31 October, 2006

Majority Watch Poll:Dems Still Lead In 6 Of 7 Contested New York House Races, Hall's Lead Narrows

A new Majority Watch poll is out one week before the election and it shows the Democrats in 6 of 7 New York congressional races the pollster considers competitive.

The poll shows Democrats ahead in the the following New York congressional
districts: 19, 20, 24, 25, 26 and 29; GOP incumbent Peter King is ahead in the Third District.

The Democrats were ahead in the same races in a Majority Watch poll two weeks ago, but there are some important differences in the numbers in the latest poll.

For instance, Democrat John Hall had a nine point lead in the 19th District race according to Majority Watch's poll two weeks ago, but he now leads incumbent Republican Sue Kelly by just two points. 49% to 47%.

In the 20th District, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand's lead over Republican incumbent John Sweeney has slipped from 13 points to 11 points.

Meanwhile, Republican Peter King's lead widened to 7 points from just 2 points two weeks ago.


There's a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out tonight, and it paints pretty much the same picture as the last poll they put out on Oct. 19, which is not good news for the GOP.

Iraq is named by most of those polled as the main issue in next week's election.

Some 52% of those polled said they would prefer the Democrats take control of Congress, compared with 37% who would like to see the Republicans retain control. That ties the numbers earlier this month, and is a record spread on that question.

In addition, 54% now say removing Saddam Hussein from Iraq was not a good idea, and of those who feel that way, 80% say they will vote for a Democrat in next week's congressional elections.

Brian Williams and Time Russert discussed the poll on tonight's NBC news broadcast. View the conversation here. (you have to sit through a 15-second ad first)


Sen. Hillary Clinton will campaign with Democratic candidate John Hall tomorrow in Hopewell Junction as Hall bids to unseat Sue Kelly in the 19th District.


Take19, the grass roots organization which plainly states its sole purpose for being is to unseat Sue Kelly, has an interesting post on its Web site tonight.

Kelly has tried to make an issue of Hall's investment in a mutual fund that is invested in
an oil industry firm accused of polluting a lake in South Carolina.

Take19 points out that Kelly has been doing some investing of her own that the group thinks is notable.

30 October, 2006

Bill Clinton Stumps For Hall, Eliot Spitzer On Tap Tuesday

Former president Bill Clinton was in Cortlandt Manor today, on the stump for 19th Congressional District Candidate John Hall.

The Times Herald-Record reports Clinton urged the enthusiastic throng to appeal to middle-of-the road voters to try pulling the lever for Hall and the Democrats this year.

Local House members on hand included Nita Lowey of 18th District, Eliot Spitzer of the 17th and Maurice Hinchey of the 22nd District.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the Democrats' candidate for governor, will campaign with Hall in Fishkill tomorrow.

Hevesi Says He's Not Going Anywhere, Pataki Says Comptroller Not "Capable" Of Doing Job

Embattled state comptroller Alan Hevesi stopped by the editorial board of the Albany Times-Union today, and said he has no plans to exit his race for re-election.

The newspaper's political blog, Capitol Confidential, reports Hevesi said he thinks impeachment proceedings would an "unfair" response to his use of a state employee to be his wife's driver.

The blog also reports today that Sen. Chuck Schumer said he is unable to back his fellow Democrat, Hevesi, for re-election.

Meanwhile, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports Sen. Hillary Clinton said today she would vote for Hevesi "because the alternative would not be acceptable." That "alternative" would be Republican challenger Chris Callaghan, who's experience - running the 12-person Saratoga County Treasurer's office - is seen by many as a bit light.

And, the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association said it is taking the "unprecedented" action of urging its 250,000 members and their families not to vote for Hevesi. NYSCOPBA President Larry Flanagan said in a statment released by the group that "as law enforcement officers we can't support anyone who has broken the law."

Meanwhile, the man who could kick off impeachment proceedings against Hevesi - Gov. George Pataki - told the Associated Press today he thinks the comptroller is not "capable" of doing the job in light of the so-called `driving Mrs. Hevesi' scandal.

Pataki has appointed a special investigator to help him determine whether Hevesi's case should be turned over to the state legislature for removal proceedings.


So what is Hevesi's response to the various rebukes he's received from political friend and foe alike? An attack on his opponent of course. See the ad here.

29 October, 2006

Clinton, Engel, Hall, Lowey Endorsed By Journal News

The Journal News this morning published it's endorsements for the Congessional seats in the lower Hudson Valley.

For Senate the newspaper endorsed Hillary Clinton:

While nothing "hard," such as fixing Social Security and health care and energy, gets done anymore in Washington, and endless rhetorical debate over cultural issues passes for actual work, we think Clinton has been a better part of the solution than the problem, a steady voice of reason, intelligence and common-sense - in a Washington choked by too much hubris, too much partisanship and way too little competence. -Journal News

For Congress from the 17th District, incumbent Democrat Eliot Engel:

If you listen to Rep. Eliot Engel' opponent, the 18-year incumbent has proposed no laws and done nothing during his nine terms in Congress. We beg to differ.
Engel's work ethic alone has earned him re-election. -Journal News

For Congress in the 18th District, incumbent Democrat Nita Lowey:

Lowey's longevity has earned her influence and clout, and her resume of accomplishment is, literally, 18 pages long. -Journal News

For Congress in the 19th District, Democratic challenger John Hall over incumbent Rep. Sue Kelly:

We recommend Hall, a musician-activist and former school district and local-government official, to district voters in the Nov. 7 election. Driving our call for change: Need for more independence, more critical thinking, less slaving devotion to party ideology - and party mistakes. Kelly has offered none of this. - Journal News


Former President Bill Clinton will be making a campaign appearance on behlaf of Hall tomorrow in Cortlandt Manor. Clinton will attend a so-called "Rally for Change" tomorrow afternoon at about 2:45.

While Kelly still has a commanding lead over Hall in cash on hand, Kelly raised more money than Kelly in the first 18 days of October, the period covered in the latest campaign filings. Hall raised $228,000 in the period, compared with Kelly's $121,000.

The Hall campaign also announced over the weekend the endorsement of the Alliance for Retired Americans.


The Mark Foley/congressional page scandal has played into the Buffalo News' decision not to back either candidate in the race for the 26th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Tom Reynolds has been dogged by his seemingly slow response once being informed of Foley's actions.

The paper said there are "still unknowable issues" about Reynolds' role in the handling of the scandal.

The editorial board said it was put off by the campaigns run by Reynolds and his Democratic opponent Jack Davis:

Western New Yorkers living within the 26th Congressional District have been ill-served by a campaign marked by elusive candidates, truth-stretching political ads and an overwhelming emphasis on image over substance. Because of a still-incomplete ethics investigation and the scarcity of truly exploratory issues debates or discussions between incumbent Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds and challenger Jack Davis, The Buffalo News will not endorse either candidate in this race.

Hevesi Update; Pataki Seeks Special Probe, Hevesi's Poll Numbers Crashing

The kids were home from college this weekend so I've been away from the blog for a couple of days. Got to catch up and I'll start with Alan Hevesi.

Gov. George Pataki on Friday named a former federal prosecutor to look into the case of the embattled state comptroller, on the hot seat for having a state employee chauffeur his wife on state time and the taxpaers' dime.

A Marist Poll on the comptroller's race shows Hevesi's voter support dropping like a rock.

On Oct. 20, Hevesi had a 40-point lead over his Republican challenger Christopher Callaghan. One week later that support dropped to 12 points, with 12% undecided.

I must say the announcement by the Republican Pataki surprised me. I was expecting him to immediately send the case to the state legislature, if for no other reason than to keep the probe of Hevesi front and center until Election Dday. The precipitous drop in the polls was a little surprising as well, since the first few polls after the "Driving Mrs. Hevesi" scandal broke showed only some erosion in Hevesi's support

Howie Hawkins' Top-10 List

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party for U.S. Senate from New York has come up with his "Top 10" reasons to "vote for Howie, Not Hillary." He's no Letterman but his points will resonate with some.

