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 2018-06-19T00:49:51+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Democratic Unity and the ‘Value’ of Primaries 2018-06-18T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-18T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7745:andrea-stewart-cousins-on-democratic-unity-and-the-value-of-primaries Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/andrea-stewart-cousins-sk-gg2.jpg" alt="andrea stewart cousins sk gg2" width="600" height="314" /></p> <p>Andrea Stewart-Cousins at the state party convention (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>While policies to prevent and punish sexual harassment were being decided in Albany during state budget negotiations earlier this year, four men led the closed-door talks: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and the leader of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference Jeff Klein. Even as female aides had some level of participation, there was a great deal of scrutiny of the absence of Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Democratic minority in state Senate, especially given that Cuomo’s office had indicated she would be included.</p> <p>“You would’ve thought you would’ve been able to get in a room and at least let her say something,” Stewart-Cousins said of her own situation during a recent episode of the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> from Gotham Gazette and City Limits. “Never happened.”</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins called it a feature of “an institution that has institutionalized a lot of stuff,” and said that “breaking those norms are really, really difficult things to do.”</p> <p>But breaking established ways of doing things is something of a pattern for Stewart-Cousins, who is both the first woman and the first African-American woman to be elected as the state Senate minority leader. Now, after post-budget reconciliation between the mainline Democrats she leads and Klein’s IDC, Stewart-Cousins is also in position to become the first woman and woman of color to be the majority leader of the Senate, depending on the results of the fall elections. They are elections she is becoming increasingly involved with, she indicated on the podcast, connecting the upcoming attempts to flip seats from Republican to Democrat as part of a “blue wave” sweeping the nation.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins’ frame for viewing the elections and potential Democratic majority in the Senate, and thus the Legislature given the party’s stranglehold on the Assembly, is the recent Senate reunification, pushing her, it seems, to be more forgiving, take the long-view, and look ahead, not back.</p> <p>Exclusion<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/28/nyregion/albany-sex-harassment-stewart-cousins.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> from the anti-sexual harassment talks</a> – and the state budget discussions in general – may be a thorny issue, but not one that poses a major point of contention between Stewart-Cousins and her colleagues.</p> <p>“It goes back to the basic tenet: a house divided against itself can’t stand,” Stewart-Cousins said in response to a question of her possible frustrations with elements of the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/nyregion/new-york-state-senate-democrats.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unity deal that was struck among her, Klein and Cuomo in April</a>, and whether she trusts Klein. “How are we gonna do this?...I’m not gonna be sitting there having people somehow undermine the efforts that we have to be a team. That’s always been the case.”</p> <p>There are still challenges to the notion of a unified Democratic front: each of the eight former members of the IDC is facing a primary challenge, and while the Democratic establishment has agreed to mutual support, a number of grassroots groups and a handful of elected officials are backing the challengers.</p> <p>On the podcast, Stewart-Cousins emphasized that she has endorsed all incumbent Democratic senators, including those who were formerly part of the IDC, “so that people are very, very clear where I stand,” she said in response to a question of whether or not she would tell fellow party members to drop their support for the challengers. “I think that in and of itself sends a message.”</p> <p>While she did not call primaries a bad thing, Stewart-Cousins further emphasized the importance of moving past former divisions in order for the party to function. “I think that’s over,” she said of the Senate Democratic division, “and it’s up to me...to give the kind of support and respect that I should be giving as the leader and as a colleague, and I believe that we set that tone,” she said. “There’s nobody coming in feeling less than, unworthy. There’s no recriminations.”</p> <p>In response to a question of whether Cuomo – who has long been criticized for encouraging or at least tolerating the IDC’s existence – could have brokered such a unity deal earlier on, and thus possibly prevented the handicapped progress on key issues for the Democratic Party, Stewart-Cousins said, “Like I always say, he did make it happen....I don’t think he was terribly concerned about the situation because as far as we he was concerned, maybe it was manageable. I think it’s gotten to the point where it was looking unmanageable because of all the different factors, so he asserted himself.”</p> <p>If the Democrats are able to obtain majority control of the state Senate in November, a policy agenda including action on immigration, climate change, voting and elections, campaign financing, reproductive rights, and more may move. Stewart-Cousins referenced pieces like the Child Victims Act and the Dream Act stagnating in the currently Republican-controlled state Senate. Additionally, Republican senators recently blocked Democrats’ attempts to see voting on the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Care Act – two pieces of legislation that would, respectively, enshrine in New York law the same reproductive rights under the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling and mandate accessibility to birth control medication – when Democrats attempted to push them through late last month.</p> <p>“There’s so many things that we could do in addition to, obviously, the things that we’re bringing up today,” Stewart-Cousins said.</p> <p>For their part, Senate Republicans often seek to ‘warn’ New Yorkers of what full Democratic control of state government could bring. “The New York City politicians who think it will be easy to flip the State Senate and impose their radical agenda on the people of New York should take heed,” said Senate spokesperson Scott Reif, in an April statement. “Our Majority represents the checks and balances, and the real accountability that hardworking taxpayers need and deserve. &nbsp;Without us it’s one party rule, higher taxes, runaway spending and New Yorkers will be less safe.”</p> <p>Democrats first need to contend with reconciling the different wings within their own party, a division apparent in the challengers to former IDC members and to Cuomo. Stewart-Cousins has unique perspective, representing Senate District 35, an area that includes towns like Yonkers, White Plains, and Scarsdale, with a wide variety of Democrats and plenty of Republicans and party unaffiliated voters.</p> <p>Asked which wing of the party she identifies with, Stewart-Cousins deemphasized the ostensible differences in her party. “I’ve been able to, I think, gain a perspective that a lot of people don’t have as it relates to governing,” she said, referring to her unique position as the first Democratic leader representing a district outside New York City in a hundred years. “Everybody pretty much wants the same thing. It’s not different. It’s how you deliver these things or how you’re able to characterize these things or how you react is really where the differences lie.”</p> <p>On the question of primaries, like that Governor Cuomo is facing, Stewart-Cousins took a different approach from some others, like Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “I certainly have no problem with the fact that there’s a primary going on,” she said, responding to a question of whether or not the gubernatorial candidacy of challenger Cynthia Nixon is emblematic of the Democratic Party being a ‘house divided.’ “The conversations about the vision for New York and who should lead it are valuable,” she added.</p> <p>For now, at least, Stewart-Cousins maintains a face of smiling unity toward Klein, who serves as her deputy, and the rest of the Democratic Party.</p> <p>Asked if there’s a chance that party members pull another IDC-esque ploy in the coming years, Stewart-Cousins said, “The environment has changed and that’s why I think this unity works, because we’ve been to the other side. We know what that looks like, and I don’t know if anybody needs or wants to go back there again.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Listen: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Chelsey Sanchez, Gotham Gazette
@chelseynsanchez  @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/andrea-stewart-cousins-sk-gg2.jpg" alt="andrea stewart cousins sk gg2" width="600" height="314" /></p> <p>Andrea Stewart-Cousins at the state party convention (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>While policies to prevent and punish sexual harassment were being decided in Albany during state budget negotiations earlier this year, four men led the closed-door talks: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and the leader of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference Jeff Klein. Even as female aides had some level of participation, there was a great deal of scrutiny of the absence of Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Democratic minority in state Senate, especially given that Cuomo’s office had indicated she would be included.</p> <p>“You would’ve thought you would’ve been able to get in a room and at least let her say something,” Stewart-Cousins said of her own situation during a recent episode of the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> from Gotham Gazette and City Limits. “Never happened.”</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins called it a feature of “an institution that has institutionalized a lot of stuff,” and said that “breaking those norms are really, really difficult things to do.”</p> <p>But breaking established ways of doing things is something of a pattern for Stewart-Cousins, who is both the first woman and the first African-American woman to be elected as the state Senate minority leader. Now, after post-budget reconciliation between the mainline Democrats she leads and Klein’s IDC, Stewart-Cousins is also in position to become the first woman and woman of color to be the majority leader of the Senate, depending on the results of the fall elections. They are elections she is becoming increasingly involved with, she indicated on the podcast, connecting the upcoming attempts to flip seats from Republican to Democrat as part of a “blue wave” sweeping the nation.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins’ frame for viewing the elections and potential Democratic majority in the Senate, and thus the Legislature given the party’s stranglehold on the Assembly, is the recent Senate reunification, pushing her, it seems, to be more forgiving, take the long-view, and look ahead, not back.</p> <p>Exclusion<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/28/nyregion/albany-sex-harassment-stewart-cousins.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> from the anti-sexual harassment talks</a> – and the state budget discussions in general – may be a thorny issue, but not one that poses a major point of contention between Stewart-Cousins and her colleagues.</p> <p>“It goes back to the basic tenet: a house divided against itself can’t stand,” Stewart-Cousins said in response to a question of her possible frustrations with elements of the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/nyregion/new-york-state-senate-democrats.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unity deal that was struck among her, Klein and Cuomo in April</a>, and whether she trusts Klein. “How are we gonna do this?...I’m not gonna be sitting there having people somehow undermine the efforts that we have to be a team. That’s always been the case.”</p> <p>There are still challenges to the notion of a unified Democratic front: each of the eight former members of the IDC is facing a primary challenge, and while the Democratic establishment has agreed to mutual support, a number of grassroots groups and a handful of elected officials are backing the challengers.</p> <p>On the podcast, Stewart-Cousins emphasized that she has endorsed all incumbent Democratic senators, including those who were formerly part of the IDC, “so that people are very, very clear where I stand,” she said in response to a question of whether or not she would tell fellow party members to drop their support for the challengers. “I think that in and of itself sends a message.”</p> <p>While she did not call primaries a bad thing, Stewart-Cousins further emphasized the importance of moving past former divisions in order for the party to function. “I think that’s over,” she said of the Senate Democratic division, “and it’s up to me...to give the kind of support and respect that I should be giving as the leader and as a colleague, and I believe that we set that tone,” she said. “There’s nobody coming in feeling less than, unworthy. There’s no recriminations.”</p> <p>In response to a question of whether Cuomo – who has long been criticized for encouraging or at least tolerating the IDC’s existence – could have brokered such a unity deal earlier on, and thus possibly prevented the handicapped progress on key issues for the Democratic Party, Stewart-Cousins said, “Like I always say, he did make it happen....I don’t think he was terribly concerned about the situation because as far as we he was concerned, maybe it was manageable. I think it’s gotten to the point where it was looking unmanageable because of all the different factors, so he asserted himself.”</p> <p>If the Democrats are able to obtain majority control of the state Senate in November, a policy agenda including action on immigration, climate change, voting and elections, campaign financing, reproductive rights, and more may move. Stewart-Cousins referenced pieces like the Child Victims Act and the Dream Act stagnating in the currently Republican-controlled state Senate. Additionally, Republican senators recently blocked Democrats’ attempts to see voting on the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Care Act – two pieces of legislation that would, respectively, enshrine in New York law the same reproductive rights under the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling and mandate accessibility to birth control medication – when Democrats attempted to push them through late last month.</p> <p>“There’s so many things that we could do in addition to, obviously, the things that we’re bringing up today,” Stewart-Cousins said.</p> <p>For their part, Senate Republicans often seek to ‘warn’ New Yorkers of what full Democratic control of state government could bring. “The New York City politicians who think it will be easy to flip the State Senate and impose their radical agenda on the people of New York should take heed,” said Senate spokesperson Scott Reif, in an April statement. “Our Majority represents the checks and balances, and the real accountability that hardworking taxpayers need and deserve. &nbsp;Without us it’s one party rule, higher taxes, runaway spending and New Yorkers will be less safe.”</p> <p>Democrats first need to contend with reconciling the different wings within their own party, a division apparent in the challengers to former IDC members and to Cuomo. Stewart-Cousins has unique perspective, representing Senate District 35, an area that includes towns like Yonkers, White Plains, and Scarsdale, with a wide variety of Democrats and plenty of Republicans and party unaffiliated voters.</p> <p>Asked which wing of the party she identifies with, Stewart-Cousins deemphasized the ostensible differences in her party. “I’ve been able to, I think, gain a perspective that a lot of people don’t have as it relates to governing,” she said, referring to her unique position as the first Democratic leader representing a district outside New York City in a hundred years. “Everybody pretty much wants the same thing. It’s not different. It’s how you deliver these things or how you’re able to characterize these things or how you react is really where the differences lie.”</p> <p>On the question of primaries, like that Governor Cuomo is facing, Stewart-Cousins took a different approach from some others, like Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “I certainly have no problem with the fact that there’s a primary going on,” she said, responding to a question of whether or not the gubernatorial candidacy of challenger Cynthia Nixon is emblematic of the Democratic Party being a ‘house divided.’ “The conversations about the vision for New York and who should lead it are valuable,” she added.</p> <p>For now, at least, Stewart-Cousins maintains a face of smiling unity toward Klein, who serves as her deputy, and the rest of the Democratic Party.</p> <p>Asked if there’s a chance that party members pull another IDC-esque ploy in the coming years, Stewart-Cousins said, “The environment has changed and that’s why I think this unity works, because we’ve been to the other side. We know what that looks like, and I don’t know if anybody needs or wants to go back there again.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Listen: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Chelsey Sanchez, Gotham Gazette
@chelseynsanchez  @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Citing Broken Cuomo Promises, Nixon Unveils Campaign Finance Reform Plan 2018-06-18T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-18T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7746:citing-broken-cuomo-promises-nixon-unveils-campaign-finance-reform-plan Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cyn-nixon-cam-fin-plan-unveils.jpg" alt="cyn nixon cam fin plan unveils" width="600" height="423" /></p> <p>Cynthia Nixon outside Tweed Courthouse (photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Standing on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan, a symbol of corruption in New York government, Andrew Cuomo launched his run for governor eight years ago last month, vowing to clean up the rot in Albany. On Monday -- as the corruption trial of a close ally to the two-term governor began in federal court -- Cynthia Nixon, the actor and activist and Democratic primary challenger to Cuomo, stood at the same spot to criticize the governor’s broken promise and to propose a far-reaching plan to fight the graft and corruption that she says has become further entrenched under Cuomo’s tenure.</p> <p>“Instead of taking on corruption in the state capital, Andrew Cuomo’s administration has taken it to new heights,” Nixon said at an afternoon news conference. “Cuomo’s two terms in office have been a greatest-hits reel of dysfunction, corruption, and pay-to-play politics. If Washington is a swamp, then Albany under Andrew Cuomo is a cesspool.”</p> <p>Taking aim at the “legalized bribery” rampant in the state’s election system, Nixon proposed “Government by the People,” a 15-page plan to promote public financing of elections, close loopholes in state campaign finance laws, reduce pay-to-play in state contracting, and shore up independent ethics oversight of state government.</p> <p>The plan also details many conflicts and corruption scandals that have emerged from Cuomo’s administration and political campaigns in recent years, while the announcement coincided with the start of the corruption trial of Alain Kaloyeros, the former SUNY Polytechnic Institute president who was charged with rigging state contracts under Cuomo’s signature Buffalo Billion economic revitalization program. Prominent real estate developers who are major Cuomo campaign donors are also charged in the scheme.</p> <p>Nixon critiqued the “networks of vast wealth” and power that she said are necessary to run for office in New York and that historically shut out women and people of color. “Too many of the people in power, and the donors who keep them there, don’t want things to change,” she said, insisting that she can herald reforms as an “outsider” to Albany. New York is known to have porous campaign finance laws, which allow large individual and corporate contributions to candidates, alongside loopholes that effectively do away with those limits for entities that created multiple limited liability companies, each of which can give up to the individual corporate limit. There are also no “doing business” limits that would place restrictions on entities with or seeking government contracts.</p> <p>By exploiting the current rules, Cuomo has raised many tens of millions of dollars over his handful of statewide campaigns, including his now third consecutive gubernatorial run. At the same time, the governor has expressed support for campaign finance reform, but seen almost no changes move through the Legislature. A pilot campaign finance program with public matching <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7428-four-years-later-2014-state-campaign-finance-pilot-all-but-forgotten" target="_blank" rel="noopener">was passed in 2014, but quickly fizzled</a>. In a statement, Abbey Fashouer, a spokesperson for Cuomo's campaign, claimed credit for the reforms that Nixon proposed. "We thank Ms. Nixon for her support for our reforms. Unlike others who claim to be good Democrats, the governor is 100 percent focused on flipping the State Senate to pass these important reforms to increase government transparency and accountability,” Fashouer said. &nbsp;</p> <p>Nixon’s plan envisions phasing in a voluntary statewide public financing system for elections, largely resembling the current program administered in New York City by the Campaign Finance Board, where small-dollar donations are incentivized with public matching funds. Some of Nixon’s ideas are nearly identical, proposing a 6-to-1 match for campaign donations up to $175 or a greater match of 9-to-1 for donations below $50.</p> <p>Nixon proposed similar thresholds to qualify for public funds as those used in the city, including a minimum amount raised from a minimum number of contributors. Under her plan, for instance, a candidate for governor would have to raise at least $500,000 from a minimum of 5,000 contributors who gave at least $10. The plan proposes similar thresholds, with lower amounts, for the posts of lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, state Senate, and Assembly.</p> <p>The plan also brings individual contribution limits for all state offices in line with the $2,700 limit for members of Congress, for each of the primary and general elections. It would also require candidates to participate in a debate and return unspent public funds after satisfying a campaign’s liabilities.</p> <p>Nixon proposes creating a new agency called the “Fair Elections Board,” with enforcement powers, to administer the program, with a seven-member board appointed by the governor, comptroller, attorney general, and each of the four legislative major-party conference leaders. The entire program would cost between $100 and $160 million for each four-year cycle, the plan estimates, and would be paid for by a “New York State Fair Elections Fund” with several funding sources.</p> <p>Nixon also reiterated proposals that she has voiced over the last few months while pitching herself as the progressive alternative to Cuomo’s centrist politics. She said she would ban campaign contributions from companies or individuals who hold or are actively seeking state contracts. She has insisted that the state should do away with the so-called LLC loophole that allows limited liability companies with opaque ownership to donate virtually unlimited funds to candidates. She also said she would ban donations from political appointees, an apparent reference to a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/24/nyregion/cuomo-fund-raising-ethics-appointees.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Times expose</a> showing that Cuomo has loosely interpreted an executive order limiting donations that the governor can receive from appointees or their family members.</p> <p>Throughout her campaign, Nixon has derided Cuomo’s reliance on wealthy donors -- over years the governor has raised more than $30 million in campaign cash available to his current campaign while Nixon has raised a little more than $1 million during her few months in the race -- and insists that his policies on everything from affordable housing to criminal justice are driven by fealty to those contributors. “When candidates have to start their campaigns from day one by asking the wealthy for contributions...the culture of pay-to-play becomes inescapable,” she said.</p> <p>The upstart candidate’s plan would give more teeth to state watchdogs to fight corruption. Nixon promised to dissolve the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics -- which many have criticized for being beholden to the governor and generally ineffective -- and said she would empanel a new independent Moreland Commission to tackle corruption unlike the one convened and abruptly disbanded by Cuomo in his first term.</p> <p>She also proposed giving the attorney general a “standing referral” to investigate corruption on an ongoing basis, something Cuomo called for during his time as AG but has not granted his successors in the post -- and said she would restore the comptroller’s oversight powers over various state contracts that was stripped by Cuomo and the Legislature in 2011. She said she would sign a “database of deals” bill that was recently passed by the Republican-led state Senate but has been held up by the Democrat-controlled Assembly.