29 September, 2006

Poll Shows Pirro "Scandal" Having Little Effect On Voters

The Jeanine Pirro "scandal" apparently is not having much of an effect on the embattledGOP candidate's bid for attorney general. Which, for her, could be good or bad news.

A Marist poll done for WNBC-TV about 24 hours after the news of the probe broke shows Pirro is trailing Democrat Andrew Cuomo by 23 points - about where she was in the most-recent poll three weeks ago.

Some 41% polled said Pirro's alleged bugging of her husband's boat is a private matter, while 55% feel the public has a right to know what the federal probe turns up.

Meanwhile, the Journal News ran a story today after polling residents of Pirro's home town of Harrison. The paper described the response as sympathetic to Pirro, but also critical of her judgment.

28 September, 2006

Hall Put On DCCC's "Emerging Races" List; Dems' Chances Looking Better In Recent Polls But OnePolitical Analyst Is Not Convinced

John Hall, the Democrat running for Congress against incumbent Rep. Sue Kelly in New York's 19th District, is getting noticed - finally - by the national Democratic Party.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has elevated the race in the 19th to its "emerging races" list, which means the national office now thinks Hall has a chance. Besides a nice writeup on the DCCC's Web site, the inclusion on the list means some national party money might come Hall's way.

"With less than two months to go, the DCCC is excited to give our top candidates the necessary strategic and financial boost they will need to win in November," said Congressman Rahm Emanuel, DCCC chairman on the DCCC Web site.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the state, Emanuel's Republican counterpart got some not-so-good news today. A poll done for WGRZ-TV in Buffalo shows Republican Rep. Tom Reynolds - the man in charge of overseeing all of the Republican congressional campaigns this year - is running ever-so-slightly ahead of his Democratic challenger Jack Davis. In the poll, done by SurveyUSA, Reynolds leads Davis 45% to 43%, with Green Party candidate Christine Murphy polling at 8% in New York's 26th District.


On the national level, the Democrats got some good news from another poll. The Diageo/Hotline poll shows Democratic candidates gaining ground again against the Republicans, after faltering a bit in August. Last month Democrats and Republicans were equally favored by likely voters in congressional races (40% to 40%), but in the September poll voters say they favor the Democrats by 46% to 33% on a so-called "generic" congressional ballot.


The news in today's New York Times was equally encouraging for Democrats running for the U.S. Senate. The Times highlighted seven races where the Dems are putting up a stiff fight for seats currently held by Republicans. Democrats must post a gain of six seats on election night to take over control of the Senate.


Stuart Rothenberg, of the Rothenberg Political Report , issued a warning of sorts to Democrats who may be getting carried away by recent favorable polling reports. A look deeper into the numbers, Rothenberg argues, indicates the surface numbers may not hold up. Rothenberg's report was published in Roll Call today, the subscription-only Capitol Hill newspaper, but Capitol Confidential obtained a copy of the report and posted it earlier today.

Catching Up On Pirro

No! I haven't been unconscious or under heavy sedation for the past 30 hours.

I do indeed know that Republican candidate for attorney general Jeanine Pirro is under federal investigation for possibly illegally bugging her husband's conversations, allegedly in an attempt to determine if he has been cheating on her.

I also know she has denied the allegations and that today's angle is she's fighting back.

Other obligations (my paying job for one) have kept me from doing anything on this potentially explosive story, but thanks to those who get paid for doing this, we've all been kept well informed.

Today, Pirro called on U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to investigate the leaking to the media the sealed documents transcribing Pirro's alleged conversations about possibly bugging her family's boat. The folks at Capitol Confidential have a copy of the letter Pirro sent to Gonzalez.

Our friends at Politics On The Hudson reported today that Gov. George Pataki remains behind Pirro as "still the most qualified candidate to be attorney general." POHUD also reported today that, during her first post-bugging-revelation public appearance Pirro
"received a hero's welcome at a breakfast with the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization in the Bronx. Democratic state Sen. Ruben Diaz, the president of the organization, called her a heroine for fighting to keep her family together," POHUD reported.

Capitol Confidential also reported that state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is still in Pirro's corner, and state GOP Chairman Steve Minarik is behind Pirro all the way. However, as the New York Times' Empire Zone reports, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has cancelled a fundraising event for Pirro.

That about brings us up to date on the Pirro happening.

I give it short shrift, not because I don't recognize its importance but because it hit on the wrong day - for me anyway. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Some Things To Consider Before You Vote


Washington Post columnist Harold Myerson makes a great argument today on why voting for a so-called moderate Republican is the same as voting for Bill Frist.

I won't do justice to Myerson's exquisitely written piece by paraphrasing. Instead I urge you to read it in its entirety here before pulling the lever for any self-proclaimed moderate or independent Republican in November.


Has your candidate signed the Voters First pledge?

Common Cause and a consortium of other citizen-action groups have asked congressional candidates to sign a pledge that the groups think will lead to fairer elections of candidates that are less beholden to special interests.

The pledge has three parts:

1. full public financing of congressional elections.

2. meaningful restrictions on elected officials taking gifts and travel from lobbyists.

3. full internet disclosure of lobbyists' gifts and fundraising for members of Congress.

To check which congressional candidates from New York state have signed the pledge click here.

For those of you who live in New York's 17th through 20th Congressional Districts, I'll save you some time. The only two candidates - major or minor party - to sign so far are John Hall , the Democrat in the 19th and Kirstin Gillibrand, the Democrat from the 20th.

26 September, 2006

Faso Calls On Hevesi To Step Down


Republican gubenatorial candidate John Faso called on New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi to resign tonight.

The call came during the debate between Faso and his Democratic opponent Eliot Spitzer, both of whom were asked about the scandal involving Hevesi's hiring of a state employee, on the state's dime, as his wife's driver.

As NY1 reports, Spitzer said Hevesi is an "honest, stupendous public servant" who did the right thing by coming clean and repaying the state. Faso was a bit incredulous by that characterization and flatly called for Hevesi to resign.

The debate was somewhat unspectacular overall, with Faso accusing Spitzer of being a tax-raiser and Spitzer saying Faso is "extreme," as in a far-right winger. Read a wrap-up from the Associated Press here.


I have to say, from a personal standpoint, I found being a bit of an "insider" intriguing. Watching the candidates' campaign teams put their own "spin" on the other guy's "spin."

I got four e-mails from the New York State Democratic Committee, three of which explained for my why what Faso was saying at any given moment was a fabrication and a final one letting me know - in case I couldn't make up my mind - that "Spitzer Cleans Faso's Clock."

I haven't had a chance to vet all the vetting, I just bring it up as a personal note of interest.

The releases came from the party's "rapid response" team, set up specifically to counter Faso point-by-point.

This technique has been in use by both parties for some time now. It's just the first time I personally have been a recipient of this partisan "fact checking."


Last week we ran John Faso's "Lights Out" ad which shows a silhouetted Eliot Spitzer "turning out the light" on upstate New York.

Today, we have the response. Eliot Spitzer's new ad reviews his "Day One" to-do list, and raising taxes clearly is not on that list - according to the new ad.