10. Howie never served on Wal-Mart’s board of directors
9. Howie isnt running for president in 2008
8. Howie isn't a cosponsor of a Utah Republican's "flag-protection" amendment
7. Howie didn't raise nearly $50 million in campaign contributions over the past six years.
6. Howie supports health care for all Americans
5. Howie wants to crack down on high credit-card and banking fees
4. Howie would support lower-polluting renewable sources of energy
3. Howie didn't vote for Bush's Patriot Act
2. Howie didn't vote for Bush's Iraq war
1. After the past six years, isn't it time to vote for someone who will fight for what you believe in?

26 October, 2006

Hall Makes Dems' Key-Race List

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put the race for New York's 19th District on one of its lists of closely watched races.

Democrat John Hall announced today that the race has been added to the DCCC's "Red-to-Blue" list of tight House races involving Democratic challengers trying to oust Republican incumbents. The incumbent in this case being Rep. Sue Kelly.

The DCCC first put Hall on its radar on Oct. 10, when the 19th District race was placed on the committee's "Emerging Races" list, an initial indication that the party felt the race might be becoming competitive.


Kelly's campaign has been trying to paint Hall as a hypocrite in recent days, saying his environmentalist campaign rhetoric doesn't square with his personal investment portfolio.

Hall allegedly holds a stake in a mutual fund which invests some of its considerable funding in a company called Schlumberger - an oil-industry services company that has been fined for spilling PCBs into a South Carolina lake and for allegedly submitting fraudulent visas for foreign workers.

This, according to Kelly campaign spokesman Jay Townsend, makes Hall a "hypocrite."

"For months he's paraded around the 19th district brandishing his environmental credentials and bemoaning the price of oil. Now we learn he's personally profited by the run-up in oil prices, and is invested in an oil company that breaks our immigration laws, dumps PCBs into a River and has registered off-shore to evade U.S. tax liabilities."

The Hall campaign is a bit annoyed that Kelly's people have been snooping around Hall's personal investment portfolio.

And, Hall campaign spokesman Tom Staudter says he finds the charge by Kelly more than a bit ironic.

"Sue Kelly the millionaire has some audacity to peer into the well-diversified retirement account of John Hall, which is worth a good deal less than the $65,000 the oil companies have given to her.

"She should explain why she pocketed the S65,000 worth of contributions from oil companies and then voted to give them $6 billion in tax subsidies. And what about her personal assets in Exxon/Mobil? As this oil behemoth scores record profits at the pump, Kelly pockets record returns from them on Wall Street."


Kelly's campaign today announced the endorsement of the following 11 law-enforcement organizations:

  • NYS Fraternal Order of Police
  • NYS Association of P.B.A.’s
  • Affiliated Police Associations of Westchester County, Inc.
  • NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association
  • Detectives’ Endowment Association – City of New York
  • Police Conference of New York
  • Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association
  • NYS Court Officers Association
  • NYS Supreme Court Officers Association
  • Village of Fishkill PBA
  • Police Emerald Society of Westchester


Rich French, RNN commentator and host of the show "Real Politics" recently aired a blistering editorial, blasting Kelly for refusing to attend the cable station's recent debate, for declining to appear on his show and for generally running a low-profile campaign.

French argues that voters have the right to answers to a number of questions, which he ticked off in the piece. You can see the editorial by clicking here.


A poll published today by Diageo/The Hotline shows that undecided voters seem to be breaking for the Democrats in the race to control Congress.

When asked which party they would rather see control Congress, registered voters, by a 16-point margin, said they would prefer the Democrats be in charge. That's up from a 10-point lead by the Democrats in September. The number of people who answered neither, meanwhile, dropped by 5 points - to 5% in October from 10% in September.

Among likely voters, the poll puts the Democrats' lead at 18 points.

President Bush's approval rating in this poll declines to 40% in October from 42% in September.

For those of you really into the numbers, click here for the complete breakdown.

25 October, 2006

Pataki To Decide On Hevesi "Removal" By Friday

Governor Pataki may be in Hungary, but his office says the governor will decide by Friday whether to "move forward with the removal process" in the case of state comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Hevesi could be removed from office for using a state employee to chauffeur his ailing wife on the tax payers' dime.

If the governor gives the O-K, the state Senate would hear the case for removal.


Democratic candidate for state attorney general Andrew Cuomo said today that Hevesi has "seriously compromised his ability to do his job," according to a post on Politics on the Hudson.

POH is the political blog of the Journal News. Cuomo made the comments while meeting with the paper's editorial board.

Cuomo stopped short of withdrawing his endorsement of Hevesi, POH says.

Bill Clinton To Stump For Gillibrand Thursday

Former president Bill Clinton will be in the Capitol Region tomorrow, stumping for Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand.

The event has been moved to the Albany County airport, ostensibly because of the size of the crowd antriipated. Clinton will appear with Gillibrand, who is seeking election from New York's 20'th District, at about 8:00 am.

Gillibrand was endorsed today by a small, local weekly.

The news here is that the paper is the conservative Granville Centinal, which , in making the endorsement, said it is "rare for this newspaper to formally endorse a candidate for political office. The only less likely occurrence is for this paper to endorse a Democratic candidate facing a Republican incumbent."

The paper listed several reasons for supporting Gillibrand, or, more accurately, not supporting her opponent, Republican Rep. John Sweeney. Chief among them is Sweeney's unwavering support for the war in Iraq,

"There are any number of reasons why we made this choice, from Sweeney's dumbfounded political junkets to western ski areas to the Caribbean vacation courtesy of convicted felon Jack Abramoff to his blindfolded support of Bush economic policies that favor this nation's wealthiest individuals, while Washington County residents struggle to make ends meet, often without the benefit of raises and critical health insurance.

"But the real issue that makes this decision so simple and sure is Sweeney's total support for President Bush’s war against Iraq and the incompetent way Bush and the Republicans have waged this war."


John Hall, the Democratic challenger in the race for the 19th Congressional District seat, will be endorsed tomorrow by the environmental group, The Sierra Club, his campaign said today.

Hall has already been endorsed by the Sierra Club's Atlantic (New York) chapter, so we presume this is the national organization.

Halls office also promised "a major announcement" about the campaign at an event tomorrow at Croton Point Park at noon.

Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Rep. Sue Kelly has been endorsed by the Professional Airways Systems Specialist, which represents about 11,000 FAA employees. The union praised Kelly for introducing legislation which it says will "ensure fairness" in contract talks between the union and the FAA.

24 October, 2006

AARP's Advice To Voters- Don't Vote!! (At Least Not "Til You Know Who You're Voting For)

The AARP has set up a new Web site to provide voter information on candidates nationwide.

It is called dontvote.com

That seems like a strange address for a voter information Web site, but the point of the site is to urge voters to vote only AFTER they have the facts.

You can look up the candidates in your state at the site and find out where they stand on the issues.

AARP is running some clever ads to publicize the site, like this one, called "Song and Dance"; and this one, called "Don't Vote"

And then there's the interactive "Ask The Candidate" page on the site, where you can get a non-answer from a generic candidate on any question you can come up with.

New York Post Calls On Hevesi To Resign; New York Sun Endorses Callaghan For Comptroller


One day following his rebuke from the state ethics commission, state comptroller Alan Hevesi has agreed to debate his Republican opponent, Chris Callaghan. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle is also reporting that the GOP is hastily trying to pour money into Callaghan's campaign - two weeks before Election Day.

In addition, the good-government group Citizens Union today called on Hevesi to resign, after refusing to endorse anyone in the race after the release of the report yesterday.

The New York Post today called on Hevesi to resign over his use of a state employee as his wife's chauffeur.

In an editorial today, the Post said Hevesi should resign "or be removed" from office.

The New York Sun, meanwhile, reported that Hevesi's resignation is growing more likely over the "Driving Mrs. Hevesi" scandal, and endorsed Callaghan.

Also today, Yancey Roy at Politics on the Hudson, The Journal News' political blog, reports Eliot Spitzer is still supporting Hevesi. But may be wavering at least a little.

Roy reports Spitzer said yesterday's ethics commission report is "not an attractive recitation of facts," but he also said "I am not withdrawing my endorsement."

