23 June, 2006

Hall Campaign Claims Lead In 19th District Dems Poll

John Hall came out on top in a just-released poll of Democrats in New York's 19th Congressional District.

The poll was commissioned by the Hall campaign, completed in mid-May and released today by Hall's campaign. Those caveats aside, here are the results:

Which candidate do you lean toward in the 19th District Democratic race?

John Hall 26%

Darren Rigger 7%

Judy Aydelott 7%

James Martorano, Ben Shuldiner and Gary Suraci each had two percent.

That leaves some 54% who have not decided or had no opinion. But the poll was taken before the various county conventions held in late May and early June. The district covers all or part of five counties, so there were five county party emdorsements up for grabs.

Hall won three of the endorsements, in Rockland with 95% of the votes, in Dutchess with 81% support and in Orange County with 59% of the vote. Darren Rigger won in Putnam County and Jim Martorano in Westchester.


Eliot Spitzer, the prohibitive favorite in the Democratic race for governor, edorsed Brian Keeler in his bid to become the state senator from the 41st District -part of Dutchess and all of Columbia County. Keeler is a fellow inhabitant of the blogosphere, as a contributor to the liberal blog the Daily Kos. And, another liberal blog, the Huffington Post, has taken notice of Keeler's bid, pointing out that Keeler is trying to break a 96-year GOP winning streak. A fellow going by the initials FDR was the last Democrat to hold a New York State Senate seat from Dutchess County.


We've been a bit tied up for the past couple of weeks and haven't been able to post, as we explained would be the case in an earlier posting. Still, our daily "hit" rate has been running at about 65% of the norm. We thank you for continuing to check in. We should be up against it for about one more week and should be able to resume daily posting by next weekend. Thanks again for sticking with us.

13 June, 2006


Some major time commitments in the real real world (I do have a day job - that actually pays) have forced me to take a brief hiatus from the blogosphere.

I have enjoyed great reader support since I started posting in February and the daily "hits" number has been rising steadily, so it is with some regret that I make this decision to bow out for a VERY SHORT (!) time.

Things should be back on an even keel by the end of the month and I expect to be posting regularly by then.

Please check back from time to time as I will try to squeeze a posting in here and there, especially if something big breaks. Hope to see you all soon. -Ron Vallo (NyPols)

11 June, 2006

Koch Edorses Cuomo For A.G.

Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic front-runner in the race for state attorney general, has picked up the endorsement of a fairly well-known New Yorker - former New York mayor Ed Koch.

Koch, and Cuomo's father, former governor Mario Cuomo, were often at political odds. Koch deafeated Cuomo in a mayoral primary in 1977 and Cuomo turned the tables in the 1982 election for governor.

The endorsement is especially interesting because of the controversy involving alleged use by someone in the 1977 Mario Cuomo mayoral campaign of the slogan "vote for Cuomo, not the homo." A reference to Koch,who has denied the implication vehemently and often.

The flap flaired up again earlier this year when Cuomo the younger denied, at a meeting of the Stonewall Democratic Club, that his father's campaign ever used the slogan. The Daily News reported back in January that Koch was angered by Andrew Cuomo's denials, saying he would "never" support Cuomo's bid for attorney general.


Former mayor Rudy Giuliani, perhaps the most well-known of the millions of die-hard Yankee fans around the country (I'm not one of them by the way), is reported to be looking to buy a major league baseball team, and it's not the Yankees.

The New York Post reports today Giuliani's company is looking to team up with Chicago Cub icon Ernie Banks (think 1960s for all you gen-Xers out there), to buy Banks' old team. The Cubs used to be Sen. Hillary Clinton's favorite team, since she grew up in Illinois. She has since claimed allegiance to the Yankees (for some reason).

I won't say who my favorite team is because they don't deserve a mention right now, but they are always being pestered to get rid of their smiling, bright red mascot because he is seen as politically incorrect.