</p> <p>Recent polls have shown that New Yorkers have jaded views of their state government, but also that Cuomo is in relatively strong position with less than three months until the Democratic primary. Nixon argued Monday that voters do care about honest government, though corruption is not generally seen as a winning focus issue, taking a back seat to “kitchen table” or “pocketbook” issues like jobs, education, and health care. Nixon did recently release her campaign platform on education, her top issue area of focus.</p> <p>She also presented her campaign finance reform platform the same day that former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, announced she would run for governor this year as an independent, creating her own ballot line. Asked about Miner's candidacy, Nixon said that she is focused on winning the Democratic primary and understands Miner is running in the general election. She also called Miner "more of a moderate" and referred to herself as "definitely part of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party."</p> <p>Nixon wasn’t the only candidate to use the Kaloyeros trial as the backdrop to pounce on the governor’s record. On Monday morning, outside federal district court just around the corner, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for governor, and his lieutenant governor running mate, Julie Killian, called out the governor for enabling Kaloyeros’ corruption.</p> <p>“Every instance of corruption and corruption charges being brought against individuals around New York’s corrupted government is about enabling and benefitting a governor who has consumed an obscene amount of campaign contributions,” Molinaro said.</p> <p>Zephyr Teachout, who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary and is now running for attorney general, also held a separate news conference outside the court. The Kaloyeros trial, she said, highlights the need for an independent attorney general willing to challenge the state’s top elected official and root out graft. “When people break the law in New York state, even if they are powerful people, it is the job of the attorney general to make sure that justice is done,” she said.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated with comment from a Cuomo campaign spokesperson.&nbsp;</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cyn-nixon-cam-fin-plan-unveils.jpg" alt="cyn nixon cam fin plan unveils" width="600" height="423" /></p> <p>Cynthia Nixon outside Tweed Courthouse (photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Standing on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan, a symbol of corruption in New York government, Andrew Cuomo launched his run for governor eight years ago last month, vowing to clean up the rot in Albany. On Monday -- as the corruption trial of a close ally to the two-term governor began in federal court -- Cynthia Nixon, the actor and activist and Democratic primary challenger to Cuomo, stood at the same spot to criticize the governor’s broken promise and to propose a far-reaching plan to fight the graft and corruption that she says has become further entrenched under Cuomo’s tenure.</p> <p>“Instead of taking on corruption in the state capital, Andrew Cuomo’s administration has taken it to new heights,” Nixon said at an afternoon news conference. “Cuomo’s two terms in office have been a greatest-hits reel of dysfunction, corruption, and pay-to-play politics. If Washington is a swamp, then Albany under Andrew Cuomo is a cesspool.”</p> <p>Taking aim at the “legalized bribery” rampant in the state’s election system, Nixon proposed “Government by the People,” a 15-page plan to promote public financing of elections, close loopholes in state campaign finance laws, reduce pay-to-play in state contracting, and shore up independent ethics oversight of state government.</p> <p>The plan also details many conflicts and corruption scandals that have emerged from Cuomo’s administration and political campaigns in recent years, while the announcement coincided with the start of the corruption trial of Alain Kaloyeros, the former SUNY Polytechnic Institute president who was charged with rigging state contracts under Cuomo’s signature Buffalo Billion economic revitalization program. Prominent real estate developers who are major Cuomo campaign donors are also charged in the scheme.</p> <p>Nixon critiqued the “networks of vast wealth” and power that she said are necessary to run for office in New York and that historically shut out women and people of color. “Too many of the people in power, and the donors who keep them there, don’t want things to change,” she said, insisting that she can herald reforms as an “outsider” to Albany. New York is known to have porous campaign finance laws, which allow large individual and corporate contributions to candidates, alongside loopholes that effectively do away with those limits for entities that created multiple limited liability companies, each of which can give up to the individual corporate limit. There are also no “doing business” limits that would place restrictions on entities with or seeking government contracts.</p> <p>By exploiting the current rules, Cuomo has raised many tens of millions of dollars over his handful of statewide campaigns, including his now third consecutive gubernatorial run. At the same time, the governor has expressed support for campaign finance reform, but seen almost no changes move through the Legislature. A pilot campaign finance program with public matching <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7428-four-years-later-2014-state-campaign-finance-pilot-all-but-forgotten" target="_blank" rel="noopener">was passed in 2014, but quickly fizzled</a>. In a statement, Abbey Fashouer, a spokesperson for Cuomo's campaign, claimed credit for the reforms that Nixon proposed. "We thank Ms. Nixon for her support for our reforms. Unlike others who claim to be good Democrats, the governor is 100 percent focused on flipping the State Senate to pass these important reforms to increase government transparency and accountability,” Fashouer said. &nbsp;</p> <p>Nixon’s plan envisions phasing in a voluntary statewide public financing system for elections, largely resembling the current program administered in New York City by the Campaign Finance Board, where small-dollar donations are incentivized with public matching funds. Some of Nixon’s ideas are nearly identical, proposing a 6-to-1 match for campaign donations up to $175 or a greater match of 9-to-1 for donations below $50.</p> <p>Nixon proposed similar thresholds to qualify for public funds as those used in the city, including a minimum amount raised from a minimum number of contributors. Under her plan, for instance, a candidate for governor would have to raise at least $500,000 from a minimum of 5,000 contributors who gave at least $10. The plan proposes similar thresholds, with lower amounts, for the posts of lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, state Senate, and Assembly.</p> <p>The plan also brings individual contribution limits for all state offices in line with the $2,700 limit for members of Congress, for each of the primary and general elections. It would also require candidates to participate in a debate and return unspent public funds after satisfying a campaign’s liabilities.</p> <p>Nixon proposes creating a new agency called the “Fair Elections Board,” with enforcement powers, to administer the program, with a seven-member board appointed by the governor, comptroller, attorney general, and each of the four legislative major-party conference leaders. The entire program would cost between $100 and $160 million for each four-year cycle, the plan estimates, and would be paid for by a “New York State Fair Elections Fund” with several funding sources.</p> <p>Nixon also reiterated proposals that she has voiced over the last few months while pitching herself as the progressive alternative to Cuomo’s centrist politics. She said she would ban campaign contributions from companies or individuals who hold or are actively seeking state contracts. She has insisted that the state should do away with the so-called LLC loophole that allows limited liability companies with opaque ownership to donate virtually unlimited funds to candidates. She also said she would ban donations from political appointees, an apparent reference to a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/24/nyregion/cuomo-fund-raising-ethics-appointees.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Times expose</a> showing that Cuomo has loosely interpreted an executive order limiting donations that the governor can receive from appointees or their family members.</p> <p>Throughout her campaign, Nixon has derided Cuomo’s reliance on wealthy donors -- over years the governor has raised more than $30 million in campaign cash available to his current campaign while Nixon has raised a little more than $1 million during her few months in the race -- and insists that his policies on everything from affordable housing to criminal justice are driven by fealty to those contributors. “When candidates have to start their campaigns from day one by asking the wealthy for contributions...the culture of pay-to-play becomes inescapable,” she said.</p> <p>The upstart candidate’s plan would give more teeth to state watchdogs to fight corruption. Nixon promised to dissolve the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics -- which many have criticized for being beholden to the governor and generally ineffective -- and said she would empanel a new independent Moreland Commission to tackle corruption unlike the one convened and abruptly disbanded by Cuomo in his first term.</p> <p>She also proposed giving the attorney general a “standing referral” to investigate corruption on an ongoing basis, something Cuomo called for during his time as AG but has not granted his successors in the post -- and said she would restore the comptroller’s oversight powers over various state contracts that was stripped by Cuomo and the Legislature in 2011. She said she would sign a “database of deals” bill that was recently passed by the Republican-led state Senate but has been held up by the Democrat-controlled Assembly.</p> <p>Recent polls have shown that New Yorkers have jaded views of their state government, but also that Cuomo is in relatively strong position with less than three months until the Democratic primary. Nixon argued Monday that voters do care about honest government, though corruption is not generally seen as a winning focus issue, taking a back seat to “kitchen table” or “pocketbook” issues like jobs, education, and health care. Nixon did recently release her campaign platform on education, her top issue area of focus.</p> <p>She also presented her campaign finance reform platform the same day that former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, announced she would run for governor this year as an independent, creating her own ballot line. Asked about Miner's candidacy, Nixon said that she is focused on winning the Democratic primary and understands Miner is running in the general election. She also called Miner "more of a moderate" and referred to herself as "definitely part of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party."</p> <p>Nixon wasn’t the only candidate to use the Kaloyeros trial as the backdrop to pounce on the governor’s record. On Monday morning, outside federal district court just around the corner, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for governor, and his lieutenant governor running mate, Julie Killian, called out the governor for enabling Kaloyeros’ corruption.</p> <p>“Every instance of corruption and corruption charges being brought against individuals around New York’s corrupted government is about enabling and benefitting a governor who has consumed an obscene amount of campaign contributions,” Molinaro said.</p> <p>Zephyr Teachout, who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary and is now running for attorney general, also held a separate news conference outside the court. The Kaloyeros trial, she said, highlights the need for an independent attorney general willing to challenge the state’s top elected official and root out graft. “When people break the law in New York state, even if they are powerful people, it is the job of the attorney general to make sure that justice is done,” she said.</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 with comment from a Cuomo campaign spokesperson.&nbsp;</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul 2018-06-14T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-14T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7737:max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-kathy-hochul Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 14, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/kathy-hochul-277.jpg" alt="kathy hochul 277" width="137" height="210" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Kathy Hochul is in the fourth year of her first term as lieutenant governor, and, running alongside Governor Andrew Cuomo, seeking another term this fall. She's facing a primary challenge, however, from City Council Member Jumaane Williams. As she runs for reelection (the lieutenant governor and governor run separately in the primary but as a ticket in the general election), Hochul is touting the strength of her record as part of the Cuomo administration. She joined the podcast to discuss her background, the administration's work, especially in economic development, which she has a significant role in, the revitalization of Buffalo, which is in the congressional district she briefly represented in the House of Representatives, and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the full 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 episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/458464395&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="170" 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/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 14, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/kathy-hochul-277.jpg" alt="kathy hochul 277" width="137" height="210" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Kathy Hochul is in the fourth year of her first term as lieutenant governor, and, running alongside Governor Andrew Cuomo, seeking another term this fall. She's facing a primary challenge, however, from City Council Member Jumaane Williams. As she runs for reelection (the lieutenant governor and governor run separately in the primary but as a ticket in the general election), Hochul is touting the strength of her record as part of the Cuomo administration. She joined the podcast to discuss her background, the administration's work, especially in economic development, which she has a significant role in, the revitalization of Buffalo, which is in the congressional district she briefly represented in the House of Representatives, and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the full 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 episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/458464395&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="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
On Taxes, the MTA and More, Molinaro Discusses Developing Campaign Platform 2018-06-14T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-14T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7740:on-taxes-the-mta-and-more-molinaro-discusses-developing-campaign-platform Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/molinaro_launch.jpg" alt="marc molinaro launch" width="600" height="403" /></p> <p>Marc Molinaro (photo: Ben Max/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Ask Marc Molinaro about nearly anything, and the Republican nominee for governor will likely bring the conversation back to property taxes and affordability.</p> <p>“My focus, ultimately, will be to drive down costs on middle class New Yorkers,” he said in a Wednesday interview with Gotham Gazette. “That focus, again, has to be on property taxes because New York, unlike every other state in America, forces more of its state spending on property taxpayers. Property taxpayers -- small tax base; large, acute burden on individuals with no respect to their ability to pay.”</p> <p>Molinaro, currently Dutchess county executive, has repeatedly sounded the theme since <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7583-max-murphy-podcast-molinaro-launches-campaign-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">formally launching</a> his bid for governor April 2. While he has largely spoken in sweeping generalities -- promising “bold” proposals to come during his nomination acceptance speech at the May 23 state GOP convention -- details are starting to emerge.</p> <p>Molinaro said that in addition to making the state’s 2-percent cap on annual property tax increases permanent, he would seek to phase out the so-called “millionaires tax” if elected. The income tax rate for the top bracket -- which includes individuals making $1 million or more and couples earning $2 million or more per year -- went from 6.85 to 8.82 percent in 2009, and has been extended by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and a Legislature where each house is controlled by one of the two major parties.</p> <p>“I would seek to have it expire over time,” Molinaro said of the millionaires tax. “I do think that there’s a way to make taxation in the state a bit more respectful of those who can’t afford it.”</p> <p>He said he will release a detailed tax plan in the coming months. While Molinaro, like many other New York Republicans, has opposed the new, GOP-led federal tax overhaul because of its cap on local deductions, he has said New York must now work even harder to bring down the tax burden on its residents. He has also stressed that the state must reduce its burdens on localities -- often in the form of unfunded mandates -- so that counties, cities, towns, and villages can lower their taxes.</p> <p>Molinaro, 42, has spent his entire career in politics, including terms as a member of the state Assembly and as mayor of Tivoli, where he became the youngest mayor in the country at age 19. He’s claiming the mantle of a regular New Yorker who gets the working and middle classes, comparing himself favorably to Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon, each of whom has much more wealth and fame. Molinaro’s tendency to talk at length about poor and struggling families in personal terms occasionally makes him sound more like a progressive Democrat than a fiscally conservative Republican.</p> <p>“As a kid, I grew up on food stamps. I’m very sensitive to how the state treats those who are on the lower end of the income scale, living maybe in poverty or subsidized housing,” he said. During his nomination acceptance speech he raised his voice in declaring the he would “not concede compassion to anyone.”</p> <p>He has made the state’s struggling dairy industry something of a focus. <a href="https://patch.com/new-york/midhudsonvalley/dutchess-co-protects-farms-through-manageable-growth-partnership" target="_blank" rel="noopener">He allocated</a> $651,781 of Dutchess County’s 2017 budget to protecting two farms there. He has been <a href="http://www.suncommunitynews.com/articles/the-sun/molinaro-seeking-cuomo%E2%80%99s-job-steps-out-in-north-country-debu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">photographed</a> hanging out in stables and often tweets about dairy. “Dairy day. I love dairy day. I miss dairy day. I should come back to Albany for dairy day,” <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/1004418463803363328" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he posted</a> on Twitter earlier this month, in lighthearted fashion, while he has <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/965233189038981121" target="_blank" rel="noopener">also tweeted</a> about serious policy to help dairy farmers survive, such as through reducing regulations and taxes.</p> <p>On the state’s minimum wage law, Molinaro voiced opposition to the recent increases. In 2016, Cuomo and state legislators reached a deal raising New York City’s minimum wage to $15 by the end of this year, with slower hikes in other parts of the state.</p> <p>The Republican candidate, who also has the Conservative and Reform Party nominations, said he opposed the deal at the time and thinks the minimum wage “should be indexed to ebb and flow with the cost of living.”</p> <p>“I also don’t necessarily agree that an unelected board of individuals should be able to establish statewide policy,” he added, in reference to the wage board that Cuomo had empaneled to help him craft the policy before he pushed it through the legislative process. “Those are decisions that ought to be made by citizens and their representatives.”</p> <p>Asked whether he thought the state’s minimum wage should be lowered given broad economic growth, Molinaro replied with a laugh, “I’m not going to go there.”</p> <p>The MTA is another area where Molinaro said he will roll out detailed proposals.</p> <p>He said his priorities would be “depoliticizing” the authority’s board by giving members the power to fire the chair, currently Joe Lhota, along with conducting a thorough review of the MTA’s assets and creating a “road map” to improve service.</p> <p>“Like Joe Lhota or not, the governor has too much influence,” Molinaro said, nodding to the fact that the governor nominates the MTA board chair, as Cuomo did with Lhota. “Far too many decisions are made without input from the MTA board…I would absolutely want to empower the MTA board to be able to fire the head of the MTA.”</p> <p>Molinaro’s county includes the far reaches of the MTA transit system, and he is one of the executives empowered to jointly appoint an MTA board member. He often says that Dutchess is where “upstate meets downstate” and has joined the chorus of candidates and others criticizing Cuomo’s management of the MTA, especially the New York City subway system.</p> <p>Molinaro did not comment, when asked, on MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford’s new plan to fix service. He mostly spoke in broad terms about the MTA’s problems -- decrying its “ineffectiveness and erosion” -- but singled out service for people with disabilities as a priority.</p> <p>“The fact is that if you are living with a disability or particular challenges -- special needs -- we don’t have adequate access, and that needs to be a priority regardless of where you live,” Molinaro said.</p> <p>That belief connects to an initiative Molinaro launched in Dutchess -- which he made a point to again emphasize during the interview -- to improve services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program, called ThinkDIFFERENTLY, has featured events connecting people with disabilities with service providers and aims to help them develop job and life skills.</p> <p>Molinaro said the program -- which has caught on in dozens of other localities -- would provide a paradigm for how he approaches disabilities as governor. Molinaro, whose daughter is autistic, often cites his experience as a father when discussing the issue.</p> <p>“Whether it’s making the investments necessary to break down physical barriers -- making subway stops and platforms accessible -- or it’s saying to job creators, you need to do more to encourage employment for those living with disabilities or welcome those with special needs as consumers,” he said, “we need to educate and then we need to ensure that the system is easier to navigate.”</p> <p>As might be expected for a relatively unknown Republican challenging a two-term Democratic governor in New York, Molinaro has trailed Cuomo in early polls. A <a href="https://www2.siena.edu/news-events/article/cuomo-leads-molinaro-by-19-points-among-likely-voters" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Siena College poll</a> released Wednesday, about five-and-a-half months before Election Day, showed Cuomo ahead of Molinaro 56-37, though the numbers showed an improving trend for Molinaro in the hypothetical matchup and the poll was celebrated by his campaign, which noted he is in better position than Republican challenger Rob Astorino was four years ago at the same time.</p> <p>Like Democratic primary challenger Nixon, who also trails Cuomo in the polls, Molinaro has tried to put a dent in the governor’s numbers by tying him to corruption. Both challengers have pointed to the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7539-joseph-percoco-former-top-cuomo-aide-convicted-on-3-felony-counts" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent conviction</a> of longtime Cuomo lieutenant Joseph Percoco and the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">upcoming federal trial</a> of Alain Kaloyeros, the former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute who oversaw some of Cuomo’s most ambitious development projects.</p> <p>Those cases center upon proven and alleged abuses within the governor’s multimillion-dollar economic development programs, and the Percoco trial showed the former Cuomo government aide and campaign manager regularly using his executive chamber office while on leave to run the governor’s 2014 reelection campaign. Molinaro has put forth a variety of government ethics and campaign finance reform proposals thus far, some of which Cuomo has professed support for but not passed. The GOP nominee has said he would seek pay-for-play, or doing-business, campaign finance restrictions on entities seeking or holding state contracts, term limits for statewide elected officials and state legislators, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7611-molinaro-outlines-initial-ethics-and-campaign-finance-reform-agenda" target="_blank" rel="noopener">and other changes to make government more honest and open</a>.</p> <p>Molinaro said the trials not only show issues of corruption under Cuomo’s nose, but that the governor’s approach to economic development is fundamentally flawed.</p> <p>“I don’t believe the government should take taxpayer money and give it to private interests,” he said. “I don’t believe in cutting checks as if New Yorkers are [Cuomo’s] personal ATM. It’s not fair, it’s not appropriate and he doesn’t seem to know the difference between right and wrong.”</p> <p>Asked how he would encourage statewide economic growth if he ended Cuomo’s development programs, Molinaro again pointed to tax cuts and lowering the cost of living.</p> <p>“Drive down costs, make it easier for businesses to thrive,” he said. “That’s how you grow an environment that people can achieve greater success -- not by pickpocketing New Yorkers and giving it to political contributors.” Molinaro did not offer specifics.</p> <p>He said that if elected, he would take a selective approach to Cuomo’s legacy, though he shied away from detailing what he would seek to undo. “My perspective is everything gets evaluated -- everything,” he said.</p> <p>Molinaro did not answer a question about Cuomo’s gun control measures, including an expanded ban of assault weapons, known as the SAFE Act. While the governor has frequently touted the legislation as one of his main achievements, and New York City residents largely support it, it is considered highly unpopular upstate.</p> <p>In a January interview, more than a month before the school massacre in Parkland, Florida and the movement it spurred, Molinaro <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">had told Gotham Gazette</a>, “Frankly, I do have concerns with how aggressive this governor has been. I think in some ways irresponsibly ignoring those that do support, as I do, the Second Amendment and forcing legislation without having the kind of local robust conversation necessary. I believe the constitution is as it’s written.”</p> <p>The Cuomo campaign has seized on some of Molinaro’s more conservative positions, like on gun rights and his 2011 vote against marriage equality as a member of the Assembly, the passage of which is a top Cuomo resume item. Molinaro has said he has evolved on the issue. The governor’s campaign has branded him a Trump mini-me, though Molinaro has said he did not vote for the Republican president in the 2016 election.</p> <p>In the Wednesday interview with Gotham Gazette, Molinaro did not list any other issue areas where he plans to roll out policy plans, though during his convention speech he appeared to promise a series.</p> <p>Asked how, if elected governor, he would work with the state Legislature -- this fall, Democrats are likely to maintain their Assembly majority and Republicans are fighting against losing the Senate -- Molinaro said he would try to make the lawmaking process more inclusive.</p> <p>He promised to end Albany’s “three men in a room” culture in which the governor and legislative leaders decide the budget and other important issues behind closed doors.</p> <p>“I think the government can reach into the legislature and local communities to identify great thinkers, people who are engaged in trying to solve problems irrespective of party, and engage them,” Molinaro said. “That breaks down the power structure that has paralyzed state government.”</p> <p>

