Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/elections 2018-09-26T12:49:21+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Post-Primary Campaign Finance Filings Show Cuomo’s Already Spent $28 Million 2018-09-25T20:47:05+00:00 2018-09-25T20:47:05+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7957:post-primary-campaign-finance-filings-show-cuomo-s-already-spent-28-million Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/govandrewcuomo-office.jpg" alt="govandrewcuomo office" /></p> <p>Photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat running for reelection to a third term, successfully claimed the Democratic Party nomination earlier this month after a bitter primary battle against actor and education activist Cynthia Nixon. But the victory came at significant cost as Cuomo spent more than $20 million this year alone, nearly ten times what Nixon spent in total as she attempted to unseat him.</p> <p>Cuomo, who won with 64.4 percent of the vote to Nixon’s 34.4 percent in the September 13 primary, is headed into the general election with roughly $11.6 million at his disposal, according to the latest campaign finance disclosures filed with the State Board of Elections.</p> <p>In the three weeks covered by the filing, between September 1 and September 21, Cuomo’s campaign spent more than $5 million and raised about $567,000. About $1.9 million was spent on television ads through the firm Media Fortitude Partners, and the campaign also transferred about $2.4 million to the New York State Democratic Committee, which Cuomo controls and which has been boosting his campaign with ads of its own, while also supporting Cuomo-aligned candidates, especially Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and attorney general nominee Letitia James, the New York City Public Advocate.</p> <p>So far, in this four-year election cycle, Cuomo has raised more than $36 million and spent more than $28 million. Not all of Cuomo’s spending thus far went directly toward the primary alone -- even prior to defeating Nixon, he had begun spending on ads targeting Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive. Cuomo received a total of 964,883 votes, spending about $29 per vote, while Nixon got 508,125, spending roughly $4.4 per vote.</p> <p>Nixon raised $2.7 million in total for her campaign and spent about $2.2 million in her first-time bid for office, as of this post-primary filing. Her relatively lean campaign relied mostly on small-dollar individual donors rather than wealthy corporate ones and LLCs, which funded Cuomo’s deep coffers. Nixon only ran ads in the last few days before the primary and was unable to overcome Cuomo’s significant incumbency advantages, any issues Democratic voters had with her candidacy, and the governor’s two-term resume.</p> <p>Hochul, Cuomo’s running-mate who has now joined him on the general election ticket, also beat her own primary challenger, Brooklyn City Council Member Jumaane Williams. Though Williams had far fewer resources for his campaign, the race was fairly tight. Hochul won with 53.3 percent against Williams’ 46.7 percent.</p> <p>Hochul spent about $318,000 in the last few weeks and raised $251,000. Her campaign has another $323,000 left. She raised a total of $2.3 million this cycle and has spent nearly $2.2 million of it.</p> <p>Williams stumbled with his fundraising early on and only raised a total of $322,000 and spent about $278,000 over the entire campaign. He has just over $20,000 left in his account, which he could transfer to another city or state campaign account if he decides to run for another position before he is term-limited out of his current office in 2021.</p> <p>Cuomo and Hochul will face the joint Republican ticket of Molinaro and lieutenant governor nominee Julie Killian, a former Rye City Council member and recent state senate candidate. Other general election contenders include the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins, Libertarian Larry Sharpe, and Stephanie Miner, the former Syracuse mayor who is running as an independent, and their respective lieutenant governor running-mates.</p> <p>In the four-way contest for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, James emerged as the victor, setting her up to face Republican Keith Wofford, Green Party nominee Michael Sussman, and the Reform Party’s Nancy Sliwa. The seat was vacated by former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after facing allegations of physical abuse by multiple intimate partners.</p> <p>James raised $2.2 million and spent about $1.9 million in total for her successful campaign, which got her 40.6 percent of the vote in the primary. She had about $275,000 left for the general election as of the post-primary filing, but is heavily favored in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one and no Republican has won statewide since 2002.</p> <p>Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout came in second in the race, with 31 percent, after running a grassroots campaign that also received the backing of several newspaper editorial boards. At times, Teachout’s opponents appeared to view her as the frontrunner rather than James, who had the backing of Cuomo and the state’s Democratic establishment. Teachout raised about $1.9 million and spent about $1.85 million in total.</p> <p>Democratic Congressional Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney campaigned fairly lightly but doled out massive amounts of cash to blanket the airwaves with ads. Utilizing funds raised for his congressional reelection, Maloney raised nearly $3 million to run for attorney general and spent more than $5 million, but finished third with 25 percent of the vote.</p> <p>Leecia Eve, a Verizon executive who has served as an aide to Cuomo, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, came in last with 3.4 percent. She raised about $408,000 and spent $417,000 on the campaign.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated to note the amount that Cuomo and Nixon spent per vote.&nbsp;</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/govandrewcuomo-office.jpg" alt="govandrewcuomo office" /></p> <p>Photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat running for reelection to a third term, successfully claimed the Democratic Party nomination earlier this month after a bitter primary battle against actor and education activist Cynthia Nixon. But the victory came at significant cost as Cuomo spent more than $20 million this year alone, nearly ten times what Nixon spent in total as she attempted to unseat him.</p> <p>Cuomo, who won with 64.4 percent of the vote to Nixon’s 34.4 percent in the September 13 primary, is headed into the general election with roughly $11.6 million at his disposal, according to the latest campaign finance disclosures filed with the State Board of Elections.</p> <p>In the three weeks covered by the filing, between September 1 and September 21, Cuomo’s campaign spent more than $5 million and raised about $567,000. About $1.9 million was spent on television ads through the firm Media Fortitude Partners, and the campaign also transferred about $2.4 million to the New York State Democratic Committee, which Cuomo controls and which has been boosting his campaign with ads of its own, while also supporting Cuomo-aligned candidates, especially Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and attorney general nominee Letitia James, the New York City Public Advocate.</p> <p>So far, in this four-year election cycle, Cuomo has raised more than $36 million and spent more than $28 million. Not all of Cuomo’s spending thus far went directly toward the primary alone -- even prior to defeating Nixon, he had begun spending on ads targeting Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive. Cuomo received a total of 964,883 votes, spending about $29 per vote, while Nixon got 508,125, spending roughly $4.4 per vote.</p> <p>Nixon raised $2.7 million in total for her campaign and spent about $2.2 million in her first-time bid for office, as of this post-primary filing. Her relatively lean campaign relied mostly on small-dollar individual donors rather than wealthy corporate ones and LLCs, which funded Cuomo’s deep coffers. Nixon only ran ads in the last few days before the primary and was unable to overcome Cuomo’s significant incumbency advantages, any issues Democratic voters had with her candidacy, and the governor’s two-term resume.</p> <p>Hochul, Cuomo’s running-mate who has now joined him on the general election ticket, also beat her own primary challenger, Brooklyn City Council Member Jumaane Williams. Though Williams had far fewer resources for his campaign, the race was fairly tight. Hochul won with 53.3 percent against Williams’ 46.7 percent.</p> <p>Hochul spent about $318,000 in the last few weeks and raised $251,000. Her campaign has another $323,000 left. She raised a total of $2.3 million this cycle and has spent nearly $2.2 million of it.</p> <p>Williams stumbled with his fundraising early on and only raised a total of $322,000 and spent about $278,000 over the entire campaign. He has just over $20,000 left in his account, which he could transfer to another city or state campaign account if he decides to run for another position before he is term-limited out of his current office in 2021.</p> <p>Cuomo and Hochul will face the joint Republican ticket of Molinaro and lieutenant governor nominee Julie Killian, a former Rye City Council member and recent state senate candidate. Other general election contenders include the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins, Libertarian Larry Sharpe, and Stephanie Miner, the former Syracuse mayor who is running as an independent, and their respective lieutenant governor running-mates.</p> <p>In the four-way contest for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, James emerged as the victor, setting her up to face Republican Keith Wofford, Green Party nominee Michael Sussman, and the Reform Party’s Nancy Sliwa. The seat was vacated by former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after facing allegations of physical abuse by multiple intimate partners.</p> <p>James raised $2.2 million and spent about $1.9 million in total for her successful campaign, which got her 40.6 percent of the vote in the primary. She had about $275,000 left for the general election as of the post-primary filing, but is heavily favored in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one and no Republican has won statewide since 2002.</p> <p>Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout came in second in the race, with 31 percent, after running a grassroots campaign that also received the backing of several newspaper editorial boards. At times, Teachout’s opponents appeared to view her as the frontrunner rather than James, who had the backing of Cuomo and the state’s Democratic establishment. Teachout raised about $1.9 million and spent about $1.85 million in total.</p> <p>Democratic Congressional Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney campaigned fairly lightly but doled out massive amounts of cash to blanket the airwaves with ads. Utilizing funds raised for his congressional reelection, Maloney raised nearly $3 million to run for attorney general and spent more than $5 million, but finished third with 25 percent of the vote.</p> <p>Leecia Eve, a Verizon executive who has served as an aide to Cuomo, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, came in last with 3.4 percent. She raised about $408,000 and spent $417,000 on the campaign.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated to note the amount that Cuomo and Nixon spent per vote.&nbsp;</p>
Cuomo and His Progressive Critics Face Moment of Truth 2018-09-24T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-24T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7954:cuomo-and-his-progressive-critics-face-moment-of-truth Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/cuomo_smiling_andrewcuomo.jpg" alt="cuomo smiling andrewcuomo" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo (photo: @andrewcuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo, emboldened after a sizeable Democratic primary victory, and an invigorated progressive movement with recent wins of its own, are again forced to grapple with the rift between them, as the factions must decide what steps they are willing to take to unite in the aftermath of a contentious primary season.</p> <p>Facing <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7950-gubernatorial-candidates-miner-sharpe-hawkins-lay-out-campaign-platforms-cases-against-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a handful</a> of general election opponents led by Republican Marc Molinaro, Cuomo has given mixed signals to the 500,000-plus voters who chose Cynthia Nixon on September 13, many of whom likely helped lift a group of left-wing challengers over seven sitting state senators. Some of those challengers -- Molinaro, Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins, independent Stephanie Miner, and Libertarian Larry Sharpe -- have begun making direct appeals to Nixon voters, while Cuomo has not.</p> <p>Before the end of next week, one of the governor’s chief progressive critics, the Working Families Party, is expected to have determined what to do with its ballot line after Cuomo defeated its first choice in round one. The WFP nominated Nixon for governor and Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, but saw them both lose in the Democratic primary, throwing into question whether the two will actually appear as WFP candidates on the November ballot. Party members will in the coming days decide via internal meetings who they are willing to support in November.</p> <p>The party may offer its ballot line to Cuomo, who has downplayed the magnitude of his left-wing critics after he won two-thirds of the primary vote and openly warred with the WFP for years, including since just after it agreed to nominate him in 2014.</p> <p>As NY1’s Zack Fink <a href="https://twitter.com/ZackFinkNews/status/1044306039284408322" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported Monday</a>, WFP leaders will meet privately on Wednesday to discuss the party’s next steps, and will the following Wednesday convene in a public meeting as a full WFP state committee, apparently to vote on a general election slate for governor and lieutenant governor, as well as an attorney general candidate. (The party had previously installed a placeholder, while expressing support for both Zephyr Teachout and primary winner Letitia James).</p> <p>The impending decision will come after the WFP backed Nixon, who took up the cause of the state’s disgruntled progressives frustrated with Cuomo’s centrist triangulation on a host of issues, enabled in part by his support of a Republican state Senate bolstered by breakaway Democrats. With just six weeks until Election Day, November 6, the WFP is faced with the decision of backing a governor with whom it has had a deeply antagonistic relationship — and who has thus far declined to extend an olive branch to the WFP and more broadly those to the left of Cuomo — or a candidate who has little-to-no chance of becoming governor, possibly putting a dent in Cuomo’s vote total.</p> <p>The WFP, notably, needs at least 50,000 votes on its ballot line for its gubernatorial candidate in order to keep that automatic line in elections for the next four years. If no alternative move is made, Nixon and Williams would remain on the line. (Governor and lieutenant governor are voted on separately in party primaries but as a ticket in the general). <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7808-the-cynthia-nixon-working-families-party-back-up-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A back-up plan for removing Nixon</a> from the gubernatorial ballot line — a somewhat tricky process — has been in place for months, with the WFP and Nixon acknowledging that her chances in the primary were slim and pledging not to play “spoiler” in the general election by peeling away votes from Cuomo.</p> <p>The party will answer the looming question of whether to leave Nixon on its line, pick Cuomo, which would necessitate a deal with the notoriously score-keeping governor, or possibly someone else, based on what members believe is best for the causes it champons, the party’s political director, Bill Lipton, told Gotham Gazette on Monday.</p> <p>“The WFP is having its own internal deliberations,” Lipton said by phone. “We’ll be having meetings, phone calls and other communications, where people are going to air their views, and, as has been oft-stated, the candidates, the leadership, the grassroots members of the WFP will be arriving at a decision together.”</p> <p>Lipton declined to say if any discussions with Cuomo’s camp had occurred in recent weeks.</p> <p>“We’re focused on our internal deliberations and doing what’s best for working families in New York State,” he said.</p> <p>Additionally, Lipton said the WFP has, as expected, been communicating with Nixon and Williams, the Brooklyn City Council member who ran against incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul in the primary. “We’re going to talk a lot with Cynthia and Jumaane,” Lipton said. “We consider them part of our community.”</p> <p>Nixon has made no public comments since her primary night concessive speech, which was celebratory and forward-looking. A top Nixon campaign operative was noncommittal when asked about the matter last week.</p> <p>“I don’t want to divulge much,” Nixon campaign chief strategist Rebecca Katz <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7942-max-murphy-podcast-primary-post-mortem-with-rebecca-katz-top-cynthia-nixon-strategist" target="_blank" rel="noopener">said on the Max and Murphy podcast</a>. “There will be some answers, and they will be coming soon.” Katz went on to acknowledge that Nixon had previously said she’d prefer Cuomo to Molinaro, and reiterated that Nixon has always been and will remain a Democrat.</p> <p>Though Nixon came up well short of defeating Cuomo, all but two of the eight challengers to former members of the Independent Democratic Conference — a group of breakaway Democrats allied with Republicans in the State Senate — pulled off victories that shook up the New York political world. Additionally, left-wing insurgent Julia Salazar knocked off veteran state Senator Martin Dilan. All nine Senate challengers were backed by the WFP. But Cuomo said in his defiant post-primary press conference that their success did not serve as a rejection of his brand of progressivism.</p> <p>Though Cuomo had given his tacit support and generic endorsement to his fellow Democratic incumbents as part of the April unity deal that brought the IDC back to the mainline Democratic fold, the governor downplayed the results and anything they might say about the extent to which his leadership was rebuked by voters.</p> <p>Democrats clearly approved of his get-things-done, somewhat-tempered progressivism, the governor explained the day after the primary, pointing to his margin of victory — 65.6 percent to Nixon’s 34.4 percent — even with a major boom in turnout from four years ago, when he prevailed by a similar percentage over Zephyr Teachout. While the former IDC members struggled immensely, the two Cuomo-endorsed statewide candidates — Hochul and James — won their hotly-contested primaries.</p> <p>What many deemed a progressive wave was “not even a ripple,” the two-term governor said the day after the primary, throwing cold water on the narrative that the primary was part of a surge in popularity of a Democratic vision in stark contrast to his.</p> <p>“Where was that effect yesterday?” Cuomo said of a supposed progressive wave in the state, represented by the candidacies of Nixon and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Where was it?”</p> <p>“It was upstate. It was downstate, white, black, brown — it was across the board,” he said of the coalition that contributed to his decisive win.<br /> <br />He added the victory proved that he and New York Democrats “provided and achieved progress,” which was the “message” voters delivered in the election.</p> <p>But what about those 500,000 Nixon voters and the disenchanted left they represent? Will they rally behind Cuomo, beaming with confidence and dismissiveness, as the Democratic nominee? Will WFP members swallow the indignity of offering him their ballot line?</p> <p>At least two of the leaders of the successful primary purity push backed by the WFP are staying out of the fray.<br /> <br />André Richardson, a spokesperson for successful IDC challenger Zellnor Myrie, said in a statement that Myrie “respects” the WFP’s “internal process.”</p> <p>“He looks forward to continuing to fight side by side with them on progressive issues,” Richardson said.</p> <p>David Neustadt, a spokesperson for Alessandra Biaggi, who defeated former IDC leader Jeff Klein, said in a statement that Biaggi is “supporting the Democratic Party nominees for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General.” He declined to say whether Biaggi has a preference on the WFP’s choice, but said the candidate “respects the internal democratic process of the WFP, which appropriately allows the members of the Party to determine whom that party endorses."</p> <p>Rachel May, who prevailed over former IDC member David Valesky in her primary and like Myrie and Biaggi received Nixon’s support, said she believed Cuomo is the definitive leader of the Democratic Party, and is open to the WFP handing the ballot line to Cuomo.</p> <p>“I’m not categorically opposed to it,” she explained. “I was running for Democratic unity all along. That’s what our whole campaign against the IDC was about. And so I feel like Democratic voters have spoken about who should be the standard-bearer moving forward.”</p> <p>“I supported her in the primary but I think I would encourage her not to campaign actively against the governor in the general,” May said of Nixon.</p> <p>May stopped short of saying it is her preference that the WFP give Cuomo its nomination. “I’m willing to only say ‘I will not object,’” she said.</p> <p>May, who said the governor’s team was among the first to congratulate her after the primary, went on to speak to the need of uniting the warring factions of the party — something Cuomo and his team have been loathe to do following the primary. Cuomo, for example, made no mention of Nixon or her supporters during an event billed as a unity rally held the week after the election.</p> <p>“I want to work together with whoever is elected governor. It’s looking more and more like Governor Cuomo,” said May, who may be facing a tough general election that could include Valesky on the Independence and Women’s Equality ballot lines, both of which Cuomo also has. “I think the less we divide the more progressive voters the better, at this point.”</p> <p>Asked if Cuomo’s post-primary press conference — where he did more spiking the football than calling for party unity — worked toward that goal, May said Cuomo and his allies are “eager to work with Democrats moving forward.”</p> <p>“I feel like we we’re going to all get on the same page,” she continued. “We still need reform in Albany. It’s not going to be a rubber stamp Senate for [Cuomo]. So I understand that, but I also understand that he wants to work with us.”</p> <p> </p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/cuomo_smiling_andrewcuomo.jpg" alt="cuomo smiling andrewcuomo" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo (photo: @andrewcuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo, emboldened after a sizeable Democratic primary victory, and an invigorated progressive movement with recent wins of its own, are again forced to grapple with the rift between them, as the factions must decide what steps they are willing to take to unite in the aftermath of a contentious primary season.</p> <p>Facing <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7950-gubernatorial-candidates-miner-sharpe-hawkins-lay-out-campaign-platforms-cases-against-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a handful</a> of general election opponents led by Republican Marc Molinaro, Cuomo has given mixed signals to the 500,000-plus voters who chose Cynthia Nixon on September 13, many of whom likely helped lift a group of left-wing challengers over seven sitting state senators. Some of those challengers -- Molinaro, Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins, independent Stephanie Miner, and Libertarian Larry Sharpe -- have begun making direct appeals to Nixon voters, while Cuomo has not.</p> <p>Before the end of next week, one of the governor’s chief progressive critics, the Working Families Party, is expected to have determined what to do with its ballot line after Cuomo defeated its first choice in round one. The WFP nominated Nixon for governor and Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, but saw them both lose in the Democratic primary, throwing into question whether the two will actually appear as WFP candidates on the November ballot. Party members will in the coming days decide via internal meetings who they are willing to support in November.</p> <p>The party may offer its ballot line to Cuomo, who has downplayed the magnitude of his left-wing critics after he won two-thirds of the primary vote and openly warred with the WFP for years, including since just after it agreed to nominate him in 2014.</p> <p>As NY1’s Zack Fink <a href="https://twitter.com/ZackFinkNews/status/1044306039284408322" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported Monday</a>, WFP leaders will meet privately on Wednesday to discuss the party’s next steps, and will the following Wednesday convene in a public meeting as a full WFP state committee, apparently to vote on a general election slate for governor and lieutenant governor, as well as an attorney general candidate. (The party had previously installed a placeholder, while expressing support for both Zephyr Teachout and primary winner Letitia James).</p> <p>The impending decision will come after the WFP backed Nixon, who took up the cause of the state’s disgruntled progressives frustrated with Cuomo’s centrist triangulation on a host of issues, enabled in part by his support of a Republican state Senate bolstered by breakaway Democrats. With just six weeks until Election Day, November 6, the WFP is faced with the decision of backing a governor with whom it has had a deeply antagonistic relationship — and who has thus far declined to extend an olive branch to the WFP and more broadly those to the left of Cuomo — or a candidate who has little-to-no chance of becoming governor, possibly putting a dent in Cuomo’s vote total.</p> <p>The WFP, notably, needs at least 50,000 votes on its ballot line for its gubernatorial candidate in order to keep that automatic line in elections for the next four years. If no alternative move is made, Nixon and Williams would remain on the line. (Governor and lieutenant governor are voted on separately in party primaries but as a ticket in the general). <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7808-the-cynthia-nixon-working-families-party-back-up-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A back-up plan for removing Nixon</a> from the gubernatorial ballot line — a somewhat tricky process — has been in place for months, with the WFP and Nixon acknowledging that her chances in the primary were slim and pledging not to play “spoiler” in the general election by peeling away votes from Cuomo.</p> <p>The party will answer the looming question of whether to leave Nixon on its line, pick Cuomo, which would necessitate a deal with the notoriously score-keeping governor, or possibly someone else, based on what members believe is best for the causes it champons, the party’s political director, Bill Lipton, told Gotham Gazette on Monday.