If she hopes to get off to a fast start in what is seen as a likely run for president, Hillary Clinton has at least a little work to do in Iowa, the first state that will weigh-in on the 2008 election. The Des Moines Register has a poll out today that puts Hillary second among the possible Democratic candidates in '08. She trails former V.P. candidate John Edwards 30% to 26%. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsak finished fourth, at 10%. John Kerry was third at 12%. The newspaper's political columnist David Yepsen writes that the results are bad news for Clinton, Kerry and Vilsack


There's an interesting story in the Journal News this morning about Hillary Clinton's campaign. The newspaper, by examining campaign records, has found that Hillary's list of donors has very little overlap with that of her husband, the former president, Bill Clinton.


A report in the Washington Post today says the fundraising gap between the Democrats and Republicans is getting smaller. The Post says it's due to a rise in small, individual contributions, which shows the Dems' grassroots (actual voters) support is strong.


Republican Rep. John Sweeney, the incumbent in New York's 20th District, has made it official. He's running. Capitol Confidential reported Sweeney made his official announcement yesterday.

08 June, 2006

Hall Rocks Rockland

Singer-songwriter and politican John Hall was the winner Thursday night, as Rockland County Democrats met to nominate candidates for the various races this fall.

Getting 95% of the votes cast, Hall got the nod as the county Dems' choice for the 19th Congressional District, which cuts across the northeast corner of Rockland.

It's the third win for Hall, in a district that covers all or part of five counties. In addition to Rockland, Hall recently got the nod from Democrats in Orange County and scored an 81% win in his home county - Dutchess. He also finished second in Putnam County.

PHOTO CREDIT:Marcello Amani

Only two of the other six candidates have scored wins at the various county conventions - political consultant Darren Rigger in Putnam and Yorktown councilman Jim Martorano in upper Westchester.

Rigger and Martorano have finished in the top three several times, but three other candidates, Gary Suraci, Judy Aydelott (the leading money-raiser as of the last reporting period) and Ben Shuldiner have shown little strength at the conventions.

The ultimate nominee of the Democrats will take on Republican incumbent Sue Kelly.

Cuomo Unveils 5-Point Plan To Fight Gun Violence

Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic party-sponsored candidate for attorney general, has unveiled a 5-point plan to stem gun violence in the state.

-state wide coalition of mayors and county officials; would buy guns for their law eneforcement agencies from manufacturers and dealers who adhere to a state standard of conduct

-smart-gun technology for all new guns sold which would allow only the purchaser to fire the gun

-microstamping of semi-automatic weapons to help law enforcement determine precisely which individual gun was used in a crime through a unique marking on the shell casing

-ban the sale of Saturday Night specials or Junk Guns

-enect a comprehensive program of already-existing proposals to stem gun violence


KT McFarland, one of the two GOP candidates for U.S. Senate, is kicking off a series of "Kitchen Talks With KT." She will talk with residents from around the state in the kitchen of one of their neighbors. McFarland says the kitchen is where all of the important discussions in her family are held, so it seems like the place to be. The first gathering was this morning in Tonawanda

07 June, 2006

Hell No! KT Won't Go!!

KT McFarland is in the race until the end, or so she says.

The GOP Senate candidate, opposing former Yonkers mayor John Spencer for the right to take on Hillary Clinton, publicly told state party officials to take a hike today.

New York GOP Chairman Steve Minarik had asked McFarland to abandon her campaign and support Spencer, who won the lion's share of delegates at the Republican Party convention last week.

As was the case with William Weld, who finished second in the race for governor at the convention, McFarland is being asked to step aside to avoid a costly and probably nasty (based on the campaign so far) primary contest.

Said McFarland, "I have earned my spot on the ballot and I intend to keep it."

McFarland got into the race late and came on strong in the weeks leading to the convention, winning well more than enough delegate votes to gain a spot on the ballot. That's pretty much the opposite of what happened to Weld, who's support was slipping at the end. Weld stepped out of the race for governor against John Faso earlier this week.

Hall Is King In Dutchess, County Dems Back Him With 81% Of Vote

Dutchess County Democrats voted overwhelmingly last night to make John Hall their favorite in the six-person horse race for the party's nomination in the 19th Congressional District.