Kelly, Hall Close In Internal Hall Poll, Journal News Reports

Democratic challenger John Hall is within striking distance of Republican incumbent Rep. Sue Kelly in their battle for New York's 19th Congressional District, according to a recently commissioned poll.

Word of the poll was reported in an opinion piece by columnist Phil Reisman in Jornal News, In the piece Reisman says Kelly appears to be "running scared."

You can read Reisman's opinion by clicking the link above, but here are the numbers he quotes in a poll by Abacus Associates of Boston:

Hall's strategists are also boasting about the results of a post- primary poll of 600 potential voters it commissioned with Abacus Associates of Boston. It showed that in an informal ballot in which no information is given other than the name and party affiliation of the respective candidates, Kelly came out ahead 49 % to Hall's 44 %. When neutral background information about the candidates was provided, Hall got 50% to Kelly's 46%. The poll has a margin of error of about 4 percentage points.

NY1 Accused Again Of Playing Censor Role As Spitzer, Faso Debate Tonight

The Ithica Journal, which was to have participated in the questioning, has ended its involvement in the gubenatorial debate tonight at Cornell.

The newspaper said NY1 rejected all three of the questions it proposed to ask of the candidates, so it has decided to sit out the faceoff between Eliot Spitzer and John Faso. The questions were solicited by the paper of its readers.

Here are the three questions the paper says were rejected, with the paper's understanding as to the reasons for rejection in brackets afterward:

1.) Thousands of New Yorkers continue to suffer from the 2001 terror attacks in NYC. Families and surviving victims have sought additional investigations on the attack that were never addressed by the 9/11 Commission Report. Do you accept the findings of that Commission, or are there areas of that investigation that still leave you with unanswered questions? Would you as governor act to open a state investigation to answer those questions? (irrelevant)

2.) As governor, what would you do to reform the state's mental health housing policies to assure an adequate supply of safe, affordable and adequately staffed housing with services for people with mental illnesses? (too narrow for a statewide audience)

3.) A bill will be proposed in the next legislative session titled "The Clean Money, Clean Elections Bill." This bill would create a new system in New York that provides "clean money" candidates with a fixed and equal amount of public financing for their political campaigns. If elected, will you support this bill? (redundant based on other panelists' anticipated questions)

You will recall NY1 came under some fire in the primary season for refusing to set up a debate between Sen. Hillary Clinton and her Democratic challenger Jonathan Tasini because Tasini had not raised enough money to be a viable candidate in the eyes of the cable news outfit.

Meanwhile, NY1 has a preview story on the debate. It's expecting fireworks from Faso. Sounds like they're trying to set the stage for flash over substance - not that TV news ever does that!!!

25 September, 2006

Sounds Of Silence Greet Two Democratic Congressional Hopefuls

John Hall and Kirstin Gillibrand have a few things in common.

Both are Democrats running for Congress from upstate New York.

Both are relative political novices running against entrenched incumbent Republicans.

Both have been trying to get their entrenched incumbent Republican opponents to debate.

Both are hearing nothing from the other side about a debate.

Both are growing impatient.

John Hall's campaign has been sending press releases nearly every day, trying to coax a debate with his Republican opponent in the 19th District, Rep. Sue Kelly.

Each day those press releases highlight a differenct topic Hall would like to debate with Kelly.

So far, no debate is scheduled and only six weeks remain until election day.

So, today I'm going to let John Hall have his say, or at least a platform to make his case.

Hall's call for debates started last week.

The initial challenge was followed up two days later with Hall calling for a debate on the war in Iraq.

Then came Hall's criticism of what he considers the shortcomings of the Medicare prescription drug plan for seniors.

Today it was a call for a debate to discuss national security and the administration's perceived shortcomings on that issue.

So far the Kelly campaign has not responded to Hall, or anyone else, about the prospect of debating her opponent.

Kelly's working with about a million more dollars than Hall, so, for what it's worth, here's a little free daylight for Hall's proposals and his criticism of Kelly.

Kelly, meanwhile, is running two radio ads, one of which portrays Hall as a tax-raiser. The blog on her campaign Web site also takes stab at portraying Hall as a flip-flopper, or at least a hedger, on the question of impeachment of President Bush (something I wasn't aware was on the table).


Today in Albany, Gillibrand, the Democrat running against Rep. John Sweeney in the 20th District, was heckled as she attended an event to show her opposition to the privatization of Social Security.

Capitol Confidential reports the heckling was an attempt to get Gillibrand to release her tax filings.

Meanwhile Sweeeney, according to the Plattsburgh-based Press Republican newspaper, has been named among the twentiest most-corrupt members of Congress by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

According to the newspaper, the group is criticizing Sweeney for his role in the Congressional Winter Challenge controversy, putting his wife on the campaign payroll and his "cozy" relationship with a trade group representing the boating industry.

23 September, 2006

Who's Profiteering From The Iraq War ?- One Man's Opinion

Who's profiting from the war in Iraq? A new Robert Greenwald documentary probes that question and Democracy for America wants you to see the film.

The documentary, "Iraq For Sale - The War Profiteers" is being billed by DFA as the film "Halliburton, Dick Cheney and Republican leaders everywhere" don't want you to see.

DFA is organizing free showings of the film at the homes of DFA members around the country. If you would like to host a viewing, or attend one, click here for details.

Eliot Goes To Bat For Andrew

Jeanine Pirro has been making the point throughout her campaign, and I think with a fair amount of legitimacy, that of the two candidates for the post she has more of the right kind of experience for the position of state attorney general.

Of course her Democratic oppononent, Andrew Cuomo, has been trying to make the opposite point and he received some help in that effort today with this ad featuring the man who currently holds the job, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer

22 September, 2006

Faso Debuts First TV Ad For November


Republican gubenatorial candidate John Faso kicked off his TV ad campaign, posting the ad that will run upsate starting today, as we reported yesterday.

The ad goes right at Eliot Spitzer, attacking him for what Faso contends will be $70 billion in additional spending, forcing young people to move and old people to move...... He says Spitzer is about to turn out the lights on upstate New York (hence the lightbulb)

Faso never mentions his name once, which is curious for a candidate with name-recognition problems.

Spitzer's campaign had quite a bit to say in response to the ad calling it a page out of Karl Rove's playbook of scare tactics ... and much more as reported by Liz Benjamin at Capitol Confidential.

21 September, 2006

Bush Approval Up In Another Poll; Dems Still Favored For Congress

Another poll has registered a boost in President Bush's approval rating since his war-on-terror campaign blitz in the days surrounding the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll puts Bush's approval at 44%, the same level he reached in a USA Today/Gallup poll published earlier this week.

Bush's rating in the LA Times poll is his highest since January and three points higher than his rating in this poll in late June.

The poll of registered voters also showed that Democrats are favored by 10 points over Republicans as the party the electorate would like to see control Congress.

According to the Times, that puts the Democrats in a better position at this point in the game than were the Republicans just prior to the so-called Republican Revolution of 1994.

The 10-percentage-point Democratic lead on the question of which party voters intend to support for Congress is twice as large as the Republican advantage in the final Times survey before the 1994 election. Also, 46% of registered voters in the latest survey said their congressional representative deserved reelection, whereas 40% said they wanted to elect someone new - figures that seem to show a greater desire for change than polls found shortly before the 1994 vote.

