26 August, 2006

On The Road Again!!

Time for another quick trip.

This time taking one of the kids up to college for the first time.

Be back mid-week.

See you then.

24 August, 2006

Nothing New In the New Q-Poll On Senate Race

KT McFarland returned to the campaign trail today, finding herself trailing her Republican opponent John Spencer by 7 points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

Spencer was the choice of 30% of Republicans polled, while McFarland was polling at 23%. That makes the majority of those polled undecided. In a WNBC/Marist poll released last night Spencer led McFarland 36% to 18%, with most GOP voters undecided.

Among those who picked a candidate in today's Q-Poll, 65% said they could change their minds between now and the Sept. 12 primary.

This could mean a few things. The two GOP candidates aren't getting their messages out clearly enough for people to make up their minds. Or, the voters aren't really thrilled by their choices.

One thing it does mean for sure is that no one yet knows who's going to win this race.

The next question is does it really matter?

Sen. Hillary Clinton soundly defeats either GOP candidate in one-on-one pairings by Quinnipiac. She leads her Democratic rival Jonathan Tasini 86% to 10%.

Tasini, by the way, today announced the endorsement of his campaign by the Citizens for Universal Health Care.

Clinton, long a propponent of the so-called "Plan B" contraceptive pill, today applauded it's approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Spencer's campaign Web site today did a little touch up to its bogus claim that Clinton voted against the Patriot Act. On the home page, next to one of two ads in which Spencer accuses Clinton of voting against the measure, the site reads "Hillary voted to weaken the Patriot Act." The ad, however, still insists she voted against the legistlation.

KT Back On The Campaign Trail

After putting her campaign on hold for most of this week, Republican KT McFarland has resumed her bid for the Senate.

McFarland suspended the campaign after her dauther Camilla was arrested for shoplifting last Saturday, but, she says, it's time to resume the bid.

"My daughter made a serious and uncharacteristic mistake for which there is no excuse, and we needed the last few days together to address her actions thoroughly and unflinchingly. We will be spending a great deal of time together on the campaign trail in the coming weeks, because clearly she has not been getting the guidance she needs. She is a wonderful girl and I will be proud to have her by my side."

After spending time working as a research assistant for Henry Kissinger, and then working as a public affairs official in the Defense Department during the Reagan years, McFarland stepped off the fast track to raise her children.

The run for Senate is her return to the political wars.

McFarland will resume her atactivities with a visit to the state fair today and then move on to the Onondaga County GOP clam bake.

23 August, 2006

Tasini Proposes A New 'New Deal'

Jonathan Tasini, Hillary Clinton's opponent in the Democratic primary for Senate, today unveiled his economic plan, dubbing it a 'New Deal for New Yorkers.'

The 21-page plan is based on seven principles:

  • single-payer health care, or "Medicare for all"
  • an end to the "occupation" of Iraq - which Tasini argues is an economic issue
  • an end to NAFTA-type free-trade agreements
  • strengthening workers' rights and ability to organize
  • a "fairness tax on profiteers on Wall Street"
  • a comprehensive energy plan
  • a universal pension system
Boiled down further, Tasini says his plan is to build "an economy for people, not corporations."

"Corporations exist to enhance people's lives, not just the lives of a few executives," said Tasini. "The vitality of communities should be measured directly by how well individuals are doing, not simply by corporate balance sheets." - Tasini Web site

Spencer Steps Up Attack Against Clinton On National Security

GOP senate candidate John Spencer released another ad attacking Hillary Clinton's positions on national security, repeating his oft-critized claim that Clinton voted against the Patriot Act.

(She voted in favor of the measure twice, but Spencer argues that her vote against ending debate on the extension of the act until some changes were made was tantamount to voting against it).

The ad hits Clinton not only on the Patriot Act but also on her vote on bunker-buster bombs and sanctions on Iraq.

The ad opens with a reference to Clinton's comments on Spencer's previous ad, which she called "beyond outrageous." Click here to see the ad.

Politics on the Hudson, the Journal News' political blog, published a response from the Clinton camp to the latest ad. The statement is from Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson:

"Leading Republicans and newspapers have already called Mr. Spencer's first video press release 'cheap' and 'wrong'. Message to candidate Spencer: digging yourself deeper in the same hole will not help your campaign.''


The Associated Press reports Sen. Clinton will meet with Ned Lamont on Friday in New York. According to the AP, the two will discuss ways Clinton can help the Connecticut Democrat in his three-man race for the Senate.


NY1, which has refused to host a debate between Sen. Clinton and her Democratic rival Jonathan Tasani, has an exclusive report out tonight saying Tasini failed to vote in nine elections in the past 14 years. In the report, if you haven't clicked on it yet, Tasini says some of the votes in question were cast by absentee ballot.

Tasini has made a huge to-do about not being invited to debate Clinton on NY1, and rightly so in my opinion. But it doesn't look good to complain about being denied access to the Democratic process and then not exercise the most basic right involved in that process.

Still, one also has to question NY1's motive in reporting the story.

The cable news channel rarely airs stories that require much digging. Checking out an individual's voting record over the past 14 years, I presume, required some research.

Also, if you look at the clip, NY1's reporter obviously spoke to Tasini about general topics involved in the race, but apparently not about the angle they intended to highlight -- the candidate's voting history.

Trolling the Polls; WNBC/Marist, Quinnipiac Polls Show More Of The Same; Iowa Poll Puts Giuliani Ahead While Pataki Barely Registers

Three new polls were released today, two dealing with the New York state races this fall and one looking ahead to Iowa in 2008.

Tonight the Marist Polling Institute released a WNBC/Marist poll showing that the frontrunner in the GOP race for Senate is - yet again - someone named undecided.