Hall got 81% of the vote.

PHOTO CREDIT:Michael Polito

Hall has now been the top choice in two of the five counties that are included, in part or in whole, in the 19th District. His other victory was in Orange County and he also finished second in Putnam County.

Rockland County will vote Thursday night, and Hall tells NyPols that he is "looking pretty solid there."

Only two other candidates have won county party endorsements,
Darren Rigger in Putnam County and Jiim Martorano in northern Westchester.

Martorano finished a very distant second in Dutchess County last night and Rigger, who was not at last night's gathering, got a smattering of votes.

Three candidates have not won in any of the four counties that have held conventions so far. Judy Aydelott has finished third only in her home turf of northern Westchester and was not even nominated at last night's event in Dutchess County. Ben Shuldiner and Gary Suraci also have not made a dent at the conventions. Suraci got no votes last night.

Democratic Party leaders in the district have been trying to pare down the field. Among them is Dutchess County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ruggiero. After last night's vote Ruggiero said "John Hall is the clear Hudson Valley candidate...It's time for Democrats to unite behind John Hall, the one true candidate to beat Sue Kelly."

Dutchess County is Hall's home county.

Kelly, of course, is the veteran Republican who holds the 19th District seat.

Hall told NyPols there is talk within the party of trying to convince the candidates who have not won any county endorsements to step aside. That would leave Hall, Martorano and Rigger still standing.

In a memo to his staff, Hall said Martorano told him last night that "he wants to talk." Hall, in the memo, said he is hopeful that the Yorktown councilman "is getting ready to concede and back me."

In the memo, Hall said he felt the field of other candidates might be narrowed, or even eliminated, after Thursday's convention in Rockland.

Hall's campaign also put out a report to supporters, saying the campaign has seen recent polls that give Hall a double-digit lead over other candidates, but provided no details and did not identify the polls. The campaign also said a high-profile music concert series, featuring Jackson Browne and later this month Bonny Raitt, have raised over $100,000 so far.


Republicans in Rockland County met last night to pick their slate of candidates for the fall.
Former Suffern Trustee Joseph Brennan was picked to run for the 95th Assembly District seat recently vacated by Democrat Ryan Karben.

Incumbent Sue Kelly was nominated for re-election in the 19th Congressional district, Jim Faulkner, a Yonkers contracter, was named to run against Democrat incumbent Eliot Engel in the 17th District and Richard Hoffman will run against incumbent Democrat Nita Lowey in the 18th District, according to The Journal News. Hoffman lost to Lowey in 2004.

06 June, 2006

New York Dems Score Well With Retiree Group

The Alliance for Retired Americans has put out its ratings of members of the House and Senate and the New York delegation, at least the Democrats, scored very well.

The lobbying group rated lawmakers on ten votes cast in 2005 which were important to senior citizens on issues including Medicare, retiree benefits, tax breaks and prescription-drug benefits.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer scored perfect 100% marks, as did the two Democrats in the Hudson Valley region, Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey.

Republican Sue Kelly put up a zero. For the scores of the entire New York State delegation click here, then click on New York State on the national map.

Big Night In 19th Congressional District Race

Dutchess County Democrats will hold their convention tonight in Poughkeepsie.

A key question is which of the six candidates running for the party's nomination for Congress in the 19th District will come away with Dutchess County's support.

As we've reported, the district covers all or part of five counties and so far the results have been mixed.

John Hall won in Orange County, Darren Rigger took Putnam County and Jim Martorano took the vote in northern Westchester County.

Rigger has finished in the top three at all three conventions held so far. Hall has had strong showings at two of three. Judy Aydelott, who was the biggest money-raiser as of the first-quarter reporting period, had one third-place finish, on her home turf in northern Westchester. Tonight is a "home game" for Hall, and observers believe he is likely to do well in Dutchess County.

On Thursday night, Rockland County's Democrats will meet. Only a small portion of Rockland is in the 19th district, so it will have less of an impact on the nomination.

