan Tasini, who has been running a Senate campaign of his own, tried and failed this week to get an anti-war resolution passed at the convention.

"The Democratic Party in this hotel does not want a debate about the war," Tasini said.

He believes Clinton was behind the effort to quash his proposal.

In one other note from the convention, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi was nominated for re-election. The vote was unanimous.


30 May, 2006

Cuomo Wins Big At Dem Convention

Andrew Cuomo, four years after he left the Democratic convention defeated and dejected in his bid for the party's nod for governor, is riding high tonight.

Cuomo got a full two-thirds of the delgate vote for attorney general at the party's convention today in Buffalo.

The Associated Press reports Cuomo's closest competitor, Mark Green, got 19% of the vote. Nobody else made it into double figures.

Cuomo's strong showing keeps the other four Democratic candidates from getting an automatic spot on the ballot. All four had pledged prior to the convention to go the petition route if they failed to win 25% support in Buffalo.

Hillary Clinton will be in Buffalo tomorrow as the convention is expected to nominate her for another term in the U.S. Senate. While the endorsement is likely to resemble a coronation, anti-war candidate Jonathan Tasini is said to be working furiously tonight to get 10 delegates to nominate him for the Senate post. Newsday's political blog Spin Cycle reports if Tasini can get the ten signitures, he will be given a chance to speak in support his candidacy and, presumably, lambast Clinton - something the Newsday report says the Clinton camp is working hard tonight to prevent.


The Republican convention gets underway tomorrow on Long Island. As we reported yesterday, John Faso - with the flip-flop of the Erie County delegation - appears to have taken the lead in delegate count. The folks at UrbanElephants.com have updated their delegate-vote chart, based on the latest county endorsements. The updated chart shows Faso in the lead.

A big question for tomorrow - who will Nassau County's Republican Committee back? The host county's delegation remains uncomitted at this time and represents the largest weighted share of delegate votes at the convention.

In the race for U.S. Senate on the eve of the convention, the UrbanElephants chart has John Spencer well out in front of KT McFarland, but shows McFarland on the cusp of getting the 25% support she needs to win an automatic spot on a primary ballot.

Politics on the Hudson, the new political blog of the Journal News, had a very impressive first full day of publication, posting several scoops. Among them: the blog reports WIlliam Weld will pick Secretary of State Christopher Jacobs as his choice for lieutenant governor; a story about delegate poaching - with KT McFarland trying to cut into John Spencers strength in Brooklyn and Spencer trying to pry away some Manhattan delegates for McFarland; and a story that Yonkers Republican mayor Phil Amicone is endorsing Faso for governor, but has declined to make a choice in the Senate race, which features hometown candidate John Spencer.

New York Dems Annoint Spitzer

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was picked by the state's Democratics to be their candidate for governor. No surprise there. Spitzer was nominated by affirmation, so no vote total was taken.

Spitzer told the crowd in Buffalo today he would begin on Day 1 to change the way New York does business.

photo credit: Rolling Stone.com

He then went on a Day 1 litany of promises to do the following:
  • provide property tax relief
  • improve education
  • reform Medicaid
  • provide health care for all children
  • revitalize upstate downtowns
Click here for the full text of the speech.

And if visuals are your thing, the campaign unveiled a new video at the convention today as well.

Earlier in the day the Democrats named Senate Minority Leader David Patterson as their choice for Lieutenant Governor.


The other Democrat in the race, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, didn't attend the convention, although he was in Buffalo for a noontime rally. Suozzi also issued a statement blasting Spitzer for his criticism of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and its paralysis at Ground Zero. Suozzi charged Spitzer was employing a strategy of "attack first, offer ideas later - much later."

Momentum Builds For Faso As Erie County Pulls A Switcheroo

With the Republican state convention just one day away, the John Faso campaign is picking up steam.

Faso announced that the Erie County GOP endorsed him yesterday. That news is huge because Erie County's delegation holds sway over 5.64% of the votes at the convention and the county had previously been in the William Weld column. So, that's a swing of more than 11 points.

Earlier this year, former county party chairman Bob Davis endorsed Weld, then announced he was leaving the post.

The new county chairman James Domagalski announced the Erie County Republican Committee's endorsement of Faso yesterday.

Here's the UrbanElephants.com endorsement tally BEFORE yesterday's annnouncement. Do the math and that puts Faso in the lead.

Also, Capitol Confidential is reporting today that Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco has thrown his support behind Faso. Tedisco is the highest ranking Republican to weigh in the race so far.


Erie County went the more moderate route in it's choice for Senate. KT McFarland's campaign announced that the Erie County Republican Committee endorsed her candidacy for U.S. Senate. McFarland also picked up the endorsement of the chairwoman of the GOP in Jefferson County, Sandra Corey.

McFarland is coming closer to the 25% support she needs at the convention to get her name on a primary ballot, where she would face John Spencer, who has already won the endorsement of the Conservative Party of New York State.

29 May, 2006

Convetion Preview: What To Expect As The State Parties Gather

Both the Democrats and Republicans will hold their conventions this week - the Dems beginning tomorrow and the GOP Wednesday.

Perhaps symbolic of the state of American politics today, the parties will gather as far apart from one another as possible - the Dems in Buffalo and the Republicans on Long Island.

The Democratic gathering is likely to be a coronation of state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer - who will be endorsed as the party's nominee for governor.

The race to replace hime will be the most interesting item on the agenda. No fewer than five candidates are seeking the party's nod in the attorney general race, with Andrew Cuomo leading the polls. Mark Green is not that far behind and former upstate U.S. Attorney Denise O'Donnell is said to have a chance to surprise.

On the Republican side, the attorney general race is the only race lacking intrigue. Jeanine Pirro has the field to herself.

It's the two spots on the top of the ticket where the drama will be, and there is likely to be plenty of it. In both races the GOP's internal battle between "true" conservatives and pragmatists who see a somewhat centrist candidate as the way to go in blue-state New York will play out. Senate candidate John Spencer and gubenatorial hopeful John Faso represent the former and KT McFarland (senate) and William Weld (governor) the latter.

Monday's New York Times has an excellent breakdown of the races. The Times also has a great thumbnail bio of all of the major candiates in both parties.

In Buffalo, host city of the Democrats, The Buffalo News today concentrated on the five-way race for AG, putting Cuomo at the top of the list but indicating that home-turf candidate O'Donnell may make a stronger-than-expected showing.

The Journal News has separate articles on the two Democratic candidates for governor today, saying Spitzer is rolling into Buffalo at the top of the heap, while challenger Tom Suozzi plans to sit out the convention due to lack of institutional support. Suozzi plans to get on the ballot by way of petition.

The Albany Times-Union also reports today on Suozzi's efforts to buck the Democratic establishment.


As we reported last week, three different candidates won three different conventions in the Democratic race for the party's nomination in the 19th Congressional Ditrict last week. (Darren Rigger in Putnam, John Hall in Orange and Jim Martorano in Westchester). In a Journal News story today, party leaders appear to be strongly hinting that it's time to narrow the field, but the candidates don't appear to be heeding that call.

Dems in Dutchess County, Hall's home turf, have yet to weigh in on this one but will early in June.

The six candidates are vying for the chance to unseat Replican Rep. Sue Kelly.