</p> <p>“The WFP is having its own internal deliberations,” Lipton said by phone. “We’ll be having meetings, phone calls and other communications, where people are going to air their views, and, as has been oft-stated, the candidates, the leadership, the grassroots members of the WFP will be arriving at a decision together.”</p> <p>Lipton declined to say if any discussions with Cuomo’s camp had occurred in recent weeks.</p> <p>“We’re focused on our internal deliberations and doing what’s best for working families in New York State,” he said.</p> <p>Additionally, Lipton said the WFP has, as expected, been communicating with Nixon and Williams, the Brooklyn City Council member who ran against incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul in the primary. “We’re going to talk a lot with Cynthia and Jumaane,” Lipton said. “We consider them part of our community.”</p> <p>Nixon has made no public comments since her primary night concessive speech, which was celebratory and forward-looking. A top Nixon campaign operative was noncommittal when asked about the matter last week.</p> <p>“I don’t want to divulge much,” Nixon campaign chief strategist Rebecca Katz <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7942-max-murphy-podcast-primary-post-mortem-with-rebecca-katz-top-cynthia-nixon-strategist" target="_blank" rel="noopener">said on the Max and Murphy podcast</a>. “There will be some answers, and they will be coming soon.” Katz went on to acknowledge that Nixon had previously said she’d prefer Cuomo to Molinaro, and reiterated that Nixon has always been and will remain a Democrat.</p> <p>Though Nixon came up well short of defeating Cuomo, all but two of the eight challengers to former members of the Independent Democratic Conference — a group of breakaway Democrats allied with Republicans in the State Senate — pulled off victories that shook up the New York political world. Additionally, left-wing insurgent Julia Salazar knocked off veteran state Senator Martin Dilan. All nine Senate challengers were backed by the WFP. But Cuomo said in his defiant post-primary press conference that their success did not serve as a rejection of his brand of progressivism.</p> <p>Though Cuomo had given his tacit support and generic endorsement to his fellow Democratic incumbents as part of the April unity deal that brought the IDC back to the mainline Democratic fold, the governor downplayed the results and anything they might say about the extent to which his leadership was rebuked by voters.</p> <p>Democrats clearly approved of his get-things-done, somewhat-tempered progressivism, the governor explained the day after the primary, pointing to his margin of victory — 65.6 percent to Nixon’s 34.4 percent — even with a major boom in turnout from four years ago, when he prevailed by a similar percentage over Zephyr Teachout. While the former IDC members struggled immensely, the two Cuomo-endorsed statewide candidates — Hochul and James — won their hotly-contested primaries.</p> <p>What many deemed a progressive wave was “not even a ripple,” the two-term governor said the day after the primary, throwing cold water on the narrative that the primary was part of a surge in popularity of a Democratic vision in stark contrast to his.</p> <p>“Where was that effect yesterday?” Cuomo said of a supposed progressive wave in the state, represented by the candidacies of Nixon and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Where was it?”</p> <p>“It was upstate. It was downstate, white, black, brown — it was across the board,” he said of the coalition that contributed to his decisive win.<br /> <br />He added the victory proved that he and New York Democrats “provided and achieved progress,” which was the “message” voters delivered in the election.</p> <p>But what about those 500,000 Nixon voters and the disenchanted left they represent? Will they rally behind Cuomo, beaming with confidence and dismissiveness, as the Democratic nominee? Will WFP members swallow the indignity of offering him their ballot line?</p> <p>At least two of the leaders of the successful primary purity push backed by the WFP are staying out of the fray.<br /> <br />André Richardson, a spokesperson for successful IDC challenger Zellnor Myrie, said in a statement that Myrie “respects” the WFP’s “internal process.”</p> <p>“He looks forward to continuing to fight side by side with them on progressive issues,” Richardson said.</p> <p>David Neustadt, a spokesperson for Alessandra Biaggi, who defeated former IDC leader Jeff Klein, said in a statement that Biaggi is “supporting the Democratic Party nominees for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General.” He declined to say whether Biaggi has a preference on the WFP’s choice, but said the candidate “respects the internal democratic process of the WFP, which appropriately allows the members of the Party to determine whom that party endorses."</p> <p>Rachel May, who prevailed over former IDC member David Valesky in her primary and like Myrie and Biaggi received Nixon’s support, said she believed Cuomo is the definitive leader of the Democratic Party, and is open to the WFP handing the ballot line to Cuomo.</p> <p>“I’m not categorically opposed to it,” she explained. “I was running for Democratic unity all along. That’s what our whole campaign against the IDC was about. And so I feel like Democratic voters have spoken about who should be the standard-bearer moving forward.”</p> <p>“I supported her in the primary but I think I would encourage her not to campaign actively against the governor in the general,” May said of Nixon.</p> <p>May stopped short of saying it is her preference that the WFP give Cuomo its nomination. “I’m willing to only say ‘I will not object,’” she said.</p> <p>May, who said the governor’s team was among the first to congratulate her after the primary, went on to speak to the need of uniting the warring factions of the party — something Cuomo and his team have been loathe to do following the primary. Cuomo, for example, made no mention of Nixon or her supporters during an event billed as a unity rally held the week after the election.</p> <p>“I want to work together with whoever is elected governor. It’s looking more and more like Governor Cuomo,” said May, who may be facing a tough general election that could include Valesky on the Independence and Women’s Equality ballot lines, both of which Cuomo also has. “I think the less we divide the more progressive voters the better, at this point.”</p> <p>Asked if Cuomo’s post-primary press conference — where he did more spiking the football than calling for party unity — worked toward that goal, May said Cuomo and his allies are “eager to work with Democrats moving forward.”</p> <p>“I feel like we we’re going to all get on the same page,” she continued. “We still need reform in Albany. It’s not going to be a rubber stamp Senate for [Cuomo]. So I understand that, but I also understand that he wants to work with us.”</p> <p> </p> Gubernatorial Candidates Miner, Sharpe & Hawkins Lay Out Campaign Platforms, Cases Against Cuomo 2018-09-23T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-23T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7950:gubernatorial-candidates-miner-sharpe-hawkins-lay-out-campaign-platforms-cases-against-cuomo Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/miner-hawkins-sharpe.jpg" alt="miner hawkins sharpe" width="600" /></p> <p>Miner, Sharpe, Hawkins (l-r)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo defeated Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon fairly handily on September 13, when attention began to shift to the race between Cuomo and Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, currently the Dutchess county executive.</p> <p>But while Cuomo and Molinaro are the nominees of the two major parties, and each will also appear on at least two other party ballot lines in November, there are three other candidates running serious general election campaigns for governor of New York. (It remains to be seen if Nixon will stay in the race as the Working Families Party nominee, though several signs point to her relinquishing the ballot line, possibly even to Cuomo.)</p> <p>Like Nixon and Molinaro, Stephanie Miner, Howie Hawkins, and Larry Sharpe are campaigning both on criticisms of Cuomo and their own visions for leading the state. Miner, a Democrat and former two-term mayor of Syracuse, is running with the Serve America Movement party, a new bipartisan group she is seeking to help establish with this campaign. Hawkins, who has thrown his hat in the ring for the third straight time, is again the Green Party nominee. In 2014, he won about 5 percent of the vote as Cuomo secured a second term with 54 percent, and Republican nominee Rob Astorino received 39 percent. Sharpe is the Libertarian Party nominee.</p> <p>All three candidates are attempting to stake out an alternate vision to Cuomo and, to a lesser degree, Molinaro. Hawkins has made a direct plea to Nixon primary voters that he is now the clear progressive alternative to Cuomo. Sharpe offers himself as the only true outsider voice who can provide a makeover to state government. And Miner says she has the right blend of executive experience, independence, political know-how, and focus on the key issues facing New Yorkers, like infrastructure.</p> <p>While their paths to victory appear daunting, each candidate is offering something they hope will appeal to an increasing number of New Yorkers sick of the status quo, both in terms of the incumbent and the two major parties. How many votes each can earn remains an open question, but all three are likely to impact the race.</p> <p>Monday, September 24 will mark 44 days until Election Day, November 6. Gotham Gazette spoke with Miner, Hawkins, and Sharpe about their candidacies.</p> <p><strong>Stephanie Miner</strong><br />Miner, formerly mayor of Syracuse and chair of the state Democratic Party, is running chiefly as a good-government reformer and infrastructure expert with sound ethics and a no-nonsense leadership style. She’s to the left of Cuomo on certain issues and to his right on others, running with a Republican for lieutenant governor, as they attempt to help build a bipartisan movement that appeals to voters of all stripes. She presents her candidacy as a “rebuke of Andrew Cuomo’s policies and a rebuke of where we are as a state,” as she described it to the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/nyregion/miner-cuomo-ny-governor-election.html">New York Times</a> in June, announcing her candidacy.</p> <p>Miner has for years argued that the Empire State’s politics are in need of an overhaul, especially following a falling-out with Cuomo. During an appearance on the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo">Max and Murphy podcast</a>, recorded as Miner was mulling a run for governor, she painted a grim picture of the status quo.</p> <p>“For me, backroom dealings and politics as usual is not serving anybody,” she said. Every time New Yorkers look at the news, Miner said, someone else in the governor’s circle was being tried or sentenced for corruption or other wrongdoing. And while the establishment has been “silent,” she said, voters across the state are “angry and upset and frustrated.”</p> <p>But clearly not everyone appears to be fed up with the way the state is being governed. In the primary, Cuomo won by a wide margin over an outsider who promised to if elected reimagine the state’s politics. Miner, in an interview Tuesday, painted herself as a different kind of opponent, and explained how she is highlighting Cuomo’s faults. She also downplayed his decisive primary victory and outlined a different general election landscape.</p> <p>“Twenty-five million dollars blanketing the airwaves can get you a lot of votes,” she said. “Democrats are eager to vote, they have enthusiasm, and they despise Donald Trump.”</p> <p>In a higher-turnout election with a broader electorate, including many unaffiliated voters, Miner said she would be able to gain traction ahead of November, despite Cuomo’s domination of the September primary. She has also pointed to her very different resume from Nixon’s.</p> <p>“My target voter is someone who is fed up with the corruption, both in Washington and in Albany, wants problems to be solved, and recognizes that we have a state government that is not solving problems, and is instead appealing to only vested interests and campaign contributors,” said Miner, who previously served as a Common Councilor in Syracuse and a labor attorney at Blitman &amp; King.</p> <p>Miner also favors nonpartisan legislative redistricting and closing the LLC loophole in campaign finance laws, which allows entities to donate money to candidates in virtually unlimited sums by using several limited liability companies.</p> <p>While harmful effects of money in politics is a cause regularly taken up by the left, it’s also clear that Miner could not have served as a candidate in the mold of the unabashedly left-wing Nixon in the the Democratic primary. Miner, for example, does not include raising taxes on the wealthy as a campaign pledge -- she believes taxes are too high already, on the wealthy and many others.</p> <p>And when asked about how to fix the MTA, Miner begins with her core message: the governor’s chronies must be uprooted from positions and replaced with people who truly have the best interest of New Yorkers at heart. Cuomo’s appointments to the MTA board, she said, “would have to resign” is she is elected governor and “be replaced with people who have actual experience in transit.”</p> <p>“For too long,” she went on, “we have a system that just reacts to people who give campaign contributions, that swings widley when other vested groups make noise. We need to make sure that we get everybody gathered around the table to figure out how we can put the best policy forward to solve all of our goals.”</p> <p>But in lieu of additionally taxing high earners to help fund the desperately needed subway repairs, one method preferred by Nixon and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Miner emphasized reining in costs.</p> <p>“The issue with the MTA is that you can’t simply say ‘Give the MTA more money.’ The MTA also has to take responsibility for managing more effectively and to changing their policies, so that we are no longer the place with the single most expensive mile of track,” she explained. “The MTA has to accept management responsibility for changing those trends as well.”</p> <p>She went on to note that employee benefits like health care costs need to be discussed at the bargaining table, and described excessive spending on them as an obstacle to mending the struggling MTA.</p> <p>“If your benefits outstrip in terms of cost what is the national average, that’s going to be less money for you to improve the system,” she said. Miner added that she would ensure that the mentality at the MTA would be an obligation to riders first and foremost.</p> <p>“Your responsibility is to make sure that we have a transit system that works,’” is the approach Miner said she would instill if elected governor, who appoints a plurality of MTA board members and the leadership of the authority, while also playing a key role in MTA budget decisions.</p> <p>Asked how she would navigate the treacherous politics of cutting MTA project costs, which would in all likelihood spark outcry from the Transit Workers Union, among others, Miner cited her experience as Syracuse mayor being willing to take heat from a firefighters union, because it favored spending money on a revamping a firehouse — an effort she thought was not worth the cost.</p> <p>“When I was mayor, we had a firehouse that needed millions of dollars of improvement in order to be viable,” she explained. “And the firefighter union desperately wanted to keep the firehouse open. And I looked at the cost and benefits and said ‘No, we can’t, because it would be too expensive for us to do. We need to make sure that we take that money and actually provide service to people of the city of Syracuse, not using it to spend on a firehouse that we don’t need.’”</p> <p>Her moved sparked outcry — Miner was picketed, she recalled — but she said she stuck to her central approach to government, putting her constituents first.</p> <p>“The union still is very angry at me, but sometimes you have to risk the wrath of vested interests in order to make sure that you’re doing the public’s work,” she said.</p> <p>Miner has a similar critique of Cuomo on economic development, saying that the state ought not be “picking winners and losers.” She prefers investment in infrastructure that will create jobs, she has said, and spur economic activity.</p> <p>Miner has several times lamented that New York has the highest tax burden in the country.</p> <p>She said that if elected she would seek to “stimulate the market” to build more housing. And, Miner outlines on her <a href="https://www.minerforny.com/issues_housing_homelessness">website</a>, rent regulation alone is an insufficient measure in the goal of “maintain[ing] affordable housing for New York City’s residents.”</p> <p>In an <a href="https://www.wqxr.org/story/september-17-2018-gubernatorial-candidate-stephanie-miner/">interview on The Capitol Pressroom</a>, Miner described herself as more open to charter schools than some other Democrats who have decried Cuomo’s stance on the privately-run public schools that the governor has supported and have proliferated in New York City especially.</p> <p>“I was the mayor of a city that had completely unacceptable education results. And I determined that the best way to change those results was to work together to give families choice,” she explained in the interview with Gotham Gazette when asked to explain her stance further. “So families had opportunities to go to charter schools, they had opportunity to go to parochial schools, and they had opportunities to go to public schools.”</p> <p>“What we need to understand is that…there’s not a magic solution for everybody, and what we need to do is give everybody the flexibility that they need to determine what is the best option for their child and at the same time, schools and teachers and administrators the support necessary to implement innovative and creative solutions,” she said.</p> <p>Miner also breaks from more free-spending Democrats on pensions — an issue that in part led to her falling out with Cuomo after he had appointed her as a leader of the state party. She said this was a “hard and fast example” of her not fitting neatly on either side of the ideological spectrum.</p> <p>“[I]t was clear to me there needed to be a discussion about how pensions, and the costs of paying for pensions were impacting local government, and Andrew Cuomo and the leadership of the state said that the best way to solve this problem was to allow localities to borrow to pay their pensions, and I stood up and said ‘That is fiscally irresponsible. It’s what got the city of Detroit into bankruptcy, and we shouldn’t do this,’” she recalled.</p> <p>Miner said she could have gone along with the borrowing and let the next mayor deal with the financial repercussions, “but it was not fiscally responsible, and I think we need to be very open about that and I did that.” What’s more, after not getting the response she felt was necessary from the governor and party officials, she expressed the view in a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/opinion/new-york-states-cities-cant-borrow-their-way-to-solvency.html">New York Times op-ed,</a> which cracked the gulf with Cuomo wide open into a rivalry that persists to this day.</p> <p>Miner may have sound critiques of Cuomo and her own vision to run on, but does she, along with running-mate Michael Volpe, the Pelham mayor, have a path to victory? Does any 'minor party' candidate?</p> <p>The most recent data from the state Board of Elections shows that <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr18.pdf">as of April</a> there were about 11.3 million active registered voters in the state. Of those, the largest group by far is Democrats, at 5.6 million, followed by 2.6 million Republicans, and closely behind, nearly 2.4 million voters unaffiliated with a party. The fourth largest group is roughly 436,000 active voters registered with the Independence Party, many of whom likely believe they simply registered to be independent of any party, or unaffiliated. (Cuomo has the Independence Party ballot line in November.)</p> <p>Turnout is often very low in non-presidential elections, but this year is expected to see a significant surge, brought on by anti-Trump sentiment as well as high-stakes elections for Congress, the state Senate, and the governor’s race.</p> <p>It is unclear exactly which voters Miner, a Democrat running as an independent, needs to attract in order to outpace all of her competitors, but it’s certain she will need significant funding to get her name and message out, especially in the short time period before Election Day. In that regard, she and all the other candidates lag far behind Cuomo.</p> <p>In addition to his sizeable fundraising advantage, one key part of Cuomo’s resounding victory over Nixon was his support among black New Yorkers. Miner attributed this outcome to Cuomo casting himself as someone who offered a starkly different vision than the president’s. “I think that his message in saying that he is not Donald Trump was successful and I think it clearly resonated in those communities,” she told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Miner also touted her experience as mayor of Syracuse, where she said she implemented “enlightened” criminal justice policies.</p> <p>“I’m going to talk about the fact that I will end cash bail,” she continued. “The governor has just talked about it, [but] hasn’t done anything. We need to approach criminal justice in a very different way. We need to talk about issues like bias and looking at reforming the way our criminal justice system operates, so that it is not victimizing people, ending mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline."</p> <p>In <a href="http://nynow.wmht.org/blogs/politics/miner/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an interview with New York NOW</a>, Miner said that she favors legalization of recreational marijuana, but said she is opposed to New York attempting to institute its own single-payer health care system. Like Cuomo, she said she favors such a system on the federal level, but worries how New York would pay for it.</p> <p>Despite the uphill climb ahead, Miner is convinced her broader message will resonate with a vast swath of the electorate.</p> <p>“I think that there are a great number of New Yorkers who are deeply dissatisfied with the direction the state is going…And so those are the people who I think are very open to the message of the current status quo being terrible, and that both parties are complicit in this culture of corruption and the politics of status quo,” she said. “Whether you are in New York and see the subway system crumbling around you, or you’re upstate and you see your family fleeing because of a lack of opportunity, you’ll understand that all these policies start at Andrew Cuomo’s feet.”</p> <p><strong>Howie Hawkins</strong><br />Hawkins, who was among the Green Party co-founders and is a perennial candidate who ran for governor in 2010 and 2014, has since launching his 2018 campaign in April made social, racial, and environmental justice again at the center of his vision, including tenets like desegregating public schools and improving environmental sustainability. He hopes to gain the votes of the 26,462 active Green Party voters in the state along with others on the left disappointed with the governor.</p> <p>“We call it the Green New Deal,” he told Gotham Gazette on Monday in an interview. “Basic economic human rights, the right to a job or an income above poverty, comprehensive healthcare, a decent home, a good education…Those are the things [President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt said in his last state of the union address that ought to be part of a second Bill of Rights.”</p> <p>Hawkins, who in Syracuse has run for Common Council, mayor, and auditor, said the plan would create an “economic boom” and that Democrats have pushed for similar policies but have “watered down the content.” A socialist, Hawkins says capitalism is the enemy of sound environmental policy.</p> <p>“Capitalism's blind, ceaseless growth is devouring the environment,” he <a href="http://www.gp.org/hawkins_demand_more">said in April</a>. “As long as workers are bound to a fixed wage and capitalists take the remaining value that labor creates as profit, the rich get richer and the rest of us struggle to make ends meet. We need more social ownership and democratic planning to provide a decent standard of living for all that is ecologically sustainable.”</p> <p>Hawkins is a marine corp veteran from the Vietnam War and a retired Teamster. He said the Green New Deal is "the alternative to Cuomo's corrupt corporate welfare posing as economic development.”</p> <p>He favors single-payer health care funded through payroll taxes, and allocating additional funding to public schools.</p> <p>Asked about his school integration plan, Hawkins called it “controlled choice” and cited what he said were similar policies in Wake County, North Carolina and Cambridge, Massachusetts.</p> <p>“So you have the public school choice, the children pick the schools in order of preference, they rank them, and you combine that with the plan to have them socioeconomically balanced. So basically, family income,” he explained. “That’s because [in] integrated schools, the lower-class kids test scores come up, the upper-class kids scores don’t go down, and all kids show do better on things like intellectual self-confidence, and creativity and problem solving, teamwork.”</p> <p>He added, “Those are good qualities that ought to be part of the education system.”</p> <p>And high-stakes testing, he said, was about “competition not education,” and should be done away with. Hawkins’ lieutenant governor running mate this campaign is Jia Lee, a New York City public school teacher and United Federation of Teachers chapter leader.</p> <p>On housing, Hawkins favors a system of rent control, but says the current set-up is not enough, especially without repealing the Urstadt law, which handed control of rent policies to the state, and without building a lot more new housing. “We need to radically expand public housing in order to make affordable housing a reality for all,” he said in a <a href="http://www.howiehawkins.org/hawkins_progressive">press release</a> earlier this month.</p> <p>Asked who he sees as his target voters, Hawkins said he hopes to gain the support of those who voted for Nixon in the Democratic primary.</p> <p>“Nixon got the same percentage as [Zephyr] Teachout [in 2014], which means about a third of the Democratic Party doesn’t like Cuomo. That looks good to me,” he said. “Those are my people.” Hawkins got 4.7 percent of the votes in the 2014 general election to Cuomo’s 53 percent, but 2018 is forecast to be a much higher turnout year, as indicated in part by the <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7936-a-closer-look-at-democratic-primary-turnout-margins-and-geography">massive increase </a>in Democratic primary voters from four years ago.</p> <p>Hawkins in June <a href="https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/06/hawkins_on_miner_its_really_going_to_hurt_cuomo.html">told the Post-Standard</a> that Miner will peel away some of the centrist vote for Cuomo. “It seems it's really going to hurt him,” he said of her candidacy. He also believes he should be able to lure liberal voters who picked Cuomo over Nixon but didn’t have his candidacy to choose from at the time.</p> <p>Additionally, he believes he will earn a decent share of votes well outside New York City.