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Bring your comments and questions to our Election Day chat

The Buffalo News and BuffaloNews.com will have all the issues and races covered on Election Day from the minute you wake up until the results unfold.

Starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, we'll have a live chat with guests to talk about the important issues, key races and the latest updates from across Western New York. Reporters Mary Pasciak and Patrick Lakamp will be your hosts. We'll also bring you insight from Political Reporter Bob McCarthy and Columnist Donn Esmonde. Here's what we have so far in terms of guests:

*10 a.m.: Reporter Gene Warner on what early-morning voters were saying at the polls

*10:30 a.m.: Deputy Managing Editor Stan Evans on what to watch for throughout the day

*11 a.m.: Washington Columnist Doug Turner on the national scene

*12 p.m.: Turner and Managing Editor Brian Connolly open it up for a discussion with readers

*1:10 p.m.: Health Reporter Henry Davis on health care issues

*1:40 p.m.: Business Editor Grove Potter on economic issues

*2:10 p.m.: Siena Research Institute pollster Steven A. Greenberg

*2:40 p.m.: Editorial Page Editor John Neville on The Buffalo News' endorsement process

*3:10 p.m.: Reporter Dan Herbeck on the Seneca Nation elections

*3:40 p.m.: Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski reports from Chicago

*4:10 p.m.: Buffalo News Editor Mike Connelly gives a Florida perspective

*4:40 p.m.: Reporter Jay Rey from the swing state of Ohio

*4:55 p.m.: Reporter Matt Glynn on local town board upsizing votes

*5:10 p.m.: Reporter Barbara O'Brien on area State Assembly races

*5:40 p.m.: Reporter Sandra Tan on the Erie County comptroller's race

*6:10 p.m.: Rochester D&C Reporter Jessica Alaimo on the Slaughter-Brooks race

*6:25 p.m.: Reporter Thomas J. Prohaska on the Witryol-Maziarz State Senate race

*6:40 p.m.: Reporter Denise Jewell Gee on the Collins-Hochul race

*7:10 p.m.: Reporter Charity Vogel on the Grisanti-Amodeo-Swanick race

*7:40 p.m.: Reporter Tom Precious reports from Boston

*8 p.m.: Metro Columnist Donn Esmonde chimes in

*8:30 p.m.: Political Reporter Bob McCarthy

We've also got a live video broadcast starting at noon. Check out that schedule.

Election Day coverage on BuffaloNews.com

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The Buffalo News and BuffaloNews.com will have you covered on Election Day from the minute you wake up until the results unfold.

Live chat
Starting at 10 a.m., we'll have a live chat with guests to talk about the important issues, key races and the latest updates from across Western New York. Reporters Mary Pasciak and Patrick Lakamp will be your hosts. We'll also bring you insight from Political Reporter Bob McCarthy and Columnist Donn Esmonde. Here's what we have so far in terms of guests:

*10 a.m.: Reporter Gene Warner on what early-morning voters were saying at the polls

*10:30 a.m.: Deputy Managing Editor Stan Evans on what to watch for throughout the day

*11 a.m.: Washington Columnist Doug Turner on the national scene

*12 p.m.: Turner and Managing Editor Brian Connolly open it up for a discussion with readers

*1:10 p.m.: Health Reporter Henry Davis on health care issues

*1:40 p.m.: Business Editor Grove Potter on economic issues

*2:10 p.m.: Siena Research Institute pollster Steven A. Greenberg

*2:40 p.m.: Editorial Page Editor John Neville on The Buffalo News' endorsement process

*3:10 p.m.: Reporter Dan Herbeck on the Seneca Nation elections

*3:40 p.m.: Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski reports from Chicago

*4:10 p.m.: Buffalo News Editor Mike Connelly gives a Florida perspective

*4:40 p.m.: Reporter Jay Rey from the swing state of Ohio

*4:55 p.m.: Reporter Matt Glynn on local town board upsizing votes

*5:10 p.m.: Reporter Barbara O'Brien on area State Assembly races

*5:40 p.m.: Reporter Sandra Tan on the Erie County comptroller's race

*6:10 p.m.: Rochester D&C Reporter Jessica Alaimo on the Slaughter-Brooks race

*6:25 p.m.: Reporter Thomas J. Prohaska on the Witryol-Maziarz State Senate race

*6:40 p.m.: Reporter Denise Jewell Gee on the Collins-Hochul race

*7:10 p.m.: Reporter Charity Vogel on the Grisanti-Amodeo-Swanick race

*7:40 p.m.: Reporter Tom Precious reports from Boston

*8 p.m.: Metro Columnist Donn Esmonde chimes in

*8:30 p.m.: Political Reporter Bob McCarthy

Live video
Hosted by reporters Brian Meyer and Phil Fairbanks, we'll have updates every half hour starting at noon, and then wall-to-wall coverage starting at 8 p.m. Our guests will include Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski who will be reporting from Chicago and Reporter Tom Precious from Boston.