The Albany Times-Union reports today that all of the bills sponsored by former Assemblyman Ryan Karben of Monsey have been wiped off the docket by assembly leaders. According to the story, the bills can be taken up by another sponser in the future but are dead in the water for this session. Karben abruptly resigned from his seat on May 18.


It's called Politics on the Hudson, and its start-up is timed to coincide with the start of the party conventions.

27 May, 2006

Letters From Home: Library of Congress Brings Personal Stories Of U.S. Vets Online

On this Memorial Day weekend most Americans will take at least a few minutes to remember those in their families, communities and country who gave their lives in service to the U.S.A.

In a massive project, called The Veterans History Project, the Library of Congress has collected personal histories, audio clips, personal letters and the military records of men and women of all branches of service.

The letters, like the one above, have been scanned so they can be seen in the soldiers' original hand, and are also printed in a more readable type face online.

Click here to see and hear about the wartime experiences of Tracy Sugarman, a Navy lieutenant from Syracuse who served in England and France.

Or, click here to listen to a Japanese American soldier, Norman Ikari, talk about fighting for his country while his parents were sent internment camps back home.

The massive collection tells the personal of stories of military vets through their letters to and from home, personal interviews, interviews with families and friends and diaries.

The stories are separated by subject matter - Sweethearts, Family Ties, D-Day: On the Beach; POWs from Germany and many others. Click here to view the list by category.

Whether you're a history buff or just like a good story of real human interest you could spend your whole weekend on the site. I hope you give it a try!!!

Faso Backed By Five More GOP County Committees

Republican gubenatorial candidate John Faso got the backing of the GOP committees in five more counties: Franklin, Fulton, Otsego, Saratoga and St. Lawrence.


With the state Republican convention just a few days away, Gov. Georg Pataki has not publicly endorsed either Faso or his opponent William Weld. In a story in the Daily News today Weld says he's not all that sure that the Pataki nod will mean much.


This has nothing to do with the Hudson Valley or New York politics. But's it does make me angry. And it is my blog after all.

Below is the lead paragraph to a story published recenty in the Harvard Crimson, the Harvard University newspaper.

"A 26-year-old college dropout who carries President Bush's breath mints and makes him peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches will follow in his boss' footsteps this fall when he enrolls at Harvard Business School."

Note the words "college dropout." The person in question is Blake Gottesman, President Bush's personal assistant. According to the article his jobs include dog sitting and giving the president a two-minute warning before his speeches are about to begin. Oh! He also dated Jenna Bush in high school, according to the paper.

So, for those of you working your tails off to get accepted for, or to finish, your MBA, law degree or other graduate degree, it seems things could have been a lot easier for you if you had dated better in high school.

26 May, 2006

McFarland Inches Closer To Ballot Spot With Two More Endorsements

The GOP committees in two more counties - Delaware and Schuyler - have endorsed the candidacy of KT McFarland for U.S. Senate.

As of yesterday, and not including the two counties announced today, Urban Elephants.com had McFarland at just about 23% of the 25% support she'll need to win a spot on a primary ballot.

Schyler and Delaware counties, I do not believe, are populous enough to push the former Reagan administration official over the hump, but she must be within an eyelash.


Democratic anti-war candidate Jonathan Tasini, who's getting a fair amount of play with his bike-across-New York publicity stunt is looking for your John Hancock. Tasini's Web site today has a petition demanding that state Democrats, at their convention in Buffalo next week, endorse an immediate wthidrawal of troops from Iraq. Click here to sign if you are interested.


Gov. George Pataki endorsed Jeanine Pirro, the former Westchester County district attorney, in her bid for state attorney general. Pataki, who's in Iowa for a few days, - probably because he likes the weather there this time of year - honored Pirro with a press release made on the Friday before a holiday weekend. Some endorsement. Pirro's the only Republican in the race. One wonders what took Pataki so long.


The two Democratic candidates for governor, Eliot Spitzer and Tom Suozzi are scheduled to debate once before the September primary, if there is one. The debate is scheduled for July 25. Suozzi, who is about 60 points behind Spitzer in the polls, continues to push for more than one debate. He tried again yesterday with a letter to his Democratic opponent. The Politicker today posted the contents of that letter.

25 May, 2006

Martorano Gets Nod From Northern Westchester Dems

In the six-way battle for the Democratic nod in New York's 19th Congressional District, Yorktown councilman Jim Martorano won the endorsement of the Northern Westchester Democratic Coalition last night, after three rounds of balloting.

The coaltion is made up of Democratic Party representatives from the towns that make up the 19th District and state Senate's 40th District.

Here are the results:

Jim Martorano: 57%
Darren Rigger: 25.9%
Judy Aydelott: 12.9%

John Hall, Gary Suraci and Ben Shuldiner didn't make it to round three.

That makes three conventions in the district, and three different winners. Hall won in Orange County Wednesday night and Rigger took Putnam County earlier this week.

Rigger has finished in the top three at all three conventions, including his win in Putnam. Hall has had strong showings in two of the three, with his home county, Dutchess County, scheduled to hold its convention in early June. Judy Aydelott has finished in the money only once, on her home turf in northern Westchester. She was by far the biggest fundraiser as of the last FEC filing deadline at the end of March.

On Tuesday, as the spate of county meetings was about to begin, the Times Herald-Record did a story on the Democratic chase for the 19th District, saying the situation would likely not be sorted out by the conventions. It appears at this point that the story is spot on.

In the race for the nomination for state Senate in the 40th district, Michael Kaplowitz defeated Edward Brancati in a walk, taking 81% of the vote at last nights Northern Westchester convention.

McFarland Closes In On Ballot Spot With Orange County GOP Nod

Republican U.S. Senate candidate KT McFarland won the endorsement of Orange County Republicans last night.

The endorsement puts McFarland within striking distance of the 25% of votes she'll need at next week's convention to gain a spot on the September primary ballot.

According to UrbanElephants.com, the backing of the Orange County GOP and that of the party head in Tompkins County earlier this week, put McFarland at about 3 percentage points below the magic 25% mark.


With the state GOP convention coming up in just a few days, a poll of Republicans by the Siena Research Institute paints the picture of a party that is a bit downcast.

Of those Republicans polled, 56% say they expect a Democrat to be elected governor this fall, while 30% say they expect a Republican to win.

Asked if the felt the party's candidate could win at least one of the four statewide races this year (U.S. Senate, governor, atttorney general and comptroller), 55% said that sounds doable.

The GOP trails badly in all four races in various recent polls.

Asked their preference for governor, 22% prefer John Fasso while 17% favor Bill Weld. Sixty-one percent remain undecided.

In the race for U.S. Senate, John Spencer is one point ahead of KT McFarland 21% to 20%. Some 59% have no opinion yet in this race.

The most striking numbers - roughly three of four Republicans don't know the four main candidates for the two top posts well enough to have formed an opinion.


The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial today, scolded the state GOP. The paper chides the party's top brass for turning their backs on John Fasso, whom the paper called "principled" and a candidate in "the best Reagan tradition."