</p> <p>“I think upstate we can do really well, I think part of our program is having the state pay for its unfair disadvantage, something they talk about but don’t do much about. Because our property taxes kill us upstate,” he said. “The state doesn’t pay for its mandates, it balances the state budget on the back of the property tax payers and it doesn’t share revenues like it used to.”</p> <p>“We’re going to the neighborhoods, we’re doing the traditional things, I mean there’s no magic bullet. … In seven weeks it’s hard. In the long run, we’ve got to establish grassroots, Green Party clubs and chapters in those neighborhoods so that people have a relationship to us,” he said of campaigning and forming a successful coalition.</p> <p>Hawkins also insisted he would fair well among black voters.</p> <p>“They’re not in love with the Democratic Party,” he said. “They’re afraid of the Republicans so they vote defensively. I think if you look at the polls, where we stand on the issues, like single-payer healthcare, now they’re with us on that, the majority.”</p> <p><strong>Larry Sharpe</strong><br />Sharpe, who in 2016 ran unsuccessfully for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination, is running on legalizing marijuana, severing ties with the United States Department of Education, including by refusing its funding, licensing bridge and tunnel naming rights to corporations to pay for subway repairs, allowing students to graduate high school earlier, and expanding gun rights.</p> <p>A former marine who now works as a consultant, Sharpe said in an interview with Gotham Gazette that his top goal is decentralizing power. “The campaign is all about having a decentralized situation where counties can be counties, regions can be regions, and cities can be cities,” he said. “We are a very diverse state and we should be allowing our counties to be different. Albany shouldn’t be telling every single county what is should do or not do.”</p> <p>Sharpe is vying for the governorship alongside Andrew Hollister, the libertarian lieutenant governor candidate. The pair is campaigning in the Libertarian model on a platform of shrinking government and making what remains much more efficient and decentralized.</p> <p>Among the ways Sharpe wants to cut what he sees as overly burdensome regulations is repealing the SAFE Act, a gun control bill passed in early 2013 that Cuomo touts as one of his signature accomplishments.</p> <p>“The problem with the SAFE Act is the SAFE Act didn’t make anybody safer,” Sharpe said, delivering one of his most frequent campaign lines. “You lose your Second Amendment rights because you’re on some secret list. That’s a bad idea,” he added, in apparent reference to the list of individuals deemed mentally unfit for gun ownership. The law also banned new sales of assault-style weapons, made current owners of those guns register them, and put limits on magazine sizes, among other provisions.</p> <p>Sharpe said in an <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqTAJvCPaxQ">interview</a> with New York NOW that the SAFE Act was a “bandaid” and that other problems aside from guns are what must really be targeted.</p> <p>“[T]he problem is we have unhappy people. Unhappy people is the problem. If you take away his gun, he uses something else. If he’s unhappy he will do bad things,” he said. “There are two things that most of these people, one that they have and one that they don’t have. … Number one thing they don’t have, a girlfriend. The thing they do have: a prescription to psychotropic drugs.”</p> <p>Asked to clarify what he meant, Sharpe said that while school shootings are murders, they’re “at their core public suicides.”</p> <p>“The goal is not to simply say ‘Lets take away guns.’ The goal is to say ‘Stop having so many unhappy kids that want to kill other kids,’” he said. “I don’t want our kids to be killing other kids. I want happier children. That’s the key.”</p> <p>Further, Sharpe favors allowing teachers and administrators who are licensed to carry guns to do so in schools.</p> <p>Asked if his stance on guns would be appealing to voters in a blue state, where just over 3 percent of voters in the 2016 presidential election voted for the libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, and Hillary Clinton won handily, Sharpe said his policies on the matter would have “legs.”</p> <p>“There are over four million gun owners in New York state,” he said. (The gun ownership rate in New York is slightly over 10 percent). “They’re more than happy to hear someone say ‘Let’s repeal the SAFE Act. Let’s have our second amendment rights back.’"</p> <p>As the debate continues over how best to fund and fix the beleaguered MTA, Sharpe has raised ideas that are not yet part of mainstream discussions: allowing public bridges and tunnels to lease their naming rights to corporations, for example. It’s part of his <a href="https://larrysharpe.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Final_-MTA-Faster-Forward.pdf">“Faster Forward”</a> plan on the subject he has released, which takes its name from the MTA’s new Fast Forward plan that has yet to be approved or funded. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7893-promising-efficiency-and-performance-molinaro-release-mta-turnaround-plan">Molinaro has also released a plan of his own</a>.</p> <p>“These are companies that drop millions of dollars every year on marketing,” he said. “They drop $20 million on a stadium that gets used on the weekends. They will easily drop $20, $30, $40 million on a bridge or tunnel.”</p> <p>Sharpe also pledged to not give the MTA a dime until its management figures out a way to cut costs.</p> <p>“I’m not giving them a new contract until they change their practices. The practices of the MTA are a disaster,” he said. “They are one of the most inefficient organizations we have. They will shift and adjust. Why? I’m not giving them extra money, period. They’re not getting extra money, period!…They will change their way of doing business.”</p> <p>On criminal justice, Sharpe does not want people to be put in jail for marijuana use. “Why in the world are we putting people in jail for having a plant in their pocket?” he said.</p> <p>“We need to make sure that we absolutely regulate hemp and cannabis like onions,” he said, adding that farmers upstate should be allowed to grow cannabis if they opt to do so.</p> <p>“We have a lot of farmers who are suffering,” he added.</p> <p>He also would like to put an end to cash bail. “We’re putting people in jail because they’re poor,” he said.</p> <p>Sharpe articulated a drastically different vision for K-12 education. For too many high-schoolers, 11th and 12th grades are a waste of time, he argues.</p> <p>“The last two years of high school for too many kids is just gym, study hall, video games, and probably smoking weed,” said Sharpe. “Nothing but bad.”</p> <p>After students complete the 10th grade, under his plan, they would take a test and would graduate if they pass it. Then, graduates would able to go to attend a college or university, a two-year prep school, go straight to work or a trade school.</p> <p>Additionally, Sharpe said he would get rid of standardized testing altogether until students reached high school, stop abiding by Common Core learning standards, stop taking government funds from the Department of Education, and reduce the number of administrators at schools, using the saved funds for more teachers and school supplies.</p> <p>Asked about government corruption, an issue dogging Cuomo as he seeks a third term, especially given recent convictions of members of the governor’s inner circle, Sharpe explained the issue isn’t something he really emphasizes in the campaign, other than to criticize Cuomo.</p> <p>“I don’t talk much about this, and the reason is everyone’s answer is ‘Put ‘em in jail, put ‘em in jail, put ‘em in jail, more laws, more laws. That’s not the answer. The more laws you put and the more people you put in jail, it doesn’t help anybody,” he said. “If Cuomo goes to jail, or his cronies go to jail, that’s fine. I’m fine with that. I just want Cuomo to leave Albany, so I can start fixing things.” &nbsp;</p> <p>Sharpe, who has been keeping an aggressive campaign schedule for many months, holding events throughout the state, expressed confidence his message will triumph over those of the major parties as well as Miner, who he called part of the establishment.</p> <p>“The two frontrunners are the definition of career politicians. They're the definition of the establishment. Both of them only know politics. Nothing else. They can’t drain the swamp they live in a swamp,” Sharpe said of Cuomo and Molinaro, who he has repeatedly attacked during his campaign. “To ask them for change is to ask them to burn their own house down.”</p> <p>“The only person that has any chance of making any real impact is me,” he went on. “I’m the only one who can get Democrats and Republicans and independents and people who haven’t voted. I’m the only one out there crossing the state, doing north of 30 events every single month. I’m the only one that’s exciting. It’s only me.”</p> <p>[Listen to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7941-max-murphy-podcast-marc-molinaro-republican-nominee-for-governor">Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro on Max &amp; Murphy from September 19</a>]</p> <p> </p> <p>with contributions from Victor Porcelli and Ben Max</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/miner-hawkins-sharpe.jpg" alt="miner hawkins sharpe" width="600" /></p> <p>Miner, Sharpe, Hawkins (l-r)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo defeated Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon fairly handily on September 13, when attention began to shift to the race between Cuomo and Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, currently the Dutchess county executive.</p> <p>But while Cuomo and Molinaro are the nominees of the two major parties, and each will also appear on at least two other party ballot lines in November, there are three other candidates running serious general election campaigns for governor of New York. (It remains to be seen if Nixon will stay in the race as the Working Families Party nominee, though several signs point to her relinquishing the ballot line, possibly even to Cuomo.)</p> <p>Like Nixon and Molinaro, Stephanie Miner, Howie Hawkins, and Larry Sharpe are campaigning both on criticisms of Cuomo and their own visions for leading the state. Miner, a Democrat and former two-term mayor of Syracuse, is running with the Serve America Movement party, a new bipartisan group she is seeking to help establish with this campaign. Hawkins, who has thrown his hat in the ring for the third straight time, is again the Green Party nominee. In 2014, he won about 5 percent of the vote as Cuomo secured a second term with 54 percent, and Republican nominee Rob Astorino received 39 percent. Sharpe is the Libertarian Party nominee.</p> <p>All three candidates are attempting to stake out an alternate vision to Cuomo and, to a lesser degree, Molinaro. Hawkins has made a direct plea to Nixon primary voters that he is now the clear progressive alternative to Cuomo. Sharpe offers himself as the only true outsider voice who can provide a makeover to state government. And Miner says she has the right blend of executive experience, independence, political know-how, and focus on the key issues facing New Yorkers, like infrastructure.</p> <p>While their paths to victory appear daunting, each candidate is offering something they hope will appeal to an increasing number of New Yorkers sick of the status quo, both in terms of the incumbent and the two major parties. How many votes each can earn remains an open question, but all three are likely to impact the race.</p> <p>Monday, September 24 will mark 44 days until Election Day, November 6. Gotham Gazette spoke with Miner, Hawkins, and Sharpe about their candidacies.</p> <p><strong>Stephanie Miner</strong><br />Miner, formerly mayor of Syracuse and chair of the state Democratic Party, is running chiefly as a good-government reformer and infrastructure expert with sound ethics and a no-nonsense leadership style. She’s to the left of Cuomo on certain issues and to his right on others, running with a Republican for lieutenant governor, as they attempt to help build a bipartisan movement that appeals to voters of all stripes. She presents her candidacy as a “rebuke of Andrew Cuomo’s policies and a rebuke of where we are as a state,” as she described it to the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/nyregion/miner-cuomo-ny-governor-election.html">New York Times</a> in June, announcing her candidacy.</p> <p>Miner has for years argued that the Empire State’s politics are in need of an overhaul, especially following a falling-out with Cuomo. During an appearance on the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo">Max and Murphy podcast</a>, recorded as Miner was mulling a run for governor, she painted a grim picture of the status quo.</p> <p>“For me, backroom dealings and politics as usual is not serving anybody,” she said. Every time New Yorkers look at the news, Miner said, someone else in the governor’s circle was being tried or sentenced for corruption or other wrongdoing. And while the establishment has been “silent,” she said, voters across the state are “angry and upset and frustrated.”</p> <p>But clearly not everyone appears to be fed up with the way the state is being governed. In the primary, Cuomo won by a wide margin over an outsider who promised to if elected reimagine the state’s politics. Miner, in an interview Tuesday, painted herself as a different kind of opponent, and explained how she is highlighting Cuomo’s faults. She also downplayed his decisive primary victory and outlined a different general election landscape.</p> <p>“Twenty-five million dollars blanketing the airwaves can get you a lot of votes,” she said. “Democrats are eager to vote, they have enthusiasm, and they despise Donald Trump.”</p> <p>In a higher-turnout election with a broader electorate, including many unaffiliated voters, Miner said she would be able to gain traction ahead of November, despite Cuomo’s domination of the September primary. She has also pointed to her very different resume from Nixon’s.</p> <p>“My target voter is someone who is fed up with the corruption, both in Washington and in Albany, wants problems to be solved, and recognizes that we have a state government that is not solving problems, and is instead appealing to only vested interests and campaign contributors,” said Miner, who previously served as a Common Councilor in Syracuse and a labor attorney at Blitman &amp; King.</p> <p>Miner also favors nonpartisan legislative redistricting and closing the LLC loophole in campaign finance laws, which allows entities to donate money to candidates in virtually unlimited sums by using several limited liability companies.</p> <p>While harmful effects of money in politics is a cause regularly taken up by the left, it’s also clear that Miner could not have served as a candidate in the mold of the unabashedly left-wing Nixon in the the Democratic primary. Miner, for example, does not include raising taxes on the wealthy as a campaign pledge -- she believes taxes are too high already, on the wealthy and many others.</p> <p>And when asked about how to fix the MTA, Miner begins with her core message: the governor’s chronies must be uprooted from positions and replaced with people who truly have the best interest of New Yorkers at heart. Cuomo’s appointments to the MTA board, she said, “would have to resign” is she is elected governor and “be replaced with people who have actual experience in transit.”</p> <p>“For too long,” she went on, “we have a system that just reacts to people who give campaign contributions, that swings widley when other vested groups make noise. We need to make sure that we get everybody gathered around the table to figure out how we can put the best policy forward to solve all of our goals.”</p> <p>But in lieu of additionally taxing high earners to help fund the desperately needed subway repairs, one method preferred by Nixon and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Miner emphasized reining in costs.</p> <p>“The issue with the MTA is that you can’t simply say ‘Give the MTA more money.’ The MTA also has to take responsibility for managing more effectively and to changing their policies, so that we are no longer the place with the single most expensive mile of track,” she explained. “The MTA has to accept management responsibility for changing those trends as well.”</p> <p>She went on to note that employee benefits like health care costs need to be discussed at the bargaining table, and described excessive spending on them as an obstacle to mending the struggling MTA.</p> <p>“If your benefits outstrip in terms of cost what is the national average, that’s going to be less money for you to improve the system,” she said. Miner added that she would ensure that the mentality at the MTA would be an obligation to riders first and foremost.</p> <p>“Your responsibility is to make sure that we have a transit system that works,’” is the approach Miner said she would instill if elected governor, who appoints a plurality of MTA board members and the leadership of the authority, while also playing a key role in MTA budget decisions.</p> <p>Asked how she would navigate the treacherous politics of cutting MTA project costs, which would in all likelihood spark outcry from the Transit Workers Union, among others, Miner cited her experience as Syracuse mayor being willing to take heat from a firefighters union, because it favored spending money on a revamping a firehouse — an effort she thought was not worth the cost.</p> <p>“When I was mayor, we had a firehouse that needed millions of dollars of improvement in order to be viable,” she explained. “And the firefighter union desperately wanted to keep the firehouse open. And I looked at the cost and benefits and said ‘No, we can’t, because it would be too expensive for us to do. We need to make sure that we take that money and actually provide service to people of the city of Syracuse, not using it to spend on a firehouse that we don’t need.’”</p> <p>Her moved sparked outcry — Miner was picketed, she recalled — but she said she stuck to her central approach to government, putting her constituents first.</p> <p>“The union still is very angry at me, but sometimes you have to risk the wrath of vested interests in order to make sure that you’re doing the public’s work,” she said.</p> <p>Miner has a similar critique of Cuomo on economic development, saying that the state ought not be “picking winners and losers.” She prefers investment in infrastructure that will create jobs, she has said, and spur economic activity.</p> <p>Miner has several times lamented that New York has the highest tax burden in the country.</p> <p>She said that if elected she would seek to “stimulate the market” to build more housing. And, Miner outlines on her <a href="https://www.minerforny.com/issues_housing_homelessness">website</a>, rent regulation alone is an insufficient measure in the goal of “maintain[ing] affordable housing for New York City’s residents.”</p> <p>In an <a href="https://www.wqxr.org/story/september-17-2018-gubernatorial-candidate-stephanie-miner/">interview on The Capitol Pressroom</a>, Miner described herself as more open to charter schools than some other Democrats who have decried Cuomo’s stance on the privately-run public schools that the governor has supported and have proliferated in New York City especially.</p> <p>“I was the mayor of a city that had completely unacceptable education results. And I determined that the best way to change those results was to work together to give families choice,” she explained in the interview with Gotham Gazette when asked to explain her stance further. “So families had opportunities to go to charter schools, they had opportunity to go to parochial schools, and they had opportunities to go to public schools.”</p> <p>“What we need to understand is that…there’s not a magic solution for everybody, and what we need to do is give everybody the flexibility that they need to determine what is the best option for their child and at the same time, schools and teachers and administrators the support necessary to implement innovative and creative solutions,” she said.</p> <p>Miner also breaks from more free-spending Democrats on pensions — an issue that in part led to her falling out with Cuomo after he had appointed her as a leader of the state party. She said this was a “hard and fast example” of her not fitting neatly on either side of the ideological spectrum.</p> <p>“[I]t was clear to me there needed to be a discussion about how pensions, and the costs of paying for pensions were impacting local government, and Andrew Cuomo and the leadership of the state said that the best way to solve this problem was to allow localities to borrow to pay their pensions, and I stood up and said ‘That is fiscally irresponsible. It’s what got the city of Detroit into bankruptcy, and we shouldn’t do this,’” she recalled.</p> <p>Miner said she could have gone along with the borrowing and let the next mayor deal with the financial repercussions, “but it was not fiscally responsible, and I think we need to be very open about that and I did that.” What’s more, after not getting the response she felt was necessary from the governor and party officials, she expressed the view in a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/opinion/new-york-states-cities-cant-borrow-their-way-to-solvency.html">New York Times op-ed,</a> which cracked the gulf with Cuomo wide open into a rivalry that persists to this day.</p> <p>Miner may have sound critiques of Cuomo and her own vision to run on, but does she, along with running-mate Michael Volpe, the Pelham mayor, have a path to victory? Does any 'minor party' candidate?</p> <p>The most recent data from the state Board of Elections shows that <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr18.pdf">as of April</a> there were about 11.3 million active registered voters in the state. Of those, the largest group by far is Democrats, at 5.6 million, followed by 2.6 million Republicans, and closely behind, nearly 2.4 million voters unaffiliated with a party. The fourth largest group is roughly 436,000 active voters registered with the Independence Party, many of whom likely believe they simply registered to be independent of any party, or unaffiliated. (Cuomo has the Independence Party ballot line in November.)</p> <p>Turnout is often very low in non-presidential elections, but this year is expected to see a significant surge, brought on by anti-Trump sentiment as well as high-stakes elections for Congress, the state Senate, and the governor’s race.</p> <p>It is unclear exactly which voters Miner, a Democrat running as an independent, needs to attract in order to outpace all of her competitors, but it’s certain she will need significant funding to get her name and message out, especially in the short time period before Election Day. In that regard, she and all the other candidates lag far behind Cuomo.</p> <p>In addition to his sizeable fundraising advantage, one key part of Cuomo’s resounding victory over Nixon was his support among black New Yorkers. Miner attributed this outcome to Cuomo casting himself as someone who offered a starkly different vision than the president’s. “I think that his message in saying that he is not Donald Trump was successful and I think it clearly resonated in those communities,” she told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Miner also touted her experience as mayor of Syracuse, where she said she implemented “enlightened” criminal justice policies.</p> <p>“I’m going to talk about the fact that I will end cash bail,” she continued. “The governor has just talked about it, [but] hasn’t done anything. We need to approach criminal justice in a very different way. We need to talk about issues like bias and looking at reforming the way our criminal justice system operates, so that it is not victimizing people, ending mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline."</p> <p>In <a href="http://nynow.wmht.org/blogs/politics/miner/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an interview with New York NOW</a>, Miner said that she favors legalization of recreational marijuana, but said she is opposed to New York attempting to institute its own single-payer health care system. Like Cuomo, she said she favors such a system on the federal level, but worries how New York would pay for it.</p> <p>Despite the uphill climb ahead, Miner is convinced her broader message will resonate with a vast swath of the electorate.</p> <p>“I think that there are a great number of New Yorkers who are deeply dissatisfied with the direction the state is going…And so those are the people who I think are very open to the message of the current status quo being terrible, and that both parties are complicit in this culture of corruption and the politics of status quo,” she said. “Whether you are in New York and see the subway system crumbling around you, or you’re upstate and you see your family fleeing because of a lack of opportunity, you’ll understand that all these policies start at Andrew Cuomo’s feet.”</p> <p><strong>Howie Hawkins</strong><br />Hawkins, who was among the Green Party co-founders and is a perennial candidate who ran for governor in 2010 and 2014, has since launching his 2018 campaign in April made social, racial, and environmental justice again at the center of his vision, including tenets like desegregating public schools and improving environmental sustainability. He hopes to gain the votes of the 26,462 active Green Party voters in the state along with others on the left disappointed with the governor.</p> <p>“We call it the Green New Deal,” he told Gotham Gazette on Monday in an interview. “Basic economic human rights, the right to a job or an income above poverty, comprehensive healthcare, a decent home, a good education…Those are the things [President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt said in his last state of the union address that ought to be part of a second Bill of Rights.”</p> <p>Hawkins, who in Syracuse has run for Common Council, mayor, and auditor, said the plan would create an “economic boom” and that Democrats have pushed for similar policies but have “watered down the content.” A socialist, Hawkins says capitalism is the enemy of sound environmental policy.</p> <p>“Capitalism's blind, ceaseless growth is devouring the environment,” he <a href="http://www.gp.org/hawkins_demand_more">said in April</a>. “As long as workers are bound to a fixed wage and capitalists take the remaining value that labor creates as profit, the rich get richer and the rest of us struggle to make ends meet. We need more social ownership and democratic planning to provide a decent standard of living for all that is ecologically sustainable.”</p> <p>Hawkins is a marine corp veteran from the Vietnam War and a retired Teamster. He said the Green New Deal is "the alternative to Cuomo's corrupt corporate welfare posing as economic development.”</p> <p>He favors single-payer health care funded through payroll taxes, and allocating additional funding to public schools.</p> <p>Asked about his school integration plan, Hawkins called it “controlled choice” and cited what he said were similar policies in Wake County, North Carolina and Cambridge, Massachusetts.</p> <p>“So you have the public school choice, the children pick the schools in order of preference, they rank them, and you combine that with the plan to have them socioeconomically balanced. So basically, family income,” he explained. “That’s because [in] integrated schools, the lower-class kids test scores come up, the upper-class kids scores don’t go down, and all kids show do better on things like intellectual self-confidence, and creativity and problem solving, teamwork.”