Still, the numbers were not all bad for GOP lawmakers, according to the Times' summary of the poll.

On some issues where voters have preferred Democrats in past polls, however, the survey found Republicans narrowing the gap. Democrats still lead Republicans by 7 percentage points (44% to 37%) on the most sweeping question: Which party do Americans trust to handle the nation'ss major problems? But in the June poll, the Democratic advantage was twice as large.

A recent New York Times/CBS poll showed a more dramatic distaste for the Republican-controlled Congress. In that poll, Congress' approval rating is just 25%

Clinton-Spencer Debates Set


Things continue to heat up in the New York race for the U.S. Senate.

It took weeks of badgering and three letters from the John Spencer campaign (read letters one, two and three), but Hillary Clinton has finally agreed to debate her GOP challenger.

The Associated Press says Clinton and Spencer will debate twice, in Rochester on Oct. 20 and in New York City two days later.

Meanwhile, according to Newsday today, Clinton is "daring" President Bush to come to New York to campaign for Spencer, saying she'd even pay for Bush's airfare to come to New York City - a place where he is not too popular.

Also today, The Journal News reported that Clinton is taking the offensive in her campaign against Spencer, in ccontrast to her nearly silent campaign against Jonathan Tasini for the Democratic nomination. Pundits quoted in the article attributed Clinton's aggressive aproach to the general election to a desire to "bury" Spencer at the polls to make a statement for her anticipated presidential bid in 2008.

Meanwhile, on another matter entirely, Spencer - on his blog today - challenged Clinton to defend Pope Benedict's right to free speech. The pope, of course, in embroiled in controversy over comments he quoted last week that members of the Islamic faith have taken as a slur against their religion.

Not sure what that has to do with being Senator from New York, but I bring it to your attention anyway.


The New London Day is reporting that a debate has been set in Connecticut's Senate race as well.

On Oct. 23 Democrat Ned Lamont, Republican Alan Schlesinger and incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman, in independent (for now), will face off. ABC's George Stephanopoulos will moderate.

Faso Proposes 25% State Income Tax Cut


Republican gubenatorial candidate John Faso today unveiled a tax-cut plan that would chop state income taxes by 25%.

The plan, which would exempt married couples earning $50,000 or less and single persons earning $25,000 or less from paying any tax at all, also would eliminate the state tax on capital gains and dividends.

Faso's plan would also reduce the number of state tax brackets to four from five.

Faso estimates the plan would save taxpayers (cut state revenues) by $7.5 billion. The plan, as outlined on his Web site, does not address how the fudning shortfall would be made up.

Both Faso and his Democratic opponent, Eliot Spitzer spoke today to the Business Council of New York State. According to Capitol Confidential, Faso had some pointed remarks for Spitzer, who gave as good as he got when it was his turn to speak.

Capitol Confidential is also reporting that Faso will kick off his ad campaign tomorrow with a $400,000 buy in various cities - all upstate.

19 September, 2006

More Ad Wars; Hall Calls On Kelly To Pull Her "Deceitful" Radio Ad

Republican incumbent Sue Kelly has launched her media campaign in her bid for re-election in New York's 19th Congressional District with two radio ads.

Both ads center on taxes - her votes to cut them and her opponent John Hall's alleged penchant for raising them.

In one ad Kelly stays positive, talking about her own voting record on taxes.

In the other, she tries to portray Hall, her Democratic opponent, as only too happy to raise taxes.

In the second ad Kelly, accuses Hall of having some "strange ideas," saying "he doesn't think you pay enough in taxes."

She says Hall wants to repeal the Bush-backed income tax cuts and place a tax on stock sales and purchases.

In addition, she claims Hall supported raising the gas tax when he was a county legislator and property taxes as a member of a local school board.

Hall's campaign has already put out a press release calling on Kelly to pull the ads "to save her some dignity."

The Hall campaign opines that the ads fail to point out that "Kelly and the Bush administration are to blame for record-breaking deficits and an $8 trillion dollar federal defecit."

Here's more from the Hall campaign:

"Perhaps Kelly should ask the working families
what they think about her support of the Bush
administration's under-funded No Child Left Behind
Law, which has forced school districts across the
19th Congressional District to raise their property
tax assessments to pay for it all. Kelly has also
oted against increased federal funds to
pay for emergency services and Homeland Security
measures, again sending locales scrambling to foot
the bill."
The Hall campaign says Kelly continues to support the administration's war in Iraq, which has already cost taxpayers $315 billion.

"How can Rep. Kelly honestly look voters in the face
after running such a deceitful ad--her very first ad
of the fall campaign? She should pull this ad as a
way to save some of her dignity," said Hall spokesman
Tom Staudter. "When voters consider the spiraling
increase in property taxes, the record deficits being
left for our children and the colossal tax giveaways
to the oil industry, Kelly's so-called concerns for
working families are perverse and hollow."

Bush Gets 9/11 Bounce; Approval At 44%

For Democrats, election day can't get here soon enough.

Pinning their hopes on the plunging popularity of President Bush, the Dems have been hoping to wrest control of at least one of the two houses of Congress.

But, after an unrelenting two-week campaign-like blitz by Bush to highlight his so-called war on terror, it appears the electorate is buying into the rhetoric again.

In the latest USA Today/Gallop poll, Bush's approval rating is up to 44%, the highest in a year.

What's more, the poll showed likely voters as equally divided on whether to support a Democrat or Republican for Congress this year.

In another poll, by SurveyUSA, Bush's approval rating is at 39% - the highest it's been in seven months.


The Wall Street Journal did a piece today on voter anger and the price candidates may pay for ethical lapses. Rep. John Sweeney, the incumbent Republican in New York's 20th District, is highlighted as a case in point. The article mentions trips with lobbyists and Sweeney's now-infamous appearance at a frat party at Union College, and the problems they are causing for Sweeney is his race against Democrat Kirstin Gillibrand.


Getting back to polls for a second, the latest Rasmussen Reports poll puts incumbent Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman up on his Democratic challenger Ned Lamont by a 45% to 43% count. Pretty much a dead heat.

Lieberman is seeking re-election as an independent after losing the Democratic primary to Lamont in August.

Nader Endorses Howie Hawkins For Senate

Ralph Nader was in Albany today to endorse the Green Party's candidate for the U.S. Senate - Howie Hawkins.

Nader, who said he may run again for president in '08 called incumbent Sen. Hillary Clinton a "pro- corporate" Democrat.

Nader, like Hawkins, is calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Another anti-war activist, and former Democratic candidate for Senate, Jonathan Tasini is not getting behind the Hawkins effort.

Tasini, you'll recall, has been polling supporters on his blog about what to do this November, and many have suggested Tasini back Hawkins. But Tasini today told Capitol Confidential he wont be supporting Hawkins, nor will he support Clinton.

18 September, 2006

Ad Wars Heat Up In Connecticut Senate Race

Ned Lamont, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Connecticut debuted yet another new ad today.

Fresh off the airing of his Yankees-Red Sox ad featuring "fans" of each team agreeing on one thing - their dislike for Lamont's challenger Sen. Joe Lieberman, a new - somewhat unusual - ad is being aired in Connecticut.