Taking it a step further, Roy reports, a Spitzer aide later said the Democratic gubenatorial candidate and current attorney general is "re-evaluating" his endorsement.

23 October, 2006

Hevesi Broke Law In "Driving Mrs. Hevesi" Case, State Ethics Commission Says

The New York State Ethics Commission ruled today that state Comptroller Alan Hevesi broke state ethics laws by paying a state employee to be his wife's driver.

Here's a quote from the ruling, including some of the legal mumbo-jumbo.

"The Commission concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Hevesi knowingly and intentionally used his position as New York State Comptroller to secure unwarranted privileges for himself and his wife, and in doing so, pursued a course of conduct that raises suspicion among the public that he likely engaged in acts that violated the public trust.

... The Commission hereby sends to the Temporary President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly this Notice of Reasonable Cause alleging that Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi violated (the) Publiic Officers Law."

Hevesi's fate is now up to the state legislature, as stipulated in state law. He could face a fine, suspension or removal from office. In addition, the Albany County D.A's office is probing possible criminal charges against Hevesi.

Hevesi issued a statement today saying he doesn't agree with all of the commissions findings but said the referral of his case to the state legislature "was expected and understandable." He also asked New Yorkers to judge him on his 35 years in public service and not just one incident.

"I made a mistake. I am deeply sorry. I offer no excuses. I will continue to cooperate fully with any inquiry," Hevesi said in the statement.


The scandal has cost Hevesi the endorsement of at least one local newspaper. The Poughkeepsie Journal yesterday threw its support behind Hevesi's Republican opponent Chris Callaghan.


Meanwhile, CapitolConfidential is reporting that state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer 's office, in response to the Ethics Commission's ruling, will review the case primarily to determine if Hevesi's $83,000 payment to the state is sufficient reimbursement.

22 October, 2006

Spencer, Clinton Spar In Final Debate

The second and final debate in the race for U.S. Senate from New York is now history. And let history show there was little-to-no new ground covered this morning at WABC-TV's studios in Manhattan

Sen. Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent hit all the usual topics and gave all their usual answers.

Photo Credit: WABC-TV

Spencer opened the debate by saying he's the only one on the podium who wants to be a senator for the next six years. Obviously referencing Clinton's expected run for the presidency.

I was about to give him some points for being clever with the following quote about his opponent, who won her Senate seat just a few months after moving into the state in 2000.

"Mrs. Clinton was given the welcome mat six years ago by the people of New York and now I believe she is using us as a doormat," Spencer said.

Pretty clever. Until you find out (via the state Democratic Party spin machine) that Spencer appears to have - borrowed - those words from one-time Senate candidate Jeanine Pirro, now running for attorney general on the GOP ticket.

According to a story on CNN's Web site in August of 2005 Pirro said the following:

"She asked us to put out a welcome mat, and New York did. But now she wants to use New York as a doormat to the White House."

It also looses its cleverness when you really think about it and realize that a doormat and a welcome mat are the same thing.

Anyway. I digress!

Much of the debate was spent on national security and foreign policy. Both candidates were asked, in retrospect, if it was a wise thing for the Senate to have authorized President Bush to go to war in Iraq.

The New York Times has a terrific piece today on how political candidates of all stripes are handling that very question.

Spencer's answer fell clearly into the "Second-Guessing is for Weenies" category of answers, as defined in the article.

Ever the nuancer, (I know that's not a word), Clinton's answer fell into three of the categories: "The "No, but..." Response;" "The Hypothetical Meets Hypothetical," (If we had known then what we know now there never would have even been a vote on going to war); and "The 'Only Authorization' Vote.

It's a good piece in the Times. You should read it.

For Channel 7's review of the debate, and for dowload of the video, click here.

Hall Endorsed By New York Times, Times Herald-Record


Democrat John Hall has received the endorsement of The New York Times and the Times Herald-Record in his bid to unseat Republican Rep. Sue Kelly in New York's 19th Congressional District.

The Times said Hall would bring much-needed new energy to the job:

His platform is ambitious and coherent, with calls for universal health coverage, a return to fiscal discipline and a full-bore national effort to achieve energy independence. He blends a deep-blue idealism with a crisp command of details.

The paper said Kelly has, for the most part, been a rubber-stamp for the Bush administration:

The incumbent, Sue Kelly, entered Congress in the "Contract With America" class of 1994. She has nurtured a reputation as a moderate, occasionally annoying conservatives and straying from the party line on environmental votes. But she has mostly been a go-along-to-get-along party member, supporting the Bush administration'ss tax cuts, stoutly defending its handling of the Iraq war and voting this month for President Bush's dangerous bill on military commissions, a measure that affirms the administration's ad-hoc subversion of cherished principles of justice and decency. She is a rank-and-file loyalist in a party that is tired and fiscally reckless.

The Times Herald-Record's editorial is a much sharper rebuke of Kelly:

There comes a time in our personal and professional lives when we must be held accountable for what we do, or don't do. When we explain who we really are, what we really stand for. This is Sue Kelly's time and she has failed miserably. With her steadfast allegiance to the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq and blind loyalty to a House Republican leadership that has condoned, covered up or contributed directly to corrupt politics while ignoring the needs of hard-pressed middle-class Americans, she has forfeited her right to re-election to Congress.

It only gets sharper from there. Read the entire piece here.

Kelly is running a new ad on cable TV. It paints a different picture of Hall than do the newspaper editorials, as you might imagine. See it here.

Tom Staudter, a spokesman for the Hall campaign, says Kelly's latest ad smacks of desperation and is full of "slurs and distortions" and "twisted accusations." In particular he took issue with the welfare-for-politicians bit in the ad.

"She wants to talk about `welfare for politicians,' and yet Kelly has unhesitatingly scooped up tens of thousands of dollars from the oil industry and even more from the pharmaceutical companies, and then shamelessly accepted a big taxpayer-funded pay raise for herself," Staudter said.


Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was endorsed by The New York Times yesterday in his race for governor. Our server was down most of the day, so we couldn't post. But it's back up and running this morning.

21 October, 2006

Hawkins Invites Himself to Senate Debate in Rochester

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins for Senate, as we reported earlier, was not invited to attend last night's debate in Rochester. (See our debate summary by clicking here, or by scrolling down to the previous post).

Only the two major-party candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and Republican John Spencer were invited.

The League of Women Voters withdrew its sponsorship of this debate, and the one scheduled for tomorrow morning in New York, because of Hawkins' exclusion.

So, Hawkins decided to show up anyway.

Since the mainstream media won't give him any coverage, and since debates, in my view, are the best way to pit each candidate's ideas against the others' I reproduced below a word-for-word account of the evening, as presented by Hawkins. Every word beyond the end of this sentence comes directly from the Hawkins campaign.

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate, was not invited to the US Senate debate at the University of Rochester Friday night between Senator Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent, John Spencer.

A facilities manager for the university had told Polly Miller of Rochester Against War who asked for a room where Hawkins could give a post debate news conference, "We don’t want him on our property because he's not invited."

Hawkins showed up anyway.

At 6:00 pm, as the media began to gather to cover the 7:00 pm debate, Hawkins was able to give a statement to one local television station. Tonight’s debate will have the two pro-war candidates debating how to continue fighting the war, while I would give voice to the majority of New Yorkers who oppose the war in Iraq." Hawkins said to the television reporter.

"Clinton and Spencer will debate how to patch up the grossly inefficient and costly private health insurance system that leaves 2.9 million New Yorkers uninsured. I would present the position supported by the majority of New Yorkers who support a publicly financed, national health insurance program to provide full health coverage for all Americans," Hawkins continued.

"On issue after issuee, Clinton and Spencer agree on basic policies and argue over details, while a candidate like me who gives voice to alternative views that resonate with the majority of New Yorkers is excluded. It's the voters of New York who lose when all the ballot-qualified candidates are not heard in the debates," Hawkins concluded.

Time Warner sponsored the debate. Time Warner's policy is to include in their senatorial debates only candidates who have raised at least $500,000. Time Warner's executives have given the Clinton campaign over $100,000. Hawkins said he expects to have raised less than $50,000 by the end of his campaign.