</p> <p>He added, “Those are good qualities that ought to be part of the education system.”</p> <p>And high-stakes testing, he said, was about “competition not education,” and should be done away with. Hawkins’ lieutenant governor running mate this campaign is Jia Lee, a New York City public school teacher and United Federation of Teachers chapter leader.</p> <p>On housing, Hawkins favors a system of rent control, but says the current set-up is not enough, especially without repealing the Urstadt law, which handed control of rent policies to the state, and without building a lot more new housing. “We need to radically expand public housing in order to make affordable housing a reality for all,” he said in a <a href="http://www.howiehawkins.org/hawkins_progressive">press release</a> earlier this month.</p> <p>Asked who he sees as his target voters, Hawkins said he hopes to gain the support of those who voted for Nixon in the Democratic primary.</p> <p>“Nixon got the same percentage as [Zephyr] Teachout [in 2014], which means about a third of the Democratic Party doesn’t like Cuomo. That looks good to me,” he said. “Those are my people.” Hawkins got 4.7 percent of the votes in the 2014 general election to Cuomo’s 53 percent, but 2018 is forecast to be a much higher turnout year, as indicated in part by the <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7936-a-closer-look-at-democratic-primary-turnout-margins-and-geography">massive increase </a>in Democratic primary voters from four years ago.</p> <p>Hawkins in June <a href="https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/06/hawkins_on_miner_its_really_going_to_hurt_cuomo.html">told the Post-Standard</a> that Miner will peel away some of the centrist vote for Cuomo. “It seems it's really going to hurt him,” he said of her candidacy. He also believes he should be able to lure liberal voters who picked Cuomo over Nixon but didn’t have his candidacy to choose from at the time.</p> <p>Additionally, he believes he will earn a decent share of votes well outside New York City.</p> <p>“I think upstate we can do really well, I think part of our program is having the state pay for its unfair disadvantage, something they talk about but don’t do much about. Because our property taxes kill us upstate,” he said. “The state doesn’t pay for its mandates, it balances the state budget on the back of the property tax payers and it doesn’t share revenues like it used to.”</p> <p>“We’re going to the neighborhoods, we’re doing the traditional things, I mean there’s no magic bullet. … In seven weeks it’s hard. In the long run, we’ve got to establish grassroots, Green Party clubs and chapters in those neighborhoods so that people have a relationship to us,” he said of campaigning and forming a successful coalition.</p> <p>Hawkins also insisted he would fair well among black voters.</p> <p>“They’re not in love with the Democratic Party,” he said. “They’re afraid of the Republicans so they vote defensively. I think if you look at the polls, where we stand on the issues, like single-payer healthcare, now they’re with us on that, the majority.”</p> <p><strong>Larry Sharpe</strong><br />Sharpe, who in 2016 ran unsuccessfully for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination, is running on legalizing marijuana, severing ties with the United States Department of Education, including by refusing its funding, licensing bridge and tunnel naming rights to corporations to pay for subway repairs, allowing students to graduate high school earlier, and expanding gun rights.</p> <p>A former marine who now works as a consultant, Sharpe said in an interview with Gotham Gazette that his top goal is decentralizing power. “The campaign is all about having a decentralized situation where counties can be counties, regions can be regions, and cities can be cities,” he said. “We are a very diverse state and we should be allowing our counties to be different. Albany shouldn’t be telling every single county what is should do or not do.”</p> <p>Sharpe is vying for the governorship alongside Andrew Hollister, the libertarian lieutenant governor candidate. The pair is campaigning in the Libertarian model on a platform of shrinking government and making what remains much more efficient and decentralized.</p> <p>Among the ways Sharpe wants to cut what he sees as overly burdensome regulations is repealing the SAFE Act, a gun control bill passed in early 2013 that Cuomo touts as one of his signature accomplishments.</p> <p>“The problem with the SAFE Act is the SAFE Act didn’t make anybody safer,” Sharpe said, delivering one of his most frequent campaign lines. “You lose your Second Amendment rights because you’re on some secret list. That’s a bad idea,” he added, in apparent reference to the list of individuals deemed mentally unfit for gun ownership. The law also banned new sales of assault-style weapons, made current owners of those guns register them, and put limits on magazine sizes, among other provisions.</p> <p>Sharpe said in an <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqTAJvCPaxQ">interview</a> with New York NOW that the SAFE Act was a “bandaid” and that other problems aside from guns are what must really be targeted.</p> <p>“[T]he problem is we have unhappy people. Unhappy people is the problem. If you take away his gun, he uses something else. If he’s unhappy he will do bad things,” he said. “There are two things that most of these people, one that they have and one that they don’t have. … Number one thing they don’t have, a girlfriend. The thing they do have: a prescription to psychotropic drugs.”</p> <p>Asked to clarify what he meant, Sharpe said that while school shootings are murders, they’re “at their core public suicides.”</p> <p>“The goal is not to simply say ‘Lets take away guns.’ The goal is to say ‘Stop having so many unhappy kids that want to kill other kids,’” he said. “I don’t want our kids to be killing other kids. I want happier children. That’s the key.”</p> <p>Further, Sharpe favors allowing teachers and administrators who are licensed to carry guns to do so in schools.</p> <p>Asked if his stance on guns would be appealing to voters in a blue state, where just over 3 percent of voters in the 2016 presidential election voted for the libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, and Hillary Clinton won handily, Sharpe said his policies on the matter would have “legs.”</p> <p>“There are over four million gun owners in New York state,” he said. (The gun ownership rate in New York is slightly over 10 percent). “They’re more than happy to hear someone say ‘Let’s repeal the SAFE Act. Let’s have our second amendment rights back.’"</p> <p>As the debate continues over how best to fund and fix the beleaguered MTA, Sharpe has raised ideas that are not yet part of mainstream discussions: allowing public bridges and tunnels to lease their naming rights to corporations, for example. It’s part of his <a href="https://larrysharpe.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Final_-MTA-Faster-Forward.pdf">“Faster Forward”</a> plan on the subject he has released, which takes its name from the MTA’s new Fast Forward plan that has yet to be approved or funded. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7893-promising-efficiency-and-performance-molinaro-release-mta-turnaround-plan">Molinaro has also released a plan of his own</a>.</p> <p>“These are companies that drop millions of dollars every year on marketing,” he said. “They drop $20 million on a stadium that gets used on the weekends. They will easily drop $20, $30, $40 million on a bridge or tunnel.”</p> <p>Sharpe also pledged to not give the MTA a dime until its management figures out a way to cut costs.</p> <p>“I’m not giving them a new contract until they change their practices. The practices of the MTA are a disaster,” he said. “They are one of the most inefficient organizations we have. They will shift and adjust. Why? I’m not giving them extra money, period. They’re not getting extra money, period!…They will change their way of doing business.”</p> <p>On criminal justice, Sharpe does not want people to be put in jail for marijuana use. “Why in the world are we putting people in jail for having a plant in their pocket?” he said.</p> <p>“We need to make sure that we absolutely regulate hemp and cannabis like onions,” he said, adding that farmers upstate should be allowed to grow cannabis if they opt to do so.</p> <p>“We have a lot of farmers who are suffering,” he added.</p> <p>He also would like to put an end to cash bail. “We’re putting people in jail because they’re poor,” he said.</p> <p>Sharpe articulated a drastically different vision for K-12 education. For too many high-schoolers, 11th and 12th grades are a waste of time, he argues.</p> <p>“The last two years of high school for too many kids is just gym, study hall, video games, and probably smoking weed,” said Sharpe. “Nothing but bad.”</p> <p>After students complete the 10th grade, under his plan, they would take a test and would graduate if they pass it. Then, graduates would able to go to attend a college or university, a two-year prep school, go straight to work or a trade school.</p> <p>Additionally, Sharpe said he would get rid of standardized testing altogether until students reached high school, stop abiding by Common Core learning standards, stop taking government funds from the Department of Education, and reduce the number of administrators at schools, using the saved funds for more teachers and school supplies.</p> <p>Asked about government corruption, an issue dogging Cuomo as he seeks a third term, especially given recent convictions of members of the governor’s inner circle, Sharpe explained the issue isn’t something he really emphasizes in the campaign, other than to criticize Cuomo.</p> <p>“I don’t talk much about this, and the reason is everyone’s answer is ‘Put ‘em in jail, put ‘em in jail, put ‘em in jail, more laws, more laws. That’s not the answer. The more laws you put and the more people you put in jail, it doesn’t help anybody,” he said. “If Cuomo goes to jail, or his cronies go to jail, that’s fine. I’m fine with that. I just want Cuomo to leave Albany, so I can start fixing things.” &nbsp;</p> <p>Sharpe, who has been keeping an aggressive campaign schedule for many months, holding events throughout the state, expressed confidence his message will triumph over those of the major parties as well as Miner, who he called part of the establishment.</p> <p>“The two frontrunners are the definition of career politicians. They're the definition of the establishment. Both of them only know politics. Nothing else. They can’t drain the swamp they live in a swamp,” Sharpe said of Cuomo and Molinaro, who he has repeatedly attacked during his campaign. “To ask them for change is to ask them to burn their own house down.”</p> <p>“The only person that has any chance of making any real impact is me,” he went on. “I’m the only one who can get Democrats and Republicans and independents and people who haven’t voted. I’m the only one out there crossing the state, doing north of 30 events every single month. I’m the only one that’s exciting. It’s only me.”</p> <p>[Listen to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7941-max-murphy-podcast-marc-molinaro-republican-nominee-for-governor">Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro on Max &amp; Murphy from September 19</a>]</p> <p> </p> <p>with contributions from Victor Porcelli and Ben Max</p> Democrats Target Previously Ignored Brooklyn Shot at State Senate Majority 2018-09-20T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-20T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7947:democrats-target-previously-ignored-brooklyn-shot-at-state-senate-majority Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/a-gounardes2.png" alt="a gounardes2" width="600" height="488" /></p> <p>(Photo: @agounardes)</p> <hr /> <p>As Democrats eye majority control of the New York State Senate that has effectively eluded them for a decade, party leaders and a coalition of progressive activists are descending on Southern Brooklyn’s District 22, where Democrat Andrew Gounardes is challenging Republican Senator Marty Golden and where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two-to-one.</p> <p>The Senate Democratic conference currently holds 31 seats and needs just one more for a majority in the 63-seat upper chamber of the state Legislature, while their party-mates already overwhelmingly control the Assembly. With surging turnout and a blue wave of progressive energy rousing the party’s base, they see an opportunity to pick up several seats across the state. Senate District 22 -- which covers the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Dyker Heights, parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Marine Park -- is one of only two in New York City represented by a Republican (the other is District 24 in Staten Island, a solidly Republican seat held by Senator Andrew Lanza). Golden, a former NYPD officer, has held the seat for 16 years, prior to which he served on the New York City Council.</p> <p>In the September 13 primary, Gounardes, who is counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, beat journalist-turned-politician Ross Barkan to win the Democratic nomination. The race was less bitter than other Democratic primaries across the city, and saw more attention focused on Golden’s eight-term Senate record and history of personal controversy.</p> <p>“We’ve been running full-speed, nonstop since [primary] night,” Gounardes said in a Wednesday phone interview, 47 days until Election Day, November 6. “I was at the subway at 7:30 on Friday morning and we’ve been campaigning straight through.”</p> <p>Gounardes has challenged Golden before, in 2012, but Golden outspent him and easily defeated him, getting 38,584 votes, or 52 percent, against Gounardes’ 28,243 votes, 38 percent, out of a total 74,451 votes cast. There were a total of 154,316 registered voters in the district at the time, including 77,594 Democrats, 33,621 Republicans and 36,731 unaffiliated voters. (Gounardes also ran on the Working Families Party Line and Golden ran additionally on the Independence Party and Conservative Party lines).</p> <p>In 2014, Golden again faced a Democratic challenger, Jamie Kemmerer, who received little support from the Democratic establishment and lost by a wide margin in a low turnout election. Only 36,348 voters cast a ballot in that race, with 23,580 voters, or 65 percent, voting for Golden and 10,633, or 29 percent, for Kemmerer. Voter enrollment was largely unchanged -- there were 154,001 total registered in the district, with 77,328 Democrats, 32,710 Republicans, and 37,250 unaffiliateds.</p> <p>Two years ago, the Democrats <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6580-with-chamber-control-at-stake-no-democratic-challenger-to-republican-senator-from-brooklyn" target="_blank" rel="noopener">did not put up any opponent</a> even as they were attempting to win back the Senate, allowing Golden to be reelected unopposed with more than 62,000 votes.</p> <p>This year, however, is nothing like the last two elections. As Golden cruised unopposed in 2016, Donald Trump was surprisingly elected president. Awareness of the New York State Senate -- the fact that it has been controlled by Republicans, with the help of nine rogue Democrats -- grew. Activists organized. Party leaders, while feeling pressure from the base, began to see more seats as in play.</p> <p>Turnout surged on primary day, September 13, and is expected to carry forward into the general. Voter registration has also climbed. As of April this year, there were 167,219 registered voters in District 22: 83,244 Democrats, 35,786 Republicans and 41,458 unaffiliateds.</p> <p>“My approach has always been pragmatic progressivism,” Gounardes said, noting the issues that have defined his campaign and that he will be talking about for the next seven weeks: education, pedestrian safety, the city’s subway crisis, the high cost of living in the district, especially housing and health care, and corruption and good government reform.</p> <p>“I have very progressive values but I’m also a very pragmatic person. Nothing in my platform is anything that I think is out of the mainstream,” he said. “I don’t think it’s out of the mainstream to talk about speed cameras. I don’t think it’s out of the mainstream to talk about fixing the MTA. Frankly I don’t think it’s out of the mainstream to talk about universal health care in the year 2018...I’m really focused on issues that we can have a direct impact on in as pragmatic a way as possible.”</p> <p>He credited his primary victory to a robust field operation and a strong coalition of activists and labor unions that backed him. “We’re gonna do the same thing we did in the primary, we’re just gonna do more of it,” he said of his strategy to beat Golden. “The last four days of the election, we knocked on, I think, north of 15,000 doors in four days....We identified more than half of the voters in our target universe and we pulled them all out. And we predicted our turnout numbers, we predicted our margin, we hit all our metrics really, really strong. So we’re gonna do all of that but we’re gonna do it ten times more. That’s how we’re gonna win.”</p> <p>Golden seems unperturbed by the challenge. The senator prides himself on being able to work with lawmakers from across the aisle and <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6580-with-chamber-control-at-stake-no-democratic-challenger-to-republican-senator-from-brooklyn" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has called himself</a> an “economic development nut,” who cares about lowering taxes and creating jobs. “My neighbors know I get good things done,” he said in an emailed statement to Gotham Gazette. “Bringing back billions of dollars to schools, advocating for common sense MTA reforms, standing up for labor, supporting law enforcement, driving economic development and job creation, keeping prescription medicine affordable and Brooklyn health care excellent - these have always been my priorities year in, year out.”</p> <p>He has a strong fundraising advantage. He has raised more than $782,000 for reelection, spent just about $720,000 and has about $485,000 in cash on hand. Gounardes has only raised about $276,000, spent about $101,000 and has about $153,000 left.</p> <p>Golden has also been endorsed for reelection by several prominent law enforcement and uniformed workers unions, including the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and by the Civil Service Employees Association Local 1000, the New York League of Conservation Voters, and DC37, an influential labor group. “My focus - beginning, middle and end - are the Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods I have the honor of representing. The support I get is from them. However others try to frame this this race, it's not about - and has never been about - anything other than our communities,” Golden said.</p> <p>State Republican Party Chair Ed Cox said in a statement, “Marty Golden is one of the most effective leaders in the state. He delivers for his district and his constituent service is second to none. People trust him and know they can count on him -- it's why Brooklynites from all political persuasions vote for him and it's why he'll be re-elected this November.”</p> <p>On the other side, Gounardes is being aided in his effort by prominent elected officials and labor unions as well, including 32BJ, the powerful building services workers union that just played a significant role in defeating Senator Jeff Klein, former leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, in the primary. A campaign spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo said they see the seat as in play and will be supporting Gounardes as the governor spearheads the party’s effort to flip the senate.</p> <p>“We believe in this blue wave year, every seat is in play and the governor is laser focused on doing our part to take back the House and flip control of the State Senate this November to fight back against Donald Trump’s divisive, anti- New York agenda,” the spokesperson, Abbey Collins, said in a statement.</p> <p>The Working Families Party and the True Blue coalition, made up of 60 activist groups, also intend to flood the district with volunteers and efforts to turn out voters, which they successfully employed in several other contested Democratic primaries. On Saturday, the Gounardes campaign is holding a large general election kickoff rally, and on Sunday, True Blue activists will join with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and others to canvass in the district.</p> <p>“Now that the primary’s behind us, there’s no other competitive general election to the State Senate in any one of the five boroughs except for our race here,” Gounardes pointed out. “So we feel very, very bullish about that fact and we’re encouraged by it because it means that volunteers, instead of getting on a bus and going to Pennsylvania or New Jersey or wherever else to go help with a congressional race, they now have an opportunity to take the subway down, if it’s running, and come down to Bay Ridge, and help us knock on doors and make phone calls.”</p> <p>He has also been in touch with Barkan, his primary opponent, inviting him to the Saturday campaign event, and said that Barkan’s campaign volunteers and donors have reached out to offer support. “[H]e really spoke about Marty’s record in a way that I couldn’t have, with a platform that I just didn’t have,” Gounardes acknowledged of Barkan.</p> <p>Barkan intends to assist the campaign which, he said in phone interview, could lead to a “sea change” in Southern Brooklyn. But he is still figuring out how he will get involved. “To defeat Marty Golden, you have to motivate Democrats, progressives, newer voters, younger voters, and really get them to come out,” he said. “I think this could be the year to do it. I certainly think Marty Golden is vulnerable, I always did. He is a state senator whose views are out of step with much of the district. It’s not an easy fight. I knew that going in, Andrew knows that too. But it’s a winnable fight.”</p> <p>To Democrats, Golden’s weaknesses are legion. He is an avid supporter of President Donald Trump and has <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/personality/personality/state-sen-marty-goldens-brushes-controversy.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">made a variety of bad headlines</a>. In February last year, he falsely claimed that some of the 9/11 hijackers were Bay Ridge residents. In June 2017, he referred to now-Council Member Justin Brannan as “fat boy” at a sit-down with reporters. Then, in December, he apparently <a href="https://nypost.com/2017/12/12/politician-impersonated-cop-to-get-past-me-in-bike-lane-cyclist/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">impersonated a police officer</a> while his driver tried to force a cyclist out of a bike lane to get through traffic. In 2015, he made, and later deleted, a crass joke on Facebook about same-sex marriage and recreational marijuana being legalized. In 2012, he advertised and then later cancelled a workforce development seminar for women that had sexist overtones. In 2008, <a href="https://www.villagevoice.com/2008/08/27/gop-star-marty-golden-doles-out-big-bucks-to-his-family-catering-hall/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he spent</a> more than $200,000 in campaign funds on events at a catering hall that he previously ran. He was <a href="https://nypost.com/2014/10/09/bharara-investigating-goldens-campaign-finances/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">investigated</a> in 2014 for alleged campaign finance violations and used campaign funds for his defense, though no charges were filed. In 2005, Golden hit an elderly woman with his car -- she fell into a coma and died six months later -- and paid her family a settlement though he was found not to be at fault. He also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6916-on-the-bus-to-albany-for-better-new-york-voting-laws" target="_blank" rel="noopener">believes</a> Palestinian and Arab communities don’t vote because of cultural differences. And, in January, he made remarks about the opioid crisis that invited allegations of racism.</p> <p>“We’re not talking about a quality candidate here,” said Harris Doran, a steering committee member of No IDC NY and an activist at Rise and Resist, two activist groups under the True Blue coalition. “He’s messed up his own record. No one else needs to do that. This is just a list of facts that are horrible. And he’s also super for Trump.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7945-after-primary-wins-progressive-activists-eye-flipping-state-senate-seats-and-wide-majority" target="_blank" rel="noopener">After Primary Wins, Progressive Activists Eye Flipping State Senate Seats, and Wide Majority</a>]</p> <p>Golden also has a lengthy record of speeding tickets, which many saw as particularly hypocritical because of his <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/26/nyregion/marty-golden-school-speed-camera-ticketed-10-times.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shifting positions</a> on the renewal of a law in this year’s state legislative session related to a speed camera program in place around New York City schools. The Democratic Assembly pushed to expand the program and the Republican Senate refused, leading to an expiration of the program that has since been resurrected by City Council legislation and a Cuomo executive order.</p> <p>“A lot of people frankly are startled or shocked when they hear some of the policy positions or some of the things that Marty Golden stands for and the fact that someone can hold these views in 2018 in the city of New York,” said Brannan, a close Gounardes ally whose City Council district overlaps with Senate District 22. Brannan won his seat by defeating John Quaglione, who is Golden’s deputy chief of staff.</p> <p>Brannan conceded it will be a tough battle. “We’re gonna have to work very hard because the district is very heavily gerrymandered but I think we’ve got the numbers,” he said.</p> <p>Golden, however, downplayed the massive uptick in turnout in the district. “Slogans like ‘blue wave’ have a way of glossing over and missing the reality of neighborhoods,” he said. “Every district and community is different. I am proud and grateful to have longstanding support from all parties, all ages, all backgrounds, and from throughout the district.”</p> <p>Gounardes believes Golden’s base has likely soured on his record. “The message has always been for years that if we run a strong, smart campaign, Golden is vulnerable,” he said. “We know that because his support in the district is a mile wide but an inch deep and his record is really poor on a lot of critical issues.”</p> <p>He added, “We’re gonna flip the Senate when we win this race and so people wanna be a part of that history-making moment and they can do it without having to leave the city.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/a-gounardes2.png" alt="a gounardes2" width="600" height="488" /></p> <p>(Photo: @agounardes)</p> <hr /> <p>As Democrats eye majority control of the New York State Senate that has effectively eluded them for a decade, party leaders and a coalition of progressive activists are descending on Southern Brooklyn’s District 22, where Democrat Andrew Gounardes is challenging Republican Senator Marty Golden and where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two-to-one.