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by Shant Shahrigianh, Gotham Gazette
      

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/molinaro_launch.jpg" alt="marc molinaro launch" width="600" height="403" /></p> <p>Marc Molinaro (photo: Ben Max/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Ask Marc Molinaro about nearly anything, and the Republican nominee for governor will likely bring the conversation back to property taxes and affordability.</p> <p>“My focus, ultimately, will be to drive down costs on middle class New Yorkers,” he said in a Wednesday interview with Gotham Gazette. “That focus, again, has to be on property taxes because New York, unlike every other state in America, forces more of its state spending on property taxpayers. Property taxpayers -- small tax base; large, acute burden on individuals with no respect to their ability to pay.”</p> <p>Molinaro, currently Dutchess county executive, has repeatedly sounded the theme since <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7583-max-murphy-podcast-molinaro-launches-campaign-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">formally launching</a> his bid for governor April 2. While he has largely spoken in sweeping generalities -- promising “bold” proposals to come during his nomination acceptance speech at the May 23 state GOP convention -- details are starting to emerge.</p> <p>Molinaro said that in addition to making the state’s 2-percent cap on annual property tax increases permanent, he would seek to phase out the so-called “millionaires tax” if elected. The income tax rate for the top bracket -- which includes individuals making $1 million or more and couples earning $2 million or more per year -- went from 6.85 to 8.82 percent in 2009, and has been extended by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and a Legislature where each house is controlled by one of the two major parties.</p> <p>“I would seek to have it expire over time,” Molinaro said of the millionaires tax. “I do think that there’s a way to make taxation in the state a bit more respectful of those who can’t afford it.”</p> <p>He said he will release a detailed tax plan in the coming months. While Molinaro, like many other New York Republicans, has opposed the new, GOP-led federal tax overhaul because of its cap on local deductions, he has said New York must now work even harder to bring down the tax burden on its residents. He has also stressed that the state must reduce its burdens on localities -- often in the form of unfunded mandates -- so that counties, cities, towns, and villages can lower their taxes.</p> <p>Molinaro, 42, has spent his entire career in politics, including terms as a member of the state Assembly and as mayor of Tivoli, where he became the youngest mayor in the country at age 19. He’s claiming the mantle of a regular New Yorker who gets the working and middle classes, comparing himself favorably to Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon, each of whom has much more wealth and fame. Molinaro’s tendency to talk at length about poor and struggling families in personal terms occasionally makes him sound more like a progressive Democrat than a fiscally conservative Republican.</p> <p>“As a kid, I grew up on food stamps. I’m very sensitive to how the state treats those who are on the lower end of the income scale, living maybe in poverty or subsidized housing,” he said. During his nomination acceptance speech he raised his voice in declaring the he would “not concede compassion to anyone.”</p> <p>He has made the state’s struggling dairy industry something of a focus. <a href="https://patch.com/new-york/midhudsonvalley/dutchess-co-protects-farms-through-manageable-growth-partnership" target="_blank" rel="noopener">He allocated</a> $651,781 of Dutchess County’s 2017 budget to protecting two farms there. He has been <a href="http://www.suncommunitynews.com/articles/the-sun/molinaro-seeking-cuomo%E2%80%99s-job-steps-out-in-north-country-debu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">photographed</a> hanging out in stables and often tweets about dairy. “Dairy day. I love dairy day. I miss dairy day. I should come back to Albany for dairy day,” <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/1004418463803363328" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he posted</a> on Twitter earlier this month, in lighthearted fashion, while he has <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/965233189038981121" target="_blank" rel="noopener">also tweeted</a> about serious policy to help dairy farmers survive, such as through reducing regulations and taxes.</p> <p>On the state’s minimum wage law, Molinaro voiced opposition to the recent increases. In 2016, Cuomo and state legislators reached a deal raising New York City’s minimum wage to $15 by the end of this year, with slower hikes in other parts of the state.</p> <p>The Republican candidate, who also has the Conservative and Reform Party nominations, said he opposed the deal at the time and thinks the minimum wage “should be indexed to ebb and flow with the cost of living.”</p> <p>“I also don’t necessarily agree that an unelected board of individuals should be able to establish statewide policy,” he added, in reference to the wage board that Cuomo had empaneled to help him craft the policy before he pushed it through the legislative process. “Those are decisions that ought to be made by citizens and their representatives.”</p> <p>Asked whether he thought the state’s minimum wage should be lowered given broad economic growth, Molinaro replied with a laugh, “I’m not going to go there.”</p> <p>The MTA is another area where Molinaro said he will roll out detailed proposals.</p> <p>He said his priorities would be “depoliticizing” the authority’s board by giving members the power to fire the chair, currently Joe Lhota, along with conducting a thorough review of the MTA’s assets and creating a “road map” to improve service.</p> <p>“Like Joe Lhota or not, the governor has too much influence,” Molinaro said, nodding to the fact that the governor nominates the MTA board chair, as Cuomo did with Lhota. “Far too many decisions are made without input from the MTA board…I would absolutely want to empower the MTA board to be able to fire the head of the MTA.”</p> <p>Molinaro’s county includes the far reaches of the MTA transit system, and he is one of the executives empowered to jointly appoint an MTA board member. He often says that Dutchess is where “upstate meets downstate” and has joined the chorus of candidates and others criticizing Cuomo’s management of the MTA, especially the New York City subway system.</p> <p>Molinaro did not comment, when asked, on MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford’s new plan to fix service. He mostly spoke in broad terms about the MTA’s problems -- decrying its “ineffectiveness and erosion” -- but singled out service for people with disabilities as a priority.</p> <p>“The fact is that if you are living with a disability or particular challenges -- special needs -- we don’t have adequate access, and that needs to be a priority regardless of where you live,” Molinaro said.</p> <p>That belief connects to an initiative Molinaro launched in Dutchess -- which he made a point to again emphasize during the interview -- to improve services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program, called ThinkDIFFERENTLY, has featured events connecting people with disabilities with service providers and aims to help them develop job and life skills.</p> <p>Molinaro said the program -- which has caught on in dozens of other localities -- would provide a paradigm for how he approaches disabilities as governor. Molinaro, whose daughter is autistic, often cites his experience as a father when discussing the issue.</p> <p>“Whether it’s making the investments necessary to break down physical barriers -- making subway stops and platforms accessible -- or it’s saying to job creators, you need to do more to encourage employment for those living with disabilities or welcome those with special needs as consumers,” he said, “we need to educate and then we need to ensure that the system is easier to navigate.”</p> <p>As might be expected for a relatively unknown Republican challenging a two-term Democratic governor in New York, Molinaro has trailed Cuomo in early polls. A <a href="https://www2.siena.edu/news-events/article/cuomo-leads-molinaro-by-19-points-among-likely-voters" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Siena College poll</a> released Wednesday, about five-and-a-half months before Election Day, showed Cuomo ahead of Molinaro 56-37, though the numbers showed an improving trend for Molinaro in the hypothetical matchup and the poll was celebrated by his campaign, which noted he is in better position than Republican challenger Rob Astorino was four years ago at the same time.</p> <p>Like Democratic primary challenger Nixon, who also trails Cuomo in the polls, Molinaro has tried to put a dent in the governor’s numbers by tying him to corruption. Both challengers have pointed to the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7539-joseph-percoco-former-top-cuomo-aide-convicted-on-3-felony-counts" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent conviction</a> of longtime Cuomo lieutenant Joseph Percoco and the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">upcoming federal trial</a> of Alain Kaloyeros, the former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute who oversaw some of Cuomo’s most ambitious development projects.</p> <p>Those cases center upon proven and alleged abuses within the governor’s multimillion-dollar economic development programs, and the Percoco trial showed the former Cuomo government aide and campaign manager regularly using his executive chamber office while on leave to run the governor’s 2014 reelection campaign. Molinaro has put forth a variety of government ethics and campaign finance reform proposals thus far, some of which Cuomo has professed support for but not passed. The GOP nominee has said he would seek pay-for-play, or doing-business, campaign finance restrictions on entities seeking or holding state contracts, term limits for statewide elected officials and state legislators, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7611-molinaro-outlines-initial-ethics-and-campaign-finance-reform-agenda" target="_blank" rel="noopener">and other changes to make government more honest and open</a>.</p> <p>Molinaro said the trials not only show issues of corruption under Cuomo’s nose, but that the governor’s approach to economic development is fundamentally flawed.</p> <p>“I don’t believe the government should take taxpayer money and give it to private interests,” he said. “I don’t believe in cutting checks as if New Yorkers are [Cuomo’s] personal ATM. It’s not fair, it’s not appropriate and he doesn’t seem to know the difference between right and wrong.”</p> <p>Asked how he would encourage statewide economic growth if he ended Cuomo’s development programs, Molinaro again pointed to tax cuts and lowering the cost of living.</p> <p>“Drive down costs, make it easier for businesses to thrive,” he said. “That’s how you grow an environment that people can achieve greater success -- not by pickpocketing New Yorkers and giving it to political contributors.” Molinaro did not offer specifics.</p> <p>He said that if elected, he would take a selective approach to Cuomo’s legacy, though he shied away from detailing what he would seek to undo. “My perspective is everything gets evaluated -- everything,” he said.</p> <p>Molinaro did not answer a question about Cuomo’s gun control measures, including an expanded ban of assault weapons, known as the SAFE Act. While the governor has frequently touted the legislation as one of his main achievements, and New York City residents largely support it, it is considered highly unpopular upstate.</p> <p>In a January interview, more than a month before the school massacre in Parkland, Florida and the movement it spurred, Molinaro <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">had told Gotham Gazette</a>, “Frankly, I do have concerns with how aggressive this governor has been. I think in some ways irresponsibly ignoring those that do support, as I do, the Second Amendment and forcing legislation without having the kind of local robust conversation necessary. I believe the constitution is as it’s written.”</p> <p>The Cuomo campaign has seized on some of Molinaro’s more conservative positions, like on gun rights and his 2011 vote against marriage equality as a member of the Assembly, the passage of which is a top Cuomo resume item. Molinaro has said he has evolved on the issue. The governor’s campaign has branded him a Trump mini-me, though Molinaro has said he did not vote for the Republican president in the 2016 election.</p> <p>In the Wednesday interview with Gotham Gazette, Molinaro did not list any other issue areas where he plans to roll out policy plans, though during his convention speech he appeared to promise a series.</p> <p>Asked how, if elected governor, he would work with the state Legislature -- this fall, Democrats are likely to maintain their Assembly majority and Republicans are fighting against losing the Senate -- Molinaro said he would try to make the lawmaking process more inclusive.</p> <p>He promised to end Albany’s “three men in a room” culture in which the governor and legislative leaders decide the budget and other important issues behind closed doors.</p> <p>“I think the government can reach into the legislature and local communities to identify great thinkers, people who are engaged in trying to solve problems irrespective of party, and engage them,” Molinaro said. “That breaks down the power structure that has paralyzed state government.”</p> <p>

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by Shant Shahrigianh, Gotham Gazette
      

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</p>
New York Congressional Primaries to Watch Ahead of June 26 Vote 2018-06-11T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-11T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7728:new-york-congressional-primaries-to-watch-ahead-of-june-26-vote Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/trump-dan-donovan.jpg" alt="trump dan donovan" width="600" /></p> <p>Rep. Dan Donovan with President Trump (photo: @DanDonovanSI)</p> <hr /> <p>New Yorkers will head to the polls on Tuesday, June 26 to vote in Democratic and Republican congressional primary elections, determining which candidates will appear on the parties’ ballots in November’s general election. Not every one of New York’s 27 congressional districts is home to one or two primaries, but some districts are in the midst of competitive primary campaigns.</p> <p>In New York City, where just one seat in the House of Representatives delegation is held by a Republican, there are several hotly-contested primaries, though only one race is expected to be competitive in the general election. The lone GOP-held seat is also the one where a tough general election is expected -- there is currently an intense primary on each side of the aisle in the 11th Congressional District, which includes Staten Island and a sliver of Southern Brooklyn and is represented by incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan.</p> <p>A small handful of Democratic incumbents representing parts of the city are facing spirited primary challenges, largely from the left, though incumbents, as is almost always the case, are favored. Without public polling, it is often difficult to tell if challengers are breaking through at all, or how voters feel about their incumbent representative.</p> <p>Candidates are campaigning feverishly leading up to the primary, which is expected to see fairly low turnout, though it may see a boost relative to past years due to the competitive nature of some races and the larger atmosphere surrounding “the resistance” to President Donald Trump.</p> <p>While NY-11 will factor into the discussion for the general election, other congressional seats outside New York City will form the vast majority of those seen as the state’s swing districts, where either a Democrat or a Republican could win and influence which party controls the House in January.</p> <p>While every one of the country’s 435 House seats are on the ballot this year, as they are every other year, there are some U.S. Senate seats up for election this year as well -- Senators serve six-year terms and states stagger the elections of their two Senate seats. This year, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is seeking another term and is being challenged by Republican Chele Farley in the general election.</p> <p>In order to vote in the upcoming federal primaries, New Yorkers have to already be registered to vote and with the party holding a primary in their district. A closer look at the congressional primaries to watch leading up to June 26:</p> <p><strong>District 9</strong><br />In Central Brooklyn’s District 9, 12-year Democratic incumbent Rep. Yvette Clarke faces her first primary challenge in six years. Adem Bunkeddeko, 29, was, until recently, an associate director at Brooklyn Community Services and, for five years, a member of Brooklyn Community Board 8, which includes Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Weeksville.</p> <p>He <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/nyregion/adem-bunkeddeko-city-politics-envigorate.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">says</a> he is running because “the political culture is so static” in the nation’s largest and most diverse city. Bunkeddeko’s platform includes the expansion of charter schools, legalization of marijuana, and an aggressive housing plan that, he says, would open paths to homeownership for families making between $30,000 and $80,000 a year.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ademforcongress.com/meet-adem-bunkeddeko/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Bunkeddeko</a> has raised more than <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/candidates?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY09&amp;spec=N" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$200,000 </a>in his bid for the Democratic nomination as of March 31. Clarke, meanwhile, has raised at least <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00026961" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$600,000</a> in her bid for re-election. Almost <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00026961" target="_blank" rel="noopener">60%</a> of Clarke’s campaign contributions have come from political action committees; Bunkeddeko has <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/candidates?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY09&amp;spec=N" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported zero</a> donations from PACs.</p> <p>Clarke’s campaign <a href="http://www.voteyvette.com/meet_yvette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">highlights</a> her introduction of legislation granting new legal rights to homeowners facing foreclosure, work on the Affordable Care Act, and support for universal firearm background checks. She also is <a href="http://www.pnhp.org/news/2017/february/brooklynites-cheer-single-payer-health-care-at-congressional-town-hall" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a signatory</a> to the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. Clarke has not stated her positions on other marquee Democratic issues like &nbsp;<a href="https://www.kingscountypolitics.com/clarke-ducks-fed-legalization-of-marijuana-question/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">legalization of marijuana</a> and the abolition of ICE, though she has <a href="https://clarke.house.gov/ice-agents-wear-body-cameras-nyc-council-members-say/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">introduced legislation</a> that would equip ICE agents with body cameras.</p> <p>“Our community is under siege and has been for quite some time,” Bunkeddeko wrote on his <a href="https://www.ademforcongress.com/home" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>, with reference to the Trump administration. “More and more of our neighbors are finding inequality and injustice in Central Brooklyn (NY-9), and good folks are being pushed out in droves.”</p> <p><strong>District 11</strong><br />In New York City’s only Republican-represented congressional district, Rep. Dan Donovan is facing a primary challenge from his predecessor, former Rep. Michael Grimm, who resigned the office three-and-a-half years ago just after winning reelection while under federal indictment. Grimm pleaded guilty to tax evasion and served time in federal prison. He now wants his old job back and is challenging Donovan in a Republican-heavy district where, unlike in most of the rest of the city, allegiance to President Donald Trump is seen as essential -- at least in the primary.</p> <p>Grimm represented the mostly-Staten Island district from 2010 to 2015. In 2014, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/nyregion/representative-michael-grimm-is-indicted-on-fraud-charges.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he was charged</a> with 20 counts of fraud, federal tax evasion and perjury. He resigned in January of 2015, and served eight months in federal prison.</p> <p>Grimm recently <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/michael-grimm-qualifies-run-donovan-setting-showdown" target="_blank" rel="noopener">gathered over 3,000 signatures</a> from those in the district, easily surpassing the 1,250 required to appear on the primary ballot, and, while Donovan has <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY11" target="_blank" rel="noopener">raised</a> over three times as much money as Grimm, a recent<a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2018/06/04/michael-grimm-dan-donovan-ny1-siena-college-poll-congressional-primary-nyc-" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> NY1/Siena poll </a>shows Grimm with a ten-point lead over the incumbent.</p> <p>Differences between the candidates have been largely non-ideological — Grimm’s campaign <a href="http://www.michaelgrimm2018.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a> does not even offer a list of his positions, and <a href="http://dandonovanforcongress.com/the-issues/#1474037339002-e2962ff0-88e2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Donovan’s</a> stakes out his stances on widely-agreeable issues like Staten Islanders’ commutes (shorten them), taxes (cut them), and homeland security (protect it).</p> <p>As representatives, Donovan introduced <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/04/22/donovan-to-propose-bill-that-targets-sanctuary-city-funding/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">legislation</a> this year to target federal funding for sanctuary cities, and Grimm, in 2013, <a href="http://www.ontheissues.org/Notebook/Note_14_Lt_Imm.