Mike Bloomberg is the Republican mayor of the state's (and country's) largest city. Rudy Giuliani is the party's most popular New Yorker on the national scene. One is seen as having presidential aspirations. The other is being pushed by aides to have similar aspirations. The current leader of the state party is Gov. George Pataki, who also has designs on the presidency.

All this, as reported in the New York Post today, adds up to Bloomberg and Giuliani not scheduled to be on Long Island next week when the GOP convention begins.


Bloomberg, in a commencement speech at Johns Hopkins University's medical school today, went head-on against the major causes of the radical right.

Here's just one example of the theme of the speech, the battle between "political" science and science.

"Political science" knows no limits. Was there anything more inappropriate than watching political science try to override medical science in the Terry Schiavo case?"

Portions of Bloomberg's speech, including the comment above, are quoted quite liberally in a post on the New York Observer's political blog The Politicker.


The state GOP's best bet at keeping a beachfront to work from is the state Senate, where it has held an advantage for decades despite voter enrollment that favors the Democrats. The New York Times has an analysis of the race for control of the Senate in today's editions.

Hall Big Winner With Orange County Democrats

Orange County Democrats had their endorsement meeting last night. John Hall notched a solid victory in the crowded 19th Congressional District race. Here are the results:

  • John Hall: 4,661 votes - 59%
  • John Martorano 1,051- 13%
  • Darren Rigger 1,029- 12.8%
  • Ben Shuldiner 460- 5.7%
  • Judy Aydelott 419.5 - 5.2%
  • Gary Suracci 419- 5.2%

Here are the complete results for Putnam County, where - as we reported yesterday - Darren Rigger came out on top:

  • round 1: Eliminated Aydelott, Shuldiner, Martorano
    round 2: Rigger 48, Hall 37

The candidates will test their mettle in Westchester County tonight.

24 May, 2006

Weld Endorsed By Daily News In GOP Primary, Keeps Support Of Rockland Republicans

Today was a good day for Republican gubenatorial candidate William Weld. He woke this morning to find he had been edorsed by the Daily News in his battle with John Faso for the state party's nomination.

It also looked yesterday as though Weld might lose the support of the Rockland County Republican Committee, given the fact that Faso picked Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef as his candidate for lieutenant governor.

Capitol Confidential reports today, however, that Weld will keep the Rockland GOP's endorsement. The county party is supporting a split ticket of Weld and Vanderhoef.

Weld's campaign also posted a four-minute infomercial on the former Massachusetts governor today. It amounts to a really long political ad, but it's viewable here if you want to take a look.


The Conservative Party of New York State officially made its endorsements for the fall elections last night.

  • U.S. Senate: Former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer
  • Governor: Former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso
  • Lt. Governor: Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef
  • State Attorney General: Former Westchester County DA Jeanine Pirro
  • State Comptroller: Saratoga County Treasurer J. Christopher Callaghan

Spencer and former Reagan Defense Department spokeswoman KT McFarland continue to slug it out for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.

The GOP convention is just days away and it is possible both candidates will get enough votes to win a place on a primary ballot.

Spencer, in an Associated Press story today, said a primary between the two would be a "death sentence" for the party's effort to unseat the well-healed Democrat, Sen. Hillary Clinton in November.


Putnam County Democrats last night endorsed Darren Rigger of Peekskill in the multi-candidate race for the party's nod in New York's 19th Congressional District, currently held by Republican Rep. Sue Kelly. Orange County Democrats are meeting tonight and the Westchester meeting is tomorrow night. The 19th District is spread out over all or part of five counties in the Lower Hudson Valley, including the three mentioned above. It also covers parts of Rockland and Dutchess counties.


Denise O'Donnell, one of several Democratic candidates for attorney general, picked up the endorsement of the Putnam and Columbia county Democrats.


The leader in the polls in the attorney general race, Andrew Cuomo, picked up endosements in Schenectady County today, including that of the county's Democratic Party chairman Brian Quail.


Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, KT McFarland, today announced she has picked up the support of Tompkins County GOP Chairwoman Elizabeth Cree.


Democrat Brian Keeler, of Hopewell Junction, is expected to officially announce tomorrow that he will challenge veteran Republican state Sen. Stephen Saland in the 41st District, up in the Poughkeepsie area.

Keeler describes himself as "progressive" and a founding member of ePluribus Media, which he calls the "largest citizen investigative journalism on the Internet." He's also a contributor to the liberal blog the Daily Kos, and credits himself with being part of a reporting team that broke the Jeff Gannon (psuedo-journalist in the White House) story.

Hevesi Report Questions Yonkers Handling Of Economic Development Funds, Spencer Among Those Named

The state is questioning the shuffling of funds by Yonkers officials between various economic development projects, the Journal News is reporting today on its Web site.

An unofficial draft of an audit report by state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, a Democrat, concludes city officials, from 2001 to 2003, made questionable transfers of funds between the city, its school district and its Industrial Development Agency, the paper reported.

John Spencer, the former Yonkers mayor and current Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, was director of the IDA at the time, the Journal News reported.

Jeanine Pirro, currently a candidate for state attorney general, was the Westchester County District Attorney at the time the DA's office conducted a probe of the transfers and found no wrongdoing. According to the newspaper's report, critics have said Pirro's probe was not thorough enough

Yonkers current mayor Philip Amicone, a Republican, responded by letter to Hevesi, saying the report is factually inaccurate and contains "incendiary political assertions."

23 May, 2006

TV Ads To Counter Gore On Global Warming

Better living through chemistry! If you are as old as I am, you'll remember it vaguely. That was a late 50s or early 60s ad campaign that ran to promote plastics and other products made with chemicals, and to counter early concerns about what production, and disposal, of plastics might do to the environment.

Turn on your TV in the next couple of days and you might see what amounts to "better living through carbon dioxide."

The conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute will run an ad campaign aimed at countering any effects Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, may have on how we view global warming. Reuters has a story on the ads today.

We showed you the trailer to Gore's film, so in the interest of equal time, and just because we are stunned by this ad, click here to see what's being offered up in defense of fossil fuel usage.

(WARNING: you have to sit through a more conventional ad first.
(DOUBLE WARNING: depending on your personality type, you may need an agita medicine, or you may choke yourself laughing, after viewing).


If you can't fire it, up here's one quote from the ad:

"Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution; we call it life."

You can't make it up!

Yesterday former oil man turned president, George W. Bush, was asked if he would see Gore's film. He answered with a quick, and very Texan tough-guy, "doubt it."

Today, MSN is polling Americans on the issue. Asking them if they think their president should see the documentary. It's a flash poll and is not statistically meaningful. But here were the results when I logged on this evening:

Should President Bush watch the Al Gore documentary on global warming?

* 73510 responses

No 31%
Yes 65%
I'm not sure3.4%

Are you going to watch the documentary?

* 73448 responses

No 36%
Yes 55%
I'm not sure 9.1%

Not a scientific survey. Results may not total 100% due to rounding.

Global warming, at the world's peril, continues to be a political football in the U.S. Last year's storm-filled summer got some people to begin to think there might be something to this concept (this blogger included). Maybe Gore's movie - and this nut-job ad - might push a few more people toward reality.

While there seems little doubt to me about Gore's sincerity on the issue, I'm also beginning to feel strongly that he hopes to ride the issue of the environment to the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Newsweek's Eleanor Clift examines that possibility.