</p> <p>The Senate Democratic conference currently holds 31 seats and needs just one more for a majority in the 63-seat upper chamber of the state Legislature, while their party-mates already overwhelmingly control the Assembly. With surging turnout and a blue wave of progressive energy rousing the party’s base, they see an opportunity to pick up several seats across the state. Senate District 22 -- which covers the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Dyker Heights, parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Marine Park -- is one of only two in New York City represented by a Republican (the other is District 24 in Staten Island, a solidly Republican seat held by Senator Andrew Lanza). Golden, a former NYPD officer, has held the seat for 16 years, prior to which he served on the New York City Council.</p> <p>In the September 13 primary, Gounardes, who is counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, beat journalist-turned-politician Ross Barkan to win the Democratic nomination. The race was less bitter than other Democratic primaries across the city, and saw more attention focused on Golden’s eight-term Senate record and history of personal controversy.</p> <p>“We’ve been running full-speed, nonstop since [primary] night,” Gounardes said in a Wednesday phone interview, 47 days until Election Day, November 6. “I was at the subway at 7:30 on Friday morning and we’ve been campaigning straight through.”</p> <p>Gounardes has challenged Golden before, in 2012, but Golden outspent him and easily defeated him, getting 38,584 votes, or 52 percent, against Gounardes’ 28,243 votes, 38 percent, out of a total 74,451 votes cast. There were a total of 154,316 registered voters in the district at the time, including 77,594 Democrats, 33,621 Republicans and 36,731 unaffiliated voters. (Gounardes also ran on the Working Families Party Line and Golden ran additionally on the Independence Party and Conservative Party lines).</p> <p>In 2014, Golden again faced a Democratic challenger, Jamie Kemmerer, who received little support from the Democratic establishment and lost by a wide margin in a low turnout election. Only 36,348 voters cast a ballot in that race, with 23,580 voters, or 65 percent, voting for Golden and 10,633, or 29 percent, for Kemmerer. Voter enrollment was largely unchanged -- there were 154,001 total registered in the district, with 77,328 Democrats, 32,710 Republicans, and 37,250 unaffiliateds.</p> <p>Two years ago, the Democrats <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6580-with-chamber-control-at-stake-no-democratic-challenger-to-republican-senator-from-brooklyn" target="_blank" rel="noopener">did not put up any opponent</a> even as they were attempting to win back the Senate, allowing Golden to be reelected unopposed with more than 62,000 votes.</p> <p>This year, however, is nothing like the last two elections. As Golden cruised unopposed in 2016, Donald Trump was surprisingly elected president. Awareness of the New York State Senate -- the fact that it has been controlled by Republicans, with the help of nine rogue Democrats -- grew. Activists organized. Party leaders, while feeling pressure from the base, began to see more seats as in play.</p> <p>Turnout surged on primary day, September 13, and is expected to carry forward into the general. Voter registration has also climbed. As of April this year, there were 167,219 registered voters in District 22: 83,244 Democrats, 35,786 Republicans and 41,458 unaffiliateds.</p> <p>“My approach has always been pragmatic progressivism,” Gounardes said, noting the issues that have defined his campaign and that he will be talking about for the next seven weeks: education, pedestrian safety, the city’s subway crisis, the high cost of living in the district, especially housing and health care, and corruption and good government reform.</p> <p>“I have very progressive values but I’m also a very pragmatic person. Nothing in my platform is anything that I think is out of the mainstream,” he said. “I don’t think it’s out of the mainstream to talk about speed cameras. I don’t think it’s out of the mainstream to talk about fixing the MTA. Frankly I don’t think it’s out of the mainstream to talk about universal health care in the year 2018...I’m really focused on issues that we can have a direct impact on in as pragmatic a way as possible.”</p> <p>He credited his primary victory to a robust field operation and a strong coalition of activists and labor unions that backed him. “We’re gonna do the same thing we did in the primary, we’re just gonna do more of it,” he said of his strategy to beat Golden. “The last four days of the election, we knocked on, I think, north of 15,000 doors in four days....We identified more than half of the voters in our target universe and we pulled them all out. And we predicted our turnout numbers, we predicted our margin, we hit all our metrics really, really strong. So we’re gonna do all of that but we’re gonna do it ten times more. That’s how we’re gonna win.”</p> <p>Golden seems unperturbed by the challenge. The senator prides himself on being able to work with lawmakers from across the aisle and <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6580-with-chamber-control-at-stake-no-democratic-challenger-to-republican-senator-from-brooklyn" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has called himself</a> an “economic development nut,” who cares about lowering taxes and creating jobs. “My neighbors know I get good things done,” he said in an emailed statement to Gotham Gazette. “Bringing back billions of dollars to schools, advocating for common sense MTA reforms, standing up for labor, supporting law enforcement, driving economic development and job creation, keeping prescription medicine affordable and Brooklyn health care excellent - these have always been my priorities year in, year out.”</p> <p>He has a strong fundraising advantage. He has raised more than $782,000 for reelection, spent just about $720,000 and has about $485,000 in cash on hand. Gounardes has only raised about $276,000, spent about $101,000 and has about $153,000 left.</p> <p>Golden has also been endorsed for reelection by several prominent law enforcement and uniformed workers unions, including the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and by the Civil Service Employees Association Local 1000, the New York League of Conservation Voters, and DC37, an influential labor group. “My focus - beginning, middle and end - are the Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods I have the honor of representing. The support I get is from them. However others try to frame this this race, it's not about - and has never been about - anything other than our communities,” Golden said.</p> <p>State Republican Party Chair Ed Cox said in a statement, “Marty Golden is one of the most effective leaders in the state. He delivers for his district and his constituent service is second to none. People trust him and know they can count on him -- it's why Brooklynites from all political persuasions vote for him and it's why he'll be re-elected this November.”</p> <p>On the other side, Gounardes is being aided in his effort by prominent elected officials and labor unions as well, including 32BJ, the powerful building services workers union that just played a significant role in defeating Senator Jeff Klein, former leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, in the primary. A campaign spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo said they see the seat as in play and will be supporting Gounardes as the governor spearheads the party’s effort to flip the senate.</p> <p>“We believe in this blue wave year, every seat is in play and the governor is laser focused on doing our part to take back the House and flip control of the State Senate this November to fight back against Donald Trump’s divisive, anti- New York agenda,” the spokesperson, Abbey Collins, said in a statement.</p> <p>The Working Families Party and the True Blue coalition, made up of 60 activist groups, also intend to flood the district with volunteers and efforts to turn out voters, which they successfully employed in several other contested Democratic primaries. On Saturday, the Gounardes campaign is holding a large general election kickoff rally, and on Sunday, True Blue activists will join with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and others to canvass in the district.</p> <p>“Now that the primary’s behind us, there’s no other competitive general election to the State Senate in any one of the five boroughs except for our race here,” Gounardes pointed out. “So we feel very, very bullish about that fact and we’re encouraged by it because it means that volunteers, instead of getting on a bus and going to Pennsylvania or New Jersey or wherever else to go help with a congressional race, they now have an opportunity to take the subway down, if it’s running, and come down to Bay Ridge, and help us knock on doors and make phone calls.”</p> <p>He has also been in touch with Barkan, his primary opponent, inviting him to the Saturday campaign event, and said that Barkan’s campaign volunteers and donors have reached out to offer support. “[H]e really spoke about Marty’s record in a way that I couldn’t have, with a platform that I just didn’t have,” Gounardes acknowledged of Barkan.</p> <p>Barkan intends to assist the campaign which, he said in phone interview, could lead to a “sea change” in Southern Brooklyn. But he is still figuring out how he will get involved. “To defeat Marty Golden, you have to motivate Democrats, progressives, newer voters, younger voters, and really get them to come out,” he said. “I think this could be the year to do it. I certainly think Marty Golden is vulnerable, I always did. He is a state senator whose views are out of step with much of the district. It’s not an easy fight. I knew that going in, Andrew knows that too. But it’s a winnable fight.”</p> <p>To Democrats, Golden’s weaknesses are legion. He is an avid supporter of President Donald Trump and has <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/personality/personality/state-sen-marty-goldens-brushes-controversy.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">made a variety of bad headlines</a>. In February last year, he falsely claimed that some of the 9/11 hijackers were Bay Ridge residents. In June 2017, he referred to now-Council Member Justin Brannan as “fat boy” at a sit-down with reporters. Then, in December, he apparently <a href="https://nypost.com/2017/12/12/politician-impersonated-cop-to-get-past-me-in-bike-lane-cyclist/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">impersonated a police officer</a> while his driver tried to force a cyclist out of a bike lane to get through traffic. In 2015, he made, and later deleted, a crass joke on Facebook about same-sex marriage and recreational marijuana being legalized. In 2012, he advertised and then later cancelled a workforce development seminar for women that had sexist overtones. In 2008, <a href="https://www.villagevoice.com/2008/08/27/gop-star-marty-golden-doles-out-big-bucks-to-his-family-catering-hall/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he spent</a> more than $200,000 in campaign funds on events at a catering hall that he previously ran. He was <a href="https://nypost.com/2014/10/09/bharara-investigating-goldens-campaign-finances/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">investigated</a> in 2014 for alleged campaign finance violations and used campaign funds for his defense, though no charges were filed. In 2005, Golden hit an elderly woman with his car -- she fell into a coma and died six months later -- and paid her family a settlement though he was found not to be at fault. He also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6916-on-the-bus-to-albany-for-better-new-york-voting-laws" target="_blank" rel="noopener">believes</a> Palestinian and Arab communities don’t vote because of cultural differences. And, in January, he made remarks about the opioid crisis that invited allegations of racism.</p> <p>“We’re not talking about a quality candidate here,” said Harris Doran, a steering committee member of No IDC NY and an activist at Rise and Resist, two activist groups under the True Blue coalition. “He’s messed up his own record. No one else needs to do that. This is just a list of facts that are horrible. And he’s also super for Trump.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7945-after-primary-wins-progressive-activists-eye-flipping-state-senate-seats-and-wide-majority" target="_blank" rel="noopener">After Primary Wins, Progressive Activists Eye Flipping State Senate Seats, and Wide Majority</a>]</p> <p>Golden also has a lengthy record of speeding tickets, which many saw as particularly hypocritical because of his <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/26/nyregion/marty-golden-school-speed-camera-ticketed-10-times.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shifting positions</a> on the renewal of a law in this year’s state legislative session related to a speed camera program in place around New York City schools. The Democratic Assembly pushed to expand the program and the Republican Senate refused, leading to an expiration of the program that has since been resurrected by City Council legislation and a Cuomo executive order.</p> <p>“A lot of people frankly are startled or shocked when they hear some of the policy positions or some of the things that Marty Golden stands for and the fact that someone can hold these views in 2018 in the city of New York,” said Brannan, a close Gounardes ally whose City Council district overlaps with Senate District 22. Brannan won his seat by defeating John Quaglione, who is Golden’s deputy chief of staff.</p> <p>Brannan conceded it will be a tough battle. “We’re gonna have to work very hard because the district is very heavily gerrymandered but I think we’ve got the numbers,” he said.</p> <p>Golden, however, downplayed the massive uptick in turnout in the district. “Slogans like ‘blue wave’ have a way of glossing over and missing the reality of neighborhoods,” he said. “Every district and community is different. I am proud and grateful to have longstanding support from all parties, all ages, all backgrounds, and from throughout the district.”</p> <p>Gounardes believes Golden’s base has likely soured on his record. “The message has always been for years that if we run a strong, smart campaign, Golden is vulnerable,” he said. “We know that because his support in the district is a mile wide but an inch deep and his record is really poor on a lot of critical issues.”</p> <p>He added, “We’re gonna flip the Senate when we win this race and so people wanna be a part of that history-making moment and they can do it without having to leave the city.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
After Primary Wins, Progressive Activists Eye Flipping State Senate Seats, and Wide Majority 2018-09-19T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-19T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7945:after-primary-wins-progressive-activists-eye-flipping-state-senate-seats-and-wide-majority Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/true_blue_rally.jpg" alt="true blue rally" width="600" height="308" /></p> <p>A 'True Blue' rally (photo: @indivisibleny13)</p> <hr /> <p>Prior to September 13, primary day, the True Blue coalition, made up of progressive activists from about 60 individual groups across the state, had one main goal: to depose all eight state Senators of the erstwhile Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and another rogue Democratic Senator from Brooklyn, Simcha Felder, all of whom have bolstered and voted with the Republican majority. But after emerging victorious in six of those races, most of which came as a surprise, the activist network is turning its newfound influence and experience to the bigger objective of bringing the state Senate under outright Democratic control through November’s general election.</p> <p>“The plan only was the ‘No IDC’ races until Thursday,” said Harris Doran, a steering committee member of No IDC NY and an activist at Rise and Resist, two groups that are part of the larger coalition. “Right now, we’re all having conversations about what to do.” That conversation kicked off in earnest on Tuesday night, Doran said, with an initial meeting that occurred just 48 days before Election Day, November 6.</p> <p>Progressive activists have long blamed the IDC and Felder for allowing Republicans to hold the state Senate and block a slate of progressive legislation. Though the IDC rejoined the mainline Democrats earlier this year, activists sought to and succeeded in replacing many of them with Democrats who the activists saw expressing truer progressive bonafides. Even as those candidates seem set to win in the November 6 general, it would still leave the Democratic conference with 31 members in the 63-member Senate. Republicans have 32 seats including Felder, who handily beat his Democratic primary opponent, Blake Morris, and is expected to be easily reelected in November.</p> <p>On Tuesday evening, dozens of True Blue coalition activists met to strategize about how they can carry their efforts forward. “What you have right now is the entire anti-IDC movement researching, analyzing, looking at all the candidates and deciding who we want to support and how, and how many,” Doran said, before previewing an exceedingly ambitious goal. “One thing that was decided was that we don’t just want to flip one seat, we want to flip nine...We want to get to 40 Democrats. We want more than just a majority.”</p> <p>He continued, “With the IDC races, a lot of people were new activists. Some people, it was the first time they ever door-knocked, the first time they did a lot of things. So now the entire movement is experienced and has won six really difficult races. So everyone’s really excited to apply what we’ve learned and also grow and move forward.”</p> <p>A top Democratic party operative who wished to remain unnamed to discuss races candidly pointed to several districts where Democrats see an opening against Republican incumbents -- District 4, where Louis D’Amaro is challenging Sen. Phil Boyle; District 5, where Jim Gaughran is challenging Sen. Carl Marcellino; District 6, where Kevin Thomas is challenging Sen. Kemp Hannon; District 7, where Anna Kaplan is challenging Sen. Elaine Phillips; District 22, where Andrew Gounardes is challenging Sen. Marty Golden; District 41, where Karen Smythe is challenging Sen. Sue Serino; District 46, where Pat Strong is challenging Sen. George Amedore Jr.; and District 56, where Jeremy Cooney is challenging Sen. Joseph Robach.</p> <p>There are also a few open seats that have become competitive battlegrounds. Those include District 3, where Monica Martinez, a Democrat, is facing off against Dean Murray, a Republican; District 39, where James Skoufis faces Republican candidate Tom Basile; District 43, where Democrat Aaron Gladd is going against Republican Daphne Jordan; and District 50, where Democrat John Mannion is taking on Republican Bob Antonacci.</p> <p>The only race where the party may have to play defense, according to the source, is in District 8, where incumbent Democratic Sen. John Brooks is being challenged by Massapequa Park Mayor Jeff Pravato. Republicans also seem intent on challenging Sen. David Carlucci, a former IDC member who survived his primary challenge last week and is facing C. Scott Vanderhoef, a Republican, in the general.</p> <p>On Tuesday, State Republican Party Chair Ed Cox <a href="https://twitter.com/NYNOW_PBS/status/1042213103876943872" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told New York Now</a>, “We’ve got a good chance with the Brooks seat in Nassau County and I think we have got a good shot where Scott Vanderhoef, the five-time elected county [executive] of Rockland County is running for the state Senate seat there. Of course, Senator Carlucci has had a tough primary and is wounded to begin with and that’s a seat we’ve held before and I think we can win that one again.”</p> <p>All but the Golden race are outside New York City.</p> <p>The True Blue activists, who engage in a variety of campaign tactics including door-knocking and phone-banking, have yet to settle on which races they’ll jump into. “There are a lot of metrics involved, like the district’s partisan lean and the issues that they support, and of course there are other aspects like where they are geographically and where we can have the most impact,” said Mia Pearlman, co-leader of True Blue NY, an individual group from which the larger coalition drew its name. “Once the coalition groups decide where they want to put their energy, then we’ll work on sort of helping each campaign,” Pearlman said. “What we tried to do with the IDC challengers...is to get groups in the coalition to adopt a campaign and then put all their resources directly into the campaign.”</p> <p>Since these races span the state, the activists will look to get involved largely remotely, Pearlman said, including through phone-banking, text-banking, postcards, and fundraising. “Hopefully we’ll also be going to some of these districts to help out,” she said. In past cycles, volunteers have boarded buses from the city to spend days in swing districts canvassing, but a lot can be done remotely. The involvement of New York City-based activists can be used against the candidates they are seeking to help, as Republicans outside the city often tell suburban and upstate voters that a GOP Senate majority is the only thing keeping taxes from skyrocketing and city liberals from taking over all of state government.</p> <p>True to recent form, the activists aren’t looking to simply back any Democrat and, both Doran and Pearlman said, will be closely scrutinizing candidates to see who matches their priorities.</p> <p>“It’s very important to the coalition that we support true progressives so we will be vetting candidates based on their policy positions and where they’ve raised money and their endorsements,” Pearlman said. “And we’re also excited to find candidates who have a lot of grassroots support in their districts, if there is a grassroots, because I think that that shows the strength of the candidate who may be able to win regardless of what the metrics might seem to predict.”</p> <p>Pearlman emphasized that the decisions would be made independent of the state Democratic establishment, even if the coalition seeks advice on candidates. “While we are of course happy to talk to the establishment forces about who they would recommend, we have a great track record of helping candidates win who no one thought could possibly win in districts that people had completely written off.”</p> <p>“We have no interest in having potential Cuomo lackeys elected to office to do his bidding,” Doran said, noting for example that Cuomo had urged certain candidates to run including Anna Kaplan, Monica Martinez, and Peter Harckham, who is running against Republican Sen. Terrence Murphy in District 40. Doran didn't preclude the possibility of supporting those three candidates, noting that the coalition would evaluate each of them to see if they share their progressive values. “We don't want to risk having Senators that may not be called the IDC but could be IDC-lite Democrats in the State Senate," he said.</p> <p>The Working Families Party, which was also instrumental in helping the various insurgent challengers against the IDC as well as Julia Salazar’s defeat of incumbent Democratic Senator Martin Dilan, will also be heavily involved in the effort. “There are at least three of four top-tier Senate races that we think are very flippable,” said Joe Dinkin, WFP campaign director, earlier this week. “I think the surge in turnout in the primary and the energy we’re seeing on the ground is indicative of the fact that the blue wave is very real. We’re gonna see a lot of Democrats turning out to vote and we have a really good shot to pick up seats in the state Senate.”</p> <p>Doran said, no matter the race, the effort will boil down to a robust ground game and voter contact campaign. “Nothing is stronger than going out and meeting people in the districts. People, not money, are the power,” he said, echoing a line regularly used by Alessandra Biaggi, who defeated former IDC leader Jeff Klein in the marquee race of the Senate primaries. And though he wouldn’t elaborate on specific tactics, he promised, “Obviously we will have some new fun surprises.”</p> <p>[Read:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7939-how-insurgent-forces-activated-educated-and-brought-the-idc-down">How Insurgent Forces Activated, Educated and Brought the IDC Down</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated to clarify Doran's comments related to three Democratic state Senate candidates.&nbsp;</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/true_blue_rally.jpg" alt="true blue rally" width="600" height="308" /></p> <p>A 'True Blue' rally (photo: @indivisibleny13)</p> <hr /> <p>Prior to September 13, primary day, the True Blue coalition, made up of progressive activists from about 60 individual groups across the state, had one main goal: to depose all eight state Senators of the erstwhile Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and another rogue Democratic Senator from Brooklyn, Simcha Felder, all of whom have bolstered and voted with the Republican majority. But after emerging victorious in six of those races, most of which came as a surprise, the activist network is turning its newfound influence and experience to the bigger objective of bringing the state Senate under outright Democratic control through November’s general election.</p> <p>“The plan only was the ‘No IDC’ races until Thursday,” said Harris Doran, a steering committee member of No IDC NY and an activist at Rise and Resist, two groups that are part of the larger coalition. “Right now, we’re all having conversations about what to do.” That conversation kicked off in earnest on Tuesday night, Doran said, with an initial meeting that occurred just 48 days before Election Day, November 6.</p> <p>Progressive activists have long blamed the IDC and Felder for allowing Republicans to hold the state Senate and block a slate of progressive legislation. Though the IDC rejoined the mainline Democrats earlier this year, activists sought to and succeeded in replacing many of them with Democrats who the activists saw expressing truer progressive bonafides. Even as those candidates seem set to win in the November 6 general, it would still leave the Democratic conference with 31 members in the 63-member Senate. Republicans have 32 seats including Felder, who handily beat his Democratic primary opponent, Blake Morris, and is expected to be easily reelected in November.</p> <p>On Tuesday evening, dozens of True Blue coalition activists met to strategize about how they can carry their efforts forward. “What you have right now is the entire anti-IDC movement researching, analyzing, looking at all the candidates and deciding who we want to support and how, and how many,” Doran said, before previewing an exceedingly ambitious goal. “One thing that was decided was that we don’t just want to flip one seat, we want to flip nine...We want to get to 40 Democrats. We want more than just a majority.”</p> <p>He continued, “With the IDC races, a lot of people were new activists. Some people, it was the first time they ever door-knocked, the first time they did a lot of things. So now the entire movement is experienced and has won six really difficult races. So everyone’s really excited to apply what we’ve learned and also grow and move forward.”</p> <p>A top Democratic party operative who wished to remain unnamed to discuss races candidly pointed to several districts where Democrats see an opening against Republican incumbents -- District 4, where Louis D’Amaro is challenging Sen. Phil Boyle; District 5, where Jim Gaughran is challenging Sen. Carl Marcellino; District 6, where Kevin Thomas is challenging Sen. Kemp Hannon; District 7, where Anna Kaplan is challenging Sen. Elaine Phillips; District 22, where Andrew Gounardes is challenging Sen. Marty Golden; District 41, where Karen Smythe is challenging Sen. Sue Serino; District 46, where Pat Strong is challenging Sen. George Amedore Jr.; and District 56, where Jeremy Cooney is challenging Sen. Joseph Robach.