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There's nothing like friends

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – For cynics who think politicians are stingy with their campaign money, this is an item sure to warm the heart.

Intent on keeping control of the state Senate, Republican incumbents –- running in safe seats -- have pumped $540,000 in the last two weeks into the Senate Republican Campaign Committee account to spread around to close races.

Intent on gaining control of the Senate, meanwhile, Democratic incumbents -– also running in safe seats –- and a few other non-incumbents have donated $459,000 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee to try to help win close races.

Among the big donors from Senate Republicans are Catharine Young, an Olean Republican, who has no opponent, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican. They both gave $50,000 apiece to the Senate GOP campaign arm.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Mike Gianaris, the Queens Democrat who heads the central Senate Democratic fundraising group, gave $100,000, while Sen. Tim Kennedy, the South Buffalo Democrat who narrowly won his September primary bid, donated $25,000.

Cuomo's poll numbers drop

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s favorability rating among New Yorkers has dropped to his lowest level since taking office, though it is still relatively high compared to some previous governors during their second year in office, a new poll has found.

The governor was given a favorable rating this month by 67 percent of likely voters in the new Siena College poll, down from 71 percent in August and off from his high of 77 percent the month after he took office in 2011. His unfavorable rating remained the same at 24 percent, with 9 percent either not knowing or not offering an opinion.

Voters who say Cuomo is doing a good or excellent job as governor checked in at 58 percent in October, down from 60 percent in August and a high of 64 percent since he took office.

Few governors have been able to maintain early sky-high poll ratings during their first term; given the finances being faced by localities across the state and the unknown future of his relations with the state Legislature, Cuomo faces an uncertain legislative session in the coming year that, one way or the other, will shape his poll standings.

Live video debate for 60th Senate seat rescheduled; reader input wanted

Republican incumbent Mark J. Grisanti, Democratic challenger Michael L. Amodeo and Conservative Party candidate Charles M. Swanick are scheduled to participate in a live video debate to be broadcast next week on

Readers will be able to pose questions to the candidates for the 60th District seat in the New York State Senate.

The debate, which will be hosted by The Buffalo News and shown live at 11 a.m. Nov. 2, will be moderated by News reporters Bob McCarthy and Brian Meyer.

The debate was previously scheduled for Oct. 31, when it would have included only two candidates.

Submit your questions by noon Thursday, Nov. 1. You can email them to Assistant Online Editor Aaron Besecker at or send a message on Twitter to @TheBuffaloNews.

Review Jerry Zremski's live Politics Now chat

Discuss the latest in the presidential campaign, the race between Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul and Republican Chris Collins in the 27th Congressional District and more with The News' Washington bureau chief:

Cuomo to campaign with Hochul

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is working out details for a campaign appearance with Rep. Kathy Hochul sometime Friday in Western New York.

Cuomo said he is appearing with several congressional Democrats on Friday, including Hochul and Rep. Louise Slaughter of Rochester. He did not elaborate with any details.

The event will be held in a Rochester union hall.

Meanwhile, Cuomo’s plan for acting as a surrogate for President Obama is still up in the air. As he has been saying for a week, Cuomo said he is ready and willing to travel on behalf of the president in swing states, but that he is still awaiting word from Obama campaign staffers on where they might want him to go.

"I’m basically on stand-by," Cuomo said this morning on an Albany radio show of his plans to hit the stump for Obama.

Video: New York State 60th Senate District debate

Incumbent Republican Mark J. Grisanti faced off against challengers Michael L. Amodeo, a Democrat, and Charles M. Swanick, who is running on the Conservative line, in a one-hour heated session.

Cox: Romney momentum spilling into NYS congressional races

By Robert J. McCarthy

   Sometimes it's tough to be chairman of the New York Republican Party. Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 2.4 million voters, and the GOP has failed to elect a statewide official since Gov. George E. Pataki in 2002.

   But Chairman Edward F. Cox is exuding some major optimism -- especially about congressional races -- as the 2012 election season winds down. He attributes it all to the momentum gained by presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the days since his first debate with President Obama.

   "Look at the huge impact," he said Wednesday. "You see it in congressional races all across the state."

   Cox was speaking from Syracuse, where he was campaigning for Republican Rep. Anne Marie Buerkle, facing a tough challenge from the man she unseated in 2010 -- Democrat Dan Maffei.