Vanderhoef Official As Faso's Running Mate, May Take Rockland County With Him To Faso's Side

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef officially announced his intentions to run for Lieutenant Governor this afternoon. Capitol Confidential reports the choice may be an attempt to balance the ticket, pairing the socially moderate Vanderhoef with the conservative Faso.

Capitol Confidential also reports Vanderhoef's presence in the race may make the Rockland County GOP, which has already backed WIlliam Weld, re-think its position.

They'd better re-think quickly, the county GOP's convention is tonight and the state GOP convention is only days away.

Meanwhile, the Times Herald-Record is reporting today that Weld's nod from the Orange County GOP may also be a bit tenuous.

If Rockland and Orange counties were to flip to Faso, the delegate count - which is being carefully watched by UrbanElephants.com - could get very tight.

On another front, the Conservative Party of New York is holding its convention today. Faso is expected to get the nod for governor, while John Spencer is expected to be endorsed for the Senate and Jeanine Pirro for attorney general.

Other coming events of note:

  • May 23, 7:30 p.m. Putnam County Democratic Convention
  • May 24, 7:30 p.m. Northern Westchester Democratic Coalition Convention
  • May 24, 8:00 p.m. Orange County Democratic Convention
  • May 25, 7:30 p.m. Westchester County Democratic Convention

LoHud.com, the online presence of the Journal News spoke to former New York Assemblyman Ryan Karben, the Monsey Democrat who stepped down over allegations of improper advances toward a male intern. According to the story, Karben was smiling throughout the interview, said he's "very relaxed," and looking forward to opportunities ahead of him. The paper reports Karben would not answer any questions related to his resignation or the rumors that followed.

In an editorial in today's editions The Journal News called on Karben to publicly discuss his reasons for resigning and to address the allegations made against him.

Karben's district, which covers Orangetown and parts of Ramapo, will go unrepresented until January, when the winner of the November election takes office.

The Journal News reported today that Democrat Kenneth Zebrowski of New City will take over sponsorship of bills Karben had been working on and that Zebrowski and Republican state Senator Thomas Morahan of New City have met to review Karben-sponsored bills that are likely to be passed by both houses.


Sen. Hillary Clinton proposed a plan to cut U.S. imports of oil by about half by 2025. The Associated Press reports the key elements of the plan are increased use of ethanol and a $50 billion energy research fund.


Hillary Clinton comes out on the short end against both Rudy Giuliani and John McCain in a presidential preference poll released today by FOX News.

Giuliani is favored over Clinton 49% to 40%, while McCain comes out ahead of the New York senator 46% to 42%.

Both Giuliani and McCain are favored over Al Gore as well, Giuliani by 13 points and McCain by 12.

Women prefer Giuliani over Clinton by 4 points, but they prefer Clinton over McCain by four points.

Americans apparently have had enough of the Bush family for a while. When asked if Jeb Bush would make a good presidential candidate in '08, 22% said yes while 57% said no.


Could it be that Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman is hearing footsteps?

Shortly after forcing a primary with a strong showing at the state's Democratic Party convention this weekend, multi-millionaire Ned Lamont said he would double to $1 million the amount of his own money he would spend on his campaign.

In today's Hartford Courant, Lieberman is quoted saying Lamont is rich enough to "try to buy" Connecticut's Senate seat.

22 May, 2006

Faso Has Post's Endorsement, Running Mate

Republican gubenatorial candidate John Faso picked up the endorsement of the New York Post today for the GOP nomination. The Post reasoned that with Faso already slated for the Conservative Party line on the ballot, Republican's would run the risk of finishing third with William Weld as their standard bearer.

Faso also has a running mate. The Journal News today reported that Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, who last week passed on a run for state comptroller, will be announced as Faso's choice for Lieutenant Governor tomorrow.


Siena College released a poll on the Democratic statewide races today. There's very little new to report. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer still leads Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi by a huge margin in the governor's race and Andrew Cuomo has a 14-point lead over Mark Green in the race to replace Spitzer as attorney general. That's up one percentage point from the last Siena poll.


The Cook Political Report, which follows competitive and potentially competitive Congressional races, has kicked up by one notch the competitiveness level of the race for New York's 20th District.

Republican Rep. John Sweeney is facing a spirited challenge from Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

Cook now has the race listed as "leaning Republican," which is one notch more competitive than it's previous ranking as "likely Republican."

The 19th District race is still listed as "likely Republican," as it has been since first appearing on the list of potentially competitive races a few months back. The incumbent there is Republican Rep. Sue Kelly.


The inside-the-Beltway publication Roll Call has listed it's top 10 most competitive House races. In all 10 races, a Republican is the incumbent. In its previous such listing six months ago, Roll Call said four of the races on the list involved districts currently held by Democrats. Roll Call is subscription only so you'll have to sign up if you want to see more than the first paragraph or two.


The American Research Group poll released today has President Bush's approval rating at 32%. If you look at the numbers, it appears the economy is creating jitters.


Sen. Hillary Clinton predicts immigration reform will not be passed before the elections this fall.
According to the Long Island Business News, Clinton told a gethering of businessmen this morning that she expects the Senate to pass reform soon, but that it will get bogged down when the House and Senate try to mesh their widely differing approaches to the immigration problem.


Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani told the Boston Herald in a wide-ranging interview that it appears Sen. Hillary Clinton has the Democratic presidential field all to herself. He listed himself and Arizona Senator John McCain as frontrunners for the GOP nomination.


Giuliani may think Clinton is in the driver's seat for the Democrats, but New York Magazine profiles the party's 2000 candidate Al Gore as the comeback kid. The story paints Gore as the man to come to the rescue of Democrats who fear the inevitability of a Clinton nomination and ultimate defeat in the general election.

Gore's buzz factor is getting a jolt from the scheduled release of his film on the catastrophic consequences of global warming. The film, An Inconvenient Truth, opens Wednesday in New York. Click here to view the movie

Also in the week's New York Magazine, a piece entitled The Trouble With Hillary looks at the enigma that New York's senator has become.


The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is rejoicing over the strong showing by Ned Lamont at the Connecticut Democratic Party convention this weekend. As you know by now, Lamont, who is challenging Sen. Joe Lieberman for the Democratic nomination, received well more than enough votes at the convention to force a primary.

Veteran political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes today on his blog, The Rothenberg Report, that Lieberman is being villified for showing independence and refusing to tow the party line. Although he considers it unlikely, Rothenberg said a Lieberman defeat would be a "sad, sad chapter in American politics."

21 May, 2006

Computer Politics Guru Joe Trippi On What's New On The Cyberspace Campaign Trail

Joe Trippi used the Internet to push Howard Dean to the top of the Democratic heap for a while in 2004 - until the Big Scream.

Trippi, now the campaign manager for Democratic congressional candidate John Hall, who's running in New York's 19th District, is featured on Newsweek.com today.

Trippi predicts text-messaging will be the next big deal in campaigning. He also compares his "breakup" with Dean to the breakup of the Beatles.

MY TWO CENTS: Time To Let Karben Pick Up The Pieces

It's been a few days now since the story broke about former Assemblyman Ryan Karben's resignation.