This one shows Connecticut residents walking around with their coats on inside out. Get it - turncoats! Which is supposed to drive home the point that Leiberman refused to bow out of the race when he lost the Democratic primary and is now running as an independent.

On Lieberman's blog, Lamont's latest ad is contrasted with the latest offering from Lieberman, a high-road, low-key ad that doesn't mention Lamont at all.

But, if you look a little further, and you don't have to look too hard, the politics Lieberman says he's not playing show up elsewhere on his Web site. A second blog on the site, dubbed The Full Lamonty, points out alleged examples of Lamont's hypocrisy.

Clinton, Spitzer, Cuomo, Have Strong Leads In First Post-Primary Poll

Sienna Research Insitute has itsl first post-primary statewide poll out today. The bottom-line results are predicatable, but there is a surprise or two in the numbers.

In the race for governor, Democrat Eliot Spitzer leads Republican John Faso by 51 points. That's the not-surprising part. One number does catch the eye in this race. Among Republican voters, Spitzer leads Faso by 8 points.

"Likely voters overwhelmingly say Spitzer would be better than Faso in addressing crime, education, energy, health care, job creation, state spending, and taxes," said Steven Greenberg, a spokesman for the Sienna New York Poll. "Even Republicans give Spitzer the edge on those issues, although on spending and taxes Republicans are close to being evenly divided. Voters say that taxes, health care and job creation are the three most important issues for the new Governor to address," Greenberg said in a press release.

In the race for attorney general, Democrat Andrew Cuomo leads the Republican in the race, Jeanine Pirro by 53% to 36%, up from 50% to 35% in August.

Again, there's little new here. But the eyecatching number in this race is Pirro's numbers in the New York City suburbs - her home turf literally and ideologically. In the 'burbs, the two candidates are tied at 47% each. Perhaps even more noteworthy is Cuomo's 18-point lead in the traditionally Republican upstate region.

In the race for the U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Hillary Clinton has improved her numbers against Republican John Spencer, the former Yonkers mayor.

Clinton leads Spencer 62% to 33%, up from 58% to 32% in August. Aside from Clinton's money tree, Spencer's biggest challenge is getting his name out there. Less than two months from the election, Spencer remained unknown to nearly two-thirds of those polled.

Democrat Alan Hevesi leads Republican Chris Callaghan in the race for comptroller, 56% to 23% (ZZzzzzzz.....).


Democrat John Hall is calling on Republican Sue Kelly to debate him five times, one debate in each of the 19th Congressional District's five counties.

Hall issued the invitation today, through the media:
"There are profound differences between me and Sue Kelly
on the issues, so presenting our ideas in open forums
and giving the voters a chance to weigh those contrasts
for themselves makes a lot of sense," said Hall.

Hall suggested that college students from the district to moderate one of the debates. "after all," said Hall, "it's their future we are concerned with."

We're putting out an e-mail to Kelly campaign staffers to see if she is interested.


The New York State Democratic Party has an interesting post today. The party has posted a press release saying the giant labor federation is backing more Democrats in this year's Congressional elections than Republicans. The release offers up New York as one example in this quote from a Gannett news article:

Of the eight New York House Republicans seeking re-election, only one -- John McHugh, who represents the North Country region -- won the valuable AFL-CIO endorsement this year compared with four who were backed two years ago and nine in 1998. -- Gannett.

In the article, the AFL-CIO's political director said candidates like Hall in New York's 19th District and Kirstin Gillibrand of the 20th may get extra funding from the labor organization if they can demostrate their races are close.


The state Democratic Party today also put out a press release accusing GOP attorrney general candidate Jeanine Pirro of going negative with a new TV ad, just days after suggesting that she and Andrew Cuomo keep the campaign clean. Click here to see the ad in question and decide for yourself. To me, the ad is pretty tame and presents something very close to just facts. I'm going to predict the race will get a lot muddier than what we're seeing in this ad.

17 September, 2006

Newt's 11-Step Program For Republican Rehabilitation

Newt Gingrich has a plan. An 11-step program for Republican rehabilitation this fall.

On the National Review's Web site the other day, Gingrich had piece on his 11-step plan for the GOP to keep control of Congress in November.

It centers on (raise your hand if you've heard this one before) a "values" agenda.

Remember that very useful expression from days gone by. The one before the days of CDs and digital music downloads. Something about a "broken record."

(For those of you too young to know what I'm talking about, music was once played by placing grooved vinyl on a spinning platform and running a diamond "needle" over it to pick up the vibrations. When one of these pieces of vinyl, called records, would get scratched, the needle would stick and the same words of the song would be repeated over and over again until the needle was lifted off the vinyl. Hence the phrase "like a broken record").

Perhaps its time to lift Newt's needle?


Meanwhile, somewhere on the other side of the spectrum, The New Republic is running an editorial this week saying it's time for the moderate Republican to enter the dustbin of history (along with vinyl music makers perhaps). TNR says, rather than providing a voice of reason in Congress, moderate Republicans are being used by the right wing of their party, either wittingly or not, to carry the party's water.


Much is being said and written about whether the Democrats will be able to take over one, or both, houses of Congress this fall and the ebb and flow on that question has been changing a bit in the past few weeks, leaning slightly more toward "no."

But what about politics on the state level?

Political analyst Stu Rothenberg, on his Rothenberg Report site, says the Democrats have a solid shot at holding more than half of the governships nationwide when all is said and done in November.

The Republicans hold 28 governships right now, so the Democrats would have to flip at least four.

While such a win wouldn't have the same immediate clout for the Dems as a House takeover, Rothenberg points out that gaining control of the governors' mansions could be important in the latter half of any decade, when things like redistricting can be influenced by who's in control on a state level as the new governors' terms slide into the next decade and new census figures come in.

According to all recent polls, Democrat Eliot Spitzer holds a commanding lead over Republican John Faso in New York, where - as we all know - a Republican currently resides in the governor's mansion.


After the fiasco in Florida in 2000, Congress passed a law to help (re: mandate that) states upgrade their voting systems.

The required changes are being implemented nationwide this year (except in New York - which we'll get to later).

The Washington Post has piece today about fears of major problems at the polls in November, as electroinic voting systems are put to use for the first time in most places.

In a polarized political climate, in which elections are routinely marked by litigation and allegations of incompetent administration or outright tampering, some worry that voting problems could cast a Florida-style shadow over this fall's midterm elections. -- Washington Post

Probems have already been encountered during the primary season, in Maryland, Ohio and Illinois in particular, the paper reports.

Perhaps it's a good thing our government here in New York is as dysfunctional as it often seems to be. Because the state's elections board did not act quickly enough to sanction the types of electronic voting machines that each individual county could adopt, we'll still be using the old lever-and-curtain machines we all know so well.


In New York, the debate about voting machines centered whether the state should use scanners or touch-screen machines. Scanners electronically scan and count a ballot that is hand marked by the voter - and printouts are made to make the vote verifiable. The other machines, the most infamouse being the Diebold machine, work like ATM machines, where voters touch a computer screen to record their vote.

On Web site of The Nation earlier this week, one blogger posted a couple of examples (complete with video) of how these ATM-like machines have been easily "hacked." It's worth a look.