The poll shows 46% of New York Republicans are undecided in their choice between John Spencer and KT McFarland. Among those who have made up their minds, Spencer has a two-to-one lead. The results are virtually unchanged from a month ago.

Sen. Hillary Clinton is 25 points ahead of Spencer in a general-election poll of voters of all stripes. Clinton leads McFarland by 30 points head-to-head.

In a Democratic primary pairing, Clinton has an 80% to 15% lead over Jonathan Tasini.

The WNBC/Marist poll shows the governor's race equally lopsided.

In a poll of Democratic voters, Eliot Spitzer leads Tom Suoizzi 70% to 17% in the race for the party's nomination.

Among all voters, Spitzer leads Republican John Faso 67% to 23%

The race for attorney general appears to be the only one that is the slightest bit competitive.

Andrew Cuomo is tops in the Democratic primary matchup at 46%. Mark Green is favored by 28% and Sean Patrick Maloney is at 10%. Rockland County resident Charlie King is polling at 1%.

In one-on-one pairings for the general election, Republican Jeanine Pirro trails Cuomo (39% to 54%) and Green (42% to 48%).


The attorney general race looks pretty much the same in a poll earlier today from Quinnipiac University. Cuomo leads Green by 43% to 28% among registered Democrats.

Both Cuomo and Green top Jeanine Pirro by double digits in this poll.

In the governor's race Spitzer is miles ahead of both Suozzi in a primary pairing and Faso in the general election. The interesting thing here is that the people at the Q-Poll bothered to pair Faso and Suozzi in a November faceoff. (It never hurts to ask I guess). Suozzi holds a 40% to 22% lead in the poll.


The Des Moines Register today published a presidential preference poll today, showing Rudy Giuliani leading in state that will weigh in first in the 2008 presidential primary season.

Among Republicans expected to attend the state's caucuses in 2008, Giuliani has 30% support. Some 29% of likely caucus goers were undecided and John McCain has the support of 17%, according to the poll. The poll shows single-digit support for all other Republicans. New York governor George Pataki, who may as well seek work as a scarecrow he's been in the state so often lately, polled at 3%.

There is, however, a bump in the Iowa country road for Giuliani. Seventy percent of those polled identified themselves as "pro-life," and two-thirds of those polled said they would be unlikely to vote for a candidate who's position on abortion differed from theirs. I wonder if Iowans are clear on Rudy's position on the issue?

22 August, 2006

King Says He Would Take Action To Close Indian Point As AG

Democratic candidate for attorney general Charlie King today said his first action after taking office would be to take steps to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

King, who lives in Rockland County and just a few miles from the plant, says he would file suit against the Nuclear Regulatory Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency claiming evacuation plans for the area surrounding the plant are inadequate.

King made his call to close the plant in a press release posted on his Web site today.

"Indian Point is a viable terrorist target without a workable evacuation plan," said King. "The current plan was approved by the same man who said that New Orleans would be safe from Hurricane Katrina, former FEMA director Michael Brown."

More Debate On Debates; Spencer Now Challenging Clinton While KT Feels Slighted

The debate about debates continued today in the New York Senate race.

For weeks, Republican candidate KT McFarland has been calling publicly for debates with her GOP primary opponent John Spencer. The two did have one scuffle which was called a debate, but Spencer has not agreed to another pairing with McFarland.

However, just one day after McFarland announced she was putting her campaign on ice while she deals with a family issue, Spencer suddenly has the itch to debate -- with Hillary Clinton.

Spencer has challenged Clinton to a debate as a follow up to his controversial ad in which he lied/did not lie about Clinton's position on reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

Spencer argues that Clinton's vote against ending debate on the Patriot Act was tantamount to voting against the legislation itself. Clinton says she voted for the reauthorization, after the Democrats won some concessions.

Spencer also criticized Clinton's opposition to warrantless wiretapping:

"You seek to undermine the ability of law enforcement officials to conduct the war on terror, all in a political play to fear. You're playing politics on national security, an unhelpful trend in Congress these days."

That quote is from a letter to Clinton from Spencer which is displayed in full on Spencer's Web site.

Seeing the letter, McFarland's press secretary Morgan Ortagus sent out a challenge of her own -- to Spencer.

"I was surprised to see that you challenged Hillary Rodham Clinton to a debate today. When did you start believing in debates?

KT McFarland has been asking you for weeks to debate her around New York State and you have refused -- adamantly. She asked you debate in Buffalo. She asked to debate you in Albany. She asked you debate in Syracuse. She asked you to debate in Rochester. Then she asked you to debate in all those places all over again -- two or three times.

I think you well know that Mrs. McFarland is taking a few days off to deal with a family crisis, but that doesn't make you the Republican candidate for Senate. You have to earn that in a Primary election on September 12. That's what happens in democracies."

On and on it goes. Sept. 12 can't get here soon enough

Poll Puts Lamont, Lieberman Just About Even

A poll today from the American Research Group shows Ned Lamont has erased the double-digit lead that newly independent candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman had a few days after announcing he would run on his own after losing the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

American Reasearch Group's poll of likely voters in November put Lieberman in the lead by a 44% to 42% count, with Republican Alan Schlesinger checking in at 3%. Eleven percent of voters remain undecided.

Lieberman leads Lamont 57% to 18% among Republicans and 48% to 38% among independents. Lamont has a 65% to 30% lead among registered Democrats.

A blogger on the DailyKos reports similar findings from a Rasmussen Poll today. Rasmussen is a subscription-only site so I can't check it out. But, according to the Kos post, Lieberman leads Lamont 45% to 43%.

A political blog, TPMCafe, reported yesterday that Lamont was set to get the endorsement of the United Autoworkers Union today. I've been watching the wires, blogs and Lamont's Web site. Haven't seen anything confirming that yet.


Yesterday the New York Times editorial page called on Sen. Hillary Clinton to get of her high horse and debate anti-war candidate Jonathan Tasini, who will be challenging her in the Democratic primary in a few short weeks.