The New York City papers have done mostly one-and-done coverage of the story.

The New York Times did one conservatively played story with no mention of rumors or unidentified sources.

The New York Post had a siren headline, but a reasonably sound story assuming they trust their unnamed sources, as they undoubtedly do.

The Daily News had a story on Friday, also based on sources it undoubtedly trusts, and a short follow-up Saturday which didn't really add anything new.

It is the blogosphere that continues to perpetuate the story - some Web sites making outlandish, irresponsible and regrettable accusations while others are busy sporting sophomoric dual-meaning headlines.

I have to admit, the number of hits this Web site has gotten since Friday has been a lot higher than normal, and the largest number of those hits were prompted by people searching the word "Karben."

The only real news left to report on this story is the fact that the spot will not be filled on an interemin basis, according to a story in the Daily News. That should set up quite a scramble for the fall.

This morning's Journal News did a profile of Karben's career.

As for my thoughts on the matter - I'm mostly ashamed to be among the crowd I'm running with. Bloggers have a bad name among most journalists, and the handling of this case shows that the reputation is probably earned. Many bloggers are just hacks with an axe to grind or nothing but dribble to communicate.

The blogs run by professionals, Capitol Confidential and The Daily Politics among others, did good work on the story. Keeping to the facts as best they were attainable without the editorial comment or sixth-grade "humor" evident on other blogs.

As for my part, I have attempted to contact Karben but he has chosen not to respond, and quite frankly I can't say that I blame him.

The news of Karben's resignation is of public concern, since he held a public office. Naturally the question of "why " deserved attention because the resignation came so suddenly.

Karben, however, is no longer serving the public and he should now be left alone to try to put back the pieces and move forward with his life.

For the those of you who clicked onto this blog for the first time to read the Karben postings, I hope you found enough other things of interest that you will come back.

Unless and until there are further developments involving the public interest, I am closing the book on the matter.

For those seeking trash, there's plenty of it still out there in the blogsphere.

19 May, 2006

Lieberman Gets Democrat Nod In Connecticut, But Lamont Strong Enough To Force Primary

Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has won the scorn of the left wing of the Democratic party with his support of President Bush's Iraq policy, got enough votes to win the party's nomination at the state party convention tonight, the Hartford Courant reports.

But, a lot of the buzz was about Ned Lamont, the Connecticut businessman and anti-war challenger to Lieberman. According to the Courant, Lamont got a full-third of the votes cast at the convention, enough to force a primary.

Lamont has become this year's darling of the left-wing blogosphere and he has parlayed the attention, and the disaffection for Lieberman, into a strong bid to beat the three-term senator.

Strong enough at least, the New York Times reported today, to have party regulars - and Liberman himself - very concerned.

Border Bounce: Bush Gets Some Good Poll News For A Change

Another poll was released today, and for the first time in a long time there was some good news for President Bush.

A CBS News poll indicates pretty strong support for Bush's stance on immigration.

On National Guard troops at the border - 62% say it's a good idea

On a temporary guest-worker program - 61% are in favor

On allowing long-term illegal immigrants to work their way toward citizenship - 77% say yes

The CBS poll shows some conflict on the issue of the government collecting a massive data base of phone calls made by U.S. citizens. Americans approve of the government's program by a 51% to 44% margin. But, in a seeming contradiction, 60% of those polled said they didn't think phone companies should be providing the government with phone-call data.

Bush's overall approval rating in this poll was 35%, that's up 4 percentage points from where it stood prior to the immigration speech Monday night.


Republican gubenatorial candidate John Faso announced the support of the Suffolk County GOP. That's the second-largest prize in terms of convention delegates, with the largest being Nassua County, the other Long Island county. Nassau's Republicans have yet to weigh in.

Looking at the "scoreboard" being compiled by Urban Elephants.com, the Suffolk endorsement brings Faso within striking distance of the other Republican candidate William Weld. According to the UE count, Fasso is at 35% of the delegates, compared to Weld's 43%


GOP Senate candidate KT McFarland has been endorsed by the chairman of the Putnam County Republican Committee Anthony Scannapieco. McFarland, in the latest poll released yesterday by Quinnipiac University, leads John Spencer by 10 points. In terms of delegate support though, according to Urban Elephants, Spencer is ahead of McFarland 59.6% to 19.3%. McFarland needs to muster up another 6% or so to get her over the 25% mark and win an automatic spot on a primary ballot.

Karben Issues Statement On Resignation

State Assemblyman Ryan Karben issued a statement today on his abrupt resignation yesterday. The statement, posted on Capitol Confidential, says little more than what was said yesterday. The 31-year-old Monsey Democrat simply said it's time for him to concentrate on a constituency of four - presumably his wife and three daughters.

Why Did Karben Resign?

As we posted yesterday, state Assemblyman Ryan Karben, a Democrat from Monsey, abruptly resigned from his seat.

The 31-year-old legislator was seen as a hard-driving up-and-comer. So it begs the question - why did he step down?

Karben released a statement saying he wants to spend more time on his law practice and with his family.

Below are articles from several local publications on Karben's departure. Some suggest reasons beyond those Karben gave.

Daily News Journal News LoHud.com (the Journal News Web site )

New York Times New York Post

18 May, 2006

McFarland Leads Spencer In Latest Quinnipiac Poll, But Clinton Favored By One In Four Republicans

We were away for a day, but we're right back into the swing of things today with the New York poll from Quinnipiac University.

In the Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination in New York, former Pentagon spokeswoman KT McFarland leads former Yonkers mayor John Spencer 35% to 25%, the largest lead to date for the latecomer to the race.

But, in one-on-races against Sen. Hillary Clinton, McFarland and Spencer trail by a little more than 35 points. Clinton gets 24% of the Republican vote in either matchup.

Clinton has a 61% job approval rating and 51% of those polled have a favorable opinion of her.


At least one New Yorker who doesn't approve of the junior Senator has decided to take action. The Saratogian is reporting that 55 year-old Clifton Park resident Jeff Russell has been nominated by the Libertarian Party to challenge Clinton. The paper said Russell is running because he's angered by what he sees as Clinton's shift to the right. Russell told the paper Clinton seems to be running in lock step with the Bush administration.

"Senator Clinton has backed the Bush administration all along," Russell said. "She's backed him on the war in Iraq, homeland security and the Patriot Act. Now she's out there claiming the failed polices of this government are the result of one party's actions, as if her votes of support didn't matter."

William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, got the party's nomination for governor here in New York.


Clinton's Democratic challenger, labor leader and anti-war activist Jonathan Tasini, is biking across the state with a new endorsement in his knapsack. Actress Susan Sarandon, who has been critical of Clinton's support for the war in Iraq, has come out in favor of Tasini. Tasini is currently in the middle of a biking excursion from Long Island to Buffalo to call attention to his

photo credit: Stephanie Cannon


John Hall, who is one of several Democratic hopefuls in the race for New York's 19th District is getting a little help from his friends in the music business. The former member of the 70s band Orleans will benefit from a string of fundraisers that will feature a bigger musical name (sorry John) from the 70s - Jackson Browne. Click here for a schedule of dates, times and a list of performers.