Before Hawkins could speak with any more media, security escorted him off the campus to Wilson Boulevard, about 75 yards from the debate hall and the adjacent building for the press.

Socialist Equality Party candidate, Bill Van Auken, was similarly escorted by security to Wilson Boulevard. 20 members from Rochester Against War joined the two candidates to protest the exclusion of antiwar candidates from the debate.

For the next hour before the debate, they leafleted passing media and people going to the debates. Hawkins was able to give statements to two more local television stations, but the rest of the media, including CNN, AP, Buffalo News, Al Jazeera, and crews from Germany and Russia declined to interview him.

As the debate began, a cold rain started falling in the 40-degree night. Most of the picketers retreated to shelter, but Hawkins, Van Auken, and a few supporters remained, huddling under umbrellas listening to the debate on a portable radio.

Hawkins' post-debate news conference was called for 8:30 pm, 30 minutes after the debate ended to give the Green response. When no media came out into the rainy night and the candidates could see the reporters in their high-ttech press room, labeled the "Media Spin Room' typing away on computers to file their stories.

Hawkins and Van Auken tried a few times to enter the press room, but were repelled by security.

Meanwhile on campus, according to students who came by the antiwar protesters, another protest meeting was being held. Called by the university president, it was a meeting of students and faculty who objected to not being able to attend a senatorial debate on their own campus. They felt their campus had been "hijacked," as one student said the university president described it.

The president and some of the selected few faculty and students who had been offered tickets declined to attend.

Unable to get into the press room before the reporters filed their stories, Hawkins attempted to go to the "Beehive" on campus where the students and faculty were meeting. He didn't get far. Security once again escorted him off campus.

Hawkins then headed back to Syracuse to work his night shift unloading freight at UPS.

His next out-of-town campaign stop is the second and last senatorial debate to which he is also not invited at WABC studios in New York City at 9:00 am on Sunday, October 22. Hawkins will be there at 8:00am and will hold a post debate news conference at 10:30 am, 30 minutes after the Sunday debate ends.

20 October, 2006

Clinton, Spencer Square Off In First Of Two Debates

Democrat Hillary Clinton and the Republican challenger for her Senate seat, John Spencer debated for the first time in the campaign tonight at the University of Rochester.

The New York Times reports much of the debate centered on Clinton's presidential aspirations and her insistence that for now she is interested only in keeping her job in the Senate.

One exchange quoted by the Times, about Clinton's call for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to be fired, was somewhat notable. First Clinton, then Spencer:

"You know, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincolc did not hesitate to change generals,” Mrs. Clinton said, drawing applause from the audience at the University of Rochester auditorium.

"You're not president yet, Mrs. Clinton," her opponent, John Spencer, the former mayor of Yonkers, shot back, noting that Mr. Lincoln was the president, not a senator, when he made critical decisions about that war. " -NEW YORK TIMES

Watch NY1s wrap-up of the debate here.

Clinton and Spencer will debate again Sunday in New York City.

Status Quo In WNBC/Marist Poll

Someone really ought to tell them about the news cycle. Who releases a poll at 6:00 pm on a Friday night?

The folks at WNBC and Marist College. That's who.

Here's the latest New York State WNBC/Marist poll highlights.

Nothing's changed. These numbers apply to registered voters:

  • Governor: Spitzer (D) 66 Faso (R) 20 Last month 67-21
  • Attorney General: Cuomo (D) 54 Pirro (R) 38 Sept. 28 54-31
  • Comptroller: Hevesi (D) 57 Callaghan (R) 25 Sept. 28 57-27
  • U.S. Senate Clinton (D) 63 Spencer (R) 32 Last month 62-32
  • Contol of Congress: Dems favored 58% GOP favored 30%
  • My own Congressperson should be re-elected 55% yes 24% no
  • Congress in general deserves re-elected 32% yes 55% no
  • Bush approval: excellent or good job 26%; fair or poor job 73%

Points of interest:

With regard to Jeanine Pirro's alleged boat-bugging incident, 27% said she did nothing wrong, while 47% said they think she did something unethical and 19% think she did something illegal. Still, she gained 8 points since the last poll on Sept. 28.

Some 82% of registered voters polled statewide said Iraq was a major factor in their decision on who to vote for in November. The same number said the war on terror was an important factor and 68% said President Bush's performance could sway their vote. Only 35% said Congress' handling of the page scandal would contribute to their decision.

Comedy Is Central To Hall's Latest TV Appearance

But there was a little singing and some politics as well.

Democrat John Hall, running for Congress from New York's 19th District, was featured on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" last night.

Hall was invited by host Stephen Colbert - who is not really a right-wing talk-show host but plays one on TV - after the camera-shy incumbent Rep. Sue Kelly declined to be on the show.

The five-minute appearance included a bungled (as only Colbert can do) recap of Hall's musical career, a shot or two by Colbert at Kelly for not coming on the show and a duet with Hall and Colbert singing "Dance With Me," one of the top hits of Hall's '70's pop band Orleans. And there was some conversation on the issues of the day.

You can view the segment here.

Hall, Kelly Debate The Issues - Behind Closed Doors

There were no empty chairs yesterday (see post below), and also no direct link to voters, as Republican incumbent Sue Kelly and her Democratic challenger John Hall sat down with the editorial board of the Journal News yesterday to discuss issues facing residents of New York's 19th Congressional District. Click here for a summary.

The Journal News Web site's Politics page is loaded with good stories this morning, in particular confirmation from Eliot Spitzer's office that Jeanine Pirro is NOT being probed by the state over that letter sent by U.S. Senate candidate John Spencer in 2003, and Comptroller Alan Hevesi admitting he's taken a hit over the "driving Mrs. Hevesi" scandal.

19 October, 2006

The Daily Kos Discusses "Empty Chair" Debate

Democrat John Hall showed up at RNN studios earlier this week to debate Republican Rep. Sue Kelly, the incumbent in New York's 19th Congressional District.

RNN went through with its threat to have Hall debate an empty chair if Kelly didn't show for the debate. Kelly had not responded to several invitations by the cable-TV station to attend the debate.

Today there was much talk about the "empty chair" debate on the liberal blog The Daily Kos. The posts included You-Tubed video from RNN showing Kelly going through great lengths to avoid their cameras.

Siena Poll Shows Sweeney With 14-Point Lead Over Gillibrand

Republican Rep. John Sweeney, the incumbent in New York's 20th Congressional District, has a 14-point lead over Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand according to a Siena College Poll released today.

That's a direct contrast to a Majority Watch poll we told you about earlier today, which showed Gillibrand with a 13-point bulge over Sweeney.

Gillibrand did cut Sweeney's lead since the last Siena poll on this race in August. Sweeney led in that poll by 19 points.

Sweeney leads in every region of the district in the latest poll, which was taken Oct. 16-17.

That was before revelations in the Albany Times-Union yesterday of possible House ethics violations by Sweeney over a trip to the Mariana Islands with a former associate of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Ben Smith at the The Daily Politics, the political blog of the Daily News, has an interesting post on this race. He says both parties seem to think the race is closer than either of today's two polls would indicate. He then lists a litany of ties between Sweeney and Siena College - and then lets your imagination take you where it will.


Talk about your mixed messages. A new Survey USA poll commissioned by WGRZ-TV in Buffalo shows Republican incumbent Tom Reynolds has regained the lead in New York's 26th District in western New York.

Reynolds has been behind in that race in some recent polls, including the previous poll done by Survey USA two weeks ago.

In the latest poll Reynolds leads Democrat Jack Davis 49% to 46% . Two weeks ago Davis was ahead 50% to 45%.

In the latest poll, Davis's support among independent voters dropped 11 points from the prior poll.

There are some mitigating factors here.

The poll taken two weeks ago was taken at the height of the congressional page scandal, which Reynolds took a hit on for not acting forcefully enough on information he had on former Florida congressman Mark Foley and Foley's entanglements with the pages.