16 September, 2006

Lamont Uses Yankee-Red Sox Rivalry To Throw High Hard One Against Lieberman

It's been a few weeks since we ventured across the border into Connecticut and this is as good a time as any to do so.

With the Yanks and Red Sox going at it again this weekend, Connecticut is the one state where both teams have a solid group of supports.

Democrat Ned Lamont, running against independent candidate and incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman, is running an ad this weekend which plays off the Yankee-Red Sox rivalrly.

The ad, running during this weekend's games, appears on Lamont's Web site under the heading RED SOX, YANKEE FANS AGREE: JOE'S A TURNCOAT. View the ad here.

Lieberman, a Democrat, decided to run on an independent line after losing the party primary to Lamont in August.

Faso "Analysis" Hits Spitzer's Spending Proposals

Republican gubenatorial candidate John Faso has released an "analysis" outlining what the Faso campaign has determined to be the cost of Eliot Spitzer's various campaign proposals.

Here's a quickie summary of cost estimate from 2007 though 2111:
(again we emphasize the numbers are provided by the Faso campaign)

Government sponsored healthcare throughout the state $33 billion
Increase in education spending
$27.9 billion
Property tax hike $8.5 billion
Taxpayer funding of political campaigns $80 million
Total Spending Increase $69.5 billion
Spitzer Alleged Budget Savings ($15 billion)
Total Tax Increase $53.8 billion

To drive home his point, Faso has unveiled a new Website, spitzerspending.com, which offers more details (and commentary) on Spitzer's proposals. The site also offers you the chance to figure out, by Faso's calculations, how much your taxes would go up if Spitzer's proposals are adopted.

NYPols doesn't vouch for Faso's numbers nor the accuracy of his tax-o-meter. We're just putting up for you to decide if it's useful information for you.

15 September, 2006

Tasini-ites Say "Vote Hawkins!"

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York, is getting some play on at least one site in the blogosphere.

As we reported yesterday, Jonathan Tasini's blog is still up and running despite his defeat at the polls Tuesday night by Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary for Senate.

Tasini, as we mentioned yesterday, is asking his supporters to help him decide where to expend his efforts in November.

One of the options he mentions is to "support the incumbent."

Judging by comments on the blog, that is not a popular sentiment among Tasini's supporters. Many are suggesting Tasini-ites put their support behind Hawkins, a Syracuse resident who's Web site says he co-founded the national Green Party in 1984.

Hawkins' positions are similar to those of Tasini on major issues - get out of Iraq now, single-payer universal health care and a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel.

It is a slow Friday. I offer it up for your perusal.

14 September, 2006

Clinton-Spencer Race Off And Running

John Spencer last night told a NY1 television audience that he never runs negative campaigns.

Thinking back to his controversial ad dueing the primaries which put Hillary Clinton and Osama Bin Laden on-screen together, some might question that statement.

In fact, the Clinton campaign did just that today, putting out a press release responding to Spencer's claim. The quote is from Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson.

"If comparing Senator Clinton to Osama bin Laden is what John Spencer's 'positive' campaign looks like, what do his negative campaigns consist of?" Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson said. "Given John Spencer's history, he probably doesn't consider a campaign negative until he threatens to murder his opponent. It's unfortunately very clear that John Spencer is determined to run a negative, personal campaign against Senator Clinton."

Meanwhile, Clinton's former Democratic opponent Jonathan Tasini is asking: what to do about November? He is asking literally - on his Web site. Tasini is seeking the advice of his supporters about whether or not he should back "the incumbent." It's making for some interesting conversation on his blog.

How Wide Open Is New York This November? It Depends Who You Ask

Not long ago New York was seen as fertile ground for the Democrats in their battle to take over the House. In fact up to six seats, by the count of some analysts, were seen as possibilities to flip to the Democrats.

Recent news reports and analysis have dialed that number down significantly, though some national pundits have said the Dems' chances are improving in other states even as they wane a bit here.

So who's right? Who knows! It depends who you ask.

According the the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill today, Republicans have significantly cut the number of seats they think they will have trouble holding onto. Among the seats moved into the "safe" column, the Hill reports, is New York's 20th District - where incumbent Republican John Sweeney, at one time, was seen as facing a severe test from Democratic newcomer Kirstin Gillibrand.

But, in an asssessment of its chances in New York following the primaries Tuesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put out an optimistic report report on winnable seats. That report included the 20th District, as well as the 19th - where John Hall will take on incumbent Sue Kelly.

The DCCC also still lists the Gillibrand race on it's Red-to-Blue list, a list advising individual donors nationwide where to put their campaign donations to do the party the most good.


Capitol Confidential, the political blog of the Albany Times-Union, today published the latest internal polls on the race for the 20th District. Sweeney's latest poll has him up by 17 points, while Gillibrand's poll has her opponent up by 8. The blog also published a recent poll by the DCCC showing Gillibrand trailing by 12 points

Capitol Confidiential also today reported that Laura Bush will headline a fund raiser for Sweeney on October 4 in Saratoga Springs.

13 September, 2006

A Little Personal Note

Just got done re-reading everything I've published in the past 24 hours. Judging by the many typos, I need either an editor or some sleep. Or both!! Sorry for the sloppiness. It was a long, late night and a sleepwalking kind of day.

Dems To Throw "Unity Party" Tomorrow In District 19

With John Hall's decisive win on Tuesday night, Democrats now say they plan to come together to accomplish their initial goal -- beat 19th Congressional District incumbent Republican Rep. Sue Kelly.

Hall's campaign sent word today that Hall, all of his challengers in the race and state and local Democratic Party officials will throw what is being billed as a "unity party" tomorrow afternoon in Beacon.

The media advisory says Judy Aydelott, Ben Shuldiner and Darren Rigger -- Hall's foes in the primary -- will all be there, as well as Jim Martorano who had been in the race earlier in the year and then threw his support behind Hall.

The release also quotes New York State Democratic Party Chairman Herman Farrell, who says with the primary in the rear-view mirror it's time to get united for November.

"Now that the primary is over and John Hall has emerged
victorious, Democrats stand united behind him, confident
that Sue Kelly's days in Congress are numbered. In the
weeks to come, we will stand together to highlight the
differences between John's positive vision of independent
leadership and Sue Kelly's rubber-stamp allegiance to
George Bush." -- Herman Farrell

We've gotten no response directly from the Aydelott or Shuldiner camps about an endorsement of Hall. Rigger sent word last night that he plans to support the Democratic nominee.

While we're on the subject of the 19th District, I saw a post today on Take19 that I found somewhat interesting. Take19, as you may know, is the blog which was created for the sole purpose of helping to defeat Kelly this fall. The post, which was actually put up Sunday, quotes Kelly as warning supporters to expect a tough race, thanks in part to the "effort of bloggers to nationalize this race."

Speaking for one blogger - me - I have tried a few times to reach Kelly's media staffers via e-mail (which is how I collect most of my stuff) and haven't heard a word back.

A Rerun May Be In The Making In 18th District GOP Congressional Primary

(UPDATED TO REVISE VOTE COUNT: As of about 4:45 pm Wednesday, and with 98% of election-day ballots and 89% of absentee ballots counted in Westchester, Hoffman holds a 360 vote lead in Westchester and and 261 vote lead including results from Rockland.)