Hall's campaign also announced a few endorsements in the past couple of days. The Democratic committees for Poughkeepsie and Beacon as well as the Mid-Hudson Progressive Alliance have endorsed Hall's candidacy.

Republican Sue Kelly is the incumbent in the race.


Former presidential candidate Al Gore may not be a movie star like Susan Sarandon, but he's creating quite a stir as a movie producer. Gore's movie about the effects of global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, opens next Wednesday in New York. It should be a powerful film, judging by the trailer. Take a few minutes to check it out, you'll be intrigued and alarmed. Or at least you should be!


Some other notes from today's Qunnipiac Poll.

President Bush's approval rating is 22% in New York, and 50% among Republicans. Seventy-four percent disapprove of Bush's handling of the war and 67% say going to war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do.

In the Democratic race for attorney general, Andrew Cuomo is favored by 34% of Democrats compared with 26% for Mark Green. Twenty-eight percent remain undecided. No other candidate got more than 3%.

Cuomo leads Republican Jeanine Pirro 49% to 33%, while Green holds a 46% to 33% lead over Pirro in one-on-one matchups.

No polling was done on the governor's race this time around.


Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has long been a supporter of gay civil unions, today said heterosexual marriage was "inviolate," according to a story to be published in Friday's New York Times. Giuliani was campaigning for the former leader of the Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed, who is running for lieutenant governor in Georgia.

Should we be surprised? A few days ago, another potential 2008 GOP presidential candidate - Sen. John McCain of Arizona - spoke at the commencement ceremonies at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. McCain once referred to Falwell and other evangelical leaders as "agents of intolerance."


Second-term state Assemblyman Ryan Karben, a Democrat from Spring Valley, abruptly quit the legislature today. Karben's campaign Web site had no announcement, but Capitol Confidential did publish a statement from the 31 year-old from the 95th District who said he wanted to devote more time to his law practice.

16 May, 2006

Bush Seeks, Finds Middle Ground On Immigration

President Bush unveiled an immigration plan that puts him somewhere in the middle of two extremes - deportation and full, quick citizenship.

If he was looking for the middle ground - as he obviously was - he has apparently found it.

According to a Zogby International poll released today, 47% of Americans were satisfied with Bush's speech last night and 47% were disappointed. Some 47% said they think the immigration plan will likely make the problem better while 49% said it would likely make things worse.

The majority of Americans seem to think the speech was more about politics than policy. In fact, 37% of those polled said they thought Bush was just trying to bring Americans up to speed on the immigration issue, while 58% said he was trying to gain a political edge with his address.


According to the latest Survey USA poll, the president's approval rating is positive in only three states Idaho (52%), Utah (51%) and Wyoming (50%-49%). His approval in New York is at 23%, lowest in the nation along with Rhode Island.


Polling site, Rasmussen Reports, says today that according to a recent poll John Kerry would defeat President Bush if the election were to be held now (48% to 41%).


Congress.org has posted it's "power rankings" on Capitol Hill, putting Sen. Charles Schumer well-ahead of his New York counterpart Hillary Clinton. Schumer is ranked 18th most powerful in the Senate, while Clinton comes in at No. 41. The ranking is based on 2005 activity in the Senate and takes into account a lawmaker's position in the Senate, actions taken to influence the legislative agenda and legislative success.

In the House, among local members Charles Rangel (D) of New York City ranks 43rd, Sue Kelly (R) of the 19th District is 67th, Nita Lowey (D) of the 18th District is ranked No. 76 , John Sweeney (R) of the 20th District ranks 196th and Eliot Engel (D) of the 17th District comes in at 298th.


Pelosi to stump for Gillibrand

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will hold a fundraiser in California next month for Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democrat upstart candidate seeking to unseat John Sweeney in New York's 20th District. The bit of news was part of a story on The Hill's Web site today which says the GOP will try to scare its base to the polls this fall by raising the prospect of a "Speaker Pelosi."

Faso Candidacy Blasted By Republican "Choice" PAC

A political action group, the Republican Majority for Choice, said today that John Faso is the "wrong choice" for New York Repuiblicans in the governor's race. The pro-choice group said in a release picked up today by Capitol Confidential that the conservative Faso would jeopordize the GOP's control of the state Senate if he is at the top of the GOP ticket on the staewide ballot this November. The PAC said a Faso candidacy would be particularly harmful to Republicans in "swing" districts like Westchester, Rockland and Long Island.

Clinton Endorsed By "Choice" Group

NARAL Pro-Choice New York said Monday it would back Sen. Hillary Clinton's bid for re-election, according to the Associated Press.

NOW Backs Lamont In Bid Against Lieberman

The National Organization for Women has announced it will back Ned Lamont in his bid to take the Democratic nomination from Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman this fall. The NOW PAC said it bases its endorsements on the following criteria:

- Support for reproductive rights without restriction
- Economic equality for women
- Civil rights for all
- Constitutional equality for women
- Affirmative action
- Elimination of violence against women

Cuomo Gets Lots Of Love In Westchester

Andrew Cuomo, the frontrunner in the Democratic race for state attorney general got the backing of the following Westchester County officials, according to a release from his campaign:

Westechster County Executive Andrew Spano, Democratic Chair Reggie Lafayett, Board of Legislators Chair Bill Ryan, County Clerk Tim Idoni, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick and County Legislators Michael Kaplowitz and Jose Alvarado.


One last endorsement to announce today. Manhattanite and former Reagan administration official KT McFarland announced today she has won the endorsement of the Chinatown Republican Club. McFarland is squaring off with former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer for the Republican party nod for U.S. Senate.

15 May, 2006

ABC News Blog Says Gov't May Be Tracking Calls To Determine ABC's Sources

To those of you who take the "go-ahead-and-snoop-on-me. I'm-not-doing-anything-wrong" stance on the NSA wiretapping and data-gathering operations, here's a little food for thought. A possible reason (one of hundreds) that the NSA's activities are not harmless to innocent people.

The Blotter, ABC News' blog, is reporting today that "a senior federal law enforcement official" told the network that the government is tracking phone numbers that two of its reporters call "in an effort to root out confidential sources." The reporters in question are Brian Ross and Richard Esposito.

According to the blog posting earlier today, ABC thinks it may not be the only news organization being snooped on:

"ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation."

To read the rest of the post, click here.

If ABC's suspicions are true the NSA programs are not only harmful to ABC, to the news media and to the so-called leakers. It is a danger to U.S. Democracy as we know it and the Constitution it is based on.

13 May, 2006

Upon Further Review, Maybe Americans Are Not So Thrilled With NSA Data Base

We told you Friday that, according to an ABC-Washington Post poll, 63% of Americans back the National Security Agency's collecting of a massive data base on phone calls placed by average Americans. That was the day after the story broke.

Given a day or two to think about it, the American public seems to have done an about face. In a Newsweek poll, conducted Thursday and Friday and released online today, 53% of Americans feel the program "goes too far in invading people's privacy. Forty-one percent say it's a necessary tool to fight terrorism.

Taking things one step further, 57% feel the Bush-Cheney administration has gone too far in expanding presidential powers.

photo credit: cnn.com


In a story that will be published Sunday morning, the New York Times is reporting that Vice President Dick Cheney, after the 9/11 attacks, pushed for warrantless surveillance of domestic phone calls and e-mails made from one location within the U.S. to another - not just those made to or from locations outside the U.S. The Times report said NSA officials resisted the plan and the current program of tapping calls to or from the U.S. was put in place.


