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Cuomo on "Carl Paladino's New York''

ALBANY -- Political candidates with big, comfortable leads in the polls typically morph into that vision-thing near the end of a campaign.

Not so, at least yet anyway, with Andrew Cuomo -- whose campaign team this week has led a relentless barrage of attacks against Carl Paladino on everything from questions about Paladino's military service -- even though Cuomo never served in the military -- to raising eyebrows about his "behavior.'' They've run ads with mug-shot type photographs of Paladino's campaign aides. And they've mocked Paladino's call for a special prosecutor to be appointed full time to go after Albany corruption; Cuomo on Tuesday suggested he might be open to the same kind of anti-corruption efforts to deal with the Legislature.

Today, Cuomo is out with a new ad targeting Paladino's anti-abortion positions. It ends with the tagline: "Don't let Carl Paladino's New York become your New York.''

-- Tom Precious

GOP seeks to gain from Democratic casino scandal

ALBANY -- It took a bit longer than expected, but the Senate Republicans have finally found a use for the Albany-famous video of a Democratic lawmaker on the floor of the Senate screaming for a pay hike.

The peg for the "Show me the money" speech by Sen. Eric Adams is the Capitol's newest -- and one of its broadest -- scandals involving potential bid rigging for a downstate casino contract. The contract, worth billions of dollars over its 30-year lifespan, was the subject of intense criticism last week by the inspector general's office, which forwarded its damaging findings -- chiefly against Senate Democrats -- to city and federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

Now, the Senate GOP, fighting to take back control of the 62-member body it lost in the 2008 elections, has a new website out that goes through -- albeit it in a partisan, campaign attack mode -- the whole juicy scandal. The site -- http://givebackthedirtymoney.com -- comes complete with photographs, charts, videos, links to press accounts and all sorts of nasty things to say about Democratic candidates in the key battleground races.

One of the chief targets -- Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson -- hasn't been talking since the IG's report was released last week. But Austin Shafran, his spokesman, said again yesterday that "any review will prove Senator Sampson did nothing improper in the process.''

"Instead of focusing on job creation and lower taxes -- New York's greatest needs -- Senate Republicans are playing politics as usual.'' He called the Senate GOP strategy to highlight the scandal with voters a "misdirection to hide their mismanagement of New York'' when they controlled the Senate.

Scott Reif, a Senate GOP spokesman, said the new web site is intended to "educate voters'' about a scandal that touches "virtually every member of the Senate Democrat conference.''

"How will the next governor ever be able to work with the Senate Democrats since they'll be spending most of their time in grand jury rooms testifying against each other? The only way you clean up Albany is by putting Republicans back in charge of the Senate, and everybody knows it,'' Reif said.

UPDATE: Not all Democrats should be lumped in with the scandal, says the campaign of Cynthia Appleton. Judith Hunter, campaign manager for Appleton, a Democrat from Warsaw running in the race for the seat held by the retiring Sen. Dale Volker, called to say Appleton earlier this week returned a campaign contribution from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee because of that committee's alleged ties to the casino bidding scandal. She said a $2,500 check arrived from the committee on Monday, and that Appleton promptly sent it back. She also said Appleton has said she would not, if elected, support any Democratic senator under investigation in the bidding case for a leadership post in the Senate next year.

-- Tom Precious

Cuomo coming to Carl Country

   Give Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo some credit for his willingness to venture in the heart of "Carl Country" when he brings his campaign for governor to Cheektowaga on Friday.

   Cuomo will be at the Creekside Banquet Facility on Union Road at 4:30 p.m. in a town that has always proven a bellwether for gubernatorial campaigns. Since 1942, Cheektowaga has gone with a winner in almost every election. Its only real miss was 1970 when the town supported Democrat Arthur J. Goldberg and Nelson A. Rockeffer won. It also missed in 1982 when it picked Lewis E. Lehrman over Mario M. Cuomo -- but just barely.

   So after a Goldhaber Research Associates poll on Tuesday showed Republican Carl P. Paladino posting a healthy lead in his home county of Erie, Cuomo will charge right into what is thought to be the heart of -- as the Paladino signs say -- Carl Country.