Richard Hoffman and James Russell are still waiting to get final word on their Congressional primary race from the Westchester County Board of Elections.

Hoffman and Russell, who waited nearly two weeks for their laat primary battle to end as absentee ballots came trickling in, may face a similar wait this year.

Ninety-three percent of election-day votes and 85% of absentee ballots have now been counted in Westchester, and Hoffman leads Russell in the battle for the GOP nomination for the 18th Congressional District by a 2793 to 2428 count. That's a 365 vote difference. However, Rusell beat Hoffman in Rockland county by 99 votes, so that cuts the lead to 266.

Last night at around midnight, Hoffman had a combined two-county lead of 304 votes, with 86% counted in Westchester and all polling-place votes counted in Rockland.

We'll keep watching as the vote counting continues and keep you posted.

The winner will take on incumbent Democrat Nita Lowey. Hoffman was defeated by Lowey in 2004.

Attorney General Race Wrap-Up; Cuomo To Get Spitzer Endorsement

Andrew Cuomo, fresh off a healthy win in last night's Democratic primary for attorney general, is scheduled to receive the endorsement of the party's gubenatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer, who didn't play favorites during the primary season.

Cuomo taks on Republican Jeanine Pirro in November.

After losing to Cuomo last night, Mark Green played the role he is becoming all too familiar with, that of gracious loser.

"The Green Team got beat by the Cuomo Campain. They started ahead and ended ahead, which is a measure of their skill and success -- a skill that will serve Andrew well when he becomes attorney general. I just spoke to Andrew to congratulate him. I support our Democratic ticket of talent."

You can read the full statement here.

The third Dem in the race, Sean Patrick Maloney, said the end of the race marks a beginning for him.

Senate Race Wrap-Up; The Candidates Comment

John Spencer took 60% of the vote in his faceoff with KT McFarland for the GOP nomination for Senate. No one really knew what to expect in this one since the polls were so fluid right up to the end. But you had the sense that Spencer was in command.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Tasini managed to pull in 17% of the Democratic vote in his race against Hillary Clinton. That wasn't enough to make him a viable-enough candidate to grace the TV screens of NY1 for a debate against Clinton, but it was enough to put him several percentage points above his highest polling numbers. So hats off to Tasini.

Tasini bowed out last night, but not quietly.

"We knew when we got into this race what we would face - a political machine that believes only in money, that believes only in the accumulation in power, that does not know principles, and that would do anything to win. But what we have is the belief that we can change our country. We are working to create a powerful progressive movement that stands up for the values that we believe in and in the end I believe we will win."

Tasini's comments were posted on his Web site. For the full comments click here.

Clinton pretty much ignored Tasini throughout the primary race and seemed to pretty much ignore the primary tally as well. All she could muster on her site was this comment to supporters.

"Thank you for your support for Hillary in the primary election! This victory was an important recognition of her hard work on behalf of the issues and values we care about."

No need to check the Web site. That's All there is.

Spencer made it clear at his victory party last night that he can't wait to go head-to-head with Clinton, saying she "is in for the fight of her life." His blog, somewhat laughably, said Clinton underperformed last night.

"Clinton failed to meet expectations against her Democratic opponent Jonathan Tasini, an under-funded and ignored anti-war candidate who still managed to garner 17 % in Tuesday's primary -- where some journalists and pollsters had openly predicted 90% or more. She would finish with 83%."

Wish my stock portfolio would underpeform like that.

KT McFarland, who was locked in a nasty race with Spencer from her time of entry in early spring, did not endorse the former Yonkers mayor in her concession speech last night, as Capitol Confidential reports, but made a somewhat reluctant endorsement of "the winner" later.

Hall Wins Big In District 19 Democratic Primary

Singer-songwriter John Hall has taken the big first step in his bid for the 19th District congressional seat from New York.

With the results nearly final, Hall leads his nearest competitor, Judy Aydelott, by about a two-to-one-margin, with Ben Shuldiner coming in third and Darren Rigger running a distant fourth in the race.

Rigger conceded earlier this evening saying in an e-mailed statement that his main goal for running was to see Republican Rep. Sue Kelly, the incumbent in the race, defeated in November. "I'll do everything I can to support," Rigger said in the statement.

So far no word from the other candidates.

Here are the results by county, as reported by the respective county boards of elections:

Rock W'Chester Orange Putnam Dutchess Total

Aydelott 308 2147 1340 752 1080 5627

Hall 500 3111 2699 1843 1988 10141

Rigger 88 599 560 310 244 1801

Shuldiner 196 1513 821 338 459 3327

% Counted 100% 92% 96%



In the GOP primary for the right to take on Democrat Nita Lowey in the 18th Congressional District, late in the evening Richard Hoffman led Jim Russell 2644 to 2340. The district spans parts of Rockland in Westchester, but is predominantly in Westchester, where only 86% of the vote had been tallied as of this writing. The Rockland results were complete.

In another of the closer races of the night in Rockland County, Ellen Jaffey defeated David Fried in the race for the 95th District assembly seat, by a margin of 4322 to 3926. The 95th is the seat held by Ryan Karben until his resignation earlier this year.

12 September, 2006

Clinton, Spencer To Face Off In November; Spitzer Rolls To Win In Governor Primary; Cuomo Takes Honors In Dem's Attorney General Primary

In the end, there were no surprises.

Not in the major races of the day.

The following reports are all from the Associated Press.


DEMS: Clinton 83% Tasin 17%
GOP: Spencer 60% McFarland 40% - 90% of vote counted
See the AP story here.


Cuomo 53%
Green 32%
Maloney 10%
91% of vote tallied

Read the AP story here


Spitzer 81%
Suozzi 19%
96% of vote tallied

Read the AP story here

I say there were no surprises, but you could say there were two small upsets. Both Tom Suozzi and Jonathan Tasini beat all of the polls, as both got nearly 20% of the vote in their races.

You Hold The Strings So Pull Them!

There's only one race for Republicans to dwell on statewide today, and polls show voters aren't all that excited about their choices in that race - for the U.S. Senate.

But Scott Scala has a great post today on UrbanElephants.com pointing out why it's important for the GOP rank and file to go to the polls today.

Scala's basically says "use it (the right to vote) or lose it" (to party bosses who will work harder in the future to prevent primary contests).

The truth is Democrats don't have much at stake either if you trust the polls, and they are often very trustworthy. Just the attorney general race (barely), the well-fought race for Congress in the 19th Diistrict and a state legislator race here or there.

But Democrats can make a statement today too. A statement about national security and about the war in Iraq. They have a clear choice on those issues in the Democratic primary for the Senate. Democrats too should take this opportunity to make their voices heard.

Election Eve Controversy Hits 19th District Race



It's been a good clean fight for the Democratic nomination for Congress from New York's 19th District.

But, as we've now reached election day some in the district are crying foul.

The controversy surrounds a phone call allegedly made by a supporter of John Hall yesterday and allegedly approved by the Hall campaign.