Newsweek is reporting that the prosecutor in the CIA leak case is focusing on hand written notes, written by Vice-President Cheney, in making the case against Cheney's former chief of staff Scooter Libby. The prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, disclosed the notes in a court filing Friday night, Newsweek reports. Fitzgerald hopes to show the notes prove an acute interest by Cheney and Libby - now indicted in the case - in the article written by Ambassador Joe Wilson. Wilson, as you all know by know, is the husband of the outed CIA agent Valerie Plame and wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times critical of the Bush Administration's use of pre-war intelligence. The Fitzgerald probe was begun to determine if Plame's name was leaked by someone in the administration as a way to discredit Wilson.

Glory Days? - CNN Poll Shows Americans Looking Back At Clinton Years As The Good Old Days

CNN has a poll out today asking Americans to rate President Bush against his predecessor, Bill Clinton, on a number of issues. In all areas, Clinton comes out on top:

- On the economy 63% to 26%
- Solving the problems of ordinary American 62% to 25%
- Foreign affairs 56% to 32%
- Tax policy 51% to 35%
- Handling natural disasters 51% to 30%
- National security 46% to 42%
- Honesty 46% to 41%

Whether this is a case of hindisight being 20-20 or the human tendancy to romanticize the past, the numbers are fairly revealing about how our current president is viewed.


Debates Set:

According to a story on NY1's Web site today, the schedule for the first round of political debates has been set:

Republican Governor : Fasso vs Weld on June 22
Democrat Governor: Spitzer vs Suozzi on July 25

Democrat Attorney General: Cuomo, Green, King, Maloney and O'Donnell on Aug. 2

Republican U.S. Senate: Spencer vs McFarland on Aug. 9

Steve Forbes To Help Spencer Raise $$

The Associated Press reported today that publisher Steve Forbes, a two time presidential candidate, will head a national fundraising campaign for John Spencer, the former Yonkers mayor who is seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. According to reports filed by the candidates with the FEC in early April, Spencer had about $430,000 on hand. His would-be Democratic opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton, had close to $20 million on hand at the end of the first quarter.

Turn of Events - Orleans County GOP Switches to Fasso

GOP gubenatorial candidate John Fasso's campaign reported that the Orleans County Republican Committee has decided to endorse Fasso in his race against William Weld. Interesting since the Orleans county chairman Bruce Schmidt voted for Weld in a straw poll of county chairmen held last December. The county GOP's vice-chairman Ed Morgan is quoted in the Fasso release.

Bing- o for Cuomo

NY1 is also reporting today that East Side Assemblyman Jonathan Bing is endorsing Andrew Cuomo's bid for attorney general.

Three Chears for Tasini

Anti-war Democrat Jonathan Tasini picked up endorsements from three more progressive Democrat groups in recent days. Tasini is trying to unseat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for Senate.

12 May, 2006

Most Americans Approve Of NSA Phone Data Program

President Bush's approval rating has hit another all-time low, but since it seems I headline that same story day after day I thought I'd go with the first reading on the NSA phone-call monitoring story as today's lead.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll conducted yesterday and released today indicates that Americans, by a 63% to 35% margin, approve of the phone-data gathering program.

By 65% to 31%, Americans think it is more important right now for the government to investigate terorrist threats than protect individual privacy.

By a 53% to 45% margin, Americans think the government is doing enough to protect individual rights as it conducts the so-called "war on terror."

And, providing at least some proof that these Americans are reading the same Constitution that I'm reading, 56% of those polled thought it was right of the news media to divulge details of the program.


New York Sen. Hillary Clinton put out a statement today blasting the NSA's phone-call data program.


WSJ.com (The Wall Street Journal's online service) reports today a new Harris Interactive poll puts President Bush's approval rating at a new low - 29%.

The poll puts the GOP-controlled Congress' approval rating at 18%

Sixty-nine percent of those polled say America has "seriously gotten off on the wrong track."


Will numbers like these, if they continue into the fall, have a major effect on the GOP's fortunes in the November mid-term elections? An article today on The Daily Standard Web site, the online presence of the conservative opinion journal The Weekly Standard, says things may be shaping up like 1994 in reverse. 1994, of course, was the year the Republicans rode a wave of voter anger and gained control of Congress for more than a decade.

11 May, 2006

Status Quo In New York State Races, Marist Poll Says

We were away for a couple of days and while we caught up on national issues earlier this evening, it's time now to check in on some New York stuff.

Last night a new WNBC/Marist Poll for New York was released. Not a lot has changed from other recent polls.

In the governor's race, Eliot Spitzer leads fellow Democrat Tom Suozzi 72%-12%. The Democrat leads his two Republican challengers John Fasso and Bill Weld buy 70%-20% margins in one-on-one races. Fasso leads Weld on the GOP side 30% to 21%, with 49% still undecided.

In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Hillary Clinton leads all three of her Republican challengers - John Spencer, KT McFarland and William Brennar by roughly 30 points one-on-one. In a GOP matchup of the three, its Spencer 26%, McFarland 14% and Brennar 13%.

Approval ratings: President Bush 24%; Gov. Pataki 30% (down from 43% in Jan.); Clinton 51%; Sen. Schumer 56%

In the Democratic race for attorney general, Andrew Cuomo leads Mark Green 39% to 20%, with all other Democrats in single digits. Either Democrat would beat Republican Jeanine Pirro - Cuomo 52% to 34% and Green 48% to 34%.


KT McFarland, the former Reagan Defense Department spokeswoman, picked up a couple of more endorsements for her Senate campaign in the last two days. Today McFarland's office announced the backing of Chautauqau County Republican Party Chairman John Glenzer. Yesterday she recieved the support of the Cortland County Republican Party. According to the Urban Elephants Web site, that gives McFarland support of about 17% of the delegates to the state convention. She needs to get 25% to be placed on the primary ballot without resorting to petitions.


Former Assembly Minority Leader John Fasso picked up the Westchester County Republican Party's endorsement in his race for governor today. According to the running tally on Urban Elephants , the endorsement gives Fasso the 25% support he needs to get on the ballot on the Republican line in the primary. He's already been endorsed by the New York State Conservative Party.


The Working Families Party, a self-described center-left party for working people, has endorsed Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democrat running for Congress against incumbent John Sweeney in New York's 20'th District.

Gillibrand, yesterday announced a plan to offer education tax breaks for middle-class parents. Under the plan, college tuition would be deductable up to $10,000 a year. Gillibrand says eliminating President Bush's tax cuts for those who make $1.2 million or more a year would save $56.2 billion, enough to pay for her tuition tax break plan for five years.

New York Has No GOP, Murdoch Says; Lott Says Jeb Would Not Beat Hillary In '08

Rupert Murdoch, head of the FOX empire and owner of the New York Post, told one of his talking heads yesterday that it seems as if New York State has no Republican Party.

The comment came in response to a question from show host Neil Cavuto, who had the boss on the air yesterday. Cavuto, one of the FOX Network's many Hillary bashers, asked Murdoch why he was hosting a fundraiser for the Democratic senator - who often is the subject of barbs both on FOX and in the Post. The Daily News' political blog, The Daily Politics, posted a transcript of the exchange.