*12 p.m.: Reporter Gene Warner on what early-morning voters were saying at the polls

*12:30 p.m.: Reporter Jay Rey from the swing state of Ohio

*1 p.m.: Reporter Henry Davis talks about health care issues and the election

*1:30 p.m.: Business Editor Grove Potter on the economy

*2 p.m.: Siena Research Institute pollster Steven A. Greenberg

*2:30 p.m.: Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski reports from Chicago

*3 p.m.: Editorial Writer Kevin Walter on The Buffalo News' endorsement process

*3:30 p.m.: Reporter Dan Herbeck on issues in the Seneca Nation election

*4 p.m.: Reporter Tom Precious reports from Boston

*4:30 p.m.: Reporter Jay Rey reports from Ohio

*5 p.m.: Reporter Barbara O'Brien reports on area State Assembly races

*5:30 p.m.: Reporter Sandra Tan on the Erie County comptroller race

*6 p.m.: Rochester D&C Reporter Jessica Alaimo on the Slaughter-Brooks race

*6:30 p.m.: Reporter Denise Jewell Gee on the Hochul-Collins race

*7 p.m.: Reporter Charity Vogel on the Grisanti-Amodeo-Swanick race

*7:30 p.m.: Albany Bureau Chief Tom Precious reports from Boston

The latest results
When the polls close, BuffaloNews.com will deliver the latest numbers from across the region, the state and the country.

NYSUT gives $100,000 to Erie County Democrats

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – The state’s politically potent union representing teachers has pumped $100,000 into the Erie County Democratic Party’s coffers, a portion of which is likely to help the financially struggling campaign of Democrat Michael Amodeo in next week’s state Senate race.

The New York State United Teachers union, which earlier this month cancelled a pro-Amodeo ad campaign that was to cost at least $150,000, donated the six-figure amount to the county party a week ago, according to campaign filings made public today.

While the union did not directly give the $100,000 to Amodeo, the county party can spend the funds on behalf of him – or any other candidates it may be trying to help elect next week. Jeremy Zellner, chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, did not immediately return calls for comment this afternoon.

Local members of NYSUT have been conducting phone calling operations and neighborhood canvassing on behalf of Amodeo and the statewide NYSUT union based outside Albany has endorsed him over incumbent Sen. Mark Grisanti. The union, among its priorities, is hoping to get changes to the state’s property tax cap law; Amodeo has said he would support changing the provision that now calls for 60 percent of voters' approval for an override of the annual 2 percent cap to a simple majority of 50 percent plus one.

The $100,000 NYSUT donation dwarfed all other contributions the county party received the past three weeks; in all during the most recent reporting period, the party group raised $123,000.

Beyond the donation to the Erie County Democrats revealed on the party's disclosure to the state elections board, NYSUT’s campaign spending the past three weeks is unknown; the union’s latest campaign report, due last Friday, is still not posted yet on the election board’s web site.

McCarthy: State GOP's identity crisis

Bob McCarthy writes in today's column:

[GOP State Sen. Mark] Grisanti has hitched his wagon to the Cuomo star, and most say the Democratic governor is returning as many favors as possible.

Now the strategy has reached a whole new level. Not only is Grisanti touting his relationship with Cuomo, but so is the New York State Republican Party. Mailings arrived at 60th District homes over the past few days with lots of photos of “Mark and Andrew.” The effort to link them together could not be more clear.

Read Bob's column here.

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 BuffaloNews.com.

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 [email protected] or send a message on Twitter to @TheBuffaloNews.

Candidates in 60th Senate race spar on issues, personalities

Debate
Charles M. Swanick, the Conservative Party candidate for the 60th Senate district seat, speaks during this morning's debate at St. Joe's as Democrat Michael Amodeo, left, and Republican incumbent Mark J. Grisanti listen. (John Hickey / Buffalo News)

By Charity Vogel

The three chief candidates in the race for the 60th Senate district seat this fall criticized each other – in matters personal and political – and offered arguments for their own agendas in a debate before a packed auditorium at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute Wednesday morning.