</p> <p>There are also a few open seats that have become competitive battlegrounds. Those include District 3, where Monica Martinez, a Democrat, is facing off against Dean Murray, a Republican; District 39, where James Skoufis faces Republican candidate Tom Basile; District 43, where Democrat Aaron Gladd is going against Republican Daphne Jordan; and District 50, where Democrat John Mannion is taking on Republican Bob Antonacci.</p> <p>The only race where the party may have to play defense, according to the source, is in District 8, where incumbent Democratic Sen. John Brooks is being challenged by Massapequa Park Mayor Jeff Pravato. Republicans also seem intent on challenging Sen. David Carlucci, a former IDC member who survived his primary challenge last week and is facing C. Scott Vanderhoef, a Republican, in the general.</p> <p>On Tuesday, State Republican Party Chair Ed Cox <a href="https://twitter.com/NYNOW_PBS/status/1042213103876943872" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told New York Now</a>, “We’ve got a good chance with the Brooks seat in Nassau County and I think we have got a good shot where Scott Vanderhoef, the five-time elected county [executive] of Rockland County is running for the state Senate seat there. Of course, Senator Carlucci has had a tough primary and is wounded to begin with and that’s a seat we’ve held before and I think we can win that one again.”</p> <p>All but the Golden race are outside New York City.</p> <p>The True Blue activists, who engage in a variety of campaign tactics including door-knocking and phone-banking, have yet to settle on which races they’ll jump into. “There are a lot of metrics involved, like the district’s partisan lean and the issues that they support, and of course there are other aspects like where they are geographically and where we can have the most impact,” said Mia Pearlman, co-leader of True Blue NY, an individual group from which the larger coalition drew its name. “Once the coalition groups decide where they want to put their energy, then we’ll work on sort of helping each campaign,” Pearlman said. “What we tried to do with the IDC challengers...is to get groups in the coalition to adopt a campaign and then put all their resources directly into the campaign.”</p> <p>Since these races span the state, the activists will look to get involved largely remotely, Pearlman said, including through phone-banking, text-banking, postcards, and fundraising. “Hopefully we’ll also be going to some of these districts to help out,” she said. In past cycles, volunteers have boarded buses from the city to spend days in swing districts canvassing, but a lot can be done remotely. The involvement of New York City-based activists can be used against the candidates they are seeking to help, as Republicans outside the city often tell suburban and upstate voters that a GOP Senate majority is the only thing keeping taxes from skyrocketing and city liberals from taking over all of state government.</p> <p>True to recent form, the activists aren’t looking to simply back any Democrat and, both Doran and Pearlman said, will be closely scrutinizing candidates to see who matches their priorities.</p> <p>“It’s very important to the coalition that we support true progressives so we will be vetting candidates based on their policy positions and where they’ve raised money and their endorsements,” Pearlman said. “And we’re also excited to find candidates who have a lot of grassroots support in their districts, if there is a grassroots, because I think that that shows the strength of the candidate who may be able to win regardless of what the metrics might seem to predict.”</p> <p>Pearlman emphasized that the decisions would be made independent of the state Democratic establishment, even if the coalition seeks advice on candidates. “While we are of course happy to talk to the establishment forces about who they would recommend, we have a great track record of helping candidates win who no one thought could possibly win in districts that people had completely written off.”</p> <p>“We have no interest in having potential Cuomo lackeys elected to office to do his bidding,” Doran said, noting for example that Cuomo had urged certain candidates to run including Anna Kaplan, Monica Martinez, and Peter Harckham, who is running against Republican Sen. Terrence Murphy in District 40. Doran didn't preclude the possibility of supporting those three candidates, noting that the coalition would evaluate each of them to see if they share their progressive values. “We don't want to risk having Senators that may not be called the IDC but could be IDC-lite Democrats in the State Senate," he said.</p> <p>The Working Families Party, which was also instrumental in helping the various insurgent challengers against the IDC as well as Julia Salazar’s defeat of incumbent Democratic Senator Martin Dilan, will also be heavily involved in the effort. “There are at least three of four top-tier Senate races that we think are very flippable,” said Joe Dinkin, WFP campaign director, earlier this week. “I think the surge in turnout in the primary and the energy we’re seeing on the ground is indicative of the fact that the blue wave is very real. We’re gonna see a lot of Democrats turning out to vote and we have a really good shot to pick up seats in the state Senate.”</p> <p>Doran said, no matter the race, the effort will boil down to a robust ground game and voter contact campaign. “Nothing is stronger than going out and meeting people in the districts. People, not money, are the power,” he said, echoing a line regularly used by Alessandra Biaggi, who defeated former IDC leader Jeff Klein in the marquee race of the Senate primaries. And though he wouldn’t elaborate on specific tactics, he promised, “Obviously we will have some new fun surprises.”</p> <p>[Read:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7939-how-insurgent-forces-activated-educated-and-brought-the-idc-down">How Insurgent Forces Activated, Educated and Brought the IDC Down</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated to clarify Doran's comments related to three Democratic state Senate candidates.&nbsp;</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: Marc Molinaro, Republican Nominee for Governor 2018-09-19T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-19T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7941:max-murphy-podcast-marc-molinaro-republican-nominee-for-governor Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/mxm-logo.jpg" alt="mxm logo" width="600" height="239" /></p> <p>Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette,&nbsp;and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 19, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Marc Molinaro, Republican Nominee for Governor<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/marc-molinaro-pod277.jpg" alt="marc molinaro pod277" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro joined the show to talk about his background and his candidacy. In the interview, he touched upon aspects of his career, his critiques of Governor Cuomo, his plans for the MTA, his soon-to-be-released tax overhaul plan, his views on gun control, and much more. Molinaro, who also has the Conservative and Reform Party nominations this fall, is hoping to overcome some of Cuomo's advantages to become the first Republican elected statewide since Gov. George Pataki won a third term in 2002.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/502319628&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="175" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/mxm-logo.jpg" alt="mxm logo" width="600" height="239" /></p> <p>Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette,&nbsp;and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 19, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Marc Molinaro, Republican Nominee for Governor<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/marc-molinaro-pod277.jpg" alt="marc molinaro pod277" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro joined the show to talk about his background and his candidacy. In the interview, he touched upon aspects of his career, his critiques of Governor Cuomo, his plans for the MTA, his soon-to-be-released tax overhaul plan, his views on gun control, and much more. Molinaro, who also has the Conservative and Reform Party nominations this fall, is hoping to overcome some of Cuomo's advantages to become the first Republican elected statewide since Gov. George Pataki won a third term in 2002.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/502319628&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="175" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: Primary Post-Mortem with Rebecca Katz, Top Cynthia Nixon Strategist 2018-09-19T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-19T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7942:max-murphy-podcast-primary-post-mortem-with-rebecca-katz-top-cynthia-nixon-strategist Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/mxm-logo.jpg" alt="mxm logo" width="600" height="239" /></p> <p>Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette,&nbsp;and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 19, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Primary Post-Mortem with Rebecca Katz, Top Cynthia Nixon Strategist<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/rebecca-katz-277.jpg" alt="rebecca katz 277" width="171" height="164" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />Rebecca Katz was the chief strategist for Cynthia Nixon's campaign for governor. Katz, a principal at Hilltop Public Solitions and veteran of Bill de Blasio's 2013 campaign and 2014 City Hall, joined the show to recap and dissect the primary election between Nixon and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who prevailed by a wide margin against the first-time candidate. Katz described some of the strategies behind the campaign, working closely with Nixon, preparing for the lone Nixon-Cuomo debate, and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/502236807&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="175" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/mxm-logo.jpg" alt="mxm logo" width="600" height="239" /></p> <p>Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette,&nbsp;and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 19, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Primary Post-Mortem with Rebecca Katz, Top Cynthia Nixon Strategist<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/rebecca-katz-277.jpg" alt="rebecca katz 277" width="171" height="164" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />Rebecca Katz was the chief strategist for Cynthia Nixon's campaign for governor. Katz, a principal at Hilltop Public Solitions and veteran of Bill de Blasio's 2013 campaign and 2014 City Hall, joined the show to recap and dissect the primary election between Nixon and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who prevailed by a wide margin against the first-time candidate. Katz described some of the strategies behind the campaign, working closely with Nixon, preparing for the lone Nixon-Cuomo debate, and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/502236807&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="175" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Surging Democratic Voter Turnout in New York City May Mean Greater Importance in State Elections 2018-09-19T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-19T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7943:surging-democratic-voter-turnout-in-new-york-city-may-mean-greater-importance-in-state-elections Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/maybloomberg-73-special.jpg" alt="maybloomberg 73 special" width="600" /></p> <p>(photo: Mayor's Office/Kristen Artz)</p> <hr /> <p>There was an extraordinary turnout in New York City in the just-completed statewide Democratic primaries on Thursday, September 13. In the city alone, 855,000 Democrats came to the polls. That vote substantially exceeded the crowded and competitive 2013 Democratic mayoral primary (690,000), was nearly triple the city’s turnout in the 2014 Cuomo-Teachout primary (298,000), and came somewhat close to matching the Clinton-Sanders turnout in New York City of practically 1 million Democrats (996,000).</p> <p>The good news about increasing voter participation may also foretell change in the dynamics of statewide elections. Democratic turnout in New York City was 57.3% of the statewide turnout of 1.49 million, a higher share than the geographic turnout model being used in two Siena Research Institute polls on the primary in July and September 2018, each of which assumed New York City’s share of statewide turnout would be 50%.</p> <p>You might say ‘who cares about a bunch of polls?’, but polls are based on turnout from past elections, and those turnout models are also what candidates and campaigns use to allocate their time, energy, money, and resources. And, polls are frequently covered by the news media. If turnout in New York City is rising, campaigns must spend more money and time and volunteer effort there, and candidates’ positions must strongly appeal to residents of the nation’s largest city.</p> <p>Turnout in the rest of the state also differed from the Siena Poll models. The final September poll modeled the turnout at 50% New York City, 13% suburbs, and 38% upstate. The actual results were 57% New York City, 18% suburbs, and 25% upstate. The number of Democrats outside New York City that came out to vote also rose substantially from 2014, more than doubling from 276,000 to 635,000, meaning there was far broader interest in the election this year across the entire state than in 2014. Cuomo won two-to-one in New York City, three-to-one in the suburbs, and 57-43% upstate.</p> <p>While New York City had big increases in raw numbers and an increased share of the statewide primary vote, the real test of the city’s importance in statewide elections will now come in the general election. In the past three gubernatorial, off-presidential year elections -- 2006, 2010, and 2014 -- the city’s share of the statewide vote has been dismal.</p> <p>Despite being 43% of the state’s population, the city’s share of the statewide vote in the past three general elections where the election for Governor was the top of the ticket has not reached 30%. In 2014, the city was 1 million of 3.8 million votes, a mere 26.5% of the vote. In 2010, when Governor Cuomo was first elected to the position, the city was 29% of 4.6 million votes. In 2006, when Eliot Spitzer won handily, the city was 28% of 4.4 million votes.</p> <p>The question now becomes, was the surge in turnout in the city a one-off due to a few unique circumstances, or will it be sustainable because of a more engaged Democratic constituency in the age of Donald Trump?</p> <p>[Read more: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7936-a-closer-look-at-democratic-primary-turnout-margins-and-geography" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Closer Look at Democratic Primary Turnout, Margins &amp; Geography</a>]</p> <p>***<br /> Jim Brennan was a member of the New York State Assembly for 32 years, where he chaired four committees. On Twitter<a href="https://twitter.com/JimBrennanNY"> @JimBrennanNY</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/maybloomberg-73-special.jpg" alt="maybloomberg 73 special" width="600" /></p> <p>(photo: Mayor's Office/Kristen Artz)</p> <hr /> <p>There was an extraordinary turnout in New York City in the just-completed statewide Democratic primaries on Thursday, September 13. In the city alone, 855,000 Democrats came to the polls. That vote substantially exceeded the crowded and competitive 2013 Democratic mayoral primary (690,000), was nearly triple the city’s turnout in the 2014 Cuomo-Teachout primary (298,000), and came somewhat close to matching the Clinton-Sanders turnout in New York City of practically 1 million Democrats (996,000).</p> <p>The good news about increasing voter participation may also foretell change in the dynamics of statewide elections. Democratic turnout in New York City was 57.3% of the statewide turnout of 1.49 million, a higher share than the geographic turnout model being used in two Siena Research Institute polls on the primary in July and September 2018, each of which assumed New York City’s share of statewide turnout would be 50%.</p> <p>You might say ‘who cares about a bunch of polls?’, but polls are based on turnout from past elections, and those turnout models are also what candidates and campaigns use to allocate their time, energy, money, and resources. And, polls are frequently covered by the news media. If turnout in New York City is rising, campaigns must spend more money and time and volunteer effort there, and candidates’ positions must strongly appeal to residents of the nation’s largest city.</p> <p>Turnout in the rest of the state also differed from the Siena Poll models. The final September poll modeled the turnout at 50% New York City, 13% suburbs, and 38% upstate. The actual results were 57% New York City, 18% suburbs, and 25% upstate. The number of Democrats outside New York City that came out to vote also rose substantially from 2014, more than doubling from 276,000 to 635,000, meaning there was far broader interest in the election this year across the entire state than in 2014. Cuomo won two-to-one in New York City, three-to-one in the suburbs, and 57-43% upstate.</p> <p>While New York City had big increases in raw numbers and an increased share of the statewide primary vote, the real test of the city’s importance in statewide elections will now come in the general election. In the past three gubernatorial, off-presidential year elections -- 2006, 2010, and 2014 -- the city’s share of the statewide vote has been dismal.</p> <p>Despite being 43% of the state’s population, the city’s share of the statewide vote in the past three general elections where the election for Governor was the top of the ticket has not reached 30%. In 2014, the city was 1 million of 3.8 million votes, a mere 26.5% of the vote. In 2010, when Governor Cuomo was first elected to the position, the city was 29% of 4.6 million votes. In 2006, when Eliot Spitzer won handily, the city was 28% of 4.4 million votes.</p> <p>The question now becomes, was the surge in turnout in the city a one-off due to a few unique circumstances, or will it be sustainable because of a more engaged Democratic constituency in the age of Donald Trump?</p> <p>[Read more: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7936-a-closer-look-at-democratic-primary-turnout-margins-and-geography" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Closer Look at Democratic Primary Turnout, Margins &amp; Geography</a>]</p> <p>***<br /> Jim Brennan was a member of the New York State Assembly for 32 years, where he chaired four committees. On Twitter<a href="https://twitter.com/JimBrennanNY"> @JimBrennanNY</a>.</p> <p>

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Republican Slate Seeks to End Statewide Drought 2018-09-18T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-18T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7940:republican-slate-seeks-to-end-statewide-drought Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/molinaro-julie-keith-john.jpg" alt="molinaro julie keith john" width="600" /></p> <p>Molinaro, Killian, Wofford, Trichter (l-r)</p> <hr /> <p>With the primary election over and the Democratic statewide ticket in clear view, attention across the state shifts to the general election, with the November 6 vote fewer than 50 days away. Republicans fought no statewide primaries and have had a slate of candidates ready and raring to take on their Democratic opponents. Those GOP nominees have been raising money and campaigning but somewhat crowded out of the conversation as Democrats waged highly contested races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General, with a good deal of intraparty fighting that now must be repaired and can offer some fodder for opponents in the weeks ahead.</p> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, both incumbents up for reelection, won their separate primaries on Thursday and now form a ticket to face Republicans Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive, and his lieutenant governor running-mate, former Rye City Council Member Julie Killian.</p> <p>State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli did not have a primary challenger but will now face Jonathan Trichter, who recently changed his registration from Democrat to Republican and is promising to run the office without political or ideological influence.</p> <p>In the attorney general race, which will make history no matter the result, Public Advocate Letitia James beat three other Democrats to claim the party’s nomination and must now confront Keith Wofford, a Republican from Buffalo. Both of the major party candidates are African-American, meaning New York is all but assured to have its first black attorney general come January.</p> <p>In all three statewide contests for state-level seats, there are smaller party candidates running as well, including gubernatorial candidates Howie Hawkins (Green), Larry Sharpe (Libertarian), and Stephanie Miner (Serving America Movement), their lieutenant governor running-mates, as well as candidates for comptroller and attorney general.</p> <p>Though they face significant headwinds due to New York’s heavy Democratic enrollment advantage and apparent anti-Trump enthusiasm among Democrats, the Republican statewide candidates have been preparing for this roughly seven-week spring to Election Day.</p> <p>An overview of the Republican statewide slate follows, with additional profiles of the candidates and coverage of their campaigns to follow as November approaches.</p> <p><strong>Marc Molinaro</strong><br />Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for governor, has served as Dutchess County Executive since 2012 and was a member of the State Assembly for five years before that. He was nominated unanimously at the State Republican Party convention in May, after Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and State Senator John DeFrancisco withdrew from the race as support of party leaders coalesced around Molinaro.</p> <p>Molinaro has spent his entire adult career in politics, beginning with election to the Tivoli Board of Trustees in 1994. He was elected mayor of Tivoli one year later; at 19, he was the youngest mayor in America at the time. In 2000, he was elected to the Dutchess County Legislature, where he served for six years concurrently while also serving as mayor of Tivoli. In 2006, he stepped down as mayor and county legislator to run for the Assembly. Five years after that, he ran for County Executive and won with 62 percent of the vote.</p> <p>In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one, Molinaro has mostly eschewed conservative firebrand rhetoric in favor of criticizing Cuomo on a broad range of issues, including mismanagement of the MTA, taxes he says are too high, and a culture of corruption he says Cuomo is at the center of, highlighting the Buffalo Billion scandal in particular. Molinaro has outlined only a few detailed policy proposals, including regarding government ethics and the MTA, promising more to come soon, highlighted by a tax reform package he says will shake up the state.</p> <p>The GOP nominee appears to mix moderate and conservative principles, while promising that his approach to government is a bipartisan one focused on bringing all voices to the table and finding solutions that make sense, no matter where they might fall on the ideological spectrum. He regularly promises that as governor he would only show allegiance to New Yorkers, not donors or political supporters.</p> <p>Molinaro has <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Molinaro-calls-for-pay-to-play-ban-LLC-12954348.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">called</a> for term limits for elected officials, ending “pay-to-play” politics, and closing the LLC loophole, though he himself <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/CONTRIBUTORA_COUNTY?ID_in=A22013&amp;date_From=01/01/2018&amp;date_to=09/13/2018&amp;AMOUNT_From=0&amp;AMOUNT_to=999999999&amp;ZIP1=00000&amp;ZIP2=99999&amp;ORDERBY_IN=N&amp;CATEGORY_IN=ALL" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has taken</a> LLC money in this election cycle, in conjunction with other campaign finance reforms. He also says that JCOPE has “<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7771-molinaro-starts-campaign-on-attack-policy-plans-to-come" target="_blank" rel="noopener">no integrity</a>,” and sued it this summer to find out whether it is investigating Cuomo for ethics violations. Molinaro has backed calls for public hearings on sexual harassment in Albany, calls that have been ignored by Cuomo and legislative leaders, including the Republican Senate majority leader, as those top officials designed new anti-harassment laws behind closed doors and passed them with no public review during the most recent budget.</p> <p>On education, Molinaro has <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/990227941073342464" target="_blank" rel="noopener">critiqued</a> the culture of high-stakes standardized testing but nonetheless believes the SHSAT should <a href="https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2018/06/16/republican-running-for-governor-calls-for-city-to-keep-shsat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">remain</a> in place for entrance to the city’s top high schools. In the Assembly, he <a href="https://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&amp;leg_video=&amp;bn=A11310&amp;term=2009&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Floor%26nbspVotes=Y&amp;Text=Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener">voted against</a> raising the cap on charter schools in 2010 along with other Republicans, but his current position on charter schools appears more open. Molinaro supports fracking, which Cuomo banned in the state in 2014, but is an issue that could play well in upstate communities with high unemployment. On the MTA, Molinaro backs New York City Transit President Andy Byford’s “Fast Forward” plan, but also thinks that the state needs to go after bloated union contracts and bring down construction costs.</p> <p>Like most Republicans in the state, Molinaro lists one of his top priorities as reducing property taxes, which he says are driving away businesses and individuals who might otherwise locate in New York.</p> <p>Molinaro has said he has changed his stance since he voted against marriage equality while in the Assembly and said he opposes expansion of abortion rights, but is not supportive of trying to overturn Roe v. Wade or undo current New York laws, which pre-date Roe and further limit choice. He has taken a somewhat vague stance on gun control, criticizing Cuomo’s signature SAFE Act as going too far, but hesitating to discuss what changes he would pursue if elected.</p> <p>While the Cuomo camp has worked to tie Molinaro to President Donald Trump, referring to him as a “<a href="https://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/marc-molinaro-andrew-cuomo-donald-trump-1.19501764" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Trump mini-me</a>,” the Republican nominee has tried to distance himself from the president, whom he says he did not vote for. Molinaro supports the president’s tax reform law but has criticized its slashing of the state-and-local tax deduction, and has taken a far less hostile tone toward immigrants. He called for an end to the Trump administration’s immigrant-family separation policy, though he is not in favor of New York becoming a “sanctuary state.”