Today, the Times' Clyde Haberman makes the same call.

The opinion piece is in the paid section of the Web site, so a link would be pointless for many of you. But Tasini's blog has reprinted the part of the editorial pertinent to the Senate race.

21 August, 2006

More On Tasini and The Backing of The Left, Plus - One Poll Suggests Things May Not Be So Bad For The GOP

The question of why certain progressive groups have not embraced the Jonathan Tasini candidacy with the same enthusiasm as the Ned Lamont campaign was discussed on the Huffungton Post blog today, in addition to the New York Post.

In a post today, blogger Normon Solomon focused primarily on MoveOn.org's lack of interest in Tasini.

Here's the crux of the answer according to Solomon's post:

"I put the question to the executive director of the MoveOn.org political action committee, Eli Pariser. Here's his full reply: "We focus on the issues and candidates our members are excited about. We've heard almost nothing from MoveOn members on Tasini -- New York MoveOn members are more focused on winning back Congress, ending the war on Iraq, and Ned Lamont. As for our formal endorsement process, that's triggered where there are two viable candidates and where there's a baseline of interest from our members. Right now, this one doesn't meet that second threshold.""

Solomon points out in his post that Tasini has received the support of Democracy For America, another progressive grass-roots, Internet-based organization.

Our friends on the right, or sort of on the right, at Urban Elephants.com, noticed the Huffington Post piece as well. They're often on the mark, and their take of the situation is that New York progressives are concentrating on the House races, where they feel they may pull off three or four surprises.

While the progressives are pretty passionate about their chances in New York this November, the same can not be said for the GOP, at least not according to the top Republican on the party ticket, John Faso. According to a story today in the New York Sun, Faso is complaining his party's leaders aren't really leaders at all and seem to have little interest in success in November.

Faso, of course, is trailing Democrat Eliot Spitzer by double digits in the race for governor.

All is not lost however for the Republicans, at least according to a poll conducted early this month by CNN. According to a story in the Washington Times, the CNN poll bucks the trend of pessimism being displayed by those questioned in other recent polls.

While several recent right-direction/wrong-direction polls show 60% to 70% of Americans say we're heading the wrong way, the CNN poll indicates 55% think things are going pretty well (47%) or very well (8%) in the country. The other choices were pretty badly (29%) and very badly (15%).

Once again proving the problem with polling lies in how you frame the question.

The rosiness of CNN poll notwithstanding, The Hill, the Capitol Hill newspaper, quoted independent observers who said the tide continues to turn rapidly and forcefully against the Republicans as more Congressional races seem to be in play.

Rangel, Harlem Officials Back Cuomo For Attorney General

Influential Bronx congressman Rep. Charles Rangel today announced his backing of Andrew Cuomo's bid for attorney general.

"Andrew Cuomo is by far the best qualified candidate to succeed Eliot Spitzer," Rangel said in a press release from the Cuomo campaign.

"Andrew's record of accomplishments fighting for Harlem, for civil rights and for empowering all New Yorkers is outstanding," Rangel said.

New York Times Chides Clinton To Debate Tasini

The New York Times added its voice to those calling on Sen. Hillary Clinton to debate her Democratic challenger Jonathan Tasini.

The Times said New Yorkers need to hear from the one anti-war candidate in the race.

Presuming she wins the primary, Mrs. Clinton will go up against a weak Republican candidate this fall. Anything can happen in an election, but there is a very good chance she could coast all the way to November without being tested on any important issue. Right now is a good time to make sure that does not happen.

- The New York Times

The Times joins the New York Post, the Albany Times Union and Newsday among the major papers in the state to call on Clinton to debate Tasini.

Tasini, on his campaign Web site, had an "any-time-any-place" type of response.

Meanwhile, the New York Post today examined the Tasini campaign, trying to determine why the blogosphere has not jumped on board the way it did to vault Ned Lamont - another anti-war candidate - to the Democratic nomination for senator in Connecticut. Tasini says in the article it's because even the netroots are hesitant to take on the Hillary machine.

Speaking of Ned Lamont...

He'll be in New York City this week attending a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina victims. The event is being sponsored by MoveOn.org, which organized its own relief effort last year after the catastrophe.

At the event, MoveOn.org will release for sale its book about the relief effort "It
Takes A Nation: How Strangers Became Family In the Wake of Hurrane Katrana."

The book tells the stories of MoveOn host families who housed 30,000 hurricane evacuees.

All proceeds from the event and the book will go to the hurricane relief effort now one-year-old and counting.

McFarland Suspends Campaign After Daughter's Arrest


Republican Senate candidate KT McFarland's star-crossed campaign is on hold, temorarily at least.

The announcement came from her campaign this afternoon, saying McFarland is putting her senate bid aside while she and her husband deal with the shoplifting charges her daughter faces after being arrested over the weekend on Long Island. The daughter, 16-year-old Camilla, is charged with two counts of petty theft and possession of stolen goods.

It's not clear when/if McFarland will resume the campaign according to this quote from the press release:

"My husband Alan and I are deeply alarmed by this incident and will be spending every waking hour in the coming days dealing head on with the repercussions of her actions. Our children are our first priority, and our youngest child needs our full and immediate attention.

"I therefore am suspending my campaign activities until further notice. I will resume active campaigning only when I am certain that my daughter is okay and getting the help she needs.

First let me just say if you want more details try the mainstream media. A young girl made a mistake and we really don't need to know more about it than that. Those of us with teenagers, or who have parented our way through those years, know that nothing surprises - even with the best of kids.

My only other comment is that McFarland should be applauded for putting her children first, something I see too little of out here in suburbia where the kids often get everything they want too easily except for the thing they really want - and need - two parents who are around to take notice of them.