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">urged</a> the Department of Homeland Security to stop releasing low-risk undocumented immigrants from detention camps.</p> <p>In 2012, <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2018/04/12/dan-donovan-record-tackling-staten-island-opioid-crisis-as-district-attorney-congress" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the two worked together</a> — Donovan as Staten Island District Attorney, Grimm as Congressional representative — on legislation to fight prescription drug abuse.</p> <p>Both candidates have made a show of their support for Trump in the only New York City district he carried. While Grimm has attacked Donovan as a moderate who voted against the Trump tax reform package, Donovan has pointed to Grimm’s moderate record when he represented the district. Donovan introduced a bill that would mandate every post office display photos of the president and vice president.</p> <p>Trump recently endorsed Donovan, <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1001973090107248641" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tweeting</a> that “There is no one better to represent the people of N.Y. and Staten Island (a place I know very well) than @RepDanDonovan, who is strong on Borders &amp; Crime, loves our Military &amp; our Vets, voted for Tax Cuts and is helping me to Make America Great Again.”</p> <p>“Dan has my full endorsement!” he concluded. Donovan was quick to boast about the endorsement, while Grimm downplayed it.</p> <p>The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of a competitive Democratic primary in NY-11, which includes six Democrats. That pack is led by fundraising leader and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee endorsee Max Rose, a veteran who has raised more money as of the March 31 filing date than all of his Democratic competitors combined. Michael DeVito is also running an especially active campaign, while <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/vgwelcome/congressional-primary-2018/meet-the-candidates/congressional-district-11-democratic/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">other Democrats</a> include Omar Vaid, Zach Emig, Paul Sperling, and Radhakrishna Mohan.</p> <p>NY-11 is on the Democratic Party’s “Red to Blue” shortlist of currently-Republican congressional districts that realistically may elect a Democrat in November.</p> <p><strong>District 12</strong><br />Meanwhile, in District 12, covering much of Manhattan’s East Side and parts of Brooklyn and Queens, 34-year-old Suraj Patel, an entrepreneur and <a href="http://www.stern.nyu.edu/experience-stern/about/departments-centers-initiatives/academic-departments/business-society-program/faculty-staff/faculty/suraj-patel" target="_blank" rel="noopener">business ethics professor</a> at New York University, is attempting to unseat 25-year incumbent <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Carolyn_Maloney" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rep. Carolyn Maloney</a>.</p> <p>Patel has raised slightly over <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY12" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$1 million</a> for his bid, nearly matching Maloney’s $1.4 million war chest -- a rare development for a primary challenger to an incumbent. Maloney retained the money advantage, at least as of the March 31 filing, and has significant establishment support for her reelection.</p> <p><a href="https://www.surajpatel.nyc/about-suraj/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Patel</a> was born in Mississippi to Indian immigrant parents, and has worked in various capacities in Barack Obama’s orbit, including as a volunteer on his 2008 presidential campaign.</p> <p>“Our republic is broken,” Patel wrote on his <a href="https://www.surajpatel.nyc/issues/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>. “Big money has corrupted the system, there are too many obstacles to voting, and undemocratic policies like partisan gerrymandering have made our House of Representatives unrepresentative of the American people.”</p> <p>The upstart and insurgent candidate challenging a well-established party representative is something Maloney has seen before. She last faced a serious primary challenge in 2010, when lawyer <a href="https://medium.com/girls-who-code/teach-girls-bravery-not-perfection-257691d13476" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reshma Saujani</a> raised upwards of $1.3 million in a bid to unseat the incumbent. Nevertheless, Maloney prevailed with 81% of the vote.</p> <p>Saujani endorsed Maloney in early March, according to the <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/03/06/maloney-has-backing-of-former-rival-in-re-election-bid/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Post</a>, as have several advocacy groups and unions, including 32BJ SEIU, the largest union of property service workers in America.</p> <p>She is <a href="https://carolynmaloney.com/issues/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">running</a> on her consumer protection bona fides, experience “on the front lines in the fight for women’s rights,” and legislative work for paid parental leave, among other positions.</p> <p>Maloney and Patel will debate on Tuesday, June 12 on NY1 television.</p> <p><strong>District 14</strong><br />In District 14, covering northwest Queens and the eastern Bronx, 28-year-old organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is offering 56-year-old Rep. Joe Crowley <a href="https://qns.com/story/2018/03/26/bronx-resident-will-queens-congressman-joe-crowleys-first-primary-challenger-14-years/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">his first contested primary</a> in his 14 years in office.</p> <p>Crowley has significant establishment ties: as <a href="https://crowley.house.gov/about" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the chair of the House Democratic Caucus</a>, he’s the fourth highest ranking official in the House Democratic leadership and is <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/in-the-shadow-of-nancy-pelosi-joseph-crowley-campaigns-without-a-target/2018/02/08/04694d92-0b95-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">frequently mentioned</a> as a possible successor to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Crowley runs the Queens County Democratic Party, with great influence over local elections, the courts, and government in Queens and beyond.</p> <p>Crowley touts his support for equal pay legislation, co-sponsorship of legislation mandating universal firearm background checks, and authorship of an act providing tax relief for poor renters.</p> <p>Ocasio-Cortez is challenging Crowley from his left as part of the slate of the <a href="https://www.justicedemocrats.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Justice Democrats</a>, a political action committee that supports progressive candidates who pledge to not accept corporate donations. She’s staked out her support for a federal jobs guarantee, the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and tuition-free public college.</p> <p>Both candidates tout their immigrant roots — Crowley’s family is Irish, Ocasio-Cortez’s is Puerto Rican — and their support for Medicare-for-All.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY14" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fundraising</a> gap between the two candidates is significant — with $2.78 million on hand compared to Ocasio-Cortez’s $116,000, Crowley’s outraised his opponent almost twenty-four times over.</p> <p>“It's a major David-vs-Goliath tale for the soul of the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/SandersForPresident/comments/6ftvhu/hey_reddit_i_am_alexandria_ocasiocortez_us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a blog post</a> on Reddit. “We are going to have to choose whether we will continue down the path of corporate patronage or return to the Democratic spirit of our governance.”</p> <p>The two Democrats will debate on NY1 television on Friday June 15.</p> <p><strong>Races Outside New York City: Districts 1, 19, 22, and 24</strong><br />The Cook Political Report carefully&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cookpolitical.com/ratings/house-race-ratings" target="_blank" rel="noopener">designates</a>&nbsp;“competitive” House races and lists a few New York races outside the five boroughs.</p> <p>In Long Island’s 1st District, five Democrats are running for their party’s nomination. Perry Gershon, a former businessman who <a href="https://www.perrygershon.com/about/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">says</a> he was inspired by Trump’s election to “set out to personally fight for change,” has raised more <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY01" target="_blank" rel="noopener">money</a> than all his competitors combined. The winner of the contested primary will face off against two-term Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin, who <a href="https://www.newsday.com/long-island/politics/spin-cycle/emily-s-list-declares-rep-zeldin-on-notice-for-2016-1.10496400" target="_blank" rel="noopener">co-sponsored a ban on abortions</a> after 20 weeks and voted to defund Planned Parenthood.</p> <p>Voters in the 19th District, which comprises of much of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, will choose from seven Democrats competing for a chance to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. John Faso in the general election.</p> <p>The district backed Barack Obama in 2012 but favored Donald Trump in 2016, and its past three representatives have been Republican. Most recently, Faso defeated Democrat Zephyr Teachout in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/new-york-house-district-19-teachout-faso" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2016</a>.</p> <p>The Democratic candidates <a href="http://wamc.org/post/listen-ny-19-democratic-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">debated each other this past Thursday on WAMC</a>, a public radio network headquartered in Albany, for nearly two hours, regarding topics ranging from the environment to health care.</p> <p>In District 22, another vital district that the national Democratic Party is prioritizing, Assemblymember Anthony Brindisi is challenging Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney in what <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/New_York%27s_22nd_Congressional_District_election,_2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener">looks to be a tight race</a>.</p> <p>In District 24, which includes a chunk of central New York, Democrats <a href="https://electdanabalter.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Dana Balter</a> and <a href="https://voteforjuanita.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Juanita Perez Williams</a> are competing for the chance to challenge Republican Rep. John Katko in the general.</p> <p>Districts 22 and 24 are also on the Democratic Party’s “Red to Blue” list.</p> <p><strong>National</strong><br />The Democratic Party is hoping to gain control of the House of Representatives through November’s general elections. Currently, <a href="https://pressgallery.house.gov/member-data/party-breakdown" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the House</a> is composed of 235 Republicans and 193 Democrats with seven vacancies. Democrats see several recent elections results, in New York and elsewhere, as encouraging in their efforts to flip the House this year, including through a few New York wins.</p> <p>New York Governor Andrew Cuomo <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7434-2018-will-be-a-busy-contentious-election-year-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">spoke at a rally last year</a> with House Minority Leader Pelosi, of California, and other Democratic leaders to announce a movement to flip six New York House seats from red to blue. Cuomo vowed to unseat New York Representatives Lee Zeldin (CD1), John Faso (CD19), Elise Stefanik (CD21), Claudia Tenney (CD22), and Tom Reed (CD23), and Chris Collins (CD27). The districts represented by Reps. Stefanik, Reed, and Collins are generally regarded as safely Republican.</p> <p><em>You can find your local polling station <a href="https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>.</em></p> <p>***<br />by Jordan Kimmel and Daniel Yadin</p> <p>

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by Jordan Kimmel, Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/trump-dan-donovan.jpg" alt="trump dan donovan" width="600" /></p> <p>Rep. Dan Donovan with President Trump (photo: @DanDonovanSI)</p> <hr /> <p>New Yorkers will head to the polls on Tuesday, June 26 to vote in Democratic and Republican congressional primary elections, determining which candidates will appear on the parties’ ballots in November’s general election. Not every one of New York’s 27 congressional districts is home to one or two primaries, but some districts are in the midst of competitive primary campaigns.</p> <p>In New York City, where just one seat in the House of Representatives delegation is held by a Republican, there are several hotly-contested primaries, though only one race is expected to be competitive in the general election. The lone GOP-held seat is also the one where a tough general election is expected -- there is currently an intense primary on each side of the aisle in the 11th Congressional District, which includes Staten Island and a sliver of Southern Brooklyn and is represented by incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan.</p> <p>A small handful of Democratic incumbents representing parts of the city are facing spirited primary challenges, largely from the left, though incumbents, as is almost always the case, are favored. Without public polling, it is often difficult to tell if challengers are breaking through at all, or how voters feel about their incumbent representative.</p> <p>Candidates are campaigning feverishly leading up to the primary, which is expected to see fairly low turnout, though it may see a boost relative to past years due to the competitive nature of some races and the larger atmosphere surrounding “the resistance” to President Donald Trump.</p> <p>While NY-11 will factor into the discussion for the general election, other congressional seats outside New York City will form the vast majority of those seen as the state’s swing districts, where either a Democrat or a Republican could win and influence which party controls the House in January.</p> <p>While every one of the country’s 435 House seats are on the ballot this year, as they are every other year, there are some U.S. Senate seats up for election this year as well -- Senators serve six-year terms and states stagger the elections of their two Senate seats. This year, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is seeking another term and is being challenged by Republican Chele Farley in the general election.</p> <p>In order to vote in the upcoming federal primaries, New Yorkers have to already be registered to vote and with the party holding a primary in their district. A closer look at the congressional primaries to watch leading up to June 26:</p> <p><strong>District 9</strong><br />In Central Brooklyn’s District 9, 12-year Democratic incumbent Rep. Yvette Clarke faces her first primary challenge in six years. Adem Bunkeddeko, 29, was, until recently, an associate director at Brooklyn Community Services and, for five years, a member of Brooklyn Community Board 8, which includes Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Weeksville.</p> <p>He <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/nyregion/adem-bunkeddeko-city-politics-envigorate.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">says</a> he is running because “the political culture is so static” in the nation’s largest and most diverse city. Bunkeddeko’s platform includes the expansion of charter schools, legalization of marijuana, and an aggressive housing plan that, he says, would open paths to homeownership for families making between $30,000 and $80,000 a year.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ademforcongress.com/meet-adem-bunkeddeko/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Bunkeddeko</a> has raised more than <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/candidates?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY09&amp;spec=N" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$200,000 </a>in his bid for the Democratic nomination as of March 31. Clarke, meanwhile, has raised at least <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00026961" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$600,000</a> in her bid for re-election. Almost <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00026961" target="_blank" rel="noopener">60%</a> of Clarke’s campaign contributions have come from political action committees; Bunkeddeko has <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/candidates?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY09&amp;spec=N" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported zero</a> donations from PACs.</p> <p>Clarke’s campaign <a href="http://www.voteyvette.com/meet_yvette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">highlights</a> her introduction of legislation granting new legal rights to homeowners facing foreclosure, work on the Affordable Care Act, and support for universal firearm background checks. She also is <a href="http://www.pnhp.org/news/2017/february/brooklynites-cheer-single-payer-health-care-at-congressional-town-hall" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a signatory</a> to the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. Clarke has not stated her positions on other marquee Democratic issues like &nbsp;<a href="https://www.kingscountypolitics.com/clarke-ducks-fed-legalization-of-marijuana-question/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">legalization of marijuana</a> and the abolition of ICE, though she has <a href="https://clarke.house.gov/ice-agents-wear-body-cameras-nyc-council-members-say/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">introduced legislation</a> that would equip ICE agents with body cameras.</p> <p>“Our community is under siege and has been for quite some time,” Bunkeddeko wrote on his <a href="https://www.ademforcongress.com/home" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>, with reference to the Trump administration. “More and more of our neighbors are finding inequality and injustice in Central Brooklyn (NY-9), and good folks are being pushed out in droves.”</p> <p><strong>District 11</strong><br />In New York City’s only Republican-represented congressional district, Rep. Dan Donovan is facing a primary challenge from his predecessor, former Rep. Michael Grimm, who resigned the office three-and-a-half years ago just after winning reelection while under federal indictment. Grimm pleaded guilty to tax evasion and served time in federal prison. He now wants his old job back and is challenging Donovan in a Republican-heavy district where, unlike in most of the rest of the city, allegiance to President Donald Trump is seen as essential -- at least in the primary.</p> <p>Grimm represented the mostly-Staten Island district from 2010 to 2015. In 2014, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/nyregion/representative-michael-grimm-is-indicted-on-fraud-charges.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he was charged</a> with 20 counts of fraud, federal tax evasion and perjury. He resigned in January of 2015, and served eight months in federal prison.</p> <p>Grimm recently <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/michael-grimm-qualifies-run-donovan-setting-showdown" target="_blank" rel="noopener">gathered over 3,000 signatures</a> from those in the district, easily surpassing the 1,250 required to appear on the primary ballot, and, while Donovan has <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY11" target="_blank" rel="noopener">raised</a> over three times as much money as Grimm, a recent<a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2018/06/04/michael-grimm-dan-donovan-ny1-siena-college-poll-congressional-primary-nyc-" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> NY1/Siena poll </a>shows Grimm with a ten-point lead over the incumbent.</p> <p>Differences between the candidates have been largely non-ideological — Grimm’s campaign <a href="http://www.michaelgrimm2018.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a> does not even offer a list of his positions, and <a href="http://dandonovanforcongress.com/the-issues/#1474037339002-e2962ff0-88e2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Donovan’s</a> stakes out his stances on widely-agreeable issues like Staten Islanders’ commutes (shorten them), taxes (cut them), and homeland security (protect it).</p> <p>As representatives, Donovan introduced <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/04/22/donovan-to-propose-bill-that-targets-sanctuary-city-funding/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">legislation</a> this year to target federal funding for sanctuary cities, and Grimm, in 2013, <a href="http://www.ontheissues.org/Notebook/Note_14_Lt_Imm.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">urged</a> the Department of Homeland Security to stop releasing low-risk undocumented immigrants from detention camps.</p> <p>In 2012, <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2018/04/12/dan-donovan-record-tackling-staten-island-opioid-crisis-as-district-attorney-congress" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the two worked together</a> — Donovan as Staten Island District Attorney, Grimm as Congressional representative — on legislation to fight prescription drug abuse.</p> <p>Both candidates have made a show of their support for Trump in the only New York City district he carried. While Grimm has attacked Donovan as a moderate who voted against the Trump tax reform package, Donovan has pointed to Grimm’s moderate record when he represented the district. Donovan introduced a bill that would mandate every post office display photos of the president and vice president.</p> <p>Trump recently endorsed Donovan, <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1001973090107248641" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tweeting</a> that “There is no one better to represent the people of N.Y. and Staten Island (a place I know very well) than @RepDanDonovan, who is strong on Borders &amp; Crime, loves our Military &amp; our Vets, voted for Tax Cuts and is helping me to Make America Great Again.”</p> <p>“Dan has my full endorsement!” he concluded. Donovan was quick to boast about the endorsement, while Grimm downplayed it.</p> <p>The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of a competitive Democratic primary in NY-11, which includes six Democrats. That pack is led by fundraising leader and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee endorsee Max Rose, a veteran who has raised more money as of the March 31 filing date than all of his Democratic competitors combined. Michael DeVito is also running an especially active campaign, while <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/vgwelcome/congressional-primary-2018/meet-the-candidates/congressional-district-11-democratic/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">other Democrats</a> include Omar Vaid, Zach Emig, Paul Sperling, and Radhakrishna Mohan.</p> <p>NY-11 is on the Democratic Party’s “Red to Blue” shortlist of currently-Republican congressional districts that realistically may elect a Democrat in November.</p> <p><strong>District 12</strong><br />Meanwhile, in District 12, covering much of Manhattan’s East Side and parts of Brooklyn and Queens, 34-year-old Suraj Patel, an entrepreneur and <a href="http://www.stern.nyu.edu/experience-stern/about/departments-centers-initiatives/academic-departments/business-society-program/faculty-staff/faculty/suraj-patel" target="_blank" rel="noopener">business ethics professor</a> at New York University, is attempting to unseat 25-year incumbent <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Carolyn_Maloney" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rep. Carolyn Maloney</a>.</p> <p>Patel has raised slightly over <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY12" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$1 million</a> for his bid, nearly matching Maloney’s $1.4 million war chest -- a rare development for a primary challenger to an incumbent. Maloney retained the money advantage, at least as of the March 31 filing, and has significant establishment support for her reelection.</p> <p><a href="https://www.surajpatel.nyc/about-suraj/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Patel</a> was born in Mississippi to Indian immigrant parents, and has worked in various capacities in Barack Obama’s orbit, including as a volunteer on his 2008 presidential campaign.</p> <p>“Our republic is broken,” Patel wrote on his <a href="https://www.surajpatel.nyc/issues/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>. “Big money has corrupted the system, there are too many obstacles to voting, and undemocratic policies like partisan gerrymandering have made our House of Representatives unrepresentative of the American people.”</p> <p>The upstart and insurgent candidate challenging a well-established party representative is something Maloney has seen before. She last faced a serious primary challenge in 2010, when lawyer <a href="https://medium.com/girls-who-code/teach-girls-bravery-not-perfection-257691d13476" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reshma Saujani</a> raised upwards of $1.3 million in a bid to unseat the incumbent. Nevertheless, Maloney prevailed with 81% of the vote.