Schumer and Cuomo fall, Trump rises in NY voter polls

Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo both took a slide and their sparring partner in the White House rose from the depths in polls of New York voters released by Siena College this week.

Among New Yorkers polled by Siena, 52 percent had a favorable opinion of Schumer and 39 percent had a unfavorable view, the lowest he has scored since Siena first polled voters about him 2005. That was down from a 67-23 favorability rating Siena recorded for Schumer 14 months ago, before the new Senate minority leader had begun his battles with President Trump and congressional Republicans. Even Republican voters gave the Democratic senator a 55-34 percent rating 14 months ago; now three quarters of those Siena polled had sour views of him.

The Democratic governor’s rating dropped to 53-40 percent in an earlier Siena poll announced Monday, down from 62-30 percent a month earlier – the highest level of his second term. Cuomo’s running for a third term this fall.

President Trump, meanwhile, had a 33-62 percent favorability rating in Thursday’s poll results. The consolation for the Republican president was that New Yorkers upgraded their regard for his job performance to 29-70 percent, from 23-77 percent in January.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another Democrat seeking re-election in 2018, had a 48-27 percent rating in that same poll, with a quarter of voters knowing too little about her to have an opinion. Fortunately for her, 89 of voters had no opinion – and presumably no knowledge – of her Republican opponent, Chele Chiavacci Farley.

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Marlborough Dems hold forum for NY19 candidates

Six Democrats competing to run against Republican Rep. John Faso for New York’s 19th Congressional District seat will introduce themselves to voters and answer questions at a candidates forum at Malboro High School on Saturday.

The event, sponsored by the Marlborough Democratic Committee, will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the auditorium at 50 Cross Road. The six candidates are Jeff Beals, David Clegg, Antonio Delgado, Brian Flynn, Gareth Rhodes and Pat Ryan.

The 19th District candidates will take part in another forum from 2-5 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Mamakating Town Hall. Democratic leaders will distribute petitions at that event for supporters to begin collecting signatures for their preferred candidates on March 6.

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Potential Dem challenger for Bonacic opens campaign committee

Rosendale Councilwoman Jen Metzger announced Thursday that she may challenge Republican Sen. John Bonacic for the Senate seat he has held for the last 19 years.

Metzger, a Democrat elected to a second term on the Rosendale Town Board in November, created a campaign committee to run for the 42nd Senate District on Wednesday, and said in her press release that she’ll make a formal announcement about her candidacy in March. She said she’s a 53-year-old mother of three who has lived in Rosendale for 17 years, has a PhD in political science from Rutgers University in New Jersey, and is director of the nonprofit Citizens for Local Power.

“The State Senate is not supposed to be a lifelong occupation,” Metzger said. “We need people in office with a fresh perspective, an understanding of our communities’ needs, and the energy and principled commitment it takes to meaningfully improve the quality of life of the people in our district.”

The 42nd District takes in parts of Orange, Ulster and Delaware counties and all of Sullivan. Bonacic, 75, who lives in Mount Hope and is a former Orange County legislator and state assemblyman, has had no opponent or won by huge margins in every Senate election since his first in 1998. He has almost $720,00 in his campaign account, the most by far of any of the 10 state lawmakers representing Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties.

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Lawmakers reschedule primary to avoid Rosh Hashanah

Primaries for state and local offices will take place on a Thursday instead of a Tuesday this September, a scheduling shift lawmakers made to avoid a conflict with Rosh Hashanah.

The state Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to move the primary to Sept. 13 from Sept. 11. The Assembly did the same thing about a week earlier.

Rosh Hashanah, the two-day celebration of the the Jewish new year, begins this year in the evening on Sept. 9 and ends in the evening on Sept. 11.

Moving the date also avoids conflicting with annual commemorations for Americans killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Congressional primaries will be held on June 26. New York holds separate state and federal primaries in June and September in even-numbered years because state lawmakers can’t agree on a single date to hold both.

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Gardiner Dems, Ulster comptroller endorse Ryan in NY19 Dem race (updated)

Pat Ryan, one of six Democrats vying to challenge Republican Rep. John Faso, announced that the Gardiner Democratic Committee and Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach have endorsed him.

Ryan is a Kingston native and West Point graduate who served two tours as an Army officer in Iraq and has since started two technology companies. He and his wife now live in Gardiner.

“Pat is a ‘cross-over’ candidate and a unifier,” the Gardiner Democrats said in a statement quoted in Ryan’s press release. “His progressive policy priorities will win in our district, and his military service, as well as his experience as a small business owner, will open doors in the counties where Trump signs dotted lawns.”

Auerbach and New Paltz councilman Daniel Torres, who works for Auerbach as an assistant to the comptroller, also are quoted making endorsement statements at the opening of Ryan’s campaign office in Kingston on Sunday. (Update: Torres notes that he no longer works for the Ulster comptroller’s office.)

“I couldn’t think of anyone better to fight for us in Washington than a trained soldier like Pat Ryan,” Auerbach said.

(Update: Gareth Rhodes, another Ulster native and Democrat running for New York’s 19th Congressional District seat, on Wednesday announced his latest endorsement in the race: Kathy Betzinger, chairwoman of the Town of Brunswick Democratic Committee. Brunswick is a town of about 12,000 people in Rensselaer County.)


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Gunther confirms she’ll seek reelection

An aide to Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther confirmed Friday that she plans to run for another Assembly term when elections are held for all 213 Legislature seats are held this fall.