19th District Doings: Who's Footing The Bill For Sue Kelly?

Back in July, when the mid-year campaign finance reports were coming in, we did a piece on the free ride incumbents get in the fundraising game. It seems they just sit back and wait for the special interests to write the checks.

As we reported, 54% of Republican Rep. Sue Kelly's donations came from Poticial Action Committees as of the June 30 filing. Today's Journal News takes a closer look at just which PACs are filling Kelly's coffers. As it turns out, much of her PAC money comes from industries Kelly has overseen in Congress, according to today's Journal News report.


Residents of New York's 19th District, the one Kelly represents, should be getting their first campaign leaflet from Judy Aydelott - one of four Democrats hoping to unseat Kelly.

Aydelott's campaign announced the first mass-mailing by her camp this weekend. The direct-mail piece targets the Bush administration's policies on Iraq, energy and health care.


Or at least John Hall hopes so. Hall is one of the other Democrats in the 19th District race. Over the weekend his campaign did an e-mailing for donations to print up yard signs. In keeping with his political beliefs, Hall emphasizes the signs are all union made and recycled/recyclable.

Cover Girl: America's Love-Hate Relationship With Hillary Clinton Examined In This Week's TIME Magazine Cover Story

America does indeed have a love-hate relationship with the junior senator from New York.

But it's not the traditional love-hate thing (where you both love and hate someone at the same time).

No. It appears that some Americans really love Hillary, while nearly as many really hate her.

How will all this play out in her bid for the presidency in 2008?

The Guardian (UK) has this take on a Time poll released today. According to the poll Hillary is just two percentage points behind in a one-on-one battle with Republican Sen. John McCain of Ariozona. That's her best showing against McCain to date. But, as the poll itself shows she now is just a few percentage points ahead of 2000 Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president (under Hillary''s husband) Al Gore, who claims he has no intention of running again.

Some other findings of the poll: Some 81% consider the senator to be intelligent, 67% consider her politcally moderate. But beyond that, there seems to be little consensus about Clinton.

One interesting tidbit in the poll: 57% of Democrats agree Sen. Clinton did the right thing in staying with her husband after the Monica Lewinsky affair. Just 32% of the Republicans - the party of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act - think she made the right decision in remaining in her marriage.

Personally I wish those questions would go away. But the electorate often makes its decisions on things that would seemingly have little to do with a person's competence for the job, so we would be remiss for ignoring such information.

TIME also offers you a chance to weigh in on the Senator. These so-called flash polls are not worth much, except for an occasional "lookie here!", but click here if you want to ad your two cents.

Just FYI, while our computer was down for a few days the Clinton senate campaign announced the opening of its regional offices, including one in Westchester.

Here are the particulars:

Meeting Times:

Saturday, August 26 at 10 a.m.
Tuesday, August 29 at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, August 30 at 12:30 p.m.


Friends of Hillary
170 East Post Rd
Room 210
White Plains, NY 10601
Email: westchester@hillaryclinton.com

We've Been Broken!

Sorry to have disappeared for the last few days but the computer has been on the fritz.

We're back up and running now. Have to get some thoughts togtether and will be blogging again soon!!

Thanks for your patience!!


16 August, 2006

Cuomo Defends His Experience Level In AG Town Hall Gathering

Andrew Cuomo hit back tonight against criticism that he doesn't have the right kind of experience to be New York's next attorney general.

NY1 and Pace University tonight hosted a town hall meeting featuring the four Democrats and lone Republican running for Attorney General.

Cuomo, Mark Green, Charlie King and Sean Patrick Maloney were there on the Democratic side. Jeanine Pirro is the only Republican in the race.

Cuomo argued that he supervised hundreds of attorneys as head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Green talked about education and Pirro talked about her support for civil rights - and same-sex civil unions.

NY1 summarized the evening in this rundown.

The evening was a dry - and we do mean dry - run for tomorrow night's debate of the Democratic candidates, also to be hosted by Pace and NY1.

King Defends Clinton's Commitment To National Security

Sen. Hillary Clinton got a pat on the back from the other side of the aisle today.

Reacting to an ad run by one of Clinton's Republican opponents, Rep. Peter King, himself a Republican from the 3rd District on Long Island, defended Clinton's patriotism and commitment to winning the so-called war on terror.

King's comments were in reaction to a now infamous TV ad being run by John Spencer's campaign, which puts Clinton on-screen with Osama bin Laden and says Clinton's policies would leave the U.S. vulnerable to terrorists.

The ad has become notorious because of its misspelling of the word "fascist," but more so because it incorrectly says Clinton is opposed to the Patriot Act.

The truth of it is Clinton once voted against a proposal to end debate on the Patriot Act until some compromises were made, but she voted for the original and the renewal.

Clinton's campaign unveiled an ad of its own today. It repeats the "standing up" theme Clinton debuted at the state Democratic Party convention in the spring, and makes no mention of Spencer or Clinton's other opponents in the race, Democrat Jonathan Tasini and Republican KT McFarland.

The ad has a somewhat over-the-top tearjerker of an ending.


Kirstin Gillibrand, who was endorsed by Clinton yesterday in her bid to unseat Republican Rep. John Sweeney in New York's 2oth Congressional District, ratcheted up her criticism of President Bush and his Republican allies in Congress.

Gillibrand's criticism of Bush's Iraq and energy policies comes by way of a new ad released today by her campaign.

District 19 Race Finally Catches Attention Of The Big City Media; Hall Campaign Featured On WCBS-TV

It usually takes a high-profile murder, a high-school sports scandal or some other sensational event to get those city slicker TV reporters to get in their trucks and come way up north to the suburbs to cover the news.

So it is kinda news in itself that WCBS-TV came all the way up to Mt. Kisco to cover a scandal - less political story.