In the call made to at least one resident in the district, the Hall supporter alleges that one of Hall's Democratic opponents, Judy Aydelott, - who recently switched parties - has made campaign donations in the past to Republican incumbent Sue Kelly. The caller urges voters to vote for a "true Democrat," and then dismissively refers to the two other candidates in the race - Ben Shuldiner and Darren Rigger - as bright "young men" who are not strong enough candidates to defeat Kelly in November.

Listen to the phone call here .

The call. made yesterday, created a bit of a stir on the Daily Kos blog.

Jim Poinsett, a spokesman for the Aydelott campaign, said Aydelott's contribution in the past to Kelly is public record. But he questions the timing of the call, saying it indicates the Hall campaign may be getting a little tight around the collar:

"I would question the timing of a Karl Rove-esque phone tactic on the 5th Anniversary of 9/11, and it must show that the Hall campaign is seriously concerned that they have squandered all their endorsements by not getting their message out to the voters. Instead of only chatting up Bonnie Raitt, Steve Earle, and Pete Seeger, they should have been trying to connect with "Bonnie Smith," "Steve Johnson," and "Pete Williams," and other registered Democrats that will actually vote today.

Meanwhile, Hall campaign manager Amy Little said Democratic leaders throughout the district had been urging the campaign to let the voters know of Aydelott's past support for Kelly and said the community activist who made the calls did come to the Hall campaign to urge that they endorse her efforts to get the word out about Aydelott's past.

Little stressed that there was no personal attack on Aydelott and said she thinks Aydelott needs to earn her Democratic stripes before running for Congreess.

"We commend the fact that she recognizes the abuses of the Bush administration and has decided to join our party." Little said. "That's great!. But it doesn't fare well with Democrats who want real change and want a real Democrat who will be able to stand up to the Bush administration. Judy will be an appealing candidate down the road, but she has been a Democrat for too a short a time."

Aydelott switched her party registration late in 2004.

Thanks to a reader named James for the heads up on this on.

08 September, 2006

NYPols Endorses John Hall In 19th District Democratic Primary

Of the the primary races we've been tracking over the past several months, this one has been the most intriguing and the most fun to watch.

Four Democrats remain in the race for New York's 19th Congressional District seat - John Hall, Judy Aydelott, Ben Shuldiner and Darren Rigger. All have taken positions on the issues that fit well within the principles of the party. All would raise the right issues in Washington and all would seek change from the failed policies of the Bush administration in so many areas.

On the fundraising front two candidates are clearly ahead of the others. John Hall and Judy Aydelott have the most money to spend in a general election, but they have far, far less cash then the PAC-assisted incumbent, Republican Sue Kelly.

Of the four remaining candidates, only two garnered enough support to win endorsements at the county conventions in the spring. John Hall won the support of the rank-and-file in three counties - Rockland, Orange and Dutchess - and won in a walk. Darren Rigger got the nod in Putnam County.

John Hall has also garnered the lion's share of other endorsments. He's been backed by environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., veteran New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey, the Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO as well as the Communications Workers of American and the influential health care workers union 1199 SEIU.

Cash, local party support and endorsements are important and John Hall has all three.

In our opinion, Hall also has a the best plans for the country.

On many issues the candidates are all on the same page. On others, the differences are subtle, but important.

Both Hall and Shuldiner seek a quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq. That's one point for each.

All of the candidates talk about greater access to health care. Hall and Shuldiner call for universal health care under a single-payer plan. One more point for each.

Shuldiner, Aydelott and Hall all believe President's Bush's underfunded, No Child Left Behind legislation is not improving education. Three cheers, one for each.

On energy, all the candidates recognize that finding new forms of energy, in a hurry, is a must. But John Hall has put forth a specific, 30-plus page plan to transform the Indian Point site from a tragic accident waiting to happen to a home for research and development of alternative energy technologies. Hall's activism on the energy issue goes back decades.

The New York Times has endorsed Aydelott in this race, citing her deep roots in the community.

In our opinion a long-term commitment to the Democratic Party and progressive principals count for more.

We endorse John Hall.

NYPols Endorses Spitzer In Democratic Primary For Governor

This should be reasonably quick.

Life is all about timing, and this is not Tom Suozzi's time.

Suozzi, an accomplished county executive from Nassau County, has shown his ability to rein in an out-of-control budget and set the county on the right path. His accomplishments in Nassau have won him statewide acclaim from his public-sector collegues and the goodwill of the people of Long Island.

But Suozzi's big mistake was his timing, having chosen to make his first state-wide run when the prize he was seeking seemed all but awarded to Eliot Spitzer.

If he has not done irreperable harm to his standing within the state Democratic Party, Suozzi's day may come soon enough. But 2006 is Spitzer's year. And well it should be.

As attorney general Spitzer has taken the office beyond its traditional role, fiercly pursuing white-collar crime on Wall Street and taking an activist role in policing internet fraud, harm to the environment and payola in the music industry.

Spitzer has been criticized for being too high-profile and a headline grabber. But we don't mind. We hire politicians to fulfill the duties of the office they have sought. When someone lives up to our expectations perhaps he should take the time to crow about it.

The polls have shown the people are happy with the man they hired to be attorney general and think he will be an effective governor. You won't get an argument from us.

07 September, 2006

NYPols Endorsement In GOP Senate Race -- We'll Pass!

This is a tough one.

It's a hold-your-nose-and-pick kind of choice for Republicans planning to vote in the U.S. Senate primary on Tuesday.

The race between John Spencer and KT McFarland has been short on substance and long on name-calling and boorish behavior.

And the polls show a large number of New York Republicans either don't intend to vote or can't decide who to vote for in this race. Some 46% of Republicans were undecided about this race in the most-recent WNBC/Marist poll taken less than a month ago.

In the latest Quinnipiac Poll taken in late August, 42% of GOP voters said they were udecided, and 65% of those who did pick a candidate said they could change their mind before election day.

The most telling numbers of all are found in the Quinnipiac poll. Seventy-two percent of GOP voters said they really hadn't heard enough about McFarland to make up their mind about her. That number was at 80% for Spencer. Clearly, whatever message these two have to offer is not clearing the haze of smoke they've been blowing at each other for the past several months.

Both candidates have been dogged by personal issues in their past and each seems more intent on capitalizing on the personal lives of the other than on putting forth meaningful solutions to the country's many problems.

Spencer has backed the Bush administration's policies on the war and national security to the hilt, and has tried to create an image of cowboy Republican with a good bit of hard-assed New Yorker mixed in. He has succeeded, but we don't find that appealing at all.

McFarland has crafted herself as more moderate on social issues and an expert on national security. But her role as Pentagon spokeswoman in the 1980s is hardly weighty enough to support the type of image she has hoped to carve.

Yes, New York Republicans do indeed have a tough choice to make.

We not-so-respectfully opt not to make a choice.

06 September, 2006

NYPols Supports Tasini For Senate In Democratic Primary

I know what you are thinking.

This is one of those off-the-wall, just-to-get-attention type picks.

Like the the pre-season baseball magazine that picks the Pittsburgh Pirates to win it all on the very off chance they actually pull it off. Then that magazine can boast either superior knowledge or clairvoyance.

But, this is not like that. Trust me.

Not that I think Tasini has a snowball's chance to actually beat Hillary Clinton next Tuesday. But he will if I'm the only person in the state who goes to the polls.

