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Florida's Rubio joins Corwin cause

As independent Jack Davis and Republican Jane L. Corwin continue to battle for voters aligned with the tea party movement, Corwin is set to score a major coup today with the endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a hero to tea party types.

A Corwin source said Rubio will announce his support today for the Clarence assemblywoman, and will make about 60,000 automated phone calls on her behalf to boot.

Voters in the 26th District can expect this message from Rubio: "We have changed the debate, we are moving in the right direction but we are in the middle of the fight. Jane Corwin will be a voice we need to keep that momentum up. Join me in supporting Jane and please go vote this coming Tuesday, May 24th in the special election. It is critical."

--Robert J. McCarthy

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EMILY's List backs Hochul

Though two high-profile women are competing in the special election for the the 26th Congressional District, there is now no question about support from one of the nation's premier female-oriented poltical organizations -- EMILY"s list.

The Washington-based organization that supports women candidates is backing Democrat Kathy Hochul over Republican Jane Corwin and Tea candidate Jack Davis.

“Kathy Hochul is an uncompromising leader and a fiscal watchdog who’s spent her career fighting for the families of Erie County –- putting aside politics as usual to fight for the jobs that families need,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List. “Kathy’s brand of smart innovation has repeatedly cut costs, eliminated red tape, and streamlined services for taxpayers and small businesses.

"In a special election where millionaire opponents could split the vote, Kathy’s strong candidacy gives Democrats an excellent opportunity to take back a GOP-held seat, " she added. "A tireless public servant, Kathy always stands up for what she believes in and we are proud to put the support of the EMILY’s List community behind her.”

Backing from EMILY's List could mean substantial financial and organizational support for Hochul's campaign.

--Robert J. McCarthy

Bellavia petitions will not be challenged

Neither major party candidate will challenge the designating petitions filed by independent congressional candidate David Bellavia, paving the way for the Iraq War veteran to become the fifth candidate on the ballot for the 26th Congressional District vacancy.


UPDATE: Bellavia unlikely to be on ballot


Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul's campaign said Thursday it would not interfere with Bellavia's filings, and Republican Jane L. Corwin followed today.

"We respect and value David Bellavia's service to our country and have not filed any objections to his petitions," said Corwin spokesman Matthew Harakal.

The major party candidates reacted to a challenge issued Thursday by Tea Party candidate Jack Davis, who said he would not challenge the Bellavia petitions and called on the Democratic and Republican candidates to do likewise.

The special election to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Republican Chris Lee will take place on May 24.

--Robert J. McCarthy

Minor candidates make presence known in race for Lee's old seat

Today was a day for minor party candidates to weigh in to the developing race for the vacancy in the 26th Congressional District, with Tea Party candidate Jack Davis leading the way.

Davis, who has promised to spend $3 milion of his own money in his fourth bid for the seat, said he will not contest the designating petitions of another minor party candidate -- David Bellavia. He called on Republican Jane L. Corwin, a Clarence assemblywoman, to also refrain from challenging the efforts of the Batavia veteran of the Iraq War to qualify for the ballot.

"David Bellavia has more than earned his place on the ballot," Davis said. "The Jack Davis campaign will not challenge the nominating petitions David Bellavia has filed. Jane Corwin should do the same.

"The Corwin campaign should stop trying to keep David Bellavia off the ballot," he said. "She should do the right thing, and, as our campaign does, respect David’s defense of democracy and respect the wishes of the people of this district to have a fair and open election."

The Corwin campaign did not immediately respond to the Davis challenge, while a spokesman for Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul said she has no plans to challenge the petitions.

Bellavia, meanwhile, who has applied for his own line for the May 24 special election, issued one of his first public comments of the campaign by questioning the U.S. military role in Libya.

"When a president is so detached from vital world affairs, so intent on fiddling while the Middle East burns, I know it is time to act. We need a House of Representatives that will push President Obama even harder to lead -- not follow -- in global affairs," Bellavia siad.

"My opponents Jane Corwin and Kathy Hochul have been silent on foreign policy, perhaps because they have never traveled to another country except as tourists. I have seen the world as it really is, and I believe the United States should lead the world’s democracies in supporting freedom and democracy in Libya and other Middle Eastern nations," he added. "We should be helping Libyan citizens remove the brutal Qaddafi regime, but we cannot stop there. We need to ensure that after Qaddafi’s departure, adequate planning and resources are available to establish freedom and civil rights for the citizens of Libya."

--Robert J. McCarthy

Weekly podcast: Jerry Zremski looks at week ahead in Washington

Budget talk -- for both this fiscal year and next -- takes center stage this week in the nation's capital.

Jerry Zremski, The News' Washington bureau chief, talks about both in his weekly Politics Now podcast looking at the week ahead in Washington, D.C.

Both President Obama's budget proposal and proposed cuts by Republican members of Congress will have a significant impact on Western New York.

Jerry also discusses two people with Buffalo connections who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Take a listen to our conversation:

Dowload the mp3 here.