On it's broadcast this evening, Channel 2 did a story on John Hall's efforts to unseat Republican Rep. Sue Kelly in New York's 19th Congressional District.

Of course the story doesn't mention the three other Democrats in the race: Judy Aydelott, Darren Rigger and Ben Shuldiner. But, then again, with the other three candidates there's no catchy "music star" hook to entice the TV folks.

(By the way, if you click above to see the report you have to sit through a short ad first).

15 August, 2006

Tasini Gets NY Post's Backing On Debate Stance

Jonathan Tasini has picked up the support of the New York Post.

Well, let me explain further.

The anti-war Democrat has picked up the Post's support for Tasini's right to be invited to debate Sen. Hillary Clinton.

As we have reported and commented on, Tasini was told by the folks at NY1, the self-appointed grand poobahs of the political debates here in New York, that his campaign has not raised enough money to prove he's a viable candidate.

Never mind that he recently polled at 13% against Clinton while Tom Suozzi was in the single digits when NY1 permitted him on stage to debate Eliot Spitzer.

The unfortunate decision be NY1 just serves to point out the clear need for election reform in this country.

Candidates short on cash can't get out their message in TV ads and shiny leaflets. They must depend on free media coverage, which is often not easy to get since the media determines whether the candidate is worthy of their attention. Now, the last hope for poorly funded candidates to talk with a lot of voters at one time - the debate - has become the victim of the almighty dollar.


Suozzi who's gubenatorial campaign has been somewhat dormant of late, today unveiled a plan for campaign reform in New York. Here are the highlights as released by the Suozzi campaign today:

Establish New (Lower) Campaign Finance Limits

  • Limit contributions to $2,100 for candidates in primaries or general elections for all offices
  • Provide 4:1 matching funds for the first $250 of in-state contributions for candidates who agree to spending limits ($15 million for Governor, $5 million for any other statewide race, $275,000 for the State Senate and $150,000 for the State Assembly)
  • Limit contributions to non-candidate committees and political parties to $5000 for individuals and ban corporations, partnerships, LLCs, and unions from all such donations
  • Ban all contributions from corporations, partnerships, LLCs and unions to candidates, political parties, and PACs
  • Ban all gifts from registered lobbyists, including money "bundled" from other parties
  • Limit contributions to $500 from lobbyists and anyone with a 5% or higher ownership stake in any entity with a contract or bidding pending with the state or a public authority

Encourage Greater Public Integrity

  • Ban all fundraising for all candidates for all races during the legislative session
  • Prohibit "rolling over" funds from previous election cycles. Residual campaign funds would be returned to donors pro rata, donated to charity or revert to the general fund
  • Limit candidates to only one active political committee at a time
  • Ban public officials or candidates from accepting honoraria

Strengthen Disclosure and Enforcement Regimes

  • Overhaul and depoliticize the board of elections and create an internal campaign finance unit with the resources and authority necessary for rigorous enforcement of the new campaign finance reforms
  • Require easily accessible and searchable disclosures of all contributions, and require contributors to disclose the names of their employers and any intermediaries
  • Impose stiff new penalties and stricter standards for fundraising violations
  • Augment the "knowing"' and "willful" requirements for prosecution under state election law to include "negligent"
  • Enforce disclosure requirements for PACs


The New York State League of Women voters today announced a change in the schedule for the general-election debates for governor.

They will now be held on Sept. 26 at Cornell University and Oct. 12 at a television station in Buffalo. The original dates were Oct. 18 in Ithica and Oct. 26 in Buffalo.

Stars Shine For Rigger Too!

John Hall is not the only candidate in New York's 19th Congressional District with famous friends.

Darren Rigger has enlisted the help of a few celebrities in his bid to win the Democratic nod in the district.

Yesterday, Christian Camargo - a high school friend of Rigger's - joined with the other members of the cast of MTV's Fast Inc. - in sending out a letter of support for the candidate.

The campaign also announced today it has received contributions from Hollywood's Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins as well as syndicated TV host B. Smith.

This is not Sarandon's first foray into New York politics this year. As we reported back in May, she endorsed Jonathan Tasini's bid to unseat Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Demcratic primary.


Also in the 19th District, Democrat Ben Shuldiner sent word he's holding a fundraising dinner tomorrow night at Julianna's American Bistro in Cortlandt Manor. Shuldiner will unveil some new Web ads at the event.

14 August, 2006

Playing Politics With National Security

Both political parties are trying to make political hay out of the thwarted terrorist attacks in the U.K., with the issue playing out in the New York senate race today.

The Republicans are using the attacks to bolster their efforts to win support for more pervasive use of domestic surveillance, as the Wall Street Journal reported today.

Meanwhile, both the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times ran recent stories outlining the Democrats' strategy of using the U.K. arrests to point out shortcomings in the U.S. efforts to combat terrorism.

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has a new web ad describing the alleged failures of the administration in its efforts to fight terror at home and abroad.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, as the Associated Press reported, sounded that theme today at a stop in Schenectady.

Not one to stand by and take it, John Spencer - one of Clinton's Republican opponents in this year's senate race - has an ad of his own, explaining why he believes Clinton is soft on national security.

The ironic thing about the Spencer ad is he ends it with the words "I won't play politics with our security." I'll just run an ad showing my opponent juxtaposed with Osama bin Laden

Upstart Congressional Candidates Get Backing Of New York AFL-CIO; Hall Gillibrand Get The Nod

Democratic challengers in two local congressional races got the backing of the state AFL-CIO at the labor organization's convention today.

John Hall, one of four Democrats challenging Republican Rep. Sue Kelly in the 19th District was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, as was Kirstin Gillibrand, the Democrat challenging Republican Rep. John Sweeney in the 20th District.

Here's the Associated Press' take on the endorsements.

The influential labor organization, as expected, also endorsed Andrew Cuomo for attorney general and had already backed Eliot Spitzer for governor.