Ben Shuldiner has not made a dent at any of the party conventions, but his campaign yesterday announced he has recieved the endorsement of the Vasser College Democrats.

The eventual winner of the Democratic nomination will face incumbent Republican Rep. Sue Kelly in November.


GOP Senate candidate KT McFarland has hired former Erie County Republican Chairman Bob Davis to chair her campaign.

McFarland vows to stay in the race even though her opponent John Spencer won the party's nod last week at the convention.

Davis, you will recall, is the former Erie County chairman who announced support for William Weld in the governor's race, then gave up the chairman's post. That led to a switch in Erie County support to John Faso, a key pre-convention development that helped propel Faso to the party nomination.

It's Official. Weld Out Of GOP Race

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld has made it official. He is out of the race to become the next governor of New York.

Weld, who had been the favorite of many Republican Party leaders, was defeated soundly by John Fasso at least week's GOP convention (61% to 39%).

Weld said he would remain active in support of Fasso in his bid to defeat the Democratic nominee this fall, almost assuredly to be New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Spitzer is well ahead in all polls over Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who is trying to get on the ballot via the petition route. Spitzer had led both Republican candidates as well in recent polls.

Weld had vowed to stay in the race after the loss at the convention last week, but party leaders leaned on him heavily over the weekend to end his bid and save the party from a costly and divisive primary. New York State GOP Chiarman Steve Minarik publicly asked Weld to drop out yesterday.

The New York Times Web site retraces the steps that led to Weld's ill-fated efforts.

It didn't take the Democrats long to take a shot at their one-and-only target now that Weld is gone. The New York State Democratic Party's Web site put out a statement on Faso's candidacy, saying he is much too far to the right to win in New York.

"Looking at John Faso's far-right votes against children, women, education, civil rights, and the environment, we can't help but agree with top Republicans- John Faso is in la-la land," Democratic spokesman Blake Zeff said today. "Extreme George Bush Republicans can only get elected in about three states right now, and unfortunately for Mr. Faso, New York is not even close to being one of them. Sadly, the Republican Party in New York has now been taken over by right-wing ideologues."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The official time of this posting is 12;31 p.m. EDT. Due to technical problems the time stamp below is incorrect.

Weld To Bow Out!

GOP gubenatorial candidate William Weld is about to step out of the race, following a poor showing at the party's convention last week.

That's the word today from the New York Times political blog The Empire Zone. Weld's campaign has scheduled a press conference at 11:30 a.m. at campaign headquarters in Manhattan.

Several party leaders have asked Weld to step aside in favor of John Faso, the big winner at the convention last week. The GOP is trying to avoid a costly, divisive primary

05 June, 2006

Is The Party Over For Weld?

We may know as early as Tuesday whether William Weld, who suffered a stunning defeat at the GOP convention last week, will heed the call of some party leaders and step down.

The New York Times' political blog, The Empire Zone, is reporting tonight that the Weld campaign is saying the candidate has heard the calls for him to step down in the name of party unity and is considering it, though, the sources said, he still has the desire to run.

Capitol Confidential has also been hot on the story, reporting earlier today that state GOP chairman Steve Minarik and former state party head Alexander Treadwell publicly asked Weld to drop out of the race and avoid a costly, contentious primary.


Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is credited with leading New Yorkers through one of the city's darkest days on Sept. 11, 2001, spoke out tonight for the first time against the cuts in federal security funding for New York City. Giuliani, in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press , said he doesn't think the cuts were politically motivated, but he did say they show "a certain level of incompetence."


And, no it has nothing to do with sex appeal. In its latest national poll Quinnipiac University asked Americans to rate 19 national leaders on what it called a "feeling thermometer."

Here are results, direct from Quinnipiac, that are of the most interest in New York:

Results in mean scores, not percentages, show:
  • Giuliani with the highest overall score- 63.5,
    with Republicans giving him a 73.5:
    Democrats 57.5 and independents 61.1.
  • McCain with an overall score of 56:
    59.3 from Republicans, 53.5 from Democrats
    and 56.4 from independents.
  • Clinton with a total score of 49.9, with Democrats
    giving her a 72 rating, Republicans 25.2
    and independents 48.9.