At about the same time Murdoch was on the air, Trent Lott was on "another network" - MSNBC - telling Hardball's Chris Matthews he didn't think it was a very good idea for Jeb Bush to consider a run for president in 2008. The National Journal's The Hotline quotes Lott, who was responding to President Bush's recent comments that he thinks his little brother should run.

"Well, certainly you would say that about your own brother. Otherwise your mother might discipline you," said Lott as quoted by Hotline.

Lott said he did not think Jeb would beat Hillary if the two were to face each other in '08


If there really is no more state GOP, as Murdoch suggests, it could be because they keep killing each other off. The race for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate is a good example. The New York Times has a piece on the downright nastiness of that campaign between former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and former Reagan administration official K.T. McFarland.


If New York has no second party, can it have a third? CBSNews.com's Dick Meyer lays out a victory plan for a third party in 2008 - a party he says should be headed my New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.


The latest poll of political insiders, conducted by The National Review and published also on The Hotline, shows party stalwarts put Republican John McCain and Democrat Hillary Clinton at the top of their tickets for '08. GOP insiders say they like McCain because they think he can beat Clinton.


Taking a look at the 2006 mid-terms, two separate articles in the Washington Post today point out problems for both parties. In one piece Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker look at the damage being done to the GOP as the party's base sours on George Bush and the GOP-run Congress.

In another piece, Thomas B. Edsell reports the Democrats are at odds over strategy, with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean trying to lay long-term plans for the rebirth of the party and the heads of the party's 2006 Congressional campaign committees looking to score a big - and quick - win in 2006.

08 May, 2006

How Low Can He Go? Bush Hits Yet Another All-Time Low In Latest Poll

President Bush's approval rating skidded to its lowest level ever, for any poll, today with the release of the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll. The new magic number -- 31%.

After hanging around the upper 30's for the first couple of months of this year, Bush's ratings began to tumble again in March.

One reason - loss of support in his own party. In the USA Today/Gallup poll, Bush's approval rating among Republicans slid to 68%, a low-water mark. According to Gallup, Bush's approval rating among Republicans was at about 80% at the beginning of the year, slid to 74% in mid-April and bounced back up to 81% at the end of April and has dropped sharply in May.

Among people identifying themselves as conservatives, Bush is at 52%.

According to Gallup, Bush's rating went up among independents since the end of April, from 21% to 26%.

He is at 4% among Democrats, which the poll said is well below the lowest levels hit by the previous four presidents among voters of the opposite party. Bush's father, George H.W. Bush had the next-lowest opposite-party approval rating of 12% at one point in his presidency.

To read a very detailed and interesting report from Gallup, click here. To read the USA Today summary story, click here.


GOP state chairmen spent the weekend huddling in Colorado Springs, where, as the Washington Post reports, House Majority Leader John Boehner started things off Friday on an optomistic note for the upcoming elections season.

But, by the end of the weekend, Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman left those gathered with a sobering thought, according to a story today on Hotline On Call, the National Journal's political blog. Here's a snippet from the Hotline report:

"RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, generally one of the party's premiere strategic optimists, warned GOP state chairs that the party would lose seats at every level of government.

Not "if" they didn't do X,Y, or GOTV. But "would lose," period."

According to the Hotline report, Mehlmen advised the GOP to keep the 435 Congressional races as "local" as possible.


The Daily News reports local GOP officials are expecting Republican (sort of) NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg to back Hillary Clinton for re-election. The story in today's editions says there's a decent-or-better chance that Bloomberg will endorse Eliot Spitzer for governor as well.


According to a story in today's Poughkeepsie Journal, the mid-Hudson congressional district has endorsed a measure to push back the May 15 deadline for senior citizens to sign up for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. Rep. Sue Kelly, the Republican from the 19th District, is the only member of the local delegation not to support the move, the paper reports. The Bush administration has resisted any extension of the deadline.

07 May, 2006

Are The Democrats Getting A Little Too Big For Their Britches?

As a kid, when I was acting like a bit too much of a wise ass, my grandfather would say "Boy, you're gettin' a little bit too big for your britches."

That's the thought that came to mind this morning when I was reading a piece on the Washington Post's Web site. In his story Jonathan Weisman reports Democratic leaders have already drawn up an agenda - which they would introduce in their first week in charge - in the event they gain control of Congress this fall. Among their immediate goals - raise the minimum wage, roll back parts of the Republican prescription drug law and launch investigations of the Bush administration, including its use of prewar intelligence. A word of caution to the Dems - "don't count your chickens." (That was my grandmother).


Republican pollster Lance Tarrance says the Bush Administration may be history even before its term expires. As reported in today's Washington Post, Tarrance told reporters and political junkies last week that with Bush's approval rating so low, and with so many expressing strong dissaproval in the polls "
if you want to be tough about it, the relevancy of this administration on policy may be over."


If the Bush Administration has become irrelevant, Vice President Dick Cheney apparently didn't get the memo. London's Sunday Times looks at Cheney's Cold-War like speech chiding Russia earlier this week. The Times' Sarah Baxter reports the speech seems to be an attempt by Cheney to show HE is still relevant.


While the Western world talks tough, threatening economic sanctions and stongly hinting at military consequences, German politicians are taking a different tack in trying to stop Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from continuing his foray into nuclear development. The Sunday Times reports internal pressure is mounting on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to bar the Iranian president from entering the country to watch the Iranian team play in the World Cup football tournament, which is being hosted by Germany in June.


Sen. Hillary Clinton was among those to take a shot at standup comedy at last night's Legislative Correspondents Association dinner in Albany. Judging by the summary of Clinton's one-liners -- courtesy of JustHillary.com -- the Senator's routine was probably a hit with the wonky types who become statehouse correspondents. It's hard to pick a favorite (there were so few) but this little poke at former Masssachusetts Gov. Bill Weld - and herself - was not too bad.

"He lived in another state's governor's mansion. He thinks he can run for statewide office in New York. You know, really, the nerve of some people"


Markos Moulitsas, founder of the political blog The Daily Kos, has an Op Ed piece in today's Washington Post on Senator Clinton. Moulitsas argues in the piece that Clinton is too much of a Clinton Democrat to walk away with the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Moulitsas argues Clinton and her advisors are too centrist on policy and their politics are too snooty for her to pull off a win in 2008. He argues that Clinton too often ignores her party's base, and the growing army of political activists who use the Internet as a catalyst for political action, opting instead to wine and dine the fatcat contributors. He writes of Clinton:

She seems ill-equipped to tap into the Net-energized wing of her party (or perhaps is simply uninterested in doing so) and incapable of appealing to this newly mobilized swath of voters. She may be the establishment's choice, but real power in the party has shifted.

Moulitsas argues that Clinton is the ultimate "insider" and that is precisely what the electorate is not looing for.


Clinton's political enemies are a bit more concerned about the Senator than Moulitsas seems to be, and they are pounding away at their keyboards to try and stop, or at least slow, her 2008 presidential bid. In a story today, the Associated Press reports conservative authors have already penned 40 new anti-Hillary books.