Hall also today received the endorsement of the progressive grassroots group Philipstown for Democracy.

One of Hall's Democratic opponents, Judy Aydelott today announced the endorsement of JFK's chief speech writer Ted Sorensen, who has been active in Democratic politics for decades.

The AFL-CIO's endorsements of two non-incumbent congressional candidates may be indicative of a building opposition to President Bush and his policies -- at least in the Northeast. The Washington Post reported today about the dilemma facing Republican candidates in a region where Bush's approval rating is at 28%

13 August, 2006

Some Thoughts As We Get Back To Business

Well. It was a short vacation to say the least. (Aren't they all!!!).

We had one correct guess on my last post. The city I visited, as described in my last post, was Cleveland. The Indians, by the way, started their current six-game winning streak the day AFTER I had tickets.

The biggest event on the world stage since my last post, of course, was the foiled terror plot in London.

Naturally the Republicans tried to make the case that Democrats opposing the war are tolerant of terrorism. Dick Cheney, of course, is leading the way in this illogical thinking. And, like Hillary Clinton said while I was away, we can't take anything Cheney says seriously anymore. If we ever did.

The independent candidate for Senator from Connecticut, the self-described loyal Democrat Joe Lieberman, tried to take the same tack as the GOP. Sen. Joe Mentum described his loss at the polls on Tuesday as a victory for those who spread terror throughout the globe.

There is clearly a connection between Iraq and worldwide terrorism, but not the one the Republicans (and Joe Lieberman) are trying to make.

By creating chaos in Iraq we have opened another state as a haven for terrorists and we have stirred anti-American sentiment worldwide to a fever pitch -- prompting more young Arabs and Muslims to take up the cause. If you are looking for a connection between Iraq and terror -- that's it!!

Sen. Joe's political friends are deserting him in droves following his loss Tuesday. And a Zogby poll indicates an overwhelming number of Democrats are happy about that nationwide.

Still, with the GOP fielding a damaged candidate with little chance to win, Lieberman may be appealing enough to Connecticut Republicans and independents to pull off a November victory. It will be a true barometer of the anti-war sentiment in the electorate at large.

Speaking of barometers, there were a few polls out in the last couple of days that paint a dismal picture for Republicans across the country.

Recent polls by Harris and Associated Press-Ipsos indicate there may be a political fault line ready to blow in November.

In the Harris poll, the gap is widening between those who prefer that Democrats win control of Congress and those who would like to see the Republicans remain in charge.

The AP-Ipsos poll focuses more on President Bush and his likely affect on the races this November. Bush's approval rating is down to 33% in that one, and 19% of Bush voters in 2004 now say they will vote for a Democrat in the fall.

Locally, Jonathan Tasini is still trying to get a debate with Hillary Clinton before they meet at the polls in September. Clinton keeps dodging Tasnini's advances.

Since it appears the underfunded Tasini won't get his chance to get his message out by way of a televised debate, I've taken it upon myself to run his series of planned Internet ads. Here's the first in an expected series.

In the attorney general race, Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green have a little TV ad battle going. But they have enough money to get out their message, and NY1 has deemed them worthy of a place on the debate podium, so we'll let you catch their ads, and their acts, on the tube.

More importantly, Cuomo picked up some major endorsements this past week, from the Communications Workers of America (75,000 members in the state) and the United Auto Workers union (50,000 New York members). James Odato of Capitol Confidential is reporting the UAW nod may be a prelude to an endorsement of Cuomo by the AFL-CIO.

Republican Nick Spano, in a rematch with Andrea Stewart-Cousins for his state senate seat in Westchester County, got the nod from the powerful 1199 SEIU health care workers union as well as the New York State Nurses Association.

Endorsements were made in the race for the nomination from New York's 19th Congressional District. They went to John Hall, the singer-song writer who is one of four remaining candidates hoping to unseat Republican Rep. Sue Kelly. Hall was endorsed by the New York State United Teachers and by a former rival in the race, Jim Martorano.

This past week also saw KT McFarland and John Spencer in their so-called debate. From accounts I read, the event was sparsely attended and, not surprisingly, decended quickly from a political debate to a name-calling session. That's about what could have been expected from these two. Sounds like punishment enough, but McFarland keeps putting out press releases calling for another debate or two to subject us to.

And finally, in a sign Tom Suozzi may be about to pack it in, the press releases from that campaign were few and far between this week (a major change from prior weeks). However, Suozzi did reject a suggestion by Democratic state lawmakers that he throw in the towel and put his considerable talents to better use for the party's efforts in November.

Well, that was the week that was. I'm sure I missed some stuff while away. But I hope to be back up to speed starting tomorrow.

05 August, 2006

Will Be Away For A Few Days

Time for the semi-annual treck to the homeland.

Will be in the city pictured here for the next few days. Look for more posts in about a week.

Going to miss the Connecticut Democratic primary while I'm gone. And the Republican Senate debate. That one ought to be good entertainment!

Here's a few hints as to what city I'll be visiting.

This city at once considers itself the Polka Capitol of the USA and the place where "Rock 'n Roll" was born (or at least the term Rock 'n Roll).

This city's main river caught fire in the 1970's. Yes the river itself.

This city once had a neighborhood called "Big Italy."

Although set in Indiana, the movie "A Christmas Story" (Ralphie and the bee-bee gun) was actually filmed in this city.

The wife of the Republican mayor of this city once blew off an invite to the Ford White House because it was on her bowling night.

This city is home to one Republican senator and one former presidential candidate who's surnames end in the the syllable "ich"

Post you guesses below.

See you in about a week.

04 August, 2006

Clinton Foes Blast Call For Rumsfeld's Head As Opportunistic, Left-Pandering

After a tense exchange with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday in a Senate hearing, Sen. Hillary Clinton called on Rumsfeld to step down.