   --Robert J. McCarthy
  

Democrats claim Paladino's Ellicott Square

   For many years, Erie County Democrats have convened in the atrium of Ellicott Square on Election Night  -- the same venerable edifice that houses their headquarters.

   But Ellicott Square just happens to be owned by Carl P. Paladino, who also just happens this year to be the Republican candidate for governor. So while Paladino claimed his own turf for a Primary Night party, he's letting his longtime Democratic tenants have the Ellicott Square floor on Tuesday night. His party will be headquartered at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

   "The Democrat Party is a very good tenant and their Election Night event in the Ellicott Square building has become somewhat of a tradition," said Paladino spokesman Michael R. Caputo. "Carl doesn't want to disrupt that for his tenant."

   But Caputo is good at what he does. He didn't stop there.

   "Democrats will have a smaller turnout on Election Day so they can fit into Ellicott Square, while the building is just not large enough for our event," he added. "But since many Erie County Democrats are voting for Carl, we will welcome them to the lobby with open arms."

   The Dems say Paladino has also proven a gracious landlord during the campaign.

   But you might say it's been a rather tenuous situation this year as high-level Democrats and Republicans map out their strategy directly across the Ellicott Square atrium from each other.

  -- Robert J. McCarthy
 

Cuomo battles with state worker unions

ALBANY –- Andrew Cuomo believes Gov. David Paterson’s plan to lay off at least 1,000 state workers is legal, a claim that drew a sharp rebuke this evening from public employee union leaders.

In a meeting today with the editorial board of the Albany Times Union, Cuomo, the attorney general, said he backs Paterson’s effort to reduce the state work force, including through layoffs of workers.

The Paterson administration last year signed an MOU with public employee unions stating that layoffs would not be an option until at least January 1, 2011. But the governor has insisted that the unions have not cooperated with his efforts to cut state spending, leaving him no choice but to trim the work force.

Paterson has said he wants to cut at least 2,000 positions before he leaves office at the end of December; most would come through layoffs instead of attrition.

Danny Donohue, the president of the Civil Service Employees Association, said tonight he is “shocked that the attorney general, the state’s top law enforcement officer, would advocate breaking the law.’’

“Shame on Attorney General Cuomo,"said Donohue, who heads the largest union representing state workers. “He knows full well that the no layoff agreement that the Paterson administration made with CSEA and PEF (the Public Employees Federation) is legally binding and has already been upheld by the court.

"The attorney general is undermining his own credibility even before he has even been elected governor. He obviously has a lot to learn about managing the state work force, let alone following the law,"Donohue said in a statement.

-- Tom Precious

Assembly Democrats haul in the money

ALBANY -– Think the Assembly Democrats are not serious about maintaining their veto-proof majority?

Consider the past eight days, during which the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee has brought in an average of $86,000 each day in political donations from a who’s who of special interest groups.

The Assembly Democrats, led by Speaker Sheldon Silver of Manhattan, have slept better in recent years knowing they have enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto without having to rely on any Republican help.

But, fearing the loss of some marginal seats that could jeopardize their powerful stance to be able to use against governors, the Democrats have been on a chase for cash to help fund the last-minute campaign activities of key candidates around the state.

Interesting that this push comes at a time when Assembly Democrats believe a fellow Democrat -– Andrew Cuomo -– will be winning the governor’s race. But Silver and his Democratic lawmakers are taking no chances -– especially when some bruising fights are expected over the next year or two on the budget and the redistricting process to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries.

Donations in excess of $1,000 to any candidate in the closing weeks of the election season in New York must be reported to the state elections board within 24 hours of the contribution.

Scroll down through the election board’s 24-hour notice donation list and the money heading to the Assembly Democrats leaps out. Since Oct. 19, the main political committee for the Assembly Democrats has raised at least $692,000.

Donors include $94,000 from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a national party group based on K Street in Washington, and $84,400 from the influential health care union Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union. The Healthcare Association of New York State, which lobbies for hospitals and nursing homes, donated $25,000 to the Assembly Democrats in the past week, while the New York State Community Health Partnership’s political action committee gave $15,000. The PAC representing bankers tossed in $10,000. And the D.C.-based American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees donated $44,200.