</p> <p>Saujani endorsed Maloney in early March, according to the <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/03/06/maloney-has-backing-of-former-rival-in-re-election-bid/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Post</a>, as have several advocacy groups and unions, including 32BJ SEIU, the largest union of property service workers in America.</p> <p>She is <a href="https://carolynmaloney.com/issues/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">running</a> on her consumer protection bona fides, experience “on the front lines in the fight for women’s rights,” and legislative work for paid parental leave, among other positions.</p> <p>Maloney and Patel will debate on Tuesday, June 12 on NY1 television.</p> <p><strong>District 14</strong><br />In District 14, covering northwest Queens and the eastern Bronx, 28-year-old organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is offering 56-year-old Rep. Joe Crowley <a href="https://qns.com/story/2018/03/26/bronx-resident-will-queens-congressman-joe-crowleys-first-primary-challenger-14-years/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">his first contested primary</a> in his 14 years in office.</p> <p>Crowley has significant establishment ties: as <a href="https://crowley.house.gov/about" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the chair of the House Democratic Caucus</a>, he’s the fourth highest ranking official in the House Democratic leadership and is <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/in-the-shadow-of-nancy-pelosi-joseph-crowley-campaigns-without-a-target/2018/02/08/04694d92-0b95-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">frequently mentioned</a> as a possible successor to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Crowley runs the Queens County Democratic Party, with great influence over local elections, the courts, and government in Queens and beyond.</p> <p>Crowley touts his support for equal pay legislation, co-sponsorship of legislation mandating universal firearm background checks, and authorship of an act providing tax relief for poor renters.</p> <p>Ocasio-Cortez is challenging Crowley from his left as part of the slate of the <a href="https://www.justicedemocrats.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Justice Democrats</a>, a political action committee that supports progressive candidates who pledge to not accept corporate donations. She’s staked out her support for a federal jobs guarantee, the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and tuition-free public college.</p> <p>Both candidates tout their immigrant roots — Crowley’s family is Irish, Ocasio-Cortez’s is Puerto Rican — and their support for Medicare-for-All.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY14" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fundraising</a> gap between the two candidates is significant — with $2.78 million on hand compared to Ocasio-Cortez’s $116,000, Crowley’s outraised his opponent almost twenty-four times over.</p> <p>“It's a major David-vs-Goliath tale for the soul of the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/SandersForPresident/comments/6ftvhu/hey_reddit_i_am_alexandria_ocasiocortez_us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a blog post</a> on Reddit. “We are going to have to choose whether we will continue down the path of corporate patronage or return to the Democratic spirit of our governance.”</p> <p>The two Democrats will debate on NY1 television on Friday June 15.</p> <p><strong>Races Outside New York City: Districts 1, 19, 22, and 24</strong><br />The Cook Political Report carefully&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cookpolitical.com/ratings/house-race-ratings" target="_blank" rel="noopener">designates</a>&nbsp;“competitive” House races and lists a few New York races outside the five boroughs.</p> <p>In Long Island’s 1st District, five Democrats are running for their party’s nomination. Perry Gershon, a former businessman who <a href="https://www.perrygershon.com/about/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">says</a> he was inspired by Trump’s election to “set out to personally fight for change,” has raised more <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary?cycle=2018&amp;id=NY01" target="_blank" rel="noopener">money</a> than all his competitors combined. The winner of the contested primary will face off against two-term Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin, who <a href="https://www.newsday.com/long-island/politics/spin-cycle/emily-s-list-declares-rep-zeldin-on-notice-for-2016-1.10496400" target="_blank" rel="noopener">co-sponsored a ban on abortions</a> after 20 weeks and voted to defund Planned Parenthood.</p> <p>Voters in the 19th District, which comprises of much of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, will choose from seven Democrats competing for a chance to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. John Faso in the general election.</p> <p>The district backed Barack Obama in 2012 but favored Donald Trump in 2016, and its past three representatives have been Republican. Most recently, Faso defeated Democrat Zephyr Teachout in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/new-york-house-district-19-teachout-faso" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2016</a>.</p> <p>The Democratic candidates <a href="http://wamc.org/post/listen-ny-19-democratic-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">debated each other this past Thursday on WAMC</a>, a public radio network headquartered in Albany, for nearly two hours, regarding topics ranging from the environment to health care.</p> <p>In District 22, another vital district that the national Democratic Party is prioritizing, Assemblymember Anthony Brindisi is challenging Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney in what <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/New_York%27s_22nd_Congressional_District_election,_2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener">looks to be a tight race</a>.</p> <p>In District 24, which includes a chunk of central New York, Democrats <a href="https://electdanabalter.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Dana Balter</a> and <a href="https://voteforjuanita.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Juanita Perez Williams</a> are competing for the chance to challenge Republican Rep. John Katko in the general.</p> <p>Districts 22 and 24 are also on the Democratic Party’s “Red to Blue” list.</p> <p><strong>National</strong><br />The Democratic Party is hoping to gain control of the House of Representatives through November’s general elections. Currently, <a href="https://pressgallery.house.gov/member-data/party-breakdown" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the House</a> is composed of 235 Republicans and 193 Democrats with seven vacancies. Democrats see several recent elections results, in New York and elsewhere, as encouraging in their efforts to flip the House this year, including through a few New York wins.</p> <p>New York Governor Andrew Cuomo <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7434-2018-will-be-a-busy-contentious-election-year-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">spoke at a rally last year</a> with House Minority Leader Pelosi, of California, and other Democratic leaders to announce a movement to flip six New York House seats from red to blue. Cuomo vowed to unseat New York Representatives Lee Zeldin (CD1), John Faso (CD19), Elise Stefanik (CD21), Claudia Tenney (CD22), and Tom Reed (CD23), and Chris Collins (CD27). The districts represented by Reps. Stefanik, Reed, and Collins are generally regarded as safely Republican.</p> <p><em>You can find your local polling station <a href="https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>.</em></p> <p>***<br />by Jordan Kimmel and Daniel Yadin</p> <p>

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by Jordan Kimmel, Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

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Teachout Launches Attorney General Campaign with Focus on Trump 2018-06-05T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-05T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7714:teachout-launches-attorney-general-campaign-with-focus-on-trump Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/zephyr_teachout_launch_pic_ben_b.jpg" alt="zephyr teachout AG launch trump tower" width="600" height="364" /></p> <p>Zephyr Teachout at her campaign launch (photo: Ben Brachfeld)</p> <hr /> <p>Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law professor and 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, officially launched her campaign for New York State Attorney General on Tuesday near Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, promising to take a hard line on the “unconstitutional” policies of President Donald Trump while also taking on corruption in Albany and on Wall Street.</p> <p>The announcement capped off nearly a month of exploration and initial campaigning by Teachout after the post was suddenly vacated by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in May amid allegations, reported by <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/four-women-accuse-new-yorks-attorney-general-of-physical-abuse">The New Yorker</a>, that he had physically and emotionally abused four women.</p> <p>Teachout, who stepped down from her post as treasurer for the Cynthia Nixon campaign for governor to run for attorney general, listed her top four priorities in seeking to become the state’s top legal officer: “fighting Trump, taking on Albany corruption, fighting corporate scams and corporate monopolies, and spearheading the moral argument against mass incarceration,” but she largely focused her kickoff remarks on how she plans to take on the president.</p> <p>“I have been in the legal fight against Trump’s lawless actions from the moment he was elected, and I am fully ready to lead that fight for the people of New York,” Teachout said. “I will be relentless, independent, ethical, and swift, acting without fear or favor. I will use law as a sword, not just a shield.”</p> <p>In the wake of Trump’s election, Schneiderman constructed a national reputation as a crusader against the Trump administration, suing the administration in court over such policies and actions as the Muslim travel ban, EPA regulatory rollbacks, and the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, to name just a few.</p> <p>But Teachout says that Schneiderman did not do enough, and that he did not use the strong anti-corruption and anti-fraud laws at the disposal of the New York Attorney General to prosecute Trump personally at the state level for activities related to his businesses. She said she spoke with Schneiderman twice, asking him to join a lawsuit against Trump on the basis of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and the fact that the alleged crimes occurred in New York. She says that Schneiderman declined, and that he adopted a “defensive” litigation strategy instead of a more aggressive one targeting Trump personally.</p> <p>“New York, which should have been the lead on a parallel suit, did not bring a case,” Teachout said.</p> <p>Trump has controversially declined to divest from his businesses as president, raising constitutional questions due to foreign investment involved in his business empire, which includes real estate holdings in numerous countries. Teachout hopes to obtain a court order mandating that Trump divest. “The president and his businesses are not above the law,” she said.</p> <p>“We will not wait to investigate. We will aggressively investigate violations of these laws and others,” Teachout said, referring to the state level anti-fraud laws, “digging into every file cabinet, finding every report tacked to the back of a real estate filing, always being ready to use our full criminal and civil powers to protect the rule of law for the people of New York.”</p> <p>Teachout also differentiated herself in the Trump fight by saying she would go after New York real estate and finance, which she said was the “conduit” through which Trump was able to commit his alleged crimes.</p> <p>“Trump’s power didn’t grow out of nothing,” she said. “It grew out of New York finance and New York real estate. So investigating his real power, his businesses, means being ready to look under the hood at New York finance and New York real estate.”</p> <p>“It is through the Trump Organization, headquartered here in New York,” she said, “that he has turned the presidency into a personal ATM, engaging in business deals aimed at funneling money from foreign governments into his own pockets. Here, he has turned our democracy into a kleptocracy.”</p> <p>Teachout officially joins a Democratic primary featuring <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7677-letitia-james-launches-campaign-for-attorney-general">Letitia James</a>, the New York City Public Advocate, who has won the endorsement of the State Democratic Party, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and several labor unions, as well as Leecia Eve, a former candidate for lieutenant governor and advisor to Hillary Clinton, and, likely, U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who is widely expected to enter the race.</p> <p>The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Keith Wofford and other candidates from smaller parties in the general election.</p> <p>The Working Families Party (WFP), the progressive third party that endorsed Nixon for governor, announced its intention to stay <a href="https://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/282343/wfp-installs-placeholder-for-attorney-general-backs-both-james-teachout/">neutral</a> in a primary involving James and Teachout, two candidates that the party has ties to. James, who won her first elected office on the WFP line, said soon after launching her campaign that she <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/05/16/letitia-james-wont-seek-working-families-party-line/">would not seek</a> the endorsement of the WFP, which is locked in battle with Cuomo due to its endorsement of Nixon and the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/13/nyregion/cuomo-nixon-wfp-labor-governor-election.html">contemporaneous flight</a> of Cuomo-linked labor unions from the party. The WFP hopes to give its ballot line to the winner of the Democratic primary and help that candidate win the general.</p> <p>The gulf in policy positions between James and Teachout is also not as clear-cut as that between Cuomo and Nixon, and the campaign is in an earlier stage than the gubernatorial primary. Thus far, James and Teachout have avoided criticism of each other.</p> <p>Teachout used the launch to bolster her credentials, highlighting her intimate familiarity with the law and her role in the Emoluments Clause lawsuit.</p> <p>“Even before Donald Trump took office,” she said during a question-and-answer session with reporters after her prepared remarks, “I was in the fight against his coming corruption and lawlessness. I helped build the legal team and was on the legal team that brought the lawsuit against Donald Trump three days after he took office. When I talk to New Yorkers, one of the things they tell me is they want New York to stand tall for the rule of law, to be the living counter-argument, and not merely to be defensive as this threat comes towards us.”</p> <p>Teachout’s campaign rhetoric suggests that she would continue the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6939-the-evolving-powers-of-the-new-york-attorney-general">recent tradition</a> whereby the New York Attorney General’s office is a bully pulpit from which to challenge entrenched power in both government and the private sector. Schneiderman and his two immediate predecessors, Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer, used the once sleepy office -- which has many less-headline grabbing responsibilities -- to loudly prosecute Wall Street and corporate malfeasance, and policies of the federal government that the office viewed as unconstitutional.</p> <p>Teachout’s tweets of late have suggested that she would do those things, and also focus on state-level crime in the capital. She has made it clear that she would pursue an anti-corruption agenda in New York government, attempting to root out what has been a pernicious problem.</p> <p>A <a href="https://twitter.com/ZephyrTeachout">series of tweets</a> by Teachout on Tuesday morning urged voters to “care about your State AG” if they care about climate change, workers’ rights, “fraud, scams, and privacy violations,” “the crisis of mass incarceration and law enforcement accountability,” and if voters “want new, fearless 21st century trustbusting.”</p> <p>Teachout has twice lost elections in recent years. In 2014, she ran and lost the Democratic primary for governor to Cuomo, though she unexpectedly won 34 percent of the primary vote against the incumbent governor, despite having little name recognition, funding, or media coverage.</p> <p>In 2016, Teachout, with the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/03/zephyr-teachout-new-york-congress-progressive-bernie-sanders-endorsed">endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders</a>, ran for Congress in New York’s 19th District, a seat being vacated by Republican Chris Gibson. Teachout lost to Republican John Faso in the general election, 54 to 46 percent.</p> <p>Despite these setbacks, Teachout was taking on something of a role of progressive icon in New York elections before launching her attorney general campaign. She endorsed Nixon almost immediately after she launched her campaign, and she recently endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress in the 14th District. Ocasio-Cortez is attempting to oust Joe Crowley, the head of the Queens Democratic Party who has been spoken of as a potential future Speaker of the House. The two campaigns may also now be advantages as she attempts to win a statewide primary, given that she has built some name recognition with voters, an extensive campaign email list, and ties to a variety of Democratic clubs and organizations.</p> <p>Teachout said that she hopes to run a grassroots-oriented campaign, with the campaign’s “beating heart” consisting of volunteers.&nbsp;“In our first week, before I even announced publicly, we literally had thousands of contributions,” she said.</p> <p>And, Teachout is running for attorney general while pregnant, joining a number of women to do so in both this election cycle and past.</p> <p>“As many of you know, I am in the middle of my first pregnancy,” she said on Tuesday. “I have the future growing inside me, and with every kick I become more determined, and with every stretch I become more committed to fighting for freedom and justice.”</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/zephyr_teachout_launch_pic_ben_b.jpg" alt="zephyr teachout AG launch trump tower" width="600" height="364" /></p> <p>Zephyr Teachout at her campaign launch (photo: Ben Brachfeld)</p> <hr /> <p>Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law professor and 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, officially launched her campaign for New York State Attorney General on Tuesday near Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, promising to take a hard line on the “unconstitutional” policies of President Donald Trump while also taking on corruption in Albany and on Wall Street.</p> <p>The announcement capped off nearly a month of exploration and initial campaigning by Teachout after the post was suddenly vacated by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in May amid allegations, reported by <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/four-women-accuse-new-yorks-attorney-general-of-physical-abuse">The New Yorker</a>, that he had physically and emotionally abused four women.</p> <p>Teachout, who stepped down from her post as treasurer for the Cynthia Nixon campaign for governor to run for attorney general, listed her top four priorities in seeking to become the state’s top legal officer: “fighting Trump, taking on Albany corruption, fighting corporate scams and corporate monopolies, and spearheading the moral argument against mass incarceration,” but she largely focused her kickoff remarks on how she plans to take on the president.</p> <p>“I have been in the legal fight against Trump’s lawless actions from the moment he was elected, and I am fully ready to lead that fight for the people of New York,” Teachout said. “I will be relentless, independent, ethical, and swift, acting without fear or favor. I will use law as a sword, not just a shield.”</p> <p>In the wake of Trump’s election, Schneiderman constructed a national reputation as a crusader against the Trump administration, suing the administration in court over such policies and actions as the Muslim travel ban, EPA regulatory rollbacks, and the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, to name just a few.</p> <p>But Teachout says that Schneiderman did not do enough, and that he did not use the strong anti-corruption and anti-fraud laws at the disposal of the New York Attorney General to prosecute Trump personally at the state level for activities related to his businesses. She said she spoke with Schneiderman twice, asking him to join a lawsuit against Trump on the basis of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and the fact that the alleged crimes occurred in New York. She says that Schneiderman declined, and that he adopted a “defensive” litigation strategy instead of a more aggressive one targeting Trump personally.</p> <p>“New York, which should have been the lead on a parallel suit, did not bring a case,” Teachout said.</p> <p>Trump has controversially declined to divest from his businesses as president, raising constitutional questions due to foreign investment involved in his business empire, which includes real estate holdings in numerous countries. Teachout hopes to obtain a court order mandating that Trump divest. “The president and his businesses are not above the law,” she said.</p> <p>“We will not wait to investigate. We will aggressively investigate violations of these laws and others,” Teachout said, referring to the state level anti-fraud laws, “digging into every file cabinet, finding every report tacked to the back of a real estate filing, always being ready to use our full criminal and civil powers to protect the rule of law for the people of New York.”</p> <p>Teachout also differentiated herself in the Trump fight by saying she would go after New York real estate and finance, which she said was the “conduit” through which Trump was able to commit his alleged crimes.</p> <p>“Trump’s power didn’t grow out of nothing,” she said. “It grew out of New York finance and New York real estate. So investigating his real power, his businesses, means being ready to look under the hood at New York finance and New York real estate.”</p> <p>“It is through the Trump Organization, headquartered here in New York,” she said, “that he has turned the presidency into a personal ATM, engaging in business deals aimed at funneling money from foreign governments into his own pockets. Here, he has turned our democracy into a kleptocracy.”</p> <p>Teachout officially joins a Democratic primary featuring <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7677-letitia-james-launches-campaign-for-attorney-general">Letitia James</a>, the New York City Public Advocate, who has won the endorsement of the State Democratic Party, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and several labor unions, as well as Leecia Eve, a former candidate for lieutenant governor and advisor to Hillary Clinton, and, likely, U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who is widely expected to enter the race.</p> <p>The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Keith Wofford and other candidates from smaller parties in the general election.</p> <p>The Working Families Party (WFP), the progressive third party that endorsed Nixon for governor, announced its intention to stay <a href="https://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/282343/wfp-installs-placeholder-for-attorney-general-backs-both-james-teachout/">neutral</a> in a primary involving James and Teachout, two candidates that the party has ties to. James, who won her first elected office on the WFP line, said soon after launching her campaign that she <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/05/16/letitia-james-wont-seek-working-families-party-line/">would not seek</a> the endorsement of the WFP, which is locked in battle with Cuomo due to its endorsement of Nixon and the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/13/nyregion/cuomo-nixon-wfp-labor-governor-election.html">contemporaneous flight</a> of Cuomo-linked labor unions from the party. The WFP hopes to give its ballot line to the winner of the Democratic primary and help that candidate win the general.</p> <p>The gulf in policy positions between James and Teachout is also not as clear-cut as that between Cuomo and Nixon, and the campaign is in an earlier stage than the gubernatorial primary. Thus far, James and Teachout have avoided criticism of each other.</p> <p>Teachout used the launch to bolster her credentials, highlighting her intimate familiarity with the law and her role in the Emoluments Clause lawsuit.</p> <p>“Even before Donald Trump took office,” she said during a question-and-answer session with reporters after her prepared remarks, “I was in the fight against his coming corruption and lawlessness. I helped build the legal team and was on the legal team that brought the lawsuit against Donald Trump three days after he took office. When I talk to New Yorkers, one of the things they tell me is they want New York to stand tall for the rule of law, to be the living counter-argument, and not merely to be defensive as this threat comes towards us.”