Today, two of her opponents in the race for the U.S. Senate seat from New York are questioning Clinton's motives in calling for Rumsfeld's head.

Anti-war Democrat Jonathan Tasini called the move an attention grab.

"If there was and is an efficient way to prosecute this war, Clinton owes it to the American public to spell that out. If she could have prosecuted the war effectively, why didn’t she lay out her plan all these years? Until she gets specific, citizens should view yesterday's confrontation with Mr. Rumsfeld as little more than politics on Sen. Clinton’s part."

The Journal News' Politics on the Hudson blog reached Clinton's two Republican candidates for reaction. John Spencer was critical of Clinton, saying she was trying to shore up support from the left. KT McFarland was non-comittal, saying Rumsfeld's future is President Bush's call, not Clinton's.

Lieberman More Popular With GOP Voters Than Dems, Poll Says; Lautenberg Says Lieberman May Abandon Independent Bid

Joe Lieberman, the embattled Democratic Senator from Connecticut, is polling more popular with the state's Republican voters than with Democrats.

The results come from the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, which also shows Lieberman's image has been diminished among Democrats nationally as well as in Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting today that Lieberman has decided to abandon major spending on a get-out-the-vote effort and go with TV ads instead, to build his image for an independent run should he lose Tuesday's primary to challenger Ned Lamont whom he now trails by 13 points.


Lieberman has said he'll run as an independent if he loses Tuesday, but his collegue in the Senate, Democrat Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, is quoted on USA Today's political blog On Deadline as saying he just doesn't see Lieberman going through with that plan if he loses the primary by 10 points or more.

Tasini Still Pushing For Spot On Debate Podium

Anti-war candidate Jonathan Tasini is seeking public support in his battle to force a debate with Sen. Hillary Clinton.

As we reported the other day, the candidate has been told that NY1 won't hold a debate between Clinton and Tasini because his campaign hasn't raised enough money to make him eligible.

NY1, by the way, is owned by Time-Warner Inc. which has given $5,000 to the Clinton campaign during this election cycle, according to opensecrets.org

Tasini is urging supporters and others who consider NY1's decision a bit heavy handed to write or call the station and demand that Tasini be given his matchup with Clinton.

Here's the info:

Robert Hardt - Director of Politics, NY1, 212-379-3330 or Robert.Hardt@ny1news.com

He's shown enough support to get on the ballot. He deserves a chance to be heard.

Is Joe Lieberman Down For The Count?

Wih the Connecticut primaries coming up on Tuesday, the question of the day no longer seems to be will Sen. Joe Lieberman lose to Ned Lamont, but by how much will he lose.

At least that seems to be the message coming from two journalists keeping a close eye on the race.

Columnist Kevin Rennie of the Hartford Courant and Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report were guest bloggers yesterday on Taegan Goddard's PoliticalWire.

Both took a dim view of Lieberman's chances on Tuesday.

Rennie had two posts. In one he described the Lieberman campaign as being in full retreat.

The Lieberman campaign in the towns, where the race is fought at the end is in a full-scale retreat that rivals the French west of the Ardennes. The Washington generals who came in to inspect, organize and deploy the troops with nods and waves have sent word back to Washington that all is lost.

In the other, Rennie says Lieberman can't even BUY foot soldiers for Tuesday.

The invoice for neglecting Connecticut Democrats for the past six years is now due. It's a ruinous sum for George Bush's favorite Senate Democrat.

Meanwhile, Rothenberg merely asks what happens after Lieberman loses.

The primary result would create an entirely new dynamic in the race, undercutting Lieberman's support for an Independent bid and putting pressure on him to exit the race gracefully. That doesn't mean that the Senator couldn't win a three-way race, only that early polls showing him with a commanding advantage in a three-way contest are meaningless.Lamont's general election numbers would immediately spike and Lieberman's would drop, and the Senator's prospects for victory in November would be uncertain.

PoliticalWire has no leanings, either left or right, and does have a good handle on the national political scene.

03 August, 2006

A Little Editing Brings The Suozzi Campaign Some Heat

We've all seen the movie ads in the newspaper.

Incredible! ... Unbelievable! says the Goober Gazette!!

When in actuality it is not unlikely that what the newspaper reviewer said was:

"It's incredible to me that someone could actually think up something this stupid and ubelievable he got someone to produce it."

It happens all the time in show biz. And apparently once in a while in politics. Albiet maybe not to that extreme.

New York Magazine wrote a mostly complementary article about Tom Suozzi, the underdog Democrat in the race for governor, which was published in the magazine in the July 24 issue.

One quote in particular has created a bit of a stir at the magazine. In the piece, Stephen Rodrick wrote:

"Meet Tom Suozzi, the perfect candidate for governor of New York in any other year than this one." (since Eliot Spitzer is the entrenched frontrunner)

The Suozzi campaign liked that line, for the most part, and decided to use it - well, most of it - in a campaign flyer. They just forgot to include the last seven words.

According to a Daily News article today, the folks at New York magazine were not amused and the Suozzi campaign has agreed not to use the quote in any future advertising.

Lamont's Lead Widens In Connecticut

Businessman Ned Lamont's lead is widening over incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Connecticut.

Just days away from the Aug. 8 primary, the latest Quinnipiac University poll for Connecticut puts Lamont ahead in the race 54% to 41%.

Lamont pulled ahead in a July 20 poll, 51% to 47%, so he has increased his lead from 4 points to 13 in just two weeks. As recently as a June 8 poll, Lieberman led Lamont 55% to 40%.

The poll questioned likely Democratic voters.

Among the Lamont supporters, 65% said their vote is primarily a vote against Lieberman.

Some 44% of Lamont's supporters say they are voting for him because of Lieberman's stance in favor of the war in Iraq, while 50% say the war is one reason they prefer Lamont.