Also, the latest poll was taken Oct. 16 - 18, when part of the district was still without phone service because of the early-season snowstorm that hit the Buffalo area,

Record Negatives Exposed For GOP In Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll; Numbers Lower Than Dems In 1994

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll published today shows Republicans are in a deeper hole now than the Democrats were at this time in the election season of 1994, the year they lost control of the House and Senate.

The poll indicates the GOP is at historical lows in a number of areas:

- By 52% to 37% voters favor Democrats over Republicans to control Congress - the widest-ever margin between the two parties in the WSJ/NBC poll. It's also the first time one party has scored above 50% in this category

- Half of independents say they prefer the Democrats to take over the reins, while one-fourth prefer the GOP

- Two-thirds of those polled rate this Congress below-average, a record low

- President Bush's job approval rating is at 38%, while disapproval is at 57%

- 52% say they have a negative opinion of President Bush (this is a measure of his popularity not his job approval rating), a worst-ever number for him.

- 32% rate the GOP positively while 49% view it negatively

- 37% view the Democrats positively while 35% view them negatively

This list goes on. View the poll report here.

The New York Times has a front page story today saying the Democrats have discovered that saying they are against the war in Iraq is not a bad thing, and it is working for them politically.


Quinnipiac University released the second-half of its latest statewide poll today.

In the attorney general race, Republican Jeanine Pirro slid a tiny bit. She now trails Democrat Andrew Cuomo by 21 points (55-34). Two weeks ago she trailed Cuomo by 19 points.

Hillary Clinton is 35 points ahead of her Republican challenger John Spencer in the race for U.S. Senate.

President Bush's approval rating is 29% in New York, while his dispproval rating in the state is at 64% . Some 45% of those polled said they were less likely to vote for a Republican because of Bush's performance in office.

New Poll Shows Hall Up By 9, Gillibrand Up By 13 In House Races


Democrats John Hall and Kirsten Gillibrand have pulled ahead in their congressional races, according to a new poll released today by Seattle polling group Constituent Dynamics.

The poll, covering 54 competitive races throughout the country, shows Hall ahead of Republican incumbent Rep. Sue Kelly in New York's 19th District 49% to 40%.

Gillibrand is up by 13 points 54% to 41%.

The polling was done Oct. 15-16.

The Majority Watch poll also shows the Democrats ahead in New York's 24th, 25th, 26th and 29th districts.

The only Republican to lead in the seven races being watched by this pollster is Rep. Peter King of the 3rd District who leads his Democratic opponent Dave Mejias by 2 points, 47%-45%.

I was tipped to the poll by the New York State Democratic Party, which described the poll as "independent."

You can read about the polling firm and its methodlogy here, and decide for yourself its degree of independence.


District 19 voters can see Hall tonight on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," hosted by the faux right-wing talk-show host Stephen Colbert. Hall's appearance is part of Colbert's "Know Thy Opponent" series. It airs at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.


The Hall campaign today said it raised $90,000 at rocker Bonnie Raitt's benefit concert last night in Tarrytown. Raitt and Hall have been friends since the '70's when the two performed together and organized a No-Nukes concert at Madison Square Garden.


Both Hall and Kelly claimed the backing of labor groups today.

Hall's campaign sent word today that the Civil Service Employees Association, the largest public employees' union in the state, has endorsed Hall in his race against Kelly.

Meanwhile, the Kelly campaign announced the backing of Local 137 of the Union of Operating Engineers.

18 October, 2006

Hevesi Opponent Callaghan Makes Huge Leap In Latest Quinnipiac Poll

State Comptroller Alan Hevesi has a 54% to 27% over his Republican challenger Chris Callaghan, who is seeking to unseat Hevesi.

That would sound like good news for Hevesi. But the embattled comptroller's lead in today's Quinnipiac Poll is 11 points narrower than the 59% to 21% lead he held in the previous Q-Poll, released Oct. 4.

Hevesi, of course, has hit some choppy waters in his expected cruise to re-election following the disclosure last month that he had a state employee act as his wife's chauffer on the taxpayer's dime.

Hevesi has apologized and paid back the state for the employee's time, but, as the New York Post reported a couple of days ago, Hevesi appears concerned about a criminal investigation.

Nothing else of note really in the Q-Poll. In the race for governor. Eliot Spitzer still leads Republican John Faso by nearly 50 points.

Rep. King Says Baghdad Just Like Manhattan

Peter King, the Republican Congresssman from Long Island, apparently thinks things aren't going so badly in Iraq.

King, in a February talk at the Merrick Jewish Center, likened Baghdad to New York, with bumper-to-bumper traffic, shopping centers, restaurants and even amusement parks - whose parking lots are loaded with cars.

A video of the speech recently hit the Internet and is making the rounds. You can see it here.


Esquire has done an about-face with one of its political endorsements. The magazine, on its Web Site, had previously endorsed Buffalo-area Congressman Tom Reynolds, a Republican, for re-election.

But, in the wake of the Marke Foley scandal, Esquire has changed its endorsement to Democrat Jack Davis.

Here's why in the magazine's own words.

"You know what? In the wake of the Foley Scandal there's no way in hell we can endorse a man who bravely stepped before the microphones to say he didn't know anything about anything, and managed to surround himself with children to do it. What a dirtball. Esquire now endorses: Davis"

For what they are worth, click here for Esquire's endorsements for governor, U.S. Senate and every House race in New York state.


The Albany Times-Union today is reporting that Republican Rep. John Sweeney, from New York's 20th District, may have violated House ethics rules in making a trip to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Territory infamous for its garment sweatshops and prostitution.

The paper reported the Saipan Chamber of Commerce said it paid for the trip, in which case Sweeney would have had to disclose the payment - which he didn't.

According to the newspaper's account, Sweeney's office said the congressman thought the trip, taken in 2001 to deliver a speech to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, was being paid for by the Marianas government.

Under Congressional ethics rules, travel paid for by the U.S. government does not have to be disclosed. That would include the island government, which as a U.S. Territory would be permitted to underwrite a congressman's visit. However, according to the Times-Union, the Marianas government has dsiputed Sweeney's assertions, saying it did not pay for the trip.

The Times-Union reports Sweeney took the trip with a member of the staff of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is at the center of a lobbying scandal probe underway in Washington.

The newspaper reports Sweeney has insisted Abramoff did not personally organize or pay for the trip - although he had done so for other members of congress.

The Times-Union said in the report that "no suggestion has emerged that Sweeney directly assisted Abramoff or broke any laws."

Abromoff lobbied for the government of the Marianas periodically from 1994 until 2002.

17 October, 2006

With Party Mates Like Spencer, Pirro Needs No Enemies

Another day another fire to put out for Jeanine Pirro. It's all in a day's campaigning.

The New York Sun reported today that Republican candidate for U.S. Senate John Spencer had, in the past, accused Pirro of using her former position as Westchester Coounty District Attorney to protect corrupt officials and punish her political enemies.

Photo Credit: Washington Post

The Sun reports Spencer made the accusations in a letter to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in June 2003, asking him to look into corruption in Westchester.
Here's a brief clip from the story:

"No genuine political corruption is investigated by the Westchester DA," Mr. Spencer wrote. "Instead, she protects the corrupt officials, punishes the weak people caught in the corrupt web and insures that they are not in a position to point fingers."

The issue made it into the second of two debates between Pirro and her opponent in the state attorney general race Andrew Cuomo, the Associated Press reported.

In a related topic, sort of, The New Republic has a story this week about how Pirro's entanglements with Bernard Kerik may have implications for the political future of Rudy Giuliani, the man Kerik worked for as New York City's police commissioner.

Kelly Endorsed By League Of Conservation Voters

Republican Rep. Sue Kelly has been endorsed by the National League of Conservation Voters and its local counterpart, the New York League of Conservation Voters.

League President Gene Karpinski was with Kelly yesterday to announce the endorsement:

"LCV is proud to endorse Rep. Sue Kelly for re-election. During her tenure in Congress, Rep. Kelly has supported common sense solutions to move this country toward a clean energy future, such as requiring new cars to go further on a gallon of gas. She also believes Congress should take strong action to reduce the threat of global warming.