Other donors to DAAC include chiropractors, bricklayers, a uniformed firefighters union from New York City, Albany lobbyists and a number of Assembly Democrats facing little or no opposition in the Nov. 2 elections.

The Assembly Democrats have also gotten at least $40,000 from four members of New York’s congressional delegation -– Democrats Jerrold Nadler, Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel and Paul Tonko. Members of Congress, like clockwork every 10 years, turn over donations to the Assembly and Senate in advance of the redistricting process that decides the fate of congressional boundaries. New York stands to lose two seats after the current Census process is completed that will decide the boundaries of congressional lines for the next 10 years.

-- Tom Precious

Anti-texting crusader makes Kennedy calls

Timothy M. Kennedy's campaign for State Senate is getting a boost from Kelly Cline, a West Seneca mother who became an advocate for laws banning texting while driving after her son was killed in a 2007 crash.

Cline has recorded a phone message backing the South Buffalo Democrat in his race against Republican Assemblyman Jack F. Quinn III of Hamburg for a Southtowns Senate seat now held by William T. Stachowski, D-Lake View.

Kennedy, a member of the Erie County Legislature, worked with Cline to get that body to pass a texting-while-driving law that goes further than the version approved by the State Legislature.

"Hi, this is Kelly Cline. I've been advocating for safer streets and fighting to end texting while driving. Tim Kennedy has stood with me every step of the way,” Cline said on the phone call. “When Albany politicians dropped the ball, Tim Kennedy made texting while driving a primary offense here in Erie County."

Listen to the phone message anti-texting crusader Kelly Cline, recorded on behalf of Democratic State Senate candidate Tim Kennedy:

Cline has led a personal campaign to reduce distracted driving since her 20-year-old son, A.J. Larson, was killed in a crash that was blamed on texting while driving.

Kennedy in a statement praised Cline's efforts to make the state's roads safer and vowed to continue to fight on behalf of public safety if he is elected to the State Senate.

-- Stephen T. Watson

 

Ippolito to serve as district election officer

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito Jr. will serve as Western New York's district election officer for next Tuesday's election.

Anyone who wishes to report complaints of election fraud or voter rights abuses can contact Ippolito at 843-5843 or the Buffalo FBI office at 856-7800, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said.

-- Dan Herbeck

Endorsement season heats up

ALBANY -- A sure sign the campaigns are coming to an end? Big-gun endorsements are rolling out.

This morning, former Gov. Hugh Carey endorsed Andrew Cuomo for governor. Carey, first elected in 1974, was a two-term governor of New York.

The endorsement by Carey shows time, in politics, can heal wounds. Andrew Cuomo's father, Mario, served as lieutenant governor under Carey, and their feuds were legendary. In his diaries, Mario Cuomo even had a separate listing in the book's index under Carey's entry just for "Cuomo's disagreements with.''

Next up on the endorsement parade is former president Bill Clinton, who is set to appear with Cuomo tomorrow at an event in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Dan Donovan, the Republican running for attorney general, last night brought our four prominent politicians to back his campaign. Standing with him at a fundraiser in Manhattan were former Gov. George Pataki, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former New York Mayor Ed Koch. Also backing him was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has become one of the nation's most sought-after endorsements by Republicans looking to push a conservative, change-government theme.

-- Tom Precious

Cox asks a familiar question

ALBANY -- In today's what-goes-around-comes-around entry, we have the following from the state Republican Party.

The GOP, tasting blood after last week's damaging inspector general report about a scandal involving a number of top Democrats in the bidding for a big downstate casino, is trying to see if Sen. Eric Schneiderman had any involvement in the process. Schneiderman, a Democrat, is running for attorney general, and the top leaders of the Senate Democratic conference were among those held out for the worst of the criticism -- and potential legal problems -- by the inspector general.

And so the state GOP today filed a request from the Senate seeking various records from Schneiderman's office, saying it wants to know "what Schneiderman knew and when he knew it,'' according to Ed Cox, the Republican Party Chairman.

That would be Cox, whose father-in-law was the late Richard Nixon. Recall it was then-Sen. Howard Baker who, nearly 40 years ago, famously asked about the Nixon Watergate scandal: "What did the president know and when did he know it?"

-- Tom Precious

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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