Make sure to also follow @JerryZremski on Twitter.

--Aaron Besecker

Audio: Jerry Zremski looks at week ahead in Washington

A House vote to repeal health-care reform highlights the week ahead in Washington, D.C.

I spoke with Buffalo News Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski about what's happening in the nation's capital.

In addition to Wednesday's expected vote in the House, we also talked national debt, next week's State of the Union and a few other things.

Listen to our conversation:

Download the mp3 here.

Here's Jerry's recent story on the new Republican National Committee chairman. Review his live blog during the voting.

Make sure to also follow @JerryZremski on Twitter.

--Aaron Besecker

Can a 'Blue Dog' succeed in this blue state?

   WASHINGTON -- Among the Democrats in the House, there's this group that calls itself the "Blue Dogs," but they're really more red than blue, if red is the Republican color.

   Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand of the Hudson Valley is one of them -- and now she's about to become New York's junior senator.

   Gillibrand may be nicknamed "Little Hillary," but there are differences between the two. Most notably, Gillibrand is a staunch advocate of hunters' rights and a strong critic of lax immigration enforcement and expensive government.

   And that poses a very interesting question that will be answered sometime in 2010.

   Can a conservative Democrat get elected to the U.S. Senate from New York State?

   -- Jerry Zremski

Is Blagojevich serving crow to Reid and Obama?

   WASHINGTON - Senate Democratic leaders appeared to back off their solemn vow not to admit former Illinois Attorney General Roland W. Burris to the world's greatest deliberative body.
    After saying less than 10 days ago that Burris, the appointee of disgraced Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, "will not" be admitted, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., offered on Wednesday a pathway for Burris to take the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
    The move, joined by Obama and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., appears designed to defuse a messy legal and racial controversy that is clouding the environment leading up to Obama's inauguration in less than two weeks.
      The recipe, indicated by Reid and by Burris, in separate press conferences, involves getting the high court in Illinois to declare that Burris' appointment doesn't require the signature of the Illinois secretary of state and for Burris to testify before the Illinois Legislature about any contact he had with Blagojevich about the office.
       The formula doesn't promise to end the controversy soon, but it helps defuse right-wing charges that the Senate's Democrats don't want a black man to enter the chamber, and the probability that the U.S. Supreme Court will not uphold the Senate Democrats' rejection of Burris.
        On Dec. 30 Durbin and Obama called on Blagojevich to resign and let the state's lieutenant governor pick someone else. Blagojevich didn't quit, and yesterday Obama said he would  be able to work with Burris if he actually becomes a senator. Meanwhile, Judicial Watch, a conservative advocacy group, filed a Supreme Court suit charging that the Democrats' barring of Burris is unconstitutional.

            --Douglas Turner

Why are Hillary's friends dissing Caroline Kennedy?

  WASHINGTON — Now that the sole survivor of President Kennedy's family, Caroline, has made known her interest in being appointed to succeed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, some of Hillary's friends are turning up their noses at the idea.
   "Clintonites have made it clear that they remain unhappy that (Caroline) Kennedy endorsed (Barack) Obama during the Democratic primaries and have voiced concern that Clinton's Senate seat would be handed off to a New Yorker who did not support her presidential bid," The Washington Post reported today.
Clintoncaroline      Kennedy has attempted to reach Sen. Clinton, but the incumbent, who will be nominated by Obama to be secretary of state, has not yet spoken with Caroline. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has spoken with Kennedy but indicated he is not publicly taking sides among Kennedy and the dozen other Democrats who want Gov. David A. Paterson to name one of them.
      A Schumer protege, Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, D-Brooklyn, said "if she (Kennedy) has the gift of milking cows, it's been utterly hidden from people of the State of New York."
       Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-Queens, commented, "I don't know what Caroline Kennedy's qualifications are, except that she has name recognition, but so does J Lo (actress Jennifer Lopez). I wouldn't make J Lo the senator unless she proved that she had great qualifications, but we haven't seen them yet."
       Rep. Louise M.Slaughter, D-Fairport, and the Rev. Al Sharpton both said they welcome Kennedy's interest. Even so, Kennedy will find out early that Democratic politics in New York ain't bean-bag.
       The Huffington Post, which reported Kennedy's unreturned phone call to Sen. Clinton, quoted Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines saying, "This is entirely Gov. Paterson's decision, so (she) will not be commenting on it or any individual candidate, nor does any third party speak on her behalf."
      But the Clinton forces have an army of current and former aides very experienced in putting out material in the blogosphere, and none of the unattributed statements of Clinton "friends" are supportive of Kennedy.
      It is hard to take seriously their claims that they are lukewarm about Kennedy because she supported Obama. After all, didn't Sen. Clinton make peace with Obama and agree to be a leader on his national security team? Couldn't  political "oxygen" be the real reason? If Kennedy were appointed and won election in 2010, wouldn't she be the one commanding the front pages and the newscasts, and raising virtually unlimited amounts of campaign money, instead of Hillary and former President Bill Clinton?

--Douglas Turner


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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 |