</p> <p>In order to win, Molinaro will have to persuade a combination of Republicans, independents, and moderate Democrats to choose him over Cuomo and others on the ballot. No Republican has won statewide since Governor George Pataki won a third term in 2002.</p> <p><strong>Julie Killian</strong><br />Julie Killian, a former Rye City Council member, became the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor shortly after losing a special election for State Senate in Westchester to Democrat Shelley Mayer. She had unsuccessfully challenged now-Westchester County Executive George Latimer in 2016 for the same Senate seat, which Latimer held at the time.</p> <p>Like Molinaro and many Republicans in the state, Killian is focusing heavily on what she characterizes as the state’s burdensome taxes, which she says are causing a “brain drain” from New York to Connecticut and the south. Like Molinaro, Killian has been critical of the cultures of corruption and sexual harassment in state government.</p> <p><strong>Keith Wofford</strong><br />A native of Buffalo with a working class background, Wofford is a Harvard-educated attorney and co-managing partner at Ropes &amp; Gray, an international white-shoe law firm based in New York City. He previously worked as a senior securitization analyst at Moody's Corporation.</p> <p>Wofford became the first African-American Republican nominee for attorney general at the May convention. “The first thing the next attorney general has to do is to get the corruption in government under control,” Wofford said in a campaign <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1narw0EWTs" target="_blank" rel="noopener">video</a> released Monday. “The corruption we tolerate in our state government is holding us back.” Just last week, the night of the Thursday primary, Wofford’s campaign <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-wofford-james-attorney-general-20180914-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">launched</a> its first television ad, part of a $3.25 million ad buy which will air statewide. The ad buy is indicative of Wofford’s strong early fundraising, possibly helping him compete against James, the Democratic nominee, who had to spend much of her initial haul on a tough primary.</p> <p>A first-time candidate with little name recognition across the state, Wofford indicated in Monday’s video that he wants to use the office of attorney general “to make sure that we have an environment, legally, that makes it possible for jobs and business to grow in this state.” He also wants the office to focus on “the big villains, the people who are doing real damage to citizens and taxpayers,” though he did not explain who those villains are.</p> <p>Painting himself as an outsider to he political system, he said he doesn’t have to cut deals to be elected, which could be seen as a dig at James, who won her primary with help from Cuomo and the Democratic establishment. Wofford has also promised to tackle the opioid epidemic, leveraging the office’s power to investigate opioid manufacturers and distributors.</p> <p>In interviews, Wofford has signalled a far different approach than the current office has taken to respond to federal policies under Trump. “The last attorney general [Eric Schneiderman, who resigned earlier this year amid domestic abuse allegations] talked about resisting the federal government and it was clear...that was motivated to establish a partisan political position,” <a href="http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/keith-wofford-brings-his-pitch-for-attorney-general-to-watertown-20180909" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he told the Watertown Daily Times last week</a>.</p> <p>On Tuesday Wofford announced his intention to, if elected, immediately begin investigating what his campaign called “systemic corruption involving state and local government officials across the state.” In doing so, Wofford sought to distance himself from James, who has said she will seek legislative approval of the authority to broadly investigate public corruption, which she and others have said the attorney general does not currently have.</p> <p>“Unlike Democratic candidate Letitia James who has said she must receive the Legislature’s authorization to investigate corruption, the law is clear that the People’s Lawyer has both the constitutional and statutory duty and right to represent the people’s interests,” Wofford said in a press release. “From day one as New York State Attorney General, I will use every tool at my disposal to fight corruption and protect taxpayers.”</p> <p><strong>Jonathan Trichter</strong><br />Trichter was until recently a registered Democrat who worked for Eliot Spitzer’s successful attorney general campaign in 1998. He had to obtain special permission from the state Republican Party to run on its line against Democratic incumbent Tom DiNapoli.</p> <p>By trade an investment banker who once worked for JP Morgan, Trichter has been actively involved in government and politics, with broad experience. A public finance expert, he was the policy director for Harry Wilson, the Republican businessman who ran for state comptroller against DiNapoli in 2010. Trichter later worked for Wilson’s corporate restructuring firm, MAEVA.</p> <p>In his <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=98&amp;v=g5pI_PBSvD0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">campaign launch video</a>, Trichter described the comptroller as a Superman of sorts, with “an office that could be more powerful in Albany than a locomotive and could leap tall buildings in a single bound.”</p> <p>Trichter has pledged to release detailed policy papers laying out his positions. He has already published four papers that dive deep into the state’s pension system, which he believes has been underfunded and mismanaged while DiNapoli has been in office.</p> <p>His strategy for victory, laid out <a href="https://www.trichterfornewyork.com/#how-i-can-win" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on his campaign website</a>, seems to also rely on linking DiNapoli to the disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who first led the appointment of the comptroller to his seat to fill a vacancy brought about by public corruption. Trichter has promised to bring a cold eye of data analysis and no political interests to the office, only focusing on what is best for taxpayers.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/molinaro-julie-keith-john.jpg" alt="molinaro julie keith john" width="600" /></p> <p>Molinaro, Killian, Wofford, Trichter (l-r)</p> <hr /> <p>With the primary election over and the Democratic statewide ticket in clear view, attention across the state shifts to the general election, with the November 6 vote fewer than 50 days away. Republicans fought no statewide primaries and have had a slate of candidates ready and raring to take on their Democratic opponents. Those GOP nominees have been raising money and campaigning but somewhat crowded out of the conversation as Democrats waged highly contested races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General, with a good deal of intraparty fighting that now must be repaired and can offer some fodder for opponents in the weeks ahead.</p> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, both incumbents up for reelection, won their separate primaries on Thursday and now form a ticket to face Republicans Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive, and his lieutenant governor running-mate, former Rye City Council Member Julie Killian.</p> <p>State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli did not have a primary challenger but will now face Jonathan Trichter, who recently changed his registration from Democrat to Republican and is promising to run the office without political or ideological influence.</p> <p>In the attorney general race, which will make history no matter the result, Public Advocate Letitia James beat three other Democrats to claim the party’s nomination and must now confront Keith Wofford, a Republican from Buffalo. Both of the major party candidates are African-American, meaning New York is all but assured to have its first black attorney general come January.</p> <p>In all three statewide contests for state-level seats, there are smaller party candidates running as well, including gubernatorial candidates Howie Hawkins (Green), Larry Sharpe (Libertarian), and Stephanie Miner (Serving America Movement), their lieutenant governor running-mates, as well as candidates for comptroller and attorney general.</p> <p>Though they face significant headwinds due to New York’s heavy Democratic enrollment advantage and apparent anti-Trump enthusiasm among Democrats, the Republican statewide candidates have been preparing for this roughly seven-week spring to Election Day.</p> <p>An overview of the Republican statewide slate follows, with additional profiles of the candidates and coverage of their campaigns to follow as November approaches.</p> <p><strong>Marc Molinaro</strong><br />Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for governor, has served as Dutchess County Executive since 2012 and was a member of the State Assembly for five years before that. He was nominated unanimously at the State Republican Party convention in May, after Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and State Senator John DeFrancisco withdrew from the race as support of party leaders coalesced around Molinaro.</p> <p>Molinaro has spent his entire adult career in politics, beginning with election to the Tivoli Board of Trustees in 1994. He was elected mayor of Tivoli one year later; at 19, he was the youngest mayor in America at the time. In 2000, he was elected to the Dutchess County Legislature, where he served for six years concurrently while also serving as mayor of Tivoli. In 2006, he stepped down as mayor and county legislator to run for the Assembly. Five years after that, he ran for County Executive and won with 62 percent of the vote.</p> <p>In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one, Molinaro has mostly eschewed conservative firebrand rhetoric in favor of criticizing Cuomo on a broad range of issues, including mismanagement of the MTA, taxes he says are too high, and a culture of corruption he says Cuomo is at the center of, highlighting the Buffalo Billion scandal in particular. Molinaro has outlined only a few detailed policy proposals, including regarding government ethics and the MTA, promising more to come soon, highlighted by a tax reform package he says will shake up the state.</p> <p>The GOP nominee appears to mix moderate and conservative principles, while promising that his approach to government is a bipartisan one focused on bringing all voices to the table and finding solutions that make sense, no matter where they might fall on the ideological spectrum. He regularly promises that as governor he would only show allegiance to New Yorkers, not donors or political supporters.</p> <p>Molinaro has <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Molinaro-calls-for-pay-to-play-ban-LLC-12954348.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">called</a> for term limits for elected officials, ending “pay-to-play” politics, and closing the LLC loophole, though he himself <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/CONTRIBUTORA_COUNTY?ID_in=A22013&amp;date_From=01/01/2018&amp;date_to=09/13/2018&amp;AMOUNT_From=0&amp;AMOUNT_to=999999999&amp;ZIP1=00000&amp;ZIP2=99999&amp;ORDERBY_IN=N&amp;CATEGORY_IN=ALL" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has taken</a> LLC money in this election cycle, in conjunction with other campaign finance reforms. He also says that JCOPE has “<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7771-molinaro-starts-campaign-on-attack-policy-plans-to-come" target="_blank" rel="noopener">no integrity</a>,” and sued it this summer to find out whether it is investigating Cuomo for ethics violations. Molinaro has backed calls for public hearings on sexual harassment in Albany, calls that have been ignored by Cuomo and legislative leaders, including the Republican Senate majority leader, as those top officials designed new anti-harassment laws behind closed doors and passed them with no public review during the most recent budget.</p> <p>On education, Molinaro has <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/990227941073342464" target="_blank" rel="noopener">critiqued</a> the culture of high-stakes standardized testing but nonetheless believes the SHSAT should <a href="https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2018/06/16/republican-running-for-governor-calls-for-city-to-keep-shsat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">remain</a> in place for entrance to the city’s top high schools. In the Assembly, he <a href="https://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&amp;leg_video=&amp;bn=A11310&amp;term=2009&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Floor%26nbspVotes=Y&amp;Text=Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener">voted against</a> raising the cap on charter schools in 2010 along with other Republicans, but his current position on charter schools appears more open. Molinaro supports fracking, which Cuomo banned in the state in 2014, but is an issue that could play well in upstate communities with high unemployment. On the MTA, Molinaro backs New York City Transit President Andy Byford’s “Fast Forward” plan, but also thinks that the state needs to go after bloated union contracts and bring down construction costs.</p> <p>Like most Republicans in the state, Molinaro lists one of his top priorities as reducing property taxes, which he says are driving away businesses and individuals who might otherwise locate in New York.</p> <p>Molinaro has said he has changed his stance since he voted against marriage equality while in the Assembly and said he opposes expansion of abortion rights, but is not supportive of trying to overturn Roe v. Wade or undo current New York laws, which pre-date Roe and further limit choice. He has taken a somewhat vague stance on gun control, criticizing Cuomo’s signature SAFE Act as going too far, but hesitating to discuss what changes he would pursue if elected.</p> <p>While the Cuomo camp has worked to tie Molinaro to President Donald Trump, referring to him as a “<a href="https://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/marc-molinaro-andrew-cuomo-donald-trump-1.19501764" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Trump mini-me</a>,” the Republican nominee has tried to distance himself from the president, whom he says he did not vote for. Molinaro supports the president’s tax reform law but has criticized its slashing of the state-and-local tax deduction, and has taken a far less hostile tone toward immigrants. He called for an end to the Trump administration’s immigrant-family separation policy, though he is not in favor of New York becoming a “sanctuary state.”</p> <p>In order to win, Molinaro will have to persuade a combination of Republicans, independents, and moderate Democrats to choose him over Cuomo and others on the ballot. No Republican has won statewide since Governor George Pataki won a third term in 2002.</p> <p><strong>Julie Killian</strong><br />Julie Killian, a former Rye City Council member, became the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor shortly after losing a special election for State Senate in Westchester to Democrat Shelley Mayer. She had unsuccessfully challenged now-Westchester County Executive George Latimer in 2016 for the same Senate seat, which Latimer held at the time.</p> <p>Like Molinaro and many Republicans in the state, Killian is focusing heavily on what she characterizes as the state’s burdensome taxes, which she says are causing a “brain drain” from New York to Connecticut and the south. Like Molinaro, Killian has been critical of the cultures of corruption and sexual harassment in state government.</p> <p><strong>Keith Wofford</strong><br />A native of Buffalo with a working class background, Wofford is a Harvard-educated attorney and co-managing partner at Ropes &amp; Gray, an international white-shoe law firm based in New York City. He previously worked as a senior securitization analyst at Moody's Corporation.</p> <p>Wofford became the first African-American Republican nominee for attorney general at the May convention. “The first thing the next attorney general has to do is to get the corruption in government under control,” Wofford said in a campaign <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1narw0EWTs" target="_blank" rel="noopener">video</a> released Monday. “The corruption we tolerate in our state government is holding us back.” Just last week, the night of the Thursday primary, Wofford’s campaign <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-wofford-james-attorney-general-20180914-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">launched</a> its first television ad, part of a $3.25 million ad buy which will air statewide. The ad buy is indicative of Wofford’s strong early fundraising, possibly helping him compete against James, the Democratic nominee, who had to spend much of her initial haul on a tough primary.</p> <p>A first-time candidate with little name recognition across the state, Wofford indicated in Monday’s video that he wants to use the office of attorney general “to make sure that we have an environment, legally, that makes it possible for jobs and business to grow in this state.” He also wants the office to focus on “the big villains, the people who are doing real damage to citizens and taxpayers,” though he did not explain who those villains are.</p> <p>Painting himself as an outsider to he political system, he said he doesn’t have to cut deals to be elected, which could be seen as a dig at James, who won her primary with help from Cuomo and the Democratic establishment. Wofford has also promised to tackle the opioid epidemic, leveraging the office’s power to investigate opioid manufacturers and distributors.</p> <p>In interviews, Wofford has signalled a far different approach than the current office has taken to respond to federal policies under Trump. “The last attorney general [Eric Schneiderman, who resigned earlier this year amid domestic abuse allegations] talked about resisting the federal government and it was clear...that was motivated to establish a partisan political position,” <a href="http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/keith-wofford-brings-his-pitch-for-attorney-general-to-watertown-20180909" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he told the Watertown Daily Times last week</a>.</p> <p>On Tuesday Wofford announced his intention to, if elected, immediately begin investigating what his campaign called “systemic corruption involving state and local government officials across the state.” In doing so, Wofford sought to distance himself from James, who has said she will seek legislative approval of the authority to broadly investigate public corruption, which she and others have said the attorney general does not currently have.</p> <p>“Unlike Democratic candidate Letitia James who has said she must receive the Legislature’s authorization to investigate corruption, the law is clear that the People’s Lawyer has both the constitutional and statutory duty and right to represent the people’s interests,” Wofford said in a press release. “From day one as New York State Attorney General, I will use every tool at my disposal to fight corruption and protect taxpayers.”</p> <p><strong>Jonathan Trichter</strong><br />Trichter was until recently a registered Democrat who worked for Eliot Spitzer’s successful attorney general campaign in 1998. He had to obtain special permission from the state Republican Party to run on its line against Democratic incumbent Tom DiNapoli.</p> <p>By trade an investment banker who once worked for JP Morgan, Trichter has been actively involved in government and politics, with broad experience. A public finance expert, he was the policy director for Harry Wilson, the Republican businessman who ran for state comptroller against DiNapoli in 2010. Trichter later worked for Wilson’s corporate restructuring firm, MAEVA.</p> <p>In his <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=98&amp;v=g5pI_PBSvD0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">campaign launch video</a>, Trichter described the comptroller as a Superman of sorts, with “an office that could be more powerful in Albany than a locomotive and could leap tall buildings in a single bound.”</p> <p>Trichter has pledged to release detailed policy papers laying out his positions. He has already published four papers that dive deep into the state’s pension system, which he believes has been underfunded and mismanaged while DiNapoli has been in office.</p> <p>His strategy for victory, laid out <a href="https://www.trichterfornewyork.com/#how-i-can-win" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on his campaign website</a>, seems to also rely on linking DiNapoli to the disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who first led the appointment of the comptroller to his seat to fill a vacancy brought about by public corruption. Trichter has promised to bring a cold eye of data analysis and no political interests to the office, only focusing on what is best for taxpayers.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
How Insurgent Forces Activated, Educated and Brought the IDC Down 2018-09-17T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-17T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7939:how-insurgent-forces-activated-educated-and-brought-the-idc-down Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/biaggi_victory_first_pump.jpg" alt="biaggi victory first pump" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>Alessandra Biaggi celebrates (photo: @Biaggi4NY)</p> <hr /> <p>Hit the ground early. Educate the electorate. Reach new voters. Go viral.</p> <p>Those are a few of the strategies that propelled insurgent candidates to victory in last week’s primary elections, wherein six challengers prevailed over sitting Democratic state senators who were once members of the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway faction that caucused with Republicans for seven years, creating or padding the GOP majority in the chamber.</p> <p>The upsets in the state Senate races instantly shook up New York politics and painted a picture of a more engaged Democratic electorate that would no longer tolerate party officials who don’t pass a particular purity test imposed by a progressive base angered by the election of Donald Trump and a lack of action on favored legislation in Albany.</p> <p>The eight-member IDC, which dissolved in April amid mounting criticism of its role in keeping the state Senate in Republican hands, saw six of their own defeated on Thursday despite outspending their opponents and leveraging broad institutional support. Their conventional campaign tactics failed to overcome a coordinated crop of candidates backed by a vast network of grassroots activists who employed guerilla tactics to get their message heard and were, in several instances, bolstered by key established players.</p> <p>In early 2017, in the aftermath of Trump’s election, a disparate movement focused on the IDC had begun to take shape. Under a Trump presidency, the IDC members and their power-sharing agreement with Republicans became unacceptable to these activists, who insisted on being represented by “true blue” Democrats. After a raucous townhall in early February 2017 where IDC Senator Jose Peralta met the fury of some, one grassroots group, Rise and Resist, began to hold regular protests against IDC members. Then, in May 2017, the incipient anti-IDC movement held simultaneous rallies across New York City, protesting outside the offices of the senators. By then, only one candidate had emerged, Robert Jackson, who beat Senator Marisol Alcantara in Manhattan’s 31st District by a wide margin. “The beginning of the real grassroots energy behind getting rid of the IDC started then,” said Lisa DellAquila, an anti-IDC activist turned campaign manager for John Liu, the last of the challengers to declare and who handily defeated IDC Senator Tony Avella in the primary.</p> <p>It was the first volley in a broader, longer game that crescendoed to a fever pitch ahead of primary day. In interviews, the organizers, activists, and strategists behind the effort portrayed a campaign that laid the groundwork long before other candidates had even emerged. “Our strategy from day one was run nine challengers against nine traitors,” said Gus Christensen, chief strategist for No IDC NY, a grassroots group, referring to the IDC senators and Senator Simcha Felder, a rogue Brooklyn Democrat who was not part of the IDC but votes with Republicans. The activists eventually coalesced into the True Blue coalition, made up of about 60 groups, many local ones based in the districts represented by IDC senators, where organizing and education efforts increased awareness of the IDC over the course of 2017 and into this year. The coalition marshalled its resources, encouraging candidates to run while informing voters more broadly about the existence of the IDC.</p> <p>“What the IDC did violated the public trust in a visceral, almost biblical way,” Christensen said. “The cynics of the political establishment could never see that, because caucusing with the other party isn't illegal, while Albany is full of actual illegal activities about which voters don't seem to care. But once enough voters understood that the IDC really did caucus with the GOP, that it wasn't ‘fake news,’ they were revolted, and they voted that way.”</p> <p><strong>Hitting the ground running</strong><br />“One really important piece of this was just good old-fashioned organizing,” said Heather Stewart, co-founder of Empire State Indivisible, who later went on to work for Liu’s campaign doing communications. Stewart said the coalition began educating voters about the IDC last year through town halls, leafleting, phone banks, and on-the-ground outreach. “So there was a good deal of tracks laid through the education piece. This was over a year ago...it was a coalescence of great candidates, good organizing, people who wanted more than anything from the bottom of their heart to oust the IDC.”</p> <p>The groups gathered every month to discuss strategy, and began to circle possible candidates who had expressed interest while actively recruiting others such as Liu, who entered the fray at the eleventh hour after having lost to Avella four years ago but with stronger name recognition in his district than most of the other challengers had in theirs at the start of their campaigns.</p> <p>The groups also partnered with The Creative Resistance, a volunteer collective of documentary filmmakers, and released a video, titled “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mESf-kjuSI" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lulu Land</a>” and narrated by actor Edie Falco, about the IDC and its highly scrutinized arrangement for its members to inappropriately receive extra stipends. The video raised much-needed awareness for their effort. “By and large, people were enraged about the IDC,” said Stewart, who has acknowledged she only learned of the IDC in recent years, spurring her to action. “They were mad that they had voted for a Democrat who wasn’t upholding Democratic values.”</p> <p>Different groups were assigned to different districts under one umbrella. “We borrowed a strategy from Virginia activists who flipped the House of Delegates,” Stewart said, “which was basically that each group adopted a campaign and a candidate. So then, each group could begin to engage their members in one consistent campaign...It worked very well...There was essentially a captain who captained the grassroots efforts in each campaign that talked with other captains of the grassroots effort.”