</p> <p>Teachout’s campaign rhetoric suggests that she would continue the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6939-the-evolving-powers-of-the-new-york-attorney-general">recent tradition</a> whereby the New York Attorney General’s office is a bully pulpit from which to challenge entrenched power in both government and the private sector. Schneiderman and his two immediate predecessors, Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer, used the once sleepy office -- which has many less-headline grabbing responsibilities -- to loudly prosecute Wall Street and corporate malfeasance, and policies of the federal government that the office viewed as unconstitutional.</p> <p>Teachout’s tweets of late have suggested that she would do those things, and also focus on state-level crime in the capital. She has made it clear that she would pursue an anti-corruption agenda in New York government, attempting to root out what has been a pernicious problem.</p> <p>A <a href="https://twitter.com/ZephyrTeachout">series of tweets</a> by Teachout on Tuesday morning urged voters to “care about your State AG” if they care about climate change, workers’ rights, “fraud, scams, and privacy violations,” “the crisis of mass incarceration and law enforcement accountability,” and if voters “want new, fearless 21st century trustbusting.”</p> <p>Teachout has twice lost elections in recent years. In 2014, she ran and lost the Democratic primary for governor to Cuomo, though she unexpectedly won 34 percent of the primary vote against the incumbent governor, despite having little name recognition, funding, or media coverage.</p> <p>In 2016, Teachout, with the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/03/zephyr-teachout-new-york-congress-progressive-bernie-sanders-endorsed">endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders</a>, ran for Congress in New York’s 19th District, a seat being vacated by Republican Chris Gibson. Teachout lost to Republican John Faso in the general election, 54 to 46 percent.</p> <p>Despite these setbacks, Teachout was taking on something of a role of progressive icon in New York elections before launching her attorney general campaign. She endorsed Nixon almost immediately after she launched her campaign, and she recently endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress in the 14th District. Ocasio-Cortez is attempting to oust Joe Crowley, the head of the Queens Democratic Party who has been spoken of as a potential future Speaker of the House. The two campaigns may also now be advantages as she attempts to win a statewide primary, given that she has built some name recognition with voters, an extensive campaign email list, and ties to a variety of Democratic clubs and organizations.</p> <p>Teachout said that she hopes to run a grassroots-oriented campaign, with the campaign’s “beating heart” consisting of volunteers.&nbsp;“In our first week, before I even announced publicly, we literally had thousands of contributions,” she said.</p> <p>And, Teachout is running for attorney general while pregnant, joining a number of women to do so in both this election cycle and past.</p> <p>“As many of you know, I am in the middle of my first pregnancy,” she said on Tuesday. “I have the future growing inside me, and with every kick I become more determined, and with every stretch I become more committed to fighting for freedom and justice.”</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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Max & Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins 2018-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7707:max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 1, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/andrea-stewart-cousins-mxm-podcast.jpg" alt="andrea stewart cousins " width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, but has high hopes that come January, after this fall's elections, she will be the first woman and first woman of color to lead a house of the New York State Legislature.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins joined the podcast to discuss recent controversy at the state Capitol; the reasons she believes that Democratic control of the Senate would benefit New Yorkers; the Democratic "unity" deal brokered among her conference, the Independent Democratic Conference, and Governor Andrew Cuomo; and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the full 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>, and this week's guest Andrea Stewart-Cousins <a href="https://twitter.com/AndreaSCousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@AndreaSCousins</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/452297505&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="170" 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/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 1, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/andrea-stewart-cousins-mxm-podcast.jpg" alt="andrea stewart cousins " width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, but has high hopes that come January, after this fall's elections, she will be the first woman and first woman of color to lead a house of the New York State Legislature.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins joined the podcast to discuss recent controversy at the state Capitol; the reasons she believes that Democratic control of the Senate would benefit New Yorkers; the Democratic "unity" deal brokered among her conference, the Independent Democratic Conference, and Governor Andrew Cuomo; and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the full 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>, and this week's guest Andrea Stewart-Cousins <a href="https://twitter.com/AndreaSCousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@AndreaSCousins</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/452297505&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="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Inside Cynthia Nixon’s Developing Campaign Infrastructure 2018-05-30T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-30T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7702:inside-cynthia-nixon-s-developing-campaign-infrastructure Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/nixon_facebook_new_paltz.jpg" alt="Cynthia Nixon Facebook rally" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Nixon in New Paltz (photo: Cynthia for New York Facebook)</p> <hr /> <p>If elected governor, Cynthia Nixon is promising to “transform New York" into a state “for the many” but her campaign for governor is already rapidly transforming the landscape of New York politics. She is putting pressure on incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo, whom she hopes to defeat in the Democratic primary, and broadening her supporter base by linking up with the Working Families Party and other liberal groups that have endorsed her.</p> <p>Three-and-a-half months from the September 13 primary, Nixon and her allies are plotting and executing a developing plan to create a statewide network and the campaign infrastructure necessary to carry her to what would be one of the most shocking upsets in recent political history.</p> <p>The effort has begun through Nixon’s early campaigning, including house parties and speaking appearances at rallies, marches, and meetings of clubs and other organizations, as well as organizing calls, e-blasts, and campaign website portals. Nixon has also done several interviews with national magazines and television programs. Much of the still-growing campaign’s activity is being coordinated with the Working Families Party (WFP), which comes with ready-built infrastructure around the state and an extensive email list of supporters.</p> <p>A key first task for the coordinated campaign is collecting the signatures necessary to get Nixon onto the Democratic primary ballot, an essential effort that can complement and significantly boost other tasks leading toward the September vote. Several petitioning kickoff trainings are among about a dozen events across the state currently scheduled by the WFP-Nixon campaign, designed to equip volunteers with the tools to collect signatures and increase voter turnout.</p> <p><strong>Ballot Signatures and Voter Turnout Goals</strong><br />According to Nixon and WFP leaders, the campaign is a grassroots, volunteer-driven effort, that’s accepting no contributions from big corporations or through the infamous loophole in state campaign finance law that allows limited liability companies (LLCs) to donate virtually unlimited funds without naming their owners. The campaign itself is designed to position Nixon in stark contrast to Cuomo, who has relied on large donors, benefited greatly from the loophole, and, critics say, retains shallow support among many of the New Yorkers who have backed him in the past.</p> <p>"Cynthia's campaign is laser-focused on building a strong, statewide volunteer team,” Nixon campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in a Tuesday statement to Gotham Gazette. “We know we'll never get close to out-raising Governor Cuomo with his millions in donations from Wall Street and real estate developers, but we are confident we will out-organize him with a robust voter-to-voter contact operation.”</p> <p>Nixon has captured the support of a growing list of progressive groups and liberal Democratic clubs, bolstering her attempt to lay the groundwork for the type of campaign need to give her any chance at victory. Her campaign, in conjunction with those groups, especially the WFP, is now accelerating its volunteer-recruitment efforts, organizing events around the state, and raising money.</p> <p>“We have community activists on the ground,” Nixon told an open campaign call on Thursday, May 24, run by her own campaign but promoted via email by the WFP. A press release from Nixon’s campaign following the call said more than 600 participants had logged on to watch her speak about the campaign’s next steps and the ways she aims to create change if elected. “We have community groups who know the creative solutions…the community-based solutions” to New York’s problems, she told participants.</p> <p>The conversation came a day after the Democratic state convention, at which Nixon <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7695-rallying-volunteers-nixon-responds-to-democratic-convention-result" target="_blank">failed to receive enough support</a> from state Democratic Party committee members for an automatic spot on the primary election ballot. Nixon said the convention result was “unsurprising” and is determined to make the ballot through collecting petition signatures. She needs 15,000 valid signatures from registered Democrats across the state to qualify for a ballot line, including “at least 100 or 5% of enrolled voters from each of one-half of the congressional districts,” according to the <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/law/2016RunningForElectiveOffice.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Board of Elections</a>. She told the call she aims to collect 50,000 signatures “as a show of force and enthusiasm.”</p> <p>In large part a call to action, Nixon also outlined for the first time the overarching structure of her campaign and its underlying goals, including the upcoming petition drive and to increase voter turnout for the September primaries. Just under 600,000 people voted in the 2014 primaries, the last gubernatorial election year, when Cuomo defeated little-known and under-funded Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, by a 62-34 percent margin (Randy Credico received 4 percent) in a surprisingly strong showing by the challenger.</p> <p>A campaign representative and the facilitator of Thursday’s call, referred to as "Caroline," said they’re expecting voter turnout for the Democratic primary to increase to “anywhere from around 700,000 voters up to a little over 900,000 voters” this year. She said that “a bigger turnout helps us, we know that…the more people who vote, the more likely we are to bring in folks who are drop-off voters, perhaps who are people who don’t typically vote in a midterm a election. They’re not the stalwart Democratic voters, so our strategy is to expand the electorate.”</p> <p>Nixon said previously the campaign’s strategy to do this will rely heavily on volunteers, telling a WFP call on May 3, “We are going to win this with people, like the people on this call, going out and talking to people on the streets, and door-knocking, and phone banking, and talking to people in their offices and…in their families.”</p> <p><strong>Nixon’s Four Phases</strong><br />The first objective for Nixon’s campaign was “about getting out there, and having people meet Cynthia as the ‘real Cynthia’ not as the ‘actor Cynthia’,” Caroline explained on Thursday’s call.</p> <p>Referring to this as “phase one”, Nixon said she travelled around the state meeting people and “hearing about the issues and the work that people are doing on the ground…and the solutions they see to their problems.” This has been key in re-establishing Nixon - who is known for her work starring in Sex and The City - as a candidate for the highest office in the state fighting for the rights of New Yorkers who’ve been let down by Cuomo.</p> <p>The WFP also played a critical role during this phase in connecting Nixon with various communities. The party hosted an introductory call on May 3 for Nixon and Council City Member Jumaane Williams — who the WFP has endorsed in his bid for Lieutenant Governor. According to a WFP press release following the call, 20,000 activists from more than 100 organizing parties across the state signed in to listen to the candidates discuss how they plan to “transform New York” if elected.</p> <p>Though they spoke consecutively on the call, and also at the WFP state convention in Harlem on May 19, Nixon and Williams have been careful to avoid any declaration that they are running as a ticket. It’s unclear when, or if, the pair of WFP-endorsed candidates seeking to topple sitting Democrats will link up. In party primaries, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately, but the winners do run as a ticket in the general election.</p> <p>“Phase two,” listeners on Thursday’s call were told, started directly after the May 23-24 Democratic state convention and will run until July 12 when petitions for a place on the ballot are due to be handed in to the State Board of Elections. It will see the Nixon campaign, the WFP, and other partners train and organize a massive volunteer network across the state, to collect signatures and form the backbone of the campaign thereafter.</p> <p>“Governor Cuomo may have a $31 million campaign warchest on his side — but we have a grassroots movement,” read the e-blast sent out Tuesday by the WFP to recruit participants to help the “movement” pass “the first test of our campaign,” collecting the signatures.</p> <p>There is a “petitioning kickoff” event on Wednesday, May 30, in West Village, New York City — run by the WFP for Nixon and Williams — where volunteers will be given initial training on how to door knock; send text messages; work the phones; and speak to groups of people to rally support for Nixon ahead of the primaries.</p> <p>And an <a href="https://cynthiafornewyork.com/training-campaign-events-for-cynthia/">interactive map</a> on both the ‘Cynthia for New York’ and the WFP’s ‘New York 4 the Many’ websites shows similar training events are being held across the state -- in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Owego, Lake George, Albany, Kingston, Nyack, Athens, Long Island, and several in New York City -- over the next week, all designed to train volunteers to collect signatures in support of Nixon and Williams.</p> <p>“Petitioning is the first phase of testing and strengthening the infrastructure we've been building for the last 2.5 months,” Hitt told Gotham Gazette. “We currently have 2,800 volunteers. Of those, 150 are Super Volunteers, who are responsible for leading the petitioning and voter contact plan in their geographic hub. We have multiple Super Volunteers in every congressional district.”</p> <p>Beyond the petition deadline, from July through August, “phase three” of the campaign will involve an intensive multi-contact voter plan. “We’re going to be going door knocking, we’ll be phone banking and we’ll be texting our universe of voters to identify them and persuade them to be our supporters,” Caroline said on Thursday’s call. The final phase of the campaign, starting in September, will focus on the final ‘get out the vote’ push.</p> <p><strong>A Growing Network of Groups</strong><br />Though the WFP is assisting in the training of volunteers, and is perhaps the most powerful group to so far endorse Nixon, it is not alone in its support of her candidacy. The regularly growing list of organizations backing Nixon, and the participation of these groups in raising awareness, offering volunteers, and activating voters will be essential to her chances. There is no doubt that Nixon faces extremely uphill odds, especially considering Cuomo has the powers of incumbency, including overflowing coffers, near-universal name recognition, the perch of his office, an extensive party apparatus, including many local clubs, and support from a long list of labor unions.</p> <p>Speaking on the Thursday call, Stephanie Woodward, director for advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, said the disabled community is “frustrated with having a governor who’s ignoring our issues.” Woodward touched on several, including her contention that under Cuomo the state budget sees disabled people pushed into nursing homes because the state will cover the costs of “permanent placement”; the inaccessibility of the subway system to disabled people; the low wages, through Medicaid, given to disability attendants; and the lack of accessible housing in New York. Her group is hosting a petition drive and aims to reach 10,000 signatures to help Nixon land a spot on the Democratic ballot.</p> <p>Wanda Salaman, executive director at Mothers on the Move, also spoke on the call, telling listeners she is reaching out to a network of churches and community groups in the Bronx with a goal of delivering 20,000 signatures to Nixon’s bid for a place on the primary ballot, which as of now may only include Cuomo and Nixon, if she qualifies.</p> <p>Jamaica Miles, the Lead Organizer at the capital district branch of Citizen Action of New York — an affiliate organization of the WFP — told listeners that the response to the Albany petition kickoff event has been so impressive, they’re looking at another location to hold more people. Citizen Action and Nixon, along with other partners, have a long history in advocating for education equity, especially in funding for poor schools. According to its website, Citizen Action has more than 30,000 members across the state, and Miles said she is hoping to secure 5,000 signatures in Albany alone.</p> <p>As well as Citizen Action, Nixon has been endorsed by other WFP affiliates with considerable member networks, such as New York Communities for Change (NYCC), which focuses on affordable housing, and Make the Road Action, which focuses on immigrant communities. Citizen Action is also affiliated with the state’s Public Policy and Education Fund and the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), a group Nixon has worked with for many years and that hosted her at a press conference in Albany several days after she launched her campaign in March. A leader of AQE, Zakiyah Ansari, nominated Nixon at the state Democratic convention, where she received about 5 percent of the state committee vote.</p> <p>A variety of other groups have also publicly declared their support for Nixon, such as the national organization launched by Senator Bernie Sanders in mid-2016, Our Revolution, which has more than 30 local groups in New York. In endorsing Nixon on May 15, its president, Nina Turner, <a href="http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/Bernie-Sanders-Group-Endorses-Cynthia-Nixon-for-New-York-Governor.htmlhttp://www.governing.com/topics/politics/Bernie-Sanders-Group-Endorses-Cynthia-Nixon-for-New-York-Governor.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">said Nixon is</a> “a bold progressive who is running in the spirit of Bernie Sanders.” The New York Progressive Action Network, which also grew out of the Sanders movement, endorsed Nixon in mid-April, and has 35 chapters and affiliates across the state, including Black Lives Matter of Greater New York and the LGBTQ-focused Jim Owles Democratic Club.</p> <p>In April, the leader of The Black Institute, Bertha Lewis, endorsed Nixon, telling <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/04/09/left-wing-activist-endorses-cynthia-nixon-over-cuomo/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The New York Post</a> that Cuomo “talks a good game” but is not a real progressive. On Tuesday, environmentalist author Bill McKibben and his grassroots environmental group 350 Action announced their support of Nixon for governor.</p> <p>Members and supporters of these and other groups are now seeing Nixon, a first-time candidate for elected office, as a valid choice, receiving information about her by email and in their social media feeds, highlighted by alignment on issues they care about. The Nixon campaign is counting on these endorsements and subsequent networking as key components in its bid to unseat a two-term incumbent with a long political resume, deep knowledge of issues and regions of the state, experience in running a government, and an extensive rolodex of potentially helpful surrogates and validators.</p> <p>As well as more formal organizations, there are communities that, through the campaign’s website, have created their own “hubs” of volunteers. Dozens of teachers have listed their names under #Educators4Cynthia. Also listed on the website are hubs for organizing under #Tenants4Cynthia, #Students4Cynthia, and an LGBTQ Pride Hub.</p> <p>“We have an innovative hub model where people can organize by constituency or issue,” Hitt told Gotham Gazette, adding there are currently 10 hubs involved in the campaign.</p> <p>A member of #Students4Cynthia, Carlos Jesus Calzadilla, told the Thursday call he is planning to recruit student leaders across the City University of New York (CUNY) and the State University of New York (SUNY) and run meetups on different college campuses. He also aims to organize a presence at high-traffic public events, such as parades and concerts.</p> <p>Calzadilla said “students have been at the forefront of social change throughout history” and&nbsp;slammed Cuomo for underfunding public schools. He called the Excelsior Scholarship — a Cuomo initiative affording many middle-class students tuition-free enrollment at public universities — a “fake free college experience that [Cuomo] talks about because the reality is barely anyone qualifies for it.”</p> <p><strong>Campaign Funding</strong><br />Even with volunteerism, networking, and grassroots advocacy, the campaign effort requires significant funds. Nixon is hoping that her decision not to take corporate donations will help boost her efforts to attract small donors, though she also appears to be holding fundraisers where wealthy individuals, like those in the entertainment world, may be willing to provide large contributions. New York has high donation limits, whereby an individual <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/Finance/2018ContributionLimits.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">can give</a> up to $21,100 to a gubernatorial candidate during the primary (the limits are higher for family members of candidates).</p> <p>Nixon boasted early on of her small-donor fundraising, and using it to position herself as an outsider unmarred by the corruption of institutionalized politicians and in contract to Cuomo, who has received very few low-dollar contributions.</p> <p>In late April, the Nixon campaign announced it had received “10,000 individual donations” in six weeks of campaigning. “Of those donations, 98 percent are low-dollar donations below $200,” a press release said. “By comparison, Andrew Cuomo collected a total of just 1,369 small dollar donations since the start of 2011. Over 800 individuals have also committed to making recurring donations to Cynthia’s people-powered campaign in the months leading up to the primary on September 13.”</p> <p>On the May 3 call, Nixon said of Cuomo’s $31 million campaign fund, “just .1 percent comes from small donors,” before referencing her ‘<a href="https://cynthiafornewyork.com/issue/rent-justice-for-all/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rent Justice For All</a>’ policy platform that aims to restabilize rent in apartments that dropped out of the stabilizing system under Cuomo due to vacancy decontrol: “It is very hard to stand up against the real estate lobby when you’re getting millions of dollars from them,” Nixon said of Cuomo. “It’s very hard to do the right thing when you are getting millions of dollars to do wrong.”</p> <p>Hitt told Gotham Gazette that Nixon’s initial campaign finances will be released at the filing date in mid-July, as mandated by the state’s Board of Elections, and not before. Nixon will have to disclose the receipts of, contributions to, expenditures by, and liabilities of her campaign, including any use of her own money.</p> <p>According to a report by the <a href="https://apnews.com/16f80ad1b55442ec8fcb39638fe7078a" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Associated Press</a> on Nixon’s tax returns, which she made available to the media in early May, Nixon and her wife, Christine Marinoni, had an income of $1.5 million last year and donated around $53,000 to charity. The AP report said Nixon’s campaign claimed her true income was $1 million in 2017, as there were expenses not reflected in the return. She has thus far declined to release returns for prior years. Nixon has not given any indication that she plans to spend her own funds on her campaign.