While Hillary Clinton has given us carefully constructed statements that say little or nothing of real substance, Jonathan Tasini doesn't hold back.

For every foray into anti-flag-burning legislation by Clinton, there comes an equal and opposite walk on the left side on - say - Plan B birth control.

While she may stray right or left from time to time when her image needs sprucing up with one group or another, Senator Clinton walks the straight-and-narrow center line with more dexterity than the designated driver who's asked by a state trooper to take a sobriety test.

And that is just fine if her positions are genuine, and heartfelt. But with Clinton there is always the sense that every word that leaves her lips has been parsed by ten image makers.

With Jonathan Tasini, what you see is what you get.

He makes no bones about his opposition to the war, and the profiteering and death that has come with it. There's no attempt to couch his position so as not to offend this voter or that.

This openness and clarity of thought was most in evidence during the recent Israeli war. Tasini has family members who fought and died in previous Israeli conflicts and has himself lived in Israel. He's also a politician in New York. So he had every reason to stand firmly behind the Israelis in the conflict in Lebanon. But Tasini took the tougher road and criticized Israel's actions because he believed they were wrong.

Tasini, a former labor leader, has spoken often against NAFTA-like free-trade agreements and in favor of universal health care and the right of Americans to join a labor union. He has been an outspoken opponent of the corporate power and greed that has flourished in recent years as "people power" has vanished and the average American feels a growing helplessness in shaping his or her own future - or present.

Yes, a vote for Tasini may seem a pointless exercise. Every poll tells us so. But to borrow a phrase from the Tasini campaign, I'm going to vote for what I believe in.

05 September, 2006

Tasini, Clinton Unveil New Video Ads As The Democratic Primary For Senate Draws Near

With a week to go until Hillary Clinton takes on anti-war candidate Jonathan Tasini in the Democratic primary for her New York seat in the Senate, both candidates had new ads out today.

Clinton, of course, has tens of millions of dollars to get her ad out over the air. It's also on her Web site.

Tasini, on the other hand, has six new videos and no money to get them on the TV. So he has posted all six on his Web site. Each video centers on a different topic, including the war, health care, big business, equal rights, the lack of a debate in his faceoff with Clinton and my personal favorite, entitled "Donkey Con." In this one Tasini shows a faux Clinton attempting to ride a Democratic donkey, but in the end being spurned by the creature for her alleged failure to live up to the principals of the party due to her stance on the war and free trade.

King Out Of Attorney General Race, Backs Cuomo

Rockland County resident Charlie King decided over the weekend to drop his bid for attorney general.

Today he announced his support for the front runner in the Democratic field, Andrew Cuomo.

"I endorse Andrew Cuomo today because he is now the clear choice for our party in this race. Andrew understands that the next attorney general must focus on ensuring that all New Yorkers are guaranteed social, economic and racial justice," said King.

King was joined by Cuomo, Rep. Charles Rangel and other New York City Democrats when he announced his support for Cuomo.

That leaves Cuomo, Mark Green and Sean Patrick Maloney as the three Democrats still in the race with one week to go, as Maloney was quick to point out in an e-mail to supporters today.
Maloney said one of his biggest challenges is overcoming his newcomer status in New York politics.

In a recent mailer, Maloney tries to take advantage of his newcomer status by asking voters if they might not be tired of "leftovers" Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green , whom he called "been there" and "done that" respectively. It's worth a chuckle.

Aydelott Gets New York Times' Nod In District 19

Judy Aydelott is the choice of the New York Times in the Democratic Party primary in New York's 19th Congressional District.

The Times on Sunday (we should have had this earlier, we apologize) endorsed Aydelott in the four-person race.

For those of you who don't have an online subscription of the Times, you may not be able to click through to the story.

The endorsement basically says the Democrats are offering four good candidates (we couldn't agree more), but that due to their experience and "depth" Aydelott and John Hall stand out over Darren Rigger and Ben Shuldiner. The paper, after a bit more commentary on Hall and Aydelott, chooses Aydelott because of what it calls her deep roots in the district.

"Mr. Hall may be best known for the songs "Still the One" and "Dance With Me" and the hairy-chested album cover he posed for in his Orleans era. But he deserves respect as a long-time Democratic activist who has drawn attention beyond his celebrity status as an articulate and forceful voice for his party's ideals. Ms. Aydelott, a more low-key presence, has equally solid credentials and a convincing message that should resonate well in this moderate district, where she has lived all her life. Her deep roots here help to make her a compellingly well-rounded candidate, and she wins our endorsement." - New York Times 09-03-06


With a week to go until the primary, Rigger, who has had less success at fundraising then the other candidates, announced today he has begun his direct-mail campaign. Rigger today filed his pre-primary financial statement (from July 1 to Aug. 23). In the period he raised about $19,500 and has about $10,500 on hand ... well below the other candidates.


Aydelott will host another of her community spaghetti dinners tomorrow night. The pasta and politicking will be served up at the Elks Lodge in Beacon.


In the interest of equal time ... John Hall has an event planned for tomorrow as well. He'll join with teachers, union leaders and students to criticize the effects of the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" policy on special ed and ELL students.

04 September, 2006

Hall Biggest Money Raiser In Last Phase Of 19th District Primary Race

In one of the few truly competitive primary races on the New York landscape, John Hall came up the winner in the money-raising game for the pre-primary period in the race for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 19th District.

Hall reported raising $192,613 in the July 1 to Aug. 23 period, compared with just under $58,000 for Judy Aydelott and just under $12,000 for Ben Shuldiner. The fourth candidate in the race, Darren Rigger, did not file a report. The reports were due at the Federal Election Commission on Aug. 31.

Hall also led his competitors in cash on hand as of the 23rd, at just under $246,000. Aydelott has $152,000 to spend and Shuldiner has a little over $92,000.

Also while we were away Hall annnounced that he has been endorsed by the Sierra Club.

Republican Sue Kelly, the incumbent in the 19th District, raised $314,449 during the period and has nearly $1.3 million on hand to spend against her ultimate challenger among the Democrats.

In the most-recent period Kelly raised $187,000 from Political Action Committees (lobbyists) and has received nearly $1 million ($959,000) from PACs in this election cycle. Hall is the leader in PAC money received among the Democrats at $23,535 for the entire election cycle. So Kelly has received more than 40 times as much PAC money as Hall, her nearest Democratic competitor.


In the Democratic race for governor, Eliot Spitzer raised $765,000 in the pre-primary period, compared with Tom Suozzi's $212,000. Spitzer has more than $12 million to spend, while Suozzi has just over $1 million


The Democrats running for attorney general also filed reports. In the latest period, Mario Cuomo raised $250,000+ and has about $3.4 million to spend; Mark Green raised about $56,000 and has almost $1.5 million in cash on hand; Sean Patrick Maloney raised $36,000 and has about $230,000 to spend; and Charlie King raised $36,000 and has about $300,000 on hand.


As we mentioned, we were away for a few days dropping off kids at school. What we didn't anticipate was a blown transmission smack in the middle of no place and the time it took to get the damned thing fixed. So we were away much longer than we'd hoped. Thanks to those who kept checking in. We hope you'll stick with us.