</p> <p>The overall effort was bolstered by the likes of the Working Families Party, Make the Road Action, and Citizen Action of New York, some of the organized left’s longer-standing infrastructure, groups that share similar progressive goals and sent hundreds of volunteers into the nine districts, relying on a robust ground game to activate voters.</p> <p>“We started working as far back as spring of 2017, way before there even were candidates running, to start organizing in the districts of the IDC members, doing really aggressive voter contact and community organizing to help people understand what was actually going on,” said Joe Dinkin, WFP’s campaign director. “That helped till the soil, build a grassroots base of anger and energy and a volunteer base from which it was a lot more appealing for candidates who would think about running to be able to get into the race.”</p> <p>Dinkin said the WFP, which endorsed all the candidates, provided campaign expertise, helping them strategize, hire staff and consultants, and dispatch volunteers. By February and into March of this year, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7512-conflict-escalates-between-working-families-party-and-independent-democratic-conference" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the WFP had endorsed</a> the full slate of challengers to the IDC senators, establishing clear battle lines within the Democratic Party and setting the stage for the essential stretch of the primary campaign well in advance.</p> <p>The WFP was also behind the two insurgent statewide candidates who failed in the primary -- Cynthia Nixon lost to Cuomo by a wide margin and City Council Member Jumaane Williams failed to unseat Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul in a closer race. Zephyr Teachout, who the WFP said it was supporting along with eventual winner Letitia James in the attorney general Democratic primary, was unsuccessful in her race but amplified anti-IDC sentiment. Nixon was vocal about the IDC and when Cuomo moved to reunite the faction with the mainline Senate Democratic Conference, she claimed credit.</p> <p>“Cynthia Nixon was able to broadcast in a way that the entire media and the political class and voters noticed about the problems with the IDC and how they were roadblocking progressive legislation,” Dinkin said.</p> <p>The candidates themselves had also been beating the anti-IDC drum in their districts. “Typically campaigns run a eight-week, sometimes 12-week field operation,” said Andre Richardson, campaign manager for Zellnor Myrie, who defeated former IDC Senator Jesse Hamilton in Brooklyn. “We’ve been canvassing, paid and volunteer, and candidate canvassing for eight months. In politics, folks have these archaic strategies of ‘this is too soon, this is too early.’ We proved all of that to be inaccurate and we proved that if you run a consistent and aggressive ground game, you can win.”</p> <p>Each of the candidates managed fairly robust fundraising operations, and focused mostly on individual small donors throughout their campaigns as they critiqued their opponents for receiving funds from corporate donors. There was, of course, a fair share of spending by the coalition groups to augment each campaign’s own operations. No IDC NY formed its own multi-candidate campaign committee and tapped hundreds of small donors as well, and spent nearly $150,000, across the Senate races.</p> <p><strong>Depending on digital</strong><br />In order to build name recognition against the IDC members, some of whom have been incumbents for several terms, the broader coordinated campaign, individual candidates, and activist groups decided to focus their efforts on digital and social media, hyper-targeted to specific populations within each district.</p> <p>All the campaigns and their allies outspent the IDC senators on Facebook, said Jim Casteleiro, digital director for No IDC NY, who coordinated efforts with The Creative Resistance to craft ads across all the campaigns.</p> <p>“We started early in the summer conceiving of a plan to run digital ads in all the districts that we were targeting,” Casteleiro said. “Our sort-of guiding principle in this whole process was, ‘Yes, people are outraged about what’s happening with Trump. Yes, people are outraged about the IDC. But if we don’t talk to them about what this actually means for their lives, then no one’s gonna care’...All of the content that we created, it was all issue-focused.”</p> <p>The ads focused on everything from the state’s housing crisis, immigrant protections, and health care to education funding and abortion rights, while introducing the slate of progressive challengers as individual people. Another round of more negative ads <a href="https://www.thecreativeresistance.us/videos" target="_blank" rel="noopener">portrayed</a> each of the IDC senators as a gas station tube man, full of hot air. All told, the 38 videos they created received more than a million views.</p> <p>“Obviously, digital isn’t new necessarily,” Casteleiro said. “But what I say is kinda unprecedented is this: you have an all-volunteer organization that raises $250,000, we partner with an all-volunteer group of creative professionals who create agency-level content, and we deploy that across the state in a coordinated fashion…That has to be absolutely unprecedented in New York State.”</p> <p>Activist Sean McElwee, writing in HuffPost, <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-new-york-primaries_us_5b9b0adce4b046313fb96421" target="_blank" rel="noopener">noted that</a> grassroots group Vote Tripling got 474 volunteers to convince three friends each to vote for the IDC challengers, and national group Postcards to Voters sent 283,857 handwritten notes to get out the vote in those districts.</p> <p>Eric Rockey, co-founder of The Creative Resistance and director of the “Hot Air” ads, said they were inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s viral campaign ad when she beat Democratic giant Joe Crowley in a June congressional primary that shocked the city, state, and country. The ad was like a “short documentary film about a candidate and less like a slick political ad,” he said, noting that his group skyped with the makers of that ad and also consulted with the team behind Cynthia Nixon’s campaign launch video.</p> <p>“The strategy was really to find those unique issues that would be wedge issues between our candidates and IDC members and really hammer on those,” Rockey said. “It was really burnishing the progressive bonafides of these candidates. But also trying to show them as people.”</p> <p><strong>Convincing Candidates</strong><br />No message is complete without its messenger and the anti-IDC movement was no different. The candidates they backed, most of them young progressives running for the first time, presented an alternative to the calcified establishment to a Democratic primary electorate that showed it was hungry for change.</p> <p>By and large, the candidates were charismatic, energetic, and able to talk policy -- some with youthful exuberance, some with seasoned perspective.</p> <p>Some were also backed by prominent elected officials, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Comptroller Scott Stringer, both of whom brought organizing and fundraising with them. Myrie, in particular, received tremendous support from city, state, and federal elected officials, including many in Brooklyn. The powerful labor union 32BJ also played a prominent role in a few races, especially where Alessandra Biaggi defeated Klein, who once led the IDC and was, until Thursday, one of the state's most powerful elected officials. Stringer and Johnson and their teams were also all-in for Biaggi.</p> <p>“We proved through heart and hustle and just organizing that it was possible,” she said in a phone interview. “I worked tirelessly and I’m unrelenting, and also a fighter and I’ve always been that way. And every time that somebody told me ‘no’ I worked double as hard and every time somebody told me ‘yes’ I worked triple as hard.”</p> <p>Klein spent more to try to push back Biaggi’s challenge than Nixon did in her statewide race against the governor. “This race proved that the political currency is people, not dollars,” Biaggi said.</p> <p>“They were all really great. They were easy to work for and easy to get people excited about. And that’s where the magic was if you ask me,” said Empire Indivisible’s Stewart about the IDC challengers.</p> <p>In July, once Liu declared he would challenge Avella, the district was ready to hear from him. “A lot of work had already been done in his district. We already had boots on the ground there who were really fiercely committed to the IDC resistance and so it was essentially bringing in a great candidate,” Stewart said.</p> <p>While Liu, Jackson, Biaggi, Myrie, Jessica Ramos, and Rachel May were successful in defeating former IDC members, other former IDC Senators Diane Savino and David Carlucci held onto their seats. Felder defeated Blake Morris. (Another insurgent leftist, Julia Salazar, unseated Senator Martin Dilan, though that race was not a focus of the same progressive, anti-IDC coalition.)</p> <p>The primary winners are all-but-certain to win their general elections, if they have an opponent. The main remaining question is whether the anti-IDC efforts that toppled rogue Democrats can now help flip Republican-held seats and give the next Senate Democratic Conference, infused with new blood, an elusive majority. That answer will be known on November 6.</p> <p>Again in the general, candidates and campaigns will both matter greatly.</p> <p>Richardson, from Myrie’s campaign, explained some of the energy behind his candidate’s success. “Zellnor is in the top five of the most fearless candidates I’ve ever worked for,” he said. “In terms of his aggressiveness to talk to a voter, to hear a problem, his ability to immediately respond or to follow through, is pretty phenomenal…We had a pool of over 400 volunteers. And some of that was outreach. A lot of that was just organic because Zellnor was such a great candidate. Folks would just walk in the door or read an article about him and just wanna help.”</p> <p>“We were really inspired by these candidates,” said Rockey. “It wasn’t a stretch for us. We were genuinely inspired by them. It felt like something new in New York politics...It was really about these personal connections with these candidates and our passion for these candidates.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note- This article has been updated to note the correct name of the True Blue coalition, which is distinct from True Blue NY, a grassroots group that is part of the coalition.&nbsp;</p> <p>Note- This article has been updated to reflect the early role of Rise and Resist, a grassroots groups, in the anti-IDC movement.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/biaggi_victory_first_pump.jpg" alt="biaggi victory first pump" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>Alessandra Biaggi celebrates (photo: @Biaggi4NY)</p> <hr /> <p>Hit the ground early. Educate the electorate. Reach new voters. Go viral.</p> <p>Those are a few of the strategies that propelled insurgent candidates to victory in last week’s primary elections, wherein six challengers prevailed over sitting Democratic state senators who were once members of the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway faction that caucused with Republicans for seven years, creating or padding the GOP majority in the chamber.</p> <p>The upsets in the state Senate races instantly shook up New York politics and painted a picture of a more engaged Democratic electorate that would no longer tolerate party officials who don’t pass a particular purity test imposed by a progressive base angered by the election of Donald Trump and a lack of action on favored legislation in Albany.</p> <p>The eight-member IDC, which dissolved in April amid mounting criticism of its role in keeping the state Senate in Republican hands, saw six of their own defeated on Thursday despite outspending their opponents and leveraging broad institutional support. Their conventional campaign tactics failed to overcome a coordinated crop of candidates backed by a vast network of grassroots activists who employed guerilla tactics to get their message heard and were, in several instances, bolstered by key established players.</p> <p>In early 2017, in the aftermath of Trump’s election, a disparate movement focused on the IDC had begun to take shape. Under a Trump presidency, the IDC members and their power-sharing agreement with Republicans became unacceptable to these activists, who insisted on being represented by “true blue” Democrats. After a raucous townhall in early February 2017 where IDC Senator Jose Peralta met the fury of some, one grassroots group, Rise and Resist, began to hold regular protests against IDC members. Then, in May 2017, the incipient anti-IDC movement held simultaneous rallies across New York City, protesting outside the offices of the senators. By then, only one candidate had emerged, Robert Jackson, who beat Senator Marisol Alcantara in Manhattan’s 31st District by a wide margin. “The beginning of the real grassroots energy behind getting rid of the IDC started then,” said Lisa DellAquila, an anti-IDC activist turned campaign manager for John Liu, the last of the challengers to declare and who handily defeated IDC Senator Tony Avella in the primary.</p> <p>It was the first volley in a broader, longer game that crescendoed to a fever pitch ahead of primary day. In interviews, the organizers, activists, and strategists behind the effort portrayed a campaign that laid the groundwork long before other candidates had even emerged. “Our strategy from day one was run nine challengers against nine traitors,” said Gus Christensen, chief strategist for No IDC NY, a grassroots group, referring to the IDC senators and Senator Simcha Felder, a rogue Brooklyn Democrat who was not part of the IDC but votes with Republicans. The activists eventually coalesced into the True Blue coalition, made up of about 60 groups, many local ones based in the districts represented by IDC senators, where organizing and education efforts increased awareness of the IDC over the course of 2017 and into this year. The coalition marshalled its resources, encouraging candidates to run while informing voters more broadly about the existence of the IDC.</p> <p>“What the IDC did violated the public trust in a visceral, almost biblical way,” Christensen said. “The cynics of the political establishment could never see that, because caucusing with the other party isn't illegal, while Albany is full of actual illegal activities about which voters don't seem to care. But once enough voters understood that the IDC really did caucus with the GOP, that it wasn't ‘fake news,’ they were revolted, and they voted that way.”</p> <p><strong>Hitting the ground running</strong><br />“One really important piece of this was just good old-fashioned organizing,” said Heather Stewart, co-founder of Empire State Indivisible, who later went on to work for Liu’s campaign doing communications. Stewart said the coalition began educating voters about the IDC last year through town halls, leafleting, phone banks, and on-the-ground outreach. “So there was a good deal of tracks laid through the education piece. This was over a year ago...it was a coalescence of great candidates, good organizing, people who wanted more than anything from the bottom of their heart to oust the IDC.”</p> <p>The groups gathered every month to discuss strategy, and began to circle possible candidates who had expressed interest while actively recruiting others such as Liu, who entered the fray at the eleventh hour after having lost to Avella four years ago but with stronger name recognition in his district than most of the other challengers had in theirs at the start of their campaigns.</p> <p>The groups also partnered with The Creative Resistance, a volunteer collective of documentary filmmakers, and released a video, titled “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mESf-kjuSI" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lulu Land</a>” and narrated by actor Edie Falco, about the IDC and its highly scrutinized arrangement for its members to inappropriately receive extra stipends. The video raised much-needed awareness for their effort. “By and large, people were enraged about the IDC,” said Stewart, who has acknowledged she only learned of the IDC in recent years, spurring her to action. “They were mad that they had voted for a Democrat who wasn’t upholding Democratic values.”</p> <p>Different groups were assigned to different districts under one umbrella. “We borrowed a strategy from Virginia activists who flipped the House of Delegates,” Stewart said, “which was basically that each group adopted a campaign and a candidate. So then, each group could begin to engage their members in one consistent campaign...It worked very well...There was essentially a captain who captained the grassroots efforts in each campaign that talked with other captains of the grassroots effort.”</p> <p>The overall effort was bolstered by the likes of the Working Families Party, Make the Road Action, and Citizen Action of New York, some of the organized left’s longer-standing infrastructure, groups that share similar progressive goals and sent hundreds of volunteers into the nine districts, relying on a robust ground game to activate voters.</p> <p>“We started working as far back as spring of 2017, way before there even were candidates running, to start organizing in the districts of the IDC members, doing really aggressive voter contact and community organizing to help people understand what was actually going on,” said Joe Dinkin, WFP’s campaign director. “That helped till the soil, build a grassroots base of anger and energy and a volunteer base from which it was a lot more appealing for candidates who would think about running to be able to get into the race.”</p> <p>Dinkin said the WFP, which endorsed all the candidates, provided campaign expertise, helping them strategize, hire staff and consultants, and dispatch volunteers. By February and into March of this year, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7512-conflict-escalates-between-working-families-party-and-independent-democratic-conference" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the WFP had endorsed</a> the full slate of challengers to the IDC senators, establishing clear battle lines within the Democratic Party and setting the stage for the essential stretch of the primary campaign well in advance.</p> <p>The WFP was also behind the two insurgent statewide candidates who failed in the primary -- Cynthia Nixon lost to Cuomo by a wide margin and City Council Member Jumaane Williams failed to unseat Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul in a closer race. Zephyr Teachout, who the WFP said it was supporting along with eventual winner Letitia James in the attorney general Democratic primary, was unsuccessful in her race but amplified anti-IDC sentiment. Nixon was vocal about the IDC and when Cuomo moved to reunite the faction with the mainline Senate Democratic Conference, she claimed credit.</p> <p>“Cynthia Nixon was able to broadcast in a way that the entire media and the political class and voters noticed about the problems with the IDC and how they were roadblocking progressive legislation,” Dinkin said.</p> <p>The candidates themselves had also been beating the anti-IDC drum in their districts. “Typically campaigns run a eight-week, sometimes 12-week field operation,” said Andre Richardson, campaign manager for Zellnor Myrie, who defeated former IDC Senator Jesse Hamilton in Brooklyn. “We’ve been canvassing, paid and volunteer, and candidate canvassing for eight months. In politics, folks have these archaic strategies of ‘this is too soon, this is too early.’ We proved all of that to be inaccurate and we proved that if you run a consistent and aggressive ground game, you can win.”</p> <p>Each of the candidates managed fairly robust fundraising operations, and focused mostly on individual small donors throughout their campaigns as they critiqued their opponents for receiving funds from corporate donors. There was, of course, a fair share of spending by the coalition groups to augment each campaign’s own operations. No IDC NY formed its own multi-candidate campaign committee and tapped hundreds of small donors as well, and spent nearly $150,000, across the Senate races.</p> <p><strong>Depending on digital</strong><br />In order to build name recognition against the IDC members, some of whom have been incumbents for several terms, the broader coordinated campaign, individual candidates, and activist groups decided to focus their efforts on digital and social media, hyper-targeted to specific populations within each district.</p> <p>All the campaigns and their allies outspent the IDC senators on Facebook, said Jim Casteleiro, digital director for No IDC NY, who coordinated efforts with The Creative Resistance to craft ads across all the campaigns.</p> <p>“We started early in the summer conceiving of a plan to run digital ads in all the districts that we were targeting,” Casteleiro said. “Our sort-of guiding principle in this whole process was, ‘Yes, people are outraged about what’s happening with Trump. Yes, people are outraged about the IDC. But if we don’t talk to them about what this actually means for their lives, then no one’s gonna care’...All of the content that we created, it was all issue-focused.”</p> <p>The ads focused on everything from the state’s housing crisis, immigrant protections, and health care to education funding and abortion rights, while introducing the slate of progressive challengers as individual people. Another round of more negative ads <a href="https://www.thecreativeresistance.us/videos" target="_blank" rel="noopener">portrayed</a> each of the IDC senators as a gas station tube man, full of hot air. All told, the 38 videos they created received more than a million views.</p> <p>“Obviously, digital isn’t new necessarily,” Casteleiro said. “But what I say is kinda unprecedented is this: you have an all-volunteer organization that raises $250,000, we partner with an all-volunteer group of creative professionals who create agency-level content, and we deploy that across the state in a coordinated fashion…That has to be absolutely unprecedented in New York State.”</p> <p>Activist Sean McElwee, writing in HuffPost, <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-new-york-primaries_us_5b9b0adce4b046313fb96421" target="_blank" rel="noopener">noted that</a> grassroots group Vote Tripling got 474 volunteers to convince three friends each to vote for the IDC challengers, and national group Postcards to Voters sent 283,857 handwritten notes to get out the vote in those districts.</p> <p>Eric Rockey, co-founder of The Creative Resistance and director of the “Hot Air” ads, said they were inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s viral campaign ad when she beat Democratic giant Joe Crowley in a June congressional primary that shocked the city, state, and country. The ad was like a “short documentary film about a candidate and less like a slick political ad,” he said, noting that his group skyped with the makers of that ad and also consulted with the team behind Cynthia Nixon’s campaign launch video.</p> <p>“The strategy was really to find those unique issues that would be wedge issues between our candidates and IDC members and really hammer on those,” Rockey said. “It was really burnishing the progressive bonafides of these candidates. But also trying to show them as people.”</p> <p><strong>Convincing Candidates</strong><br />No message is complete without its messenger and the anti-IDC movement was no different. The candidates they backed, most of them young progressives running for the first time, presented an alternative to the calcified establishment to a Democratic primary electorate that showed it was hungry for change.</p> <p>By and large, the candidates were charismatic, energetic, and able to talk policy -- some with youthful exuberance, some with seasoned perspective.</p> <p>Some were also backed by prominent elected officials, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Comptroller Scott Stringer, both of whom brought organizing and fundraising with them. Myrie, in particular, received tremendous support from city, state, and federal elected officials, including many in Brooklyn. The powerful labor union 32BJ also played a prominent role in a few races, especially where Alessandra Biaggi defeated Klein, who once led the IDC and was, until Thursday, one of the state's most powerful elected officials. Stringer and Johnson and their teams were also all-in for Biaggi.</p> <p>“We proved through heart and hustle and just organizing that it was possible,” she said in a phone interview. “I worked tirelessly and I’m unrelenting, and also a fighter and I’ve always been that way. And every time that somebody told me ‘no’ I worked double as hard and every time somebody told me ‘yes’ I worked triple as hard.”</p> <p>Klein spent more to try to push back Biaggi’s challenge than Nixon did in her statewide race against the governor. “This race proved that the political currency is people, not dollars,” Biaggi said.</p> <p>“They were all really great. They were easy to work for and easy to get people excited about. And that’s where the magic was if you ask me,” said Empire Indivisible’s Stewart about the IDC challengers.</p> <p>In July, once Liu declared he would challenge Avella, the district was ready to hear from him. “A lot of work had already been done in his district. We already had boots on the ground there who were really fiercely committed to the IDC resistance and so it was essentially bringing in a great candidate,” Stewart said.</p> <p>While Liu, Jackson, Biaggi, Myrie, Jessica Ramos, and Rachel May were successful in defeating former IDC members, other former IDC Senators Diane Savino and David Carlucci held onto their seats. Felder defeated Blake Morris. (Another insurgent leftist, Julia Salazar, unseated Senator Martin Dilan, though that race was not a focus of the same progressive, anti-IDC coalition.)</p> <p>The primary winners are all-but-certain to win their general elections, if they have an opponent. The main remaining question is whether the anti-IDC efforts that toppled rogue Democrats can now help flip Republican-held seats and give the next Senate Democratic Conference, infused with new blood, an elusive majority. That answer will be known on November 6.</p> <p>Again in the general, candidates and campaigns will both matter greatly.</p> <p>Richardson, from Myrie’s campaign, explained some of the energy behind his candidate’s success. “Zellnor is in the top five of the most fearless candidates I’ve ever worked for,” he said. “In terms of his aggressiveness to talk to a voter, to hear a problem, his ability to immediately respond or to follow through, is pretty phenomenal…We had a pool of over 400 volunteers. And some of that was outreach. A lot of that was just organic because Zellnor was such a great candidate. Folks would just walk in the door or read an article about him and just wanna help.”</p> <p>“We were really inspired by these candidates,” said Rockey. “It wasn’t a stretch for us. We were genuinely inspired by them. It felt like something new in New York politics...It was really about these personal connections with these candidates and our passion for these candidates.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p> <p>Note- This article has been updated to note the correct name of the True Blue coalition, which is distinct from True Blue NY, a grassroots group that is part of the coalition.&nbsp;</p> <p>Note- This article has been updated to reflect the early role of Rise and Resist, a grassroots groups, in the anti-IDC movement.</p>