Earlier this month the National LCV put out its Environmental Report Card, scoring every Senator and House member on votes related to environmental issues.

For 2006, Kelly scored a 92%, having voted only once "against the environment" on 12 separate bills watched by the group. That one bill provided for a speeding up of the process to open new oil refineries.

Kelly's score in 2005, however, was only 17%. Her lifetime score, according to the LCV, is 68%.

Two other members of Congress from the Lower Hudson region, Democrat Eliot Engel of the 17th Congressional District and Democrat Nita Lowey of the 18th District each scored 100% in 2006, 94% in 2005 and 91% lifetime.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, scored 71% for 2006 - having voted against the group's wishes twice on offshore drilling. (There were only seven Senate votes scored by the group in 2006).

Schumer scored 100% in 2005 and 89% liftetime, while Clinton was at 95% in 2005 and 90% lifetime.

The scores for all members of the New York House delegation are on pages 29 and 30 of the report.

Hall, Kelly Clash Over Page Scandal

Democrat John Hall and Republican Rep. Sue Kelly had a bitter exchange yesterday over the Congressional page scandal.

Hall broached the subject during a a meeting with the editorial board of the Middletown Times Herald Record, setting off an angry response from Kelly.

See the video here.

Hall is challenging Kelly for her seat in Congress, from New York's 19'th District.

Kelly was head of the Congressional Page Board in 1999 and 200. She has said repeatedly that there were no reports that disgraced former congressman Mark Foley had any improper interaction with the pages during that period.

ABC News recently reported Foley allegedyly tried to gain entry to the page dorm one night during the summer of 2000.

Hall has been attempting to tie Kelly to the scandal, asking why she didn't know of Foley's antics at a time when she was head of the page board.

16 October, 2006

Clinton, NOW Endorse Cuomo; Pirro Gets Nod From Labor Group

Andrew Cuomo got two key endorsements in his bid to become New York's next attorney general today.

Sen. Hillary Clinton and the National Oranization for Women, as well as coalition of other New York women's advocacy groups endorsed Cuomo today.

"There is no better candidate than Andrew Cuomo to protect women's rights," said Marcia Pappas, NOW-NYS PAC President. "His record speaks for itself. Andrew has always protected a woman's right to choose and we know we can trust him to continue to do that."

Pirro, meanwhile, officially received the backing of the labor group DC9, a building trades union.

(Photos: Left- Pirro with Joe Ramaglia of DC9 at the New York City Labor Day Parade
Right- Cuomo and Clinton at today's press conference)

Hevesi Fears Indictment, New York Post's Dicker Reports; Pirro Gains On Cuomo In Sienna Poll

Long-time political columnist Fred Dicker of the New York Post reports in today's paper that state Comptroller Alan Hevesi is concerned he may face an indictment over the "driving Mrs. Hevesi" scandal.

Dicker reports Democratic circles are buzzing about the possibility and that top Hevesi aides, including his press people, have been ordered not to answer scandal-related questions.


If voters are turned off by Hevesi's use of a state employee to chauffer his wife and by the federal probe of Jeanine Pirro's alleged bugging of her husband's boat in a marital spat, it's not showing up in the polls.

A Sienna Research Institute poll released today, and conducted well after both stories broke, shows voters seem to care little about the episodes. Though the bottom-line numbers in both races have moved.

The poll shows four out of five likely voters have heard about the federal probe of Pirro, but nearly half believe its a personal issue and none of the public's business.

Interestingly, Pirro has gained on Cuomo in this poll in recent weeks. She has cut her defecit in the race for attorney general to 13 points in October from 17 points in September. However, while her favorable rating went up three points since last month, her unfavorable rating is up by 9 points to 41%. Cuomo's favorable/unfavorable numbers took an ever worse turn - going from 50/35 in Septemenr to 44/42 in October.

What to make of that? Who knows. The more we see a politician the less we like them? Your guess is as good as mine. One thing is certain, this is the only statewide race that is at all competitive.

Back to Hevesi. His lead in the polls in the race for comptroller has dropped by 6 points in the past month, which would be troubling for him if that new number weren't so large. Hevesi still leads Republican challenger Chris Callaghan 52% to 25%.

Hevesi's unfavorable rating went up 6 points since September, but it is still at a very low 21%.

According to the poll, about half of likely voters have heard of the Hevesi chauffer issue, but most say while Hevesi's behavior was inappropriate they think Hevesi did the right thing by apologizing and paying back the state. Nearly as many said it is "no big deal" as said Hevesi should resign over the matter.


There's very little of interest in the rest of the Siena numbers. Democrat Eliot Spitzer's lead over Republican John Faso has FALLEN to 46 points, from 51 in September in the governor race.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead over John Spencer, the Republican challenger for Clinton's U.S. Senate seat, has slipped to 27 points from 29 in September.


No one would seriously say so, but the left-wing blogosphere, which helped the Connecticut businessman defeat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary is growing worried about Lamont's numbers.

Lamont seems to be running a steady 8-10 points behind Lieberman, now leading the race as an independent.

Ariana Huffington, of the lefty blog The Huffington Post, wrote an obituary of sorts for the Lamont campaign, saying it has gotten too conservative after stirring the pot and winning the primary.

Chris Cillizza, the political blogger at the Washington Post's The Fix takes a much more level-headed look at why the Lamont campaign has lost steam. A visit by Al Sharpton is mentioned as one of the problems. Click here and then scroll down (a lot).

15 October, 2006

Pirro Emphasizes Experience In Debate With Cuomo



Republican Jeanine Pirro, behind by double digits in the polls, focused on experience in today's attorney general debate - or what she sees as her opponents lack of experience.

Pirro and Democrat Andrew Cuomo squared off this morning on WABC-TV.

WABC reporter Dave Evans' blogged summary of the debate and the WABC podcast are available here.

Pirro tried to highlight Cumo's lack of prosecutorial experience, while Cuomo argued the Pirro is not nearly as tough as she says she is on her two cornerstone issues - jailing sex offenders and hunting down Medicaid fraud, as reported on the New York Times' Web site.

Gillibrand-Sweeney Race Now Seen As Toss Up By Congressional Quarterly

CQPolitics.com has changed its rating on the race for Congress in New York's 20th District, now calling it - essentially - a toss up.

The online arm of the non-partisan Washington-insider paper Congressional Quarterly has put the race between Republican incumbent John Sweeney and Democrat Kirstin Gillibrand in the "no clear favorite" column.

CQ had previously had the race listed as "leans Repiblican."

CQ also made an adjustment in the race for the seat held by Republican Rep. Randy Kuhl in the state's 29th Congressional District. Kuhl faces a stiff challenge from Democrat Eric Massa.

Earlier this week CQ adjusted three other congressional races in New York that it considers competitive, all moving one step toward the Democratic candidate.

Click here for the rundown and CQ's commentary on the New York races.

14 October, 2006

Is Sue Kelly Being Swift-Boated?

Majority Action, an independent so-called 527, has paid for an ad that has the Sue Kelly campaign crying foul.

The ad, definitely in the "attack' category points out Kelly's campaign contribitions from drug companies, oil companies and House leaders "who looked the other way during the latest Congressional scandal."

The Kelly campaign put out a statement yesterday saying the ads are out-of-bounds .

"Majority Action is dumping half a million dollars into this race - money that is being used to air a filthy, scurrilous attack on my character and integrity. What is Majority Action? One of those mysterious democrat shadow groups called a "527," funded by well-healed fat cats who can cut six and seven figure checks and operate outside the rules imposed on federal candidates."

527s of another stripe, in previous elections, attacked Max Cleland - the former Congressman rendered a paraplegic during his time in the service in Vietnam - for being weak on national security. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were also a 527, and they need no introduction.

Majority Action says its goal is to "promote and build a progressive majority" in the House. Its chief officers are Democratic Party big-wigs.

Hall campaign spokesman Tom Staudter says the campaign "has no affiliation with Majority Action whatsoever" and that the ads came as a "complete surprise to everyone in the campaign." Staudter said campaign staffers saw the ad for the first time yesterday on CNN.

