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It's official: Wednesday is Booze Day in Albany

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- It's as close as Albany, with no major pro or college sports teams, can come to a tailgating party: The Booze Summit.

Or, as state officials would prefer, the Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit.

No matter the party-on signals that might be sent, state officials are intent on shining a spotlight, so to speak, on the state's industries that help produce and market beer, wine and liquor. The summit, to be held Wednesday in Albany, comes following Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Yogurt Summit in August. The idea is to outline ways the industry and state can work together to promote a private business marketplace. 

The governor's office did not yet announce Wednesday's event; the New York Farm Bureau jumped in and let the word out this morning.

Grisanti gets endorsements, money help

Republican State Sen. Mark Grisanti (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News file photo)

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -– Buffalo Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti this morning picked up two endorsements, neither a surprise, in his re-election bid.

The Business Council of New York State, which traditionally backs incumbents and has shown little interest in seeing the Republicans lose control of the Senate, said it is backing the freshman Republican because of his “pro-growth initiatives.’’

The New York League of Conservation Voters, which interestingly put out its Grisanti endorsement in the same release with the Business Council, cited some of the senator’s positions on environmental matters for its backing. Grisanti is chairman of the Senate environmental conservation committee.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported this morning that several groups are spending money on candidates they believe might be willing to support changes to the state’s incumbent-friendly campaign finance system. While Grisanti has not led any effort to amend the finance laws, Protect our Democracy plans on spending $100,000 on television ads in the Buffalo area on behalf of Grisanti. The group is funded by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and his husband, Sean Eldridge.


The Read: Political chatter from elsewhere

Each Saturday on the Politics Now blog, you'll find a list of stories that caught the eyes of The News' political reporters. Here's a sampling of what they were reading the last week:

This week's debate between U.S. Senate candidates Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic incumbent, and Wendy Long, endorsed by Conservatives and Republicans, was one of the most high-profile events in an otherwise lightly covered contest. The Times-Union's Jimmy Vielkind reports the debate revealed "clear splits" between the candidates on abortion and hydraulic fracturing, while The Atlantic's David Graham weighs in on the incorporation of "50 Shades of Grey" into a debate question.

Nick Confessore at The New York Times profiles the man who has given more than $20 million in political donations in Missouri since 2008, when the state eliminated contribution limits.

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney set aside their apparent contempt for each other during a light-hearted night at the Al Smith dinner in Manhattan, writes the Times' Richard A. Oppel Jr.  

A voter registration organizer who has worked on behalf of Republicans has been arrested and charged with fraud, accused of throwing out voter registration forms, reports Michael Isikoff of NBC. 

Obama is battling to maintain support from women, which is considered crucial to his chances for re-election, reports Liz Halloran at NPR. 

Meanwhile, a SuperPAC supporting Romney has seen a surge in donations, according to a USA Today story from Fredreka Schouten and Christopher Schnaars.

Construction jobs among sectors declining in New York

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Add this to the ongoing debate over the state’s unemployment situation: industry executives are voicing concerns over declining construction jobs in New York.

The Associated General Contractors of America reports this morning that the Empire State lost 12,500 construction jobs in the 12 months ending September 2012, or a 4.1 percent decline. That placed New York 38th among states in construction employment activity during the period, the group noted in data it analyzed from federal job reports.

Construction jobs, both for public and private projects, are an important indicator of economic health for states.

The trade group said 22 states, led by Texas and California, saw construction gains during the 12-month period, while New York joined Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as among the states on the construction job loss list. The group said New York lost 4,700 construction jobs between August and September this year.

The state’s unemployment picture has gotten renewed attention with a growing number of media reports about New York’s relatively high jobless rate – 8.9 percent last month compared to 7.8 percent nationally. The Cuomo administration has pushed back against relying solely on unemployment statistics as a portrayal of the state’s economy.

Video: Obama on Daily Show

President Obama's appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart took a serious turn when the President discussed the fatal attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Obama said when something goes wrong, his job is to fix it. (Source: Associated Press)

Collins claims seven-point lead over Hochul

  By Robert J. McCarthy

    A new fundraising appeal for Republican Chris Collins' congressional candidacy claims he has opened a seven-point lead over Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul.

   The Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted for the Collins campaign said the former Erie County executive has risen in the polls simultaneously with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The Collins fundraising appeal says Collins now leads Hochul 50 to 43 percent.