"Sen. Clinton is a more polarizing figure than either
Sen. McCain or Mayor Giuliani," said Peter Brown,
assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling
Institute. "She has almost universal name recognition.
Because it is harder to change a voter's opinion once
it is formed, her work is cut out for her once she
gets past her core supporters."


Sen. Hillary Clinton thinks the debate about gay marriage, under way this week in the Senate, amounts to a whole lot of nothing, the Associated Press reports.

Clinton, at a fundraiser today, said voters in New York have little to say about the issue and are a lot more concerned about several other issues - like terrorism, health care and high gas prices.


Jonathan Tasini, the anti-war activist and a progressive Democrat hoping to challenge Clinton for her Senate seat, will begin handing out petitions to supporters tomorrow in an effort to get his name on the primary ballot. Tasini managed to get a watered-down anti-war resolution approved at last week's Democratic convention. But he was unable to win support for a complete, immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

Sean Patrick Maloney, the Democratic attorney general candidate who got less than 1% support at last week's convention, will kick off his petition drive tomorrow as well. Ditto Democratic A.G. candidate Charlie King (2 p.m. Grand Central Stattion) and Democratic gubenatorial candidate Tom Suozzi (in Brooklyn and Queens).

03 June, 2006

And Then There Were Four; O'Donnell Drops Out of AG Race

Denise O'Donnell, the only woman, the only upstater and the only prosecutor in the Democratic race for attorney general, announced today she is stepping out of the race.

The announcement came as a note to supporters on O'Donnell's Web site.

She did not endorse Andrew Cuomo, the party's runaway winner at the convention this week in Buffalo. But she did talk about party unit. O'Donnell said she will spend the rest of the year helping to elect fellow Democrat Eliot Spitzer as New York's next governor.

O'Donnell placed third in the convention voting, getting nearly 10% of the vote. Cuomo got 67%. Mark Green got 19%. Charlie King received 5% of the vote and Sean Patrick Maloney checked in at under 1%. All but O'Donnell say they will try to get on the ballot by gathering petitions.


Despite a tussle on the convention floor over Hillary Clinton's stance on the Iraq war, the Working Families Party endorsed the New York Senator's re-election bid. Many in the crowd wanted to put anti-war activist Jonathan Tasini on the ballot. Despite all the buzz, Clinton eventually won the nod with 94% of the vote.

The party also passed unanimously a resolution calling for troops in Iraq to be brought home immediately - which is Tasini's position.

On the state level the the party endorsed Eliot Sptizer for governor, David Patterson for lieutentant governor Andrew Cuomo for attorney general and Alan Hevesi for comptroller.


As expected, the Independence Party of New York endorsed pretty much the same ticket as the Democrats did earlier this week in Buffalo, with the exception of Jeanine Pirro for attorney general. Capitol Confidential has the rundown on the voting for governor, and the other statewide races.

"W" Is Worst Since WWII, Q-Poll Says

George W. Bush is the worst U.S. president since World War II.

At least that's what Americans are thinking at the moment, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, published Friday.

When asked which of the eight presidents since World War II they consider to be the worst of the bunch, 34% said George W. Bush. Richard Nixon was next at 17% and Bill Clinton was third on the list of worsts at 16%.

On the other hand, Clinton made the top three on the list of best presidents in the post World War II era. Ronald Reagan tops the list at 28%, followed by Clinton at 25% and John Kennedy at 18%.
George W. is listed by 3% as the best president since the '40s.

The latest numbers on the current president's approval rating show 58% of those polled disapprove of Bush's job perfromance, while 35% approve. In so-called "red" states, where Bush won in 2005 by 5 percentage points or more, the "disaproval rating" is 52% to 39%.


The Washington Post has a piece today on a new attitude beginning to emerge at the White House - a willingness to listen to dissenters. It may or may not be part of the administration's attempt to rebuild the Bush presidency, but it is surprising some poeple, the Post article says.