</p> <p>It’s also unclear at this point how many paid staff are working on the Nixon campaign. Hitt and Sarah Ford are both running communications and acting as spokespeople. According to <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cynthia-nixon-hiring-new-campaign-manager-weeks-run-article-1.3965552" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Daily News</a>, a new campaign manager, Hayley Prim, was hired in early May, quickly replacing the original person in that role, Nicole Aro. <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2018/04/nixon-finance-team-takes-shape/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State of Politics</a>&nbsp;reported in April that Monica Barnes is the campaign’s finance director. And consultants including Rebecca Katz of Hilltop Public Solutions and L. Joy Williams have also been actively involved with the campaign. Nixon did lose her original campaign treasurer, Teachout, who decided to step away from the role to run for attorney general after Eric Schneiderman resigned in disgrace amid allegations of physically abusing four women.</p> <p>In addition to the Nixon campaign itself, the WFP will be spending on behalf of its endorsed candidates, including Nixon. A WFP spokesperson told Gotham Gazette in April that the party raised $82,000 from 1,500 donors over the course of a week just after it became evident that the WFP was on the verge of endorsing Nixon, and that the party had around $1 million in the bank at the time.</p> <p>"We're going to be spending a couple hundred thousand to put organizers on the ground and build a massive statewide field operation,” the WFP spokesperson said. “We're not going to be putting money into television, that's not how we win. We build volunteer operations, we hire organizers, we get out the vote."</p> <p><strong>The WFP Vote</strong><br />While both Nixon and Williams have the WFP nomination and ballot line for the general election, it is not clear that either or both would run in the general election if they lose the Democratic primary. WFP leaders have maintained that the party does not intend to play a spoiler and risk helping the election of any Republicans.</p> <p>Heading toward the September primary, the WFP is also backing challengers to the former members of the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC. Nixon has repeatedly connected Cuomo to the formerly rogue Democrats who had formed a coalition government with Senate Republicans, allegedly with Cuomo’s consent, until the governor brokered a Democratic reunification just after Nixon launched her candidacy.</p> <p>It’s not clear how many New Yorkers the WFP can reach or see the WFP endorsement of Nixon as a decisive or especially influential seal of approval. There is no WFP ballot line for her in the primary, but the party appears all-in to see her win it and carry its line in the general.</p> <p>As of<a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr18.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> April 1, 2018</a>, there were 46,453 people across New York State registered to vote with the WFP, including 15,572 in New York City. This compares to 6,201,033 Democratic voters across the state, of which 3,401,637 are in New York City. According to the WFP spokesperson, these “numbers have been growing statewide, and are expected to be even higher this year.”</p> <p>In 2014, Cuomo, who was endorsed by the WFP, <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2014/general/2014Governor.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">received 126,244 votes</a> on the WFP line in the general gubernatorial election, after beating Teachout, a Fordham law professor, in the Democratic primary. In that primary, Teachout received 34 percent of the Democratic vote, <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2014/Primary/2014StateLocalPrimaryElectionResults.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">192,210 votes</a> compared to Cuomo’s 361,380.</p> <p>In 2010, Cuomo received more than <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2010/general/2010GovernorRecertified09122012.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">150,000 votes</a> on the WFP line in the general gubernatorial election.</p> <p>Though the WFP endorsed senator Bernie Sanders ahead of the 2016 primaries for the presidential election, the endorsement <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2015/12/working-families-party-endorses-sanders-overwhelmingly-000000" target="_blank" rel="noopener">didn’t come with a ballot line</a>. The party’s backing of the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, saw Clinton receive <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2016/General/2016President.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">140,043 votes</a> across New York on the WFP ballot line.</p> <p><strong>Emails and Social Media</strong><br />As the WFP and Nixon’s campaign continues bolstering numbers of volunteers and voters across the state, Nixon is running an assertive digital strategy that includes email campaigns swinging between outlining her policy positions and aggressively criticizing Cuomo. Her campaign also sends e-blasts to members of the media fact-checking the governor, as it did repeatedly during the state convention, at which he was roundly applauded and endorsed by Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and others.</p> <p>“Some of Andrew Cuomo’s well-off friends like to tell me that I should stick to acting. Personally, I think Andrew Cuomo should stop acting,” the opening line to one of Nixon’s recent emails reads. The email calls out Cuomo for failing to “clean up” Albany, and discussed the Moreland Commission into public corruption that he launched in July 2013, only to shut down eight months later amid controversy, as it had begun looking at some of Cuomo’s allies and donors and he agreed to close it in a compromise with state legislators. Nixon ended the email comparing Cuomo’s unfulfilled promise to that of President Donald Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington.</p> <p>Nixon’s campaign is active on social media, using her Twitter and Facebook accounts to criticize Cuomo, respond to supporters, share relevant news that fits her campaign narrative, point followers to her website, and highlight her policy positions and endorsements.</p> <p>“Andrew Cuomo is running paid Facebook ads on a sexual harassment policy,” Nixon <a href="https://twitter.com/CynthiaNixon/status/1001852170281635840" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tweeted</a> on Wednesday. “We need a governor who will actually break down gender barriers — not reinforce them — and when I am her, I will never break your trust.”</p> <p>

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by Caitlin Bishop, Gotham Gazette
@caitybishop  @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/nixon_facebook_new_paltz.jpg" alt="Cynthia Nixon Facebook rally" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Nixon in New Paltz (photo: Cynthia for New York Facebook)</p> <hr /> <p>If elected governor, Cynthia Nixon is promising to “transform New York" into a state “for the many” but her campaign for governor is already rapidly transforming the landscape of New York politics. She is putting pressure on incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo, whom she hopes to defeat in the Democratic primary, and broadening her supporter base by linking up with the Working Families Party and other liberal groups that have endorsed her.</p> <p>Three-and-a-half months from the September 13 primary, Nixon and her allies are plotting and executing a developing plan to create a statewide network and the campaign infrastructure necessary to carry her to what would be one of the most shocking upsets in recent political history.</p> <p>The effort has begun through Nixon’s early campaigning, including house parties and speaking appearances at rallies, marches, and meetings of clubs and other organizations, as well as organizing calls, e-blasts, and campaign website portals. Nixon has also done several interviews with national magazines and television programs. Much of the still-growing campaign’s activity is being coordinated with the Working Families Party (WFP), which comes with ready-built infrastructure around the state and an extensive email list of supporters.</p> <p>A key first task for the coordinated campaign is collecting the signatures necessary to get Nixon onto the Democratic primary ballot, an essential effort that can complement and significantly boost other tasks leading toward the September vote. Several petitioning kickoff trainings are among about a dozen events across the state currently scheduled by the WFP-Nixon campaign, designed to equip volunteers with the tools to collect signatures and increase voter turnout.</p> <p><strong>Ballot Signatures and Voter Turnout Goals</strong><br />According to Nixon and WFP leaders, the campaign is a grassroots, volunteer-driven effort, that’s accepting no contributions from big corporations or through the infamous loophole in state campaign finance law that allows limited liability companies (LLCs) to donate virtually unlimited funds without naming their owners. The campaign itself is designed to position Nixon in stark contrast to Cuomo, who has relied on large donors, benefited greatly from the loophole, and, critics say, retains shallow support among many of the New Yorkers who have backed him in the past.</p> <p>"Cynthia's campaign is laser-focused on building a strong, statewide volunteer team,” Nixon campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in a Tuesday statement to Gotham Gazette. “We know we'll never get close to out-raising Governor Cuomo with his millions in donations from Wall Street and real estate developers, but we are confident we will out-organize him with a robust voter-to-voter contact operation.”</p> <p>Nixon has captured the support of a growing list of progressive groups and liberal Democratic clubs, bolstering her attempt to lay the groundwork for the type of campaign need to give her any chance at victory. Her campaign, in conjunction with those groups, especially the WFP, is now accelerating its volunteer-recruitment efforts, organizing events around the state, and raising money.</p> <p>“We have community activists on the ground,” Nixon told an open campaign call on Thursday, May 24, run by her own campaign but promoted via email by the WFP. A press release from Nixon’s campaign following the call said more than 600 participants had logged on to watch her speak about the campaign’s next steps and the ways she aims to create change if elected. “We have community groups who know the creative solutions…the community-based solutions” to New York’s problems, she told participants.</p> <p>The conversation came a day after the Democratic state convention, at which Nixon <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7695-rallying-volunteers-nixon-responds-to-democratic-convention-result" target="_blank">failed to receive enough support</a> from state Democratic Party committee members for an automatic spot on the primary election ballot. Nixon said the convention result was “unsurprising” and is determined to make the ballot through collecting petition signatures. She needs 15,000 valid signatures from registered Democrats across the state to qualify for a ballot line, including “at least 100 or 5% of enrolled voters from each of one-half of the congressional districts,” according to the <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/law/2016RunningForElectiveOffice.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Board of Elections</a>. She told the call she aims to collect 50,000 signatures “as a show of force and enthusiasm.”</p> <p>In large part a call to action, Nixon also outlined for the first time the overarching structure of her campaign and its underlying goals, including the upcoming petition drive and to increase voter turnout for the September primaries. Just under 600,000 people voted in the 2014 primaries, the last gubernatorial election year, when Cuomo defeated little-known and under-funded Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, by a 62-34 percent margin (Randy Credico received 4 percent) in a surprisingly strong showing by the challenger.</p> <p>A campaign representative and the facilitator of Thursday’s call, referred to as "Caroline," said they’re expecting voter turnout for the Democratic primary to increase to “anywhere from around 700,000 voters up to a little over 900,000 voters” this year. She said that “a bigger turnout helps us, we know that…the more people who vote, the more likely we are to bring in folks who are drop-off voters, perhaps who are people who don’t typically vote in a midterm a election. They’re not the stalwart Democratic voters, so our strategy is to expand the electorate.”</p> <p>Nixon said previously the campaign’s strategy to do this will rely heavily on volunteers, telling a WFP call on May 3, “We are going to win this with people, like the people on this call, going out and talking to people on the streets, and door-knocking, and phone banking, and talking to people in their offices and…in their families.”</p> <p><strong>Nixon’s Four Phases</strong><br />The first objective for Nixon’s campaign was “about getting out there, and having people meet Cynthia as the ‘real Cynthia’ not as the ‘actor Cynthia’,” Caroline explained on Thursday’s call.</p> <p>Referring to this as “phase one”, Nixon said she travelled around the state meeting people and “hearing about the issues and the work that people are doing on the ground…and the solutions they see to their problems.” This has been key in re-establishing Nixon - who is known for her work starring in Sex and The City - as a candidate for the highest office in the state fighting for the rights of New Yorkers who’ve been let down by Cuomo.</p> <p>The WFP also played a critical role during this phase in connecting Nixon with various communities. The party hosted an introductory call on May 3 for Nixon and Council City Member Jumaane Williams — who the WFP has endorsed in his bid for Lieutenant Governor. According to a WFP press release following the call, 20,000 activists from more than 100 organizing parties across the state signed in to listen to the candidates discuss how they plan to “transform New York” if elected.</p> <p>Though they spoke consecutively on the call, and also at the WFP state convention in Harlem on May 19, Nixon and Williams have been careful to avoid any declaration that they are running as a ticket. It’s unclear when, or if, the pair of WFP-endorsed candidates seeking to topple sitting Democrats will link up. In party primaries, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately, but the winners do run as a ticket in the general election.</p> <p>“Phase two,” listeners on Thursday’s call were told, started directly after the May 23-24 Democratic state convention and will run until July 12 when petitions for a place on the ballot are due to be handed in to the State Board of Elections. It will see the Nixon campaign, the WFP, and other partners train and organize a massive volunteer network across the state, to collect signatures and form the backbone of the campaign thereafter.</p> <p>“Governor Cuomo may have a $31 million campaign warchest on his side — but we have a grassroots movement,” read the e-blast sent out Tuesday by the WFP to recruit participants to help the “movement” pass “the first test of our campaign,” collecting the signatures.</p> <p>There is a “petitioning kickoff” event on Wednesday, May 30, in West Village, New York City — run by the WFP for Nixon and Williams — where volunteers will be given initial training on how to door knock; send text messages; work the phones; and speak to groups of people to rally support for Nixon ahead of the primaries.</p> <p>And an <a href="https://cynthiafornewyork.com/training-campaign-events-for-cynthia/">interactive map</a> on both the ‘Cynthia for New York’ and the WFP’s ‘New York 4 the Many’ websites shows similar training events are being held across the state -- in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Owego, Lake George, Albany, Kingston, Nyack, Athens, Long Island, and several in New York City -- over the next week, all designed to train volunteers to collect signatures in support of Nixon and Williams.</p> <p>“Petitioning is the first phase of testing and strengthening the infrastructure we've been building for the last 2.5 months,” Hitt told Gotham Gazette. “We currently have 2,800 volunteers. Of those, 150 are Super Volunteers, who are responsible for leading the petitioning and voter contact plan in their geographic hub. We have multiple Super Volunteers in every congressional district.”</p> <p>Beyond the petition deadline, from July through August, “phase three” of the campaign will involve an intensive multi-contact voter plan. “We’re going to be going door knocking, we’ll be phone banking and we’ll be texting our universe of voters to identify them and persuade them to be our supporters,” Caroline said on Thursday’s call. The final phase of the campaign, starting in September, will focus on the final ‘get out the vote’ push.</p> <p><strong>A Growing Network of Groups</strong><br />Though the WFP is assisting in the training of volunteers, and is perhaps the most powerful group to so far endorse Nixon, it is not alone in its support of her candidacy. The regularly growing list of organizations backing Nixon, and the participation of these groups in raising awareness, offering volunteers, and activating voters will be essential to her chances. There is no doubt that Nixon faces extremely uphill odds, especially considering Cuomo has the powers of incumbency, including overflowing coffers, near-universal name recognition, the perch of his office, an extensive party apparatus, including many local clubs, and support from a long list of labor unions.</p> <p>Speaking on the Thursday call, Stephanie Woodward, director for advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, said the disabled community is “frustrated with having a governor who’s ignoring our issues.” Woodward touched on several, including her contention that under Cuomo the state budget sees disabled people pushed into nursing homes because the state will cover the costs of “permanent placement”; the inaccessibility of the subway system to disabled people; the low wages, through Medicaid, given to disability attendants; and the lack of accessible housing in New York. Her group is hosting a petition drive and aims to reach 10,000 signatures to help Nixon land a spot on the Democratic ballot.</p> <p>Wanda Salaman, executive director at Mothers on the Move, also spoke on the call, telling listeners she is reaching out to a network of churches and community groups in the Bronx with a goal of delivering 20,000 signatures to Nixon’s bid for a place on the primary ballot, which as of now may only include Cuomo and Nixon, if she qualifies.</p> <p>Jamaica Miles, the Lead Organizer at the capital district branch of Citizen Action of New York — an affiliate organization of the WFP — told listeners that the response to the Albany petition kickoff event has been so impressive, they’re looking at another location to hold more people. Citizen Action and Nixon, along with other partners, have a long history in advocating for education equity, especially in funding for poor schools. According to its website, Citizen Action has more than 30,000 members across the state, and Miles said she is hoping to secure 5,000 signatures in Albany alone.</p> <p>As well as Citizen Action, Nixon has been endorsed by other WFP affiliates with considerable member networks, such as New York Communities for Change (NYCC), which focuses on affordable housing, and Make the Road Action, which focuses on immigrant communities. Citizen Action is also affiliated with the state’s Public Policy and Education Fund and the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), a group Nixon has worked with for many years and that hosted her at a press conference in Albany several days after she launched her campaign in March. A leader of AQE, Zakiyah Ansari, nominated Nixon at the state Democratic convention, where she received about 5 percent of the state committee vote.</p> <p>A variety of other groups have also publicly declared their support for Nixon, such as the national organization launched by Senator Bernie Sanders in mid-2016, Our Revolution, which has more than 30 local groups in New York. In endorsing Nixon on May 15, its president, Nina Turner, <a href="http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/Bernie-Sanders-Group-Endorses-Cynthia-Nixon-for-New-York-Governor.htmlhttp://www.governing.com/topics/politics/Bernie-Sanders-Group-Endorses-Cynthia-Nixon-for-New-York-Governor.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">said Nixon is</a> “a bold progressive who is running in the spirit of Bernie Sanders.” The New York Progressive Action Network, which also grew out of the Sanders movement, endorsed Nixon in mid-April, and has 35 chapters and affiliates across the state, including Black Lives Matter of Greater New York and the LGBTQ-focused Jim Owles Democratic Club.</p> <p>In April, the leader of The Black Institute, Bertha Lewis, endorsed Nixon, telling <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/04/09/left-wing-activist-endorses-cynthia-nixon-over-cuomo/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The New York Post</a> that Cuomo “talks a good game” but is not a real progressive. On Tuesday, environmentalist author Bill McKibben and his grassroots environmental group 350 Action announced their support of Nixon for governor.</p> <p>Members and supporters of these and other groups are now seeing Nixon, a first-time candidate for elected office, as a valid choice, receiving information about her by email and in their social media feeds, highlighted by alignment on issues they care about. The Nixon campaign is counting on these endorsements and subsequent networking as key components in its bid to unseat a two-term incumbent with a long political resume, deep knowledge of issues and regions of the state, experience in running a government, and an extensive rolodex of potentially helpful surrogates and validators.</p> <p>As well as more formal organizations, there are communities that, through the campaign’s website, have created their own “hubs” of volunteers. Dozens of teachers have listed their names under #Educators4Cynthia. Also listed on the website are hubs for organizing under #Tenants4Cynthia, #Students4Cynthia, and an LGBTQ Pride Hub.</p> <p>“We have an innovative hub model where people can organize by constituency or issue,” Hitt told Gotham Gazette, adding there are currently 10 hubs involved in the campaign.</p> <p>A member of #Students4Cynthia, Carlos Jesus Calzadilla, told the Thursday call he is planning to recruit student leaders across the City University of New York (CUNY) and the State University of New York (SUNY) and run meetups on different college campuses. He also aims to organize a presence at high-traffic public events, such as parades and concerts.</p> <p>Calzadilla said “students have been at the forefront of social change throughout history” and&nbsp;slammed Cuomo for underfunding public schools. He called the Excelsior Scholarship — a Cuomo initiative affording many middle-class students tuition-free enrollment at public universities — a “fake free college experience that [Cuomo] talks about because the reality is barely anyone qualifies for it.”</p> <p><strong>Campaign Funding</strong><br />Even with volunteerism, networking, and grassroots advocacy, the campaign effort requires significant funds. Nixon is hoping that her decision not to take corporate donations will help boost her efforts to attract small donors, though she also appears to be holding fundraisers where wealthy individuals, like those in the entertainment world, may be willing to provide large contributions. New York has high donation limits, whereby an individual <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/Finance/2018ContributionLimits.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">can give</a> up to $21,100 to a gubernatorial candidate during the primary (the limits are higher for family members of candidates).</p> <p>Nixon boasted early on of her small-donor fundraising, and using it to position herself as an outsider unmarred by the corruption of institutionalized politicians and in contract to Cuomo, who has received very few low-dollar contributions.</p> <p>In late April, the Nixon campaign announced it had received “10,000 individual donations” in six weeks of campaigning. “Of those donations, 98 percent are low-dollar donations below $200,” a press release said. “By comparison, Andrew Cuomo collected a total of just 1,369 small dollar donations since the start of 2011. Over 800 individuals have also committed to making recurring donations to Cynthia’s people-powered campaign in the months leading up to the primary on September 13.”</p> <p>On the May 3 call, Nixon said of Cuomo’s $31 million campaign fund, “just .1 percent comes from small donors,” before referencing her ‘<a href="https://cynthiafornewyork.com/issue/rent-justice-for-all/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rent Justice For All</a>’ policy platform that aims to restabilize rent in apartments that dropped out of the stabilizing system under Cuomo due to vacancy decontrol: “It is very hard to stand up against the real estate lobby when you’re getting millions of dollars from them,” Nixon said of Cuomo. “It’s very hard to do the right thing when you are getting millions of dollars to do wrong.”</p> <p>Hitt told Gotham Gazette that Nixon’s initial campaign finances will be released at the filing date in mid-July, as mandated by the state’s Board of Elections, and not before. Nixon will have to disclose the receipts of, contributions to, expenditures by, and liabilities of her campaign, including any use of her own money.