   He claimed Maffei is now willing to debate Buerkle, and as far as the chairman is concerned, that mirrors developments throughout much of the state's congressional landscape.

   "It means they have problems," he said.

    "There's been a change," he added. "It starts at the top of the ticket and comes on down."

   Cox said the same optimism guiding him in the Buerkle race shapes his view in Western New York, where he said Romney momentum should translate into results for Republican congressional candidate Chris Collins against Democratic incumbent Kathleen C. Hochul.

   "I suspect Chris will do very well," he said.

Last-minute campaign dollars start their seasonal migration

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -– They are called the “24-Hour Notice Filings.’’

And they mean two things. One: the election season, thankfully, is winding down. And two: they show the last-minute, deep-pocket friends of politicians at crunch time.

So, the latest contributions under this category -– campaigns until election day must now report every donation over $1,000 to the state Board of Elections -– are now coming in and the money is already flowing mightily today. (These filings do not include the period of the last few weeks of fundraising activities; those reports are due in later this week).

Jonathan Soros, as promised, today gave $250,000 to the New York Friends of Democracy, a Manhattan-based Super PAC that has said it is trying to help Cecilia Tkacyk, an Albany-area Democrat, beat George Amedore, a Republican running in the new 63rd State Senate District that Republicans carved out earlier this year to help their odds of retaining control of the Senate. Soros is the son of billionaire George Soros, a longtime Democratic Party fundraiser and donor.

Other big donations in the last day include $50,000 from Local 1199, the big health care workers union, to the Senate Republicans. A PAC representing nurses gave the Senate GOP and Assembly Democrats $10,000 apiece, while the state AFL-CIO donated $15,000 to the Assembly Democrats. A PAC representing anesthesiologists -– fill in your own jokes here -– gave $7,000 to the Senate Republicans.

No Western New York candidates have made 24-hour notice filings yet, but that will be changing over the coming days.


News flash: senator makes it official with official announcement

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – She is running unopposed. She has been raising money. She has lined up the usual assortment of endorsements. She is already on the ballot on not one but three party lines. And, need we point out the obvious that election day is less than two weeks away?

But, along came a press release this afternoon from Sen. Catharine Young’s office that, yes, today she "announced that she is seeking re-election" to the Senate’s 57th Senate district covering Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and parts of Livingston counties.

"Senator Young Officially Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign," the press release’s headline states for the Olean Republican.

Booze Summit serves up ideas, and much applause for Cuomo

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – New York’s first official Booze Summit is over after two hours – well, except for the tasting gathering at the governor’s mansion this afternoon – and beer, wine and liquor industry representatives gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo a long list of suggestions to expand the state’s alcohol industry.

The ideas were hardly new: open up more ways for upstate producers to get into the New York City marketplace, lower taxes, sell more New York-made beer and wine at the annual State Fair, provide marking help for agricultural/alcohol tourism. But they served as a roadmap for some steps Cuomo might be taking in the coming legislative session.

The beer, wine and spirits gathering, following in the footsteps of this summer’s yogurt summit; yes, state officials are still, straight-faced, using the words "yogurt" and "summit" in the same sentence.

Others now want their own special day, too. The gathering today in Albany, though, spawned a new request from the state’s natural gas industry that Cuomo hold a summit on the issue of hydrofracking. Given the stakes and battles on that topic, such a session might not go so easy for the governor, who was constantly thanked by the alcohol industry representatives today. Indeed, some wine and beer representatives who also happen to be opposed to any state effort to permit hydrofracking set up a protest outside the booze summit.

Lawmakers and Cuomo this year already passed a number of measures to boost everything from production of hops and barley to tax breaks for certain sectors of the industry. Cuomo, in opening the gathering, noted how sharply the number of facilities like microbreweries and farm distilleries has soared the past two years since he has taken office.

"Is there a connection between my (being) governor and people drinking? I don’t know, but if they’re drinking more New York product, great. I’m happy," Cuomo said.

Cuomo noted the obvious tax revenue benefits for his administration, which is facing another large projected deficit in next year’s budget, from an expanding New York state alcohol industry. "We have a percentage of your business, as I’m sure you know … So we are in business together and we want to grow the business," he told the group.

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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.

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.

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 |

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 |