02 August, 2006

Tasini Says NY1 Censoring Debate In Senate Race

Jonathan Tasini is being left out in the cold for lack of hard cash.

That is the word today from the campaing of the anti-war Democrat running against Hillary Clinton.

Tasini claims he's being left out of the Aug. 22 debate scheduled by NY1 because his campaign hasn't raised enough money to suit the folks at the Time-Warner owned cable station.

According to a post on his
Web site , Tasini was told by NY1 that a candidate must be polling at 5% or better and have raised $500,000 in order to be eligable for the debate. Tasini is well above the 5% threshold but well short of the "money-raised" requirement.

Got to agree with Tasini on this one. Politics already is dominated by those with the most cash. A televised debate, one would think, should be an opportunity for the candidates without cash to get out their message.

Tasini harvested nearly three times the number of signitures he needed to get on the ballot. He's raised about $150,000, so a fair number of people out there must think he has something to say. And, he's polling in the low teens.

Yet, with their arbitrary - and rather harsh - requirements the folks at NY1 are denying Tasini the one chance he has to get his message out statewide without spending money he doesn't have.


By the way, Tasini appeared on the Mike Malloy Show on Air America last night. Since NY1 won't give him any exposure to spread his anti-war views we thought we might. To hear Tasini click

01 August, 2006

Doings In District 19; Hall Endorsed by Local DFA Branch, Kelly Challenges Working Family Party's Right To Spot on Ballot

Democracy for Westchester, a local branch of Democracy for America, announced today it is backing John Hall in his battle with three other candidates for the Democratic nomination for Congress from New York's 19th district.

Alan Goldston, chairman of Democracy for Westchester, said Hall stands tall in a strong field of candidates being offered by the Democrats.

"(Hall) brings a sense of mission, a command of the issues, and a depth of personal experience that places him clearly above a good field of candidates," Goldston said.


Rep. Sue Kelly has filed suit to keep Working Families Party candidate Alex Eiseman off the general election ballot in the 19th District.

Kelly is the incumbent Republican who faces four Democratic challengers in addition to Eiseman.

Mike Morey, spokesman for the grassroots group Take19, said in a press release today Kelly's move smacks of desperation.

"For an incumbent Republican to try to
interfere with a minor party line like
the Working Families Party is highly

It makes you wonder whether her internal
polling is telling her that she's behind
in this race,even before a Democratic
challenger has been chosen."
Take19 was organized for the purpose of defeating Kelly this fall and hasn't made an endorsement in the Democratic primary race.

A Kelly spokesman told the blog Politics on the Hudson her campaign suspects the WFP petitioned to hold a line for a Democrat in November.

Debating Debates; Two Gubenatorial Underdogs Want A Shot At Spitzer

Democrat Tom Suozzi went upstate today - Utica to be precise - to drum up support for another debate between himself and fellow Democrat Eliot Spitzer, who is leagues ahead in the polls and quite happy with the one debate already held.

Suozzi's proposal for a debate on Upstate issues was backed by the Syracuse Post-Standard, which had earlier applauded the Democrat underdog for taking an interest in a region, it says, previous governors have ignored.

Events are at a point where Upstate residents should no longer smile when offered a sandwich made of horse manure. And that is the sandwich Spitzer and his advisers are offering to us, at least until they come Upstate for a wide-open debate.

We've never had a modern governor with a belly-deep sense of our problems, much less the remedies. That is why we need an Upstate showdown between Spitzer and Suozzi - a showdown in which the questions are sharp and specific, and a showdown that could be repeated this fall by whichever of them ends up running against Republican John Faso.

Faso held a press conference of his own today, and accused Spitzer of sleepwalking through the campaign. According to Capitol Confidential, Faso too called for more debates.

Mud Keeps Flying In GOP Senate Race

The mudslinging in the GOP Senate race in New York continues.

Republican candidate KT McFarland's campaign is once again demanding that John Spencer's campaign account for about $38,000 in money paid, or still owed, to Spencer's wife Kathy Spencer for travel expenses.

Spencer's campaign spokesman Rob Ryan, in an article in yesterday's Journal News said the money was allocated to a joint credit card that Spencer and his wife hold and that the credit card was used to pay for Spencer's campaign-related travel expenses.

In an article in today's Journal News, McFarland's spokesman William O'Reilly made his initial demand that the expenses be accounted for and called into question Spencer's ethical conduct as mayor of Yonkers.

O'Reilly reiterated those sentiments in a press release this afternoon.

"As mayor of Yonkers, John Spencer effectively doubled his own household income, by tripling Kathy Spring's salary, with whom he was secretly living at the time."

Mayor Spencer hiked Ms. Spring's salary from $52,000 to $138,000 with no public disclosure that he was living with her and thereby personally benefiting from that income. Under no circumstances is that ethical: it is an example of the arrogance of power that marked Mr. Spencer's mayoralty."

The "Kathy Spring" referred to in the press release is now Kathy Spencer, John Spencer's wife.

In the Journal News article Spencer spokesman Ryan accused McFarland of "gutter politics."

Dem Debate Watched By Few, Had Little Effect On Race: NY1 Poll

A poll released last night by NY1 indicates the televised debate last week between the two Democrats running for governor had little effect on the race.

In the post-debate poll, NY1 found Eliot Spitzer holds a 62% to 11% lead over Tom Suozzi. In a similar pre-debate poll, Spitzer led Suozzi 65% to 10%.

Spitzer's lead was down to 51 points from 55 prior to the debate, with just a little over a month for Suozzi to close a gap that has barely budged since February.

Suozzi holds a press conference this afternoon in Utica to plead his case for more debates, in particular one to deal with upstate issues - which were more-or-less ignored at the debate held at Pace University in lower Manhattan last week.