You can see the ad by clicking below:
Think Again -- Sue Kelly

13 October, 2006

Green Candidates Feeling Blue About Debate Snubs


Howie Hawkins is feeling left out.

The Green Party candidate for the the U.S. Senate from New York says he's being kept out of two upcoming debates between incumbent Democrat Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has spent $30 million so far in her campaign, and her Republican challenger John Spencer.

The debates in question are scheduled for Oct. 20 in Rochester - arranged by (not surprisingly) NY1 - and Oct. 22 in New York at the studious of WABC-TV.

The latest Zogby Poll on the New York races, released on Tuesday, shows Hawkins' support among independent voters at 21%, just three points short of Spencer's numbers in that voting group.

That showing, Hawkins believes, should be enough to get him invited to the debate.

The WABC debate is sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Zogby, but Hawkins doesn't put the blame for his snub at their feet.

"The corporate media - Time Warner, WABC, Univision and the Buffalo News -have conspired with the corporate-funded candidates Clinton and Spencer to keep the New York voters from hearing from the candidate who gives voice to the views of the majority of New Yorkers on key issues like the war, health care and the energy crisis. Spencer and Clinton have the same general positions on these issues and argue over the details. Clinton and the corporate interests don't want the voters to hear from the candidate committed to immediate withdrawal from Iraq, universal health care through a single public payer, and building a renewable energy infrastructure in order to create jobs, build peace, and protect the environment," Hawkins added.

The Green Party claims the problem is not unique to New York, saying its candidates have been snubbed in debates in states across the country.

The problem, of course, is also not unique to the Greens. The former Democratic challenger in this race, Jonathan Tasini, who scored in the upper teens on primary night, was refused the opportunity to debate because he hadn't raised enough money to be considered a serious candidate by NY1.

To me that thinking is ass-backwards. A candidate debate should provide an opportunity for candidates who can't afford to pay their way into the electorate's consciousness to be able to get their message out. But that would ruin the whole one-on-one "grudge-match" sort of hype the TV stations present in publicizing the events.


RNN and the League of Women Voters were hoping to bring together the two candidates for Congress from New York's 19th District for a debate.

That apparently will not happen.

WRNN-TV's News Director had hand delivered today a pointed letter to Republican incumbent Sue Kelly who, Dudley says, has ignored repeated requests by RNN to appear in a debate with Democrat John Hall on Tuesday. Dudley, in the letter, told Kelly the debate would go on, with or without her, and that if she were not there she would be subbed for by an empty chair. The letter was released to the media. You can view it here. (Once you open it you may have to click on it once or twice to magnify the font.)

11 October, 2006

Dueling Endorsements; Kelly, Hall Each Win The Nod From Environmentalist Groups

Both John Hall and Sue Kelly have announced the endorsement of environmental groups today.

Kelly, the incumbent Congresswoman from New York's 19th Distict, announced the backing of Republicans for Environmental Protection. REP describes itself as "a 10-year-old Republican conservation organization with a nationwide grassroots membership."

"Sue Kelly is a faithful steward of our nation's natural resources," said REP President Martha Marks. "She has been a true leader in pushing Congress to responsibly and prudently address the energy and natural resource challenges facing our nation."

Democrat Hall, meanwhile, got the backing of the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Ken Baer, the chapter chairman, said the group is backing Hall because of his long-term history in the environmentalist movement and the Republicans' "failure" to protect the environment, particularly on the issue of global warming.

10 October, 2006

Foley Scandal May Be Becoming An Issue In Hall-Kelly Race

For several days the John Hall campaign has been trying to make the case that ex-congressman Mark Foley might have been acting improperly toward teen pages during the time when Hall's opponent, Rep. Sue Kelly, was on the page board.

That effort gained some traction yesterday, after the Washington Post reported that Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona had gotten wind back in 2000 that Foley was sending inappropriate e-mails to one page, and called Foley to task for it.

The year 2000 is significant to the race in New York's 19th Congressional District because Kelly was on the page board at that time.

So, if Kolbe's recollections are accurate, Hall's questions about Kelly's stewardship of the page board go from theoretical to something more concrete.

At least that is the feeling of CQpolitics.com, the political blog of the inside-the-Beltway publication Congressional Quarterly. CQ has changed the rating on this race to "leans Republican" from "Republican favored," and cites the Foley issue as a chief reason for the change.

The revelations from Kolbe prompted the Hall campaign to step up its attack against Kelly on the issue. The campaign issued a press release today accusing Kelly of "stonewalling:"

"Until Kelly explains what she knew about Foley's long history of lewd misconduct or why she didn't know what was going on under her nose, voters in the 19th Congressional District - and all Americans - have to believe that she's stonewalling on the subject and trying to save her political hide."

Kelly's spokesman Jay Townsend says the Congresswoman has answered the questions posed by Hall, saying Kelly had no knowledge of any problems with Foley.

"She has already said that no complaints were filed while she was on the page board, and that had she been told of inappropriate behavior she would have acted immediately. Such is not stonewalling; it is a statement of fact. That Mr. Hall would engage in a guilt-by-implication smear campaign is to be expected."

Townsend then criticized bloggers in general and this one in particular for "parroting" Hall's comments without assessing their merit.

"At some point would it not be incumbent on people like yourself to ask Hall for proof of his baseless assertions, rather that parroting his rhetoric as fact?"

For the record, this blog has been reluctant to tie Kelly to the Foley mess, having done only one post on the matter - when Kelly's service on the page board first became part of the public conversation.

We have examined and ignored other releases from Hall on the matter. It was not until Kolbe's revelation yesterday that the scandal stretched back to at least 2000, and until a non-partisan, well-respected publication like Congressional Quarterly acknowledged the impact the scandal was having on the race, that we decided to do more on the matter.

08 October, 2006

Reynolds Sinking In The West. Poll Shows Foley Scandal Hurting Buffalo-area Pol

Western New York Congressman Tom Reynolds is clearly suffering from the fallout of the Foley e-mail sex scandal.

In a poll released today by the Buffalo News, the Republican incumbent in New York's 26th Congressional District trails his Democratic challenger Jack Davis 48% to 33% in a poll of likely voters done by Zogby for the newspaper.

Some 57% said they disapprove of the way Reynolds handled the Foley affair, which he claims to have brought to the attention of House Speaker Dennis Hastert in the spring. Twenty-five percent said they approve of Reynolds' handling of the situation.

Fifty percent of those polled said they view Reynolds less favorably since the scandal broke 10 days or so ago. Some 51% rate Reynolds job performance as fair or poor and only 32% said they think the head of the Republican congressional campaign committee should be re-elected.

Reynolds cancelled an appearance today on ABC's This Week With George Stephanapolous, saying he was under the weather. He was to have appeared with Illinois congressman Rahm Emanuel, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


The Foley affair is clearly having a negative affect on the GOP nationally as well, as borne out by results of a poll to be published in tomorrow's edition of Newsweek.

Here's a quick exceprt from the poll showing some key developments:

For the first time since 2001, the NEWSWEEK poll shows that more Americans trust the Democrats than the GOP on moral values and the war on terror.

Fully 53%of Americans want the Democrats to win control of Congress next month, including 10% of Republicans, compared to just 35% who want the GOP to retain power.

If the election were held today, 51% of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39% who would vote for the Republican.

Kelly Agrees to Five Debates? Hall Campaign Says That's Debatable

Democrat John Hall, long on energy and short on cash, relatively, has been seeking five debates with Sue Kelly, the Republican incumbent who is being challenged by Hall for her seat in Congress.

Hall has proposed one debate in each of the five counties from which New York's 19th District is carved.

Kelly, the incumbent, sent out a press release earlier this week saying she has "accepted five debate invitations."

Here is the sum and substance of that release:

"New Windsor-The Kelly for Congress campaign announced today that Congresswoman Kelly has accepted five different invitations to debate her opponent in October. They include one televised debate, two editorial board debates with prominent daily newspapers in the district and two public events.