Other legislators representing Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties had verified through their spokesmen that they plan to run again for a Times Herald-Record article published on Friday. Gunther’s spokeswoman hadn’t responded to the Record’s question about her 2018 plans for that story, but her legislative director, Thomas Gatto, verified on Friday that the Forestburgh Democrat plans to seek re-election.

Gunther, whose district covers most of Sullivan County and part of western Orange, has been in the Assembly for 14 years and has faced opposition for re-election only once.

Most or all of the four senators and six Assembly members now representing pieces of Orange, Ulster and Sullivan appear intent on running, with no declared challengers at this stage. One incumbent with uncertain plans is Assemblyman James Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat who explored running for Senate in 2016 is a potential candidate for that office again. He told the Record he won’t announce his 2018 election plans until the state budget is done, which likely means April.

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Maloney seeks House probe over former Trump aide

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has asked a House panel to investigate the White House’s handling of an aide who quit this week following news reports that he had been accused of beating his two former wives and that the administration knew of those allegations throughout his tenure.

Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat, worked in the White House under President Bill Clinton for four years and held the same position as Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned this week. In a letter on Wednesday to Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Maloney questioned how someone who had been denied a permanent security clearance because of abuse allegations against him, and who was susceptible to blackmail, had been allowed to handle top-secret materials.

“As a former White House Staff Secretary, I am acutely aware of the unique responsibilities the position demands,” Maloney wrote. “I have serious questions about the decision to allow Mr. Porter to retain his job for over a year as well as the process of extending to him any level of interim security clearance. Mr. Porter’s history made him a primary target for blackmail while serving in the role. Allowing him to handle sensitive national security documents without conducting a background check is cause for bipartisan concern.”

Maloney said in a press release announcing his letter to Gowdy that he was sickened by Porter’s actions and shocked that he had been allowed to work in the White House for a year.

“It’s unclear what kind of vetting process was followed in this case, and the Oversight Committee needs to open an investigation into this situation immediately,” Maloney said. “It seems clear that Chief of Staff John Kelly had knowledge of these disqualifying issues and nevertheless allowed Porter to handle top secret materials without a proper clearance.

“I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Porter and sought his help on behalf of my constituents on more than one occasion. He was responsive and professional. But I am deeply troubled.”

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Faso cheers military spending increase in budget deal

Rep. John Faso joined most Republicans in support of the shutdown-ending budget deal that the House passed early Friday morning, praising its increase in military funding and other elements while acknowledging it won’t help the nation’s “looming debt crisis” by raising spending caps.

“Today’s budget deal is a step forward that allows Congress to move on and tackle the problems Americans sent us here to solve,” Faso said in a statement. “This bipartisan agreement includes a number of provisions that are wins for New Yorkers, including strengthening the state of our military readiness, improving care for our veterans, and providing more funding to fight the opioid crisis.”

He conceded the nation’s mounting debt “is not made better by this legislation,” but explained that his support was ”overwhelmingly influenced by the critical defense funding gaps affecting military readiness.” He said Defense Secretary James Mattis had convinced him that spending limits imposed 2011 had affected troops and required rebuilding “core aspects of our national defense.”

The House voted 240-186 on the budget deal, with majorities of Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat, voted against it. The Senate passed it in a 71-28 earlier that morning. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, supported the deal, while fellow New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand voted against it.


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GOP senators endorse their colleague in governor’s race

Three of four Republican senators representing Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties have endorsed their colleague, Sen. John DeFrancisco, in his competition with two other Republicans vying to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

DeFrancisco’s campaign touted the endorsements this week of 13 of the Senate’s 31 Republicans, including John Bonacic, George Amedore and James Seward. DeFrancisco is competing against Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and Joel Giambra, a former Erie County executive, to be the Republicans’ standard-bearer when the Democratic governor runs for a third term this fall.

“I have worked closely with Senator DeFrancisco for a number of years in the New York State Senate, and have witnessed first-hand his results-driven approach to government,” Seward, whose district includes part of Ulster County, said in one press release. “John isn’t about politics and platitudes; he is about workable solutions that will better our businesses, help families, and encourage growth in the Empire State.”

Amedore also represents part of Ulster. Bonacic’s district includes all of Sullivan and part of Orange and Ulster.

Bill Larkin, the fourth Republican senator in the region, hasn’t appeared so far in DeFrancisco’s endorsement announcements.


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Maloney blasts Senate budget deal as two-party “pay-off”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced he will vote against the bipartisan Senate deal to resolve the latest budget standoff in Congress, calling it a reckless escalation of spending that will worsen the federal deficit – right on the heels of deficit-widening tax cuts.

The Cold Spring Democrat issued a statement blasting the “budget-busting” deal as an irresponsible bargain between the leaders of both parties, one that will add billions to the deficit. He did mention the unresolved fate of the Dreamers, a Democratic priority enmeshed in budget talks, but focused on fiscal objections.

“When it comes to the budget, both parties agree on only one thing: being irresponsible,” Maloney said. “This isn’t compromise, it’s collusion; it’s not bipartisan, it’s a pay-off. This is drunken-sailor spending that comes right after Republicans in Washington put trillions in new debt on our country’s credit card. They continue to kick the can down the road when we should tackle our problems now — from the deficit to the Dreamers.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, praised the Senate agreement on Wednesday for promising billions in additional funds for programs that will help New Yorkers, such as community health centers and treatment for opioid addiction.
“This bipartisan and historic agreement is a major shot in the arm for middle-class families from Western New York to Staten Island all the way to the eastern end of Long Island,” Schumer said in a press release. “The budget deal doesn’t have everything Democrats want; it doesn’t have everything the Republicans want, but it has what the American people need.”


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