The discussion was heated and humorous by turns, before an audience of several hundred students, faculty members, and members of the press.

The debate, an autumn tradition at the Catholic high school on Kenmore Avenue, was the first – and could be the only – time that the three main candidates in the contentious race have engaged in a debate on the issues.

Incumbent Republican Mark J. Grisanti spoke about his record over the past two years since his election to the office in 2010, and referenced several times his close working relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.

Grisanti, a Buffalo resident, called his record a testimony to his “fantastic rapport” with Cuomo. Michael Amodeo, an attorney from Hamburg who is challenging Grisanti on the Democratic line, called Grisanti’s record of voting with the Republicans in Albany “95 percent of the time” a sign that Grisanti is not as independent as he claims to be. “People want change,” said Amodeo. “They want people who fully represent their community.”

Charles M. Swanick, the challenger running on the Conservative Party line, said that he has knocked on 7,200 doors in the district so far, and is hearing from constituents that they want to see change in Albany.

“We need to change the mindset of the people in Albany, to get things moving for once and for all,” said Swanick, a Town of Tonawanda resident and former Erie County Legislature chairman.

A live video debate among the candidates in the 60th Senate district will be hosted by The Buffalo News on Oct. 31, but so far only Swanick and Amodeo have agreed to participate in that discussion.

Grisanti has declined the invitation of The Buffalo News to take part.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Next week: 60th Senate district debate

Send in your questions for a live video debate among candidates for the 60th District seat in the New York State Senate.

The debate, hosted by The Buffalo News, will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, and be shown on BuffaloNews.com.

Democrat Michael Amodeo and Conservative Party candidate Charles Swanick have agreed to participate in the half-hour debate, which will be moderated by the News’ Bob McCarthy and Brian Meyer. Readers will have the chance to have their questions answered.

Simply email your questions to Assistant Online Editor Aaron Besecker at [email protected] by noon Tuesday, Oct. 30.

(Republican incumbent Mark Grisanti has not accepted The News’ invitation to participate in the debate. Grisanti's campaign rejected three proposed dates and was given a chance to suggest a time that worked for them, but they did not offer any alternative.)

Court dismissed gay marriage legal challenge

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – The state’s highest court, in a ruling that surprised few legal watchers, declined to hear a case today challenging the procedure by which the state Senate approved gay marriage rights last year.

The now-dismissed lawsuit, brought by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, whose leadership is composed mostly of evangelical ministers, featured a number of claims, including that the state’s open meetings law was violated at least twice prior to the vote that okayed the measure.

The court was not asked to look at the broader constitutional issue of same-sex marital rights, a course some critics of the law could still try to launch. "What is most troubling is that the court has surrendered its rightful role as a check and balance on an out-of-control Legislature," said Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of group that brought the suit.

Critics noted one Senate Republican who voted for the bill – Roy McDonald of Saratoga County – has already seen his political career end with a September primary defeat and another, James Alesi of Rochester, decided against facing voters this fall by retiring. Buffalo Senate Republican Mark Grisanti lost the Conservative Party line because of his support for the bill, though he is leading in general election polls. The fourth Senate GOP backer, Steve Saland of Dutchess County, is facing a tough re-election fight this fall, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to his defense last week by crossing party lines to endorse the veteran lawmaker.

Cuomo, who made the gay marriage bill his signature policy piece of 2011, praised the Court of Appeals decision not to hear the legal challenge. "The freedom to marry in this state is secure for generations to come," Cuomo said in a statement this afternoon.

Grisanti gets endorsements, money help

Grisanti
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.

##

Fracking fighting words in the 60th

Add fracking to the list of hot-button issues that are occupying candidates in the 60th Senate district race this campaign season.

Mike Amodeo, the Lake View resident who is running against incumbent Republican Mark J. Grisanti for the 60th district seat, this week released a statement criticizing Grisanti for being endorsed by the pro-hydrofracking group Unshackle Upstate.

The Rochester-based group’s policies and agenda are not in the best interests of Western New York residents – many of whom oppose fracking – and Grisanti should distance himself from them, Amodeo charged.

Democrat Amodeo, in his criticism, called Grisanti “one of the biggest pro-hydrofracking Senators in the state.”

Grisanti’s office said the Senator’s position on fracking is this:

Grisanti is awaiting the results of a public-comment period that was recently held by the Department of Environmental Conservation, which gathered some 80,000 comments on the issue.

And, Grisanti also said that he presses for protections for upstate residents wherever possible in environmental matters.

 --- Charity Vogel

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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.

[email protected]


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.

[email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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