The invitations accepted include:

3:00 pm
Monday, October 16
Times Herald Record Editorial Board

7:00 pm
Monday, October 16
Orange County Farm Bureau
Warwick Town Hall
Warwick, NY

4:00 pm
Wednesday, October 18
Journal News Editorial Board

7:30 am
Tuesday, October 24
Poughkeepsie Chamber of Commerce

10:30 am
Monday, October 30
Televised Debate
Meet the Leaders, hosted by Terrance Michos
To be taped and rebroadcast on Cablevision and Time Warner Cable Systems in all five counties in the 19th Congressional District

"It is our hope that the Congresswoman's opponent will also agree to appear at these debates,” said Jay Townsend, spokesperson for Sue Kelly for Congress. Townsend also said that other debate invitations are under consideration."

The Hall campaign, says Kelly is misleading voters in the district, saying the debates Kelly has agreed to are not really debates at all. Here's their release:

Kelly Still Ducking Public Debates

BEACON, NY - Rep. Sue Kelly has yet to accept more than one public debate with Democratic congressional nominee John Hall.

Nearly three weeks ago Kelly was invited to join Hall in a series of debates in front of voters throughout the 19th Congressional District. The idea was to hold a public debate, in front of voters, in each of the five counties that comprise the district.

Hall promised to meet Kelly for the debates on the date and at the time and place of her choosing.

So far, only one offer - from the Orange County Farm Bureau in the Town of Warwick- has arrived for Hall, which he has accepted. This "forum/discussion on agricultural issues and their effect on the family owned farms" is scheduled to take place on Monday, October 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Warwick Town Hall, 132Kings Highway, Warwick, N.Y.

The Kelly campaign has tried to pass off a candidates' forum hosted by the Poughkeepsie Area Chamber of Commerce as a public debate, but it's not open to the public and the candidates will not be given a chance to respond to their opponents' statements.

Editorial board debates at the Journal News and Times Herald-Record are not open to the public either and will not be televised. Also, voters aren't invited to attend the Cablevision debate in Wappingers Falls on October 30.

There are assertions that the debate will be re-broadcast numerous times before the election, but it still won't be available to those without cable TV service, like satellite TV customers. Needless to say, voters in Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties still don’t have any opportunities to hear the two candidates publicly debate the issues- the war in Iraq, rising health care costs, protecting Social Security, energy independence and more.

And Kelly has ignored several other debate offers sponsored by groups like the League of Women Voters of Westchester. So, why is Sue Kelly ducking public debates around her district?

From where I'm sitting, you can hardly call the newspaper editorial board meetings "debates." Each candidate will be interviewed by the newspapers' editorial boards and the papers will likely endorse one of the candidates after weighing their answers. I'm not sure this furthers public discourse very much.

Both Kelly and Hall will be at the Orange County event, but they will not be permitted to question each other nor rebut anything the other has to say. And the topic, issues that affect family-owned farms, seems kind of narrow for this day and age in Orange County.

The Poughkeepsie event will be a similar format, but is not a public venue.

The TV debate is probably the only event of the five which is an actual debate. But I'm sure both candiates would find my assessment "debatable."


Kelly's radio ads so far have tried to paint Hall as someone with a history of raising taxes. Hall's campaign has been busy in the past several days debunking that theory.

Kelly points to "tax increases" when Hall was on the Saugerties school board. Hall's campaign sent out spreadsheets earlier this week showing that the Saugerties school district had the lowest cost-per-pupil ratio of any district in Dutchess and Ulster counties during the years Hall was on the school board (1996-1999). The campaign says it got its figures from the state education department's Web site.

In a phone interview, Hall spokesman Tom Staudter claimed taxes in the district were raised by a TOTAL of 4% in the years Hall sat on the board.

"The truth is John Hall is a fiscally responsible Democrat, something Sue doesn't want the public to hear in a public debate," Staudter said.

06 October, 2006

Three More Former Pages Come Forward, At Least One Held Post On Rep. Kelly's Watch

ABC News reported today that three more pages have come forward with allegations of sexually explicit internet communications from ex-Congressman Mark Foley.

The local angle here is that at least one of the pages was in the progam when when Rep. Sue Kelly, the incumbent in New York's 19th District, was at the helm of the page board.

The pages were from the classes of 1998, 2000 and 2002. Kelly has said she's unclear about when she served as head of the page board, but several sources have put her time of tenure at Feb. 1999 through early 2001.

The campaign of Kelly's Democratic opponent John Hall weighed in on the latest reports.

"Sue Kelly has answered few questions regarding the details of her time as chair of the Page Board, so we are glad that there will now be an investigation," said Hall's press secretary Tom Staudter. "Mybe now her constituents across the 19th Congressional District will hear what she knew about Rep. Foley's misdeeds or why she didn't know about the welfare of the young people she was responsible for."

Meantime Hall has called on Kelly to ask House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign so a House probe of the matter can be conducted without influence from Hastert, who has been criticized for his lack of response to allegations against Foley.

05 October, 2006

FOX News: Internal Poll Shows Republicans May Be In For Dis-Hastert In November

FOX News is reporting this evening that an internal GOP poll indicates that Dennis Hastert could be a disaster for Republicans if he stays on as House Speaker, as he has made clear today he intends to do.

The FOX report says the poll shows Hastert's presence could mean the difference between the GOP losing losing 20 seats in the House or up to 50 seats.

Meanwhile, a Time magazine poll released tonight shows two-thirds of Americans who have heard about the congressional page scandal believe the Republicans tried to cover it up.

The news is not much better for the GOP in an AP/Ipsos poll released today, which indicates that half of voters say the recent revelations of corruption and scandal in Congress will have a significant effect on their vote in November.

Lost in all the snap polling, primarily about the page scandal, is a major poll report released today by George Washington University - the Battleground 2006 survey. This poll was conducted in the last week of September and is 40 pages of politics from A to Z. If you are a junkie you'll definately want to click here. (Get a BIG cup of coffee and a soft chair first).

The GWU poll is impossible to adequately summarize quickly, but here are a couple of relevant points as far as control of Congress is concerned.

By a 49% to 41% margin, those polled would rather see the Democrats in charge of Congress after election day.

But, when asked how they think their own Congressman is doing 62% said they approve.

In addition, and again a possible ray in a dark cloud for the GOP, 53% of voters say the mid-term election is about electing individual members of Congress and not a referendum on President Bush.

UPDATE: Reynolds Slips Behind In Polls Following Foley News, But Is Scandal To Blame?


Rep. Tom Reynolds, the incumbent Republican from New York's 26th Congressional District and the head of the GOP's congressional campaign committee, has fallen behind in his bid for re-election, at least according to one so-call "flash poll" and an internal poll done by his challenger's campaign.

Reynolds, who is being criticized for not pushing hard enough for action against disgraced former congressman Mark Foley in the so-call "page-gate" scandal, trails his Democratic challenger Jack Davis in a poll done for by Buffalo's WGRZ-TV.

The poll, done by Survey USA, shows Davis ahead of Reynolds 50% to 45%.

In truth, Reynolds' support in this poll has not waned in recent days, despite the scandal. Instead, Davis' has improved. In a Sept. 28 poll by SurveyUSA, Reynolds had the same 45%. Davis was at 43% at the time, so he has gained 7 points in a week.

In the latest poll, there is no candidate listed for the Green Party. In the prior poll, former Green Party candidate Christine Murphy polled at 8%. She has since been disqualified by the state elections board.

So, while some will try to spin this poll as Reynolds being taken down by Foley, it is just as likely that Davis' boost in support comes from former Murphy backers. No way to know for sure.

Meanwhile, the New York State Democratic Party released results of an internal poll done by the Davis campaign showing the Democrat ahead by 8 points 50% to 42%. That poll was done Tuesday and Wednesday. According to the Democratic Party, Reynolds' favorable/unfavorable in the internal poll was 29/39, with his approval rating at 34%.


While we are on the subject of the Foley page scandal (I swore I would NEVER call it page-gate, but I have already done so), the New York State Republican Party put out a list of 10 questions Democrats should be asked as the gnash their teeth over the Foley affair.

While the Dems are right to be outraged, as should we all be, the Republicans make a fair point with their list, which has been blogged by Politics on the Hudson.