</p> <p>According to a report by the <a href="https://apnews.com/16f80ad1b55442ec8fcb39638fe7078a" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Associated Press</a> on Nixon’s tax returns, which she made available to the media in early May, Nixon and her wife, Christine Marinoni, had an income of $1.5 million last year and donated around $53,000 to charity. The AP report said Nixon’s campaign claimed her true income was $1 million in 2017, as there were expenses not reflected in the return. She has thus far declined to release returns for prior years. Nixon has not given any indication that she plans to spend her own funds on her campaign.</p> <p>It’s also unclear at this point how many paid staff are working on the Nixon campaign. Hitt and Sarah Ford are both running communications and acting as spokespeople. According to <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cynthia-nixon-hiring-new-campaign-manager-weeks-run-article-1.3965552" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Daily News</a>, a new campaign manager, Hayley Prim, was hired in early May, quickly replacing the original person in that role, Nicole Aro. <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2018/04/nixon-finance-team-takes-shape/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State of Politics</a>&nbsp;reported in April that Monica Barnes is the campaign’s finance director. And consultants including Rebecca Katz of Hilltop Public Solutions and L. Joy Williams have also been actively involved with the campaign. Nixon did lose her original campaign treasurer, Teachout, who decided to step away from the role to run for attorney general after Eric Schneiderman resigned in disgrace amid allegations of physically abusing four women.</p> <p>In addition to the Nixon campaign itself, the WFP will be spending on behalf of its endorsed candidates, including Nixon. A WFP spokesperson told Gotham Gazette in April that the party raised $82,000 from 1,500 donors over the course of a week just after it became evident that the WFP was on the verge of endorsing Nixon, and that the party had around $1 million in the bank at the time.</p> <p>"We're going to be spending a couple hundred thousand to put organizers on the ground and build a massive statewide field operation,” the WFP spokesperson said. “We're not going to be putting money into television, that's not how we win. We build volunteer operations, we hire organizers, we get out the vote."</p> <p><strong>The WFP Vote</strong><br />While both Nixon and Williams have the WFP nomination and ballot line for the general election, it is not clear that either or both would run in the general election if they lose the Democratic primary. WFP leaders have maintained that the party does not intend to play a spoiler and risk helping the election of any Republicans.</p> <p>Heading toward the September primary, the WFP is also backing challengers to the former members of the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC. Nixon has repeatedly connected Cuomo to the formerly rogue Democrats who had formed a coalition government with Senate Republicans, allegedly with Cuomo’s consent, until the governor brokered a Democratic reunification just after Nixon launched her candidacy.</p> <p>It’s not clear how many New Yorkers the WFP can reach or see the WFP endorsement of Nixon as a decisive or especially influential seal of approval. There is no WFP ballot line for her in the primary, but the party appears all-in to see her win it and carry its line in the general.</p> <p>As of<a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr18.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> April 1, 2018</a>, there were 46,453 people across New York State registered to vote with the WFP, including 15,572 in New York City. This compares to 6,201,033 Democratic voters across the state, of which 3,401,637 are in New York City. According to the WFP spokesperson, these “numbers have been growing statewide, and are expected to be even higher this year.”</p> <p>In 2014, Cuomo, who was endorsed by the WFP, <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2014/general/2014Governor.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">received 126,244 votes</a> on the WFP line in the general gubernatorial election, after beating Teachout, a Fordham law professor, in the Democratic primary. In that primary, Teachout received 34 percent of the Democratic vote, <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2014/Primary/2014StateLocalPrimaryElectionResults.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">192,210 votes</a> compared to Cuomo’s 361,380.</p> <p>In 2010, Cuomo received more than <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2010/general/2010GovernorRecertified09122012.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">150,000 votes</a> on the WFP line in the general gubernatorial election.</p> <p>Though the WFP endorsed senator Bernie Sanders ahead of the 2016 primaries for the presidential election, the endorsement <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2015/12/working-families-party-endorses-sanders-overwhelmingly-000000" target="_blank" rel="noopener">didn’t come with a ballot line</a>. The party’s backing of the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, saw Clinton receive <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2016/General/2016President.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">140,043 votes</a> across New York on the WFP ballot line.</p> <p><strong>Emails and Social Media</strong><br />As the WFP and Nixon’s campaign continues bolstering numbers of volunteers and voters across the state, Nixon is running an assertive digital strategy that includes email campaigns swinging between outlining her policy positions and aggressively criticizing Cuomo. Her campaign also sends e-blasts to members of the media fact-checking the governor, as it did repeatedly during the state convention, at which he was roundly applauded and endorsed by Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and others.</p> <p>“Some of Andrew Cuomo’s well-off friends like to tell me that I should stick to acting. Personally, I think Andrew Cuomo should stop acting,” the opening line to one of Nixon’s recent emails reads. The email calls out Cuomo for failing to “clean up” Albany, and discussed the Moreland Commission into public corruption that he launched in July 2013, only to shut down eight months later amid controversy, as it had begun looking at some of Cuomo’s allies and donors and he agreed to close it in a compromise with state legislators. Nixon ended the email comparing Cuomo’s unfulfilled promise to that of President Donald Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington.</p> <p>Nixon’s campaign is active on social media, using her Twitter and Facebook accounts to criticize Cuomo, respond to supporters, share relevant news that fits her campaign narrative, point followers to her website, and highlight her policy positions and endorsements.</p> <p>“Andrew Cuomo is running paid Facebook ads on a sexual harassment policy,” Nixon <a href="https://twitter.com/CynthiaNixon/status/1001852170281635840" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tweeted</a> on Wednesday. “We need a governor who will actually break down gender barriers — not reinforce them — and when I am her, I will never break your trust.”</p> <p>

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by Caitlin Bishop, Gotham Gazette
@caitybishop  @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Stephanie Miner Diagnoses What’s Wrong with New York Politics 2018-05-28T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-28T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7694:stephanie-miner-diagnoses-what-s-wrong-with-new-york-politics Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/stephanie-miner-podcast.jpg" alt="stephanie miner podcast" width="600" height="495" /></p> <p>Stephanie Miner (photo: Ben Max/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>She describes herself as a “romantic about government,” but former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner sees a lot wrong with how it is currently being practiced in New York.</p> <p>“When I think about what motivates me to be in government, it’s making change and impacting public policy,” Miner said on a recent episode of the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> from Gotham Gazette and City Limits, adding her contention that “real people are suffering” because of poor public policy in transit, affordable housing, and infrastructure across the state.</p> <p>Miner, a Democrat who was term-limited out of office as mayor of the state’s fifth biggest city at the end of last year, has for months explored the possibility of challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo in this year’s gubernatorial primary election. She spent the first semester of the year teaching at NYU’s Wagner School and meeting with people about her political future. Her resume also includes the fact that she was the first woman to be elected mayor of Syracuse and her time as the chair of the state Democratic Party, a position she earned in part because of support from Cuomo, who she subsequently had a major falling out with.</p> <p>Time out of office has allowed her to “take a breath and look at where we are in our state and where we are in our country in terms of politics and government,” she said on the podcast. In the meantime, Miner is not mincing words about Cuomo and his leadership of the state.</p> <p>“For me backroom dealings and politics as usual is not serving anybody,” she said on the podcast. “We have rampant corruption, everywhere we look in the state there are more and more news stories about trials, guilty pleas, guilty verdicts, more investigations, FBI’s executing search warrants, and yet you have the power establishment just being silent.”</p> <p>She specifically referenced corruption scandals including the recent conviction of Cuomo’s former top aide Joseph Percoco, who was found guilty on multiple federal corruption charges in March, as well as the “Buffalo Billion” saga in which federal prosecutors allege a handful of people involved in Cuomo’s economic development project are guilty of bid-rigging. Some of those accused, including another former top aide and several major donors to Cuomo, are set to stand trial beginning in June.</p> <p>She criticized Cuomo for saying he would be interviewing potential attorney general candidates in the aftermath of Eric Schneiderman’s resignation after allegations he physically assaulted four women, in an apparent effort to help decide who would become the Democratic nominee. “When you have Cuomo saying he’s going to quote, “interview candidates” for the attorney general vacancy spot, I think that is wrong and violates a bunch of standards in ethical practice…and that’s where we find ourselves in this state,” she said.</p> <p>The mentality of officials, Miner said, with clear reference to Cuomo, is too often to “get the quick win, stand up and take credit for it and don’t think about what’s behind it because you’re not going to be around when everything falls apart.”</p> <p>What’s really at the heart of the issue?</p> <p>“I think elected officials are more interested in serving the needs and desires of vested special interests who give big campaign contributions,” Miner said. “It becomes very transactional and...as the number of people who actually vote grows smaller and smaller, it becomes this perfect cycle for elected officials: They are much more interested in getting reelected than they are at solving problems and getting reelected is much easier if you can raise a million dollars and you only have 2,000 voters who show up.”</p> <p>Other problems she said are at the top of the list for the state include transit, income inequality, affordable housing, and failed economic development projects. She is also concerned for the future of jobs with the rise of technology replacing people in industries such as transport and hospitality.</p> <p>Solving these problems is especially difficult in a “brittle” system that discourages a considered and forward-thinking discussion of issues, Miner said. “It’s not helpful to say there are only two sides…For example, I’m in favor of the $15 minimum wage but the fact that becomes like a buzz question, ‘where are you on minimum wage?’ it ignores this huge public policy challenge about automation and what that’s going to do to our economy. Whether or not you’re earning a $15 wage, it’s not going to matter if you can’t get a job.”</p> <p>As for solutions, Miner wants to see both campaign finance and election reform, in order to remove the influence of big donors and give more access to the process to all New Yorkers. She wants to see closure of the infamous LLC loophole and changes such as early voting, automatic registration, and vote by mail.</p> <p>But there’s a fundamental change in leadership need, she said -- New York needs people in power who are collaborative, who listen, who consider alternative viewpoints.</p> <p>Miner said her professional relationship with the governor has been marred by conflict, with a key turning point being Miner’s 2013 op-ed in The New York Times, in which she criticized Cuomo for his plan to allow municipalities to reduce their current pension payments and make up for it in the future. She said she wrote the op-ed after being given the “runaround” and pressured by the party to “get onboard” with the Cuomo plan, despite believing the move was fiscally irresponsible, especially given municipal finance is a top issue for her.</p> <p>“It became clear to me after that, that the governor and I had very different views on public policy and public policy disagreements. You’re always going to know why I disagree with you, and what those grounds are, and that was not something that was tolerated in Andrew Cuomo’s world,” she said.</p> <p>The former Syracuse mayor will have to decide soon whether or not to enter the gubernatorial race, and she said during the May 15 podcast taping that part of that consideration involves the ideas she has, the team she will be able to put together, and her positioning to deliver positive change to the state.</p> <p>“There are lots of different things that I find myself in a very good position to talk about,” she said, listing examples such as being mayor of a city facing significant poverty and income inequality and having her area be central to the corruption scandals plaguing the Cuomo administration.</p> <p>Miner disagreed with the notion that it is basically too late to get into the race given that actor and activist Cynthia Nixon has already declared a challenge to Cuomo from the left and swooped up a number of endorsements.</p> <p>Nixon’s presence in the raise is “beneficial for everyone,” Miner said, as it contributes to a “vibrant political dialogue.” But with less than four months until the September primaries, the clock is certainly ticking for Miner. Cuomo was just backed with 95 percent of the state committee vote at the party’s convention. In a brief email exchange on Monday, May 28, Miner indicated that nothing had materially changed in her thinking since the podcast discussion.</p> <p>“The old rules of dates and times an how you put together a campaign no longer apply,” she said. “We are in uncharted waters and it is a tremendously turbulent time. People are hungry for change.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Caitlin Bishop, Gotham Gazette
@caitybishop  @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/stephanie-miner-podcast.jpg" alt="stephanie miner podcast" width="600" height="495" /></p> <p>Stephanie Miner (photo: Ben Max/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>She describes herself as a “romantic about government,” but former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner sees a lot wrong with how it is currently being practiced in New York.</p> <p>“When I think about what motivates me to be in government, it’s making change and impacting public policy,” Miner said on a recent episode of the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> from Gotham Gazette and City Limits, adding her contention that “real people are suffering” because of poor public policy in transit, affordable housing, and infrastructure across the state.</p> <p>Miner, a Democrat who was term-limited out of office as mayor of the state’s fifth biggest city at the end of last year, has for months explored the possibility of challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo in this year’s gubernatorial primary election. She spent the first semester of the year teaching at NYU’s Wagner School and meeting with people about her political future. Her resume also includes the fact that she was the first woman to be elected mayor of Syracuse and her time as the chair of the state Democratic Party, a position she earned in part because of support from Cuomo, who she subsequently had a major falling out with.</p> <p>Time out of office has allowed her to “take a breath and look at where we are in our state and where we are in our country in terms of politics and government,” she said on the podcast. In the meantime, Miner is not mincing words about Cuomo and his leadership of the state.</p> <p>“For me backroom dealings and politics as usual is not serving anybody,” she said on the podcast. “We have rampant corruption, everywhere we look in the state there are more and more news stories about trials, guilty pleas, guilty verdicts, more investigations, FBI’s executing search warrants, and yet you have the power establishment just being silent.”</p> <p>She specifically referenced corruption scandals including the recent conviction of Cuomo’s former top aide Joseph Percoco, who was found guilty on multiple federal corruption charges in March, as well as the “Buffalo Billion” saga in which federal prosecutors allege a handful of people involved in Cuomo’s economic development project are guilty of bid-rigging. Some of those accused, including another former top aide and several major donors to Cuomo, are set to stand trial beginning in June.</p> <p>She criticized Cuomo for saying he would be interviewing potential attorney general candidates in the aftermath of Eric Schneiderman’s resignation after allegations he physically assaulted four women, in an apparent effort to help decide who would become the Democratic nominee. “When you have Cuomo saying he’s going to quote, “interview candidates” for the attorney general vacancy spot, I think that is wrong and violates a bunch of standards in ethical practice…and that’s where we find ourselves in this state,” she said.</p> <p>The mentality of officials, Miner said, with clear reference to Cuomo, is too often to “get the quick win, stand up and take credit for it and don’t think about what’s behind it because you’re not going to be around when everything falls apart.”</p> <p>What’s really at the heart of the issue?</p> <p>“I think elected officials are more interested in serving the needs and desires of vested special interests who give big campaign contributions,” Miner said. “It becomes very transactional and...as the number of people who actually vote grows smaller and smaller, it becomes this perfect cycle for elected officials: They are much more interested in getting reelected than they are at solving problems and getting reelected is much easier if you can raise a million dollars and you only have 2,000 voters who show up.”</p> <p>Other problems she said are at the top of the list for the state include transit, income inequality, affordable housing, and failed economic development projects. She is also concerned for the future of jobs with the rise of technology replacing people in industries such as transport and hospitality.</p> <p>Solving these problems is especially difficult in a “brittle” system that discourages a considered and forward-thinking discussion of issues, Miner said. “It’s not helpful to say there are only two sides…For example, I’m in favor of the $15 minimum wage but the fact that becomes like a buzz question, ‘where are you on minimum wage?’ it ignores this huge public policy challenge about automation and what that’s going to do to our economy. Whether or not you’re earning a $15 wage, it’s not going to matter if you can’t get a job.”</p> <p>As for solutions, Miner wants to see both campaign finance and election reform, in order to remove the influence of big donors and give more access to the process to all New Yorkers. She wants to see closure of the infamous LLC loophole and changes such as early voting, automatic registration, and vote by mail.</p> <p>But there’s a fundamental change in leadership need, she said -- New York needs people in power who are collaborative, who listen, who consider alternative viewpoints.</p> <p>Miner said her professional relationship with the governor has been marred by conflict, with a key turning point being Miner’s 2013 op-ed in The New York Times, in which she criticized Cuomo for his plan to allow municipalities to reduce their current pension payments and make up for it in the future. She said she wrote the op-ed after being given the “runaround” and pressured by the party to “get onboard” with the Cuomo plan, despite believing the move was fiscally irresponsible, especially given municipal finance is a top issue for her.</p> <p>“It became clear to me after that, that the governor and I had very different views on public policy and public policy disagreements. You’re always going to know why I disagree with you, and what those grounds are, and that was not something that was tolerated in Andrew Cuomo’s world,” she said.</p> <p>The former Syracuse mayor will have to decide soon whether or not to enter the gubernatorial race, and she said during the May 15 podcast taping that part of that consideration involves the ideas she has, the team she will be able to put together, and her positioning to deliver positive change to the state.</p> <p>“There are lots of different things that I find myself in a very good position to talk about,” she said, listing examples such as being mayor of a city facing significant poverty and income inequality and having her area be central to the corruption scandals plaguing the Cuomo administration.</p> <p>Miner disagreed with the notion that it is basically too late to get into the race given that actor and activist Cynthia Nixon has already declared a challenge to Cuomo from the left and swooped up a number of endorsements.</p> <p>Nixon’s presence in the raise is “beneficial for everyone,” Miner said, as it contributes to a “vibrant political dialogue.” But with less than four months until the September primaries, the clock is certainly ticking for Miner. Cuomo was just backed with 95 percent of the state committee vote at the party’s convention. In a brief email exchange on Monday, May 28, Miner indicated that nothing had materially changed in her thinking since the podcast discussion.</p> <p>“The old rules of dates and times an how you put together a campaign no longer apply,” she said. “We are in uncharted waters and it is a tremendously turbulent time. People are hungry for change.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Caitlin Bishop, Gotham Gazette
@caitybishop  @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: State Party Conventions & Nominations 2018-05-25T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-25T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7692:max-murphy-podcast-state-party-conventions-nominations Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>May 25, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: State Party Conventions and Nominations</strong></p> <p>It's state party convention and nomination season as we head toward the fall elections, with state-level primaries in September and the general election in November. Political parties are holding their nominating conventions and deciding which candidates to formally back. The parties that have dedicated ballot lines -- Democratic, Republican, Independence, Conservative, Green, Working Families, Women's Equality, Reform -- have mostly decided their picks for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, and Attorney General.</p> <p>On this podcast, Max &amp; Murphy get you up to speed on where things stand with the nominations; analyze the race for governor and its two major party-backed candidates -- Democratic incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican Marc Molinaro -- as well as others in the mix, including Cynthia Nixon; and discuss a variety of things to watch for in the coming weeks.</p> <p>Listen to the full 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 episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/449133465&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="170" 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/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>May 25, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: State Party Conventions and Nominations</strong></p> <p>It's state party convention and nomination season as we head toward the fall elections, with state-level primaries in September and the general election in November. Political parties are holding their nominating conventions and deciding which candidates to formally back. The parties that have dedicated ballot lines -- Democratic, Republican, Independence, Conservative, Green, Working Families, Women's Equality, Reform -- have mostly decided their picks for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, and Attorney General.</p> <p>On this podcast, Max &amp; Murphy get you up to speed on where things stand with the nominations; analyze the race for governor and its two major party-backed candidates -- Democratic incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican Marc Molinaro -- as well as others in the mix, including Cynthia Nixon; and discuss a variety of things to watch for in the coming weeks.</p> <p>Listen to the full 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 episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/449133465&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="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>