    "Collins has reached 50 percent on the ballot and now leads Hochul by a seven-point margin," the funding appeal says. "He has solid intensity of support, with 37 percent of voters definitely choosing Collins, and 32 percent definitely choosing Hochul."

   And in a category of the fundraising memo sent to GOP donors labeled "bottom line," well known Washington pollsters Glen Bolger and Jim Hobart say Collins is on the move.

   "His support remains solid and incumbent Kathy Hochul has failed to improve her position since July," the memo says. "Collins has the momentum to win this election."

   The Public Opion Strategies poll surveyed 400 likely voters on Oct. 10 and 11, and has a margin of error of 5 percent. A Siena College poll conducted for The Buffao News and WGRZ-TV approximately one week before (ahead of the first debate between Romney and President Obama) showed Hochul and Collins dead even at 47 percent.

   Significantly, the new poll shows Romney expanding his lead in the 27th District over Obama -- 55 to 41 percent.

   "Romney is well over the 50 percent mark and leads by a comfortable 14 points," the memo says. "This is a net seven-point improvement from September’s ballot of 49 to 42 percent."

   The Collins email appeal for funds asks potential donors to "help him fight to keep his lead in the last few days of this election."


House Majority Leader Cantor to raise funds for Collins

By Robert J. McCarthy
   It's big guns season in the hot congressional race between Republican Chris Collins and Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul in the 27th District.

   As former President Bill Clinton stumps Rochester Friday for Hochul, Collins will host House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia on Oct. 31 for two major fundraising events in Amherst.

   The first is a $1,000-per-person event at the home of Robert and Lisa Fox in Williamsville; the second is a $150 general reception at Sonoma Grille on Main Street.

   Cantor is no stranger to the congressional fundraising scene in Western New York. He headlined local events for former Rep. Christopher J. Lee in 2009 and for Jane L. Corwin in her unsuccessful effort against Hochul in the special election of 2011.

Cuomo says 2016 speculation can hurt him

The governor in Batavia in August. (Buffalo News file photo)

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will be doing more surrogate campaigning for President Obama in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, but said he is worried if he goes too far on the national political stump it could hurt his ability to govern at home.

With his name in the mix as a possible contender in the 2016 White House campaign, Cuomo told an Albany radio station this morning that he has to be aware of the pitfalls such political chatter can create. Cuomo appeared in the spin room promoting Obama after the president's debate the other night on Long Island against Mitt Romney.

"It hurts me as governor. If you politicize me, you cast aspirations on my motivations and intent … you’re going to hurt my capacity and ability to serve as governor," Cuomo said of perceptions that could come with him campaigning for Obama and his 2016 aspirations.

Cuomo ended with a slap at the press for speculating about such things in the first place, adding that it is easier and less "fatiguing" to write such stories than looking at real policy matters.

National Dems buy ads for Hochul in Rochester

By Robert J. McCarthy

Throughout the big 26th District congressional race between challenger Chris Collins and incumbent Kathleen C. Hochul, one big question loomed over the advertising effort: Would national Democrats sponsor critical TV ads like their GOP counterparts?

Now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's independent expenditure arm has answered by buying $260,000 worth of television ads in Rochester for Hochul, according to a report in Roll Call.

The purchase brings the total spent by outside groups in the district to more than $3 million, with the majority for Collins.

First ads air for Erie County comptroller

By Denise Jewell Gee

The race for Erie County Comptroller has hit the airwaves.

Democrat David J. Shenk and Republican Stefan Mychajliw have launched their first ads this week -- with both candidates keeping things positive for now.

Shenk, a former Boston Town Clerk who was appointed comptroller earlier this year to replace Mark Poloncarz, focuses on his experience in the U.S. Army Reserves as he introduces himself in the 30-second ad as video shows him at the Rath Building.

"For 23 years, I served our country both in Iraq and Afghanistan, learning leadership, discipline and focus," Shenk says in an ad that started airing Monday. "I use these skills as your comptroller, along with two decades of experience as a town clerk and tax collector."

Mychaljiw, a former television reporter who now runs a public relations firm, will launch an ad today that focuses on his work reporting on "pork and patronage" for Channel 2.

"I'm Stefan Mychaljiw, the son of Polish and Ukranian immigrants, who taught me about honesty and the value of a dollar," Mychajliw says as the camera scrolls over photographs of his family. "As an investigative reporter, I never forgot that."

View Shenk's ad here:

Here's Mychaljiw's commercial:

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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 |