02 June, 2006

Spano Kicks Off Race Saturday

The major-party conventions are over, but there's still a busy Saturday in store.

State Senator Nick Spano, a Republican from Yonkers, will kick off his re-election campaign today at a Polish-American club in Yonkers.

Spano won his race last time by 18 votes over Andrea Stewart-Cousins. In fact, the election was not finally decided for four months, due to challenges to the election-night results. Cousins, a Westchester County legislator representing Yonkers, is lined up to give it another try this time around.

Spano is expecting another tough challenge. In fact, in an interview we did with the Senator early this year, Spano said he expects to be the "number one target" of the Democrats as they try to gain seats in the state Senate this fall.

Spano said at the time that he was hopeful the Republicans' woes on a national level wouldn't affect his bid.
Spano stressed that he disagrees with the national party on most social issues, singling out "choice" (abortion), gay rights and "support of working men and women and the labor movement."


The Working Family Party and the Independence Party of New York State both hold their conventions today.

Democratic gubenatorial choice Eliot Spitzer will give the keynote address at the WFP gathering and his running mate David Paterson will also give a speech.

As Capitol Confidential reported yesterday, the Independence Party's slate of endorsements is likely to be a carbon copy of the Democrats' slate, except for Republican Jeanine Pirro, who is expected to get the nod as the party's choice for attorney general.

Life After Long Island For Weld?

It was a sobering defeat.

William Weld, the charismatic favorite of state GOP leaders, was taken out at the party convention by a previously little-known upstate former Assemblyman - John Faso.

The contentious convention is not the end of the line for Weld though. He will be on the primary ballot, facing Faso again in the fall.

As a post on The Plank, the political blog of the New Republic, points out today Weld has been in the same boat before and has flourished.

"In 1990 Weld was resoundingly rejected by delegates to the Massachusetts Republican convention. But he qualified for the primary ballot anyway and went on to victory. Sure enough, Weld has managed to qualify for the New York primary ballot and is vowing to stay in the race. I suppose it would be just like Weld to pull a rabbit out of a hat here..."

The Plank's Michael Crowley had his own thoughts on Weld. He says the former Massachusetts governor would have been the star-power type candidate the GOP was in search of to wound Hillary Clinton in the battle for Senate.

The New York Times today has a great piece on Weld's defeat. Why it happened. And what comes next.

Potscards From Hillary And Pete

The furor over the 40% cut in Homeland Security funds for New York has not died down.

The New York Congressional Delegation, much as they did with the Dubai ports plan, is sending a strong bi-partisan message to Washington - saying the cuts are unacceptable.

To show their unity, Sen. Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, and Republic Rep. Peter King of Long Island and Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, have sent the department's director Michael Chertoff a series of postcards from New York City landmarks. In making it's decision on the funding cuts, Homeland Security - rather incredibly - said New York has few federal national landmarks to defend. The local pols just wanted to remind the folks in Washington of the places we think of as landmarks. Like the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Yankee Stadium to name few.

For its part, Homeland Security is holding firm. In a story posted today on the New York Times Web site officials of the agency are blaming the city for putting together a lackluster proposal for funding.

Director Chertoff himself is also standing firm, as the Daily News reports in today's editions.

If you would like to send Chertoff of your own, click here.

01 June, 2006

Faso First In GOP

The speeches are finished, rumors of a Weld-Faso or Faso-Weld (which no one ever believed) have long since faded and delegates have been seen trying to reshape the arms they have had twisted over the past two days at Hofstra.

The New York GOP has nominated a candidate for governor.

And the winner is .... John Faso!

The final tally of delegate support: Faso 50.5%. Weld 40.5%

The tally for Weld is well above the threshold to put him on a primary ballot in September to let GOP voters decide.

One of the biggest mysteries of the day was which man the Nassau County GOP Committee would support. In the end, the delegate vote was split 50-50.

Adding to the tensions prior to the vote was a lengthy delay to the start of proceedings as party leaders continued their wheeling and their dealing. The vote got underway at about 11:00 a.m.