Republican George Amedore wins Green Party line, is blasted by Green Party co-chair

Incumbent Republican state Sen. George Amedore has beat out his Democratic opponent, Palatine Supervisor Sara Niccoli, in a write-in campaign for the left-leaning Green Party line.

Amedore, R-Rotterdam, secured the Green Party ballot line as a write-in candidate in the primary, according to state Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin.

According to Conklin, Amedore won 63 write-in votes and Niccoli won 48. The endorsed Green Party candidate, Marina Karuma-Seales of Saugerties, received 12 votes. A single vote went to former Congressman Maurice Hinchey.

Amedore will carry the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform party lines in the November elections. Niccoli will carry the Democratic, Working Families Party and Women’s Equality Party lines.

The New York Green Party platform has several planks that some may not consider traditional Republican issues, such as public divestment in fossil fuels, criminalization of hydraulic fracturing and public financing of campaigns.

Gloria Mattera, co-chair of the Green Party of New York, blasted Amedore for picking up their party line and saying he “has a terrible record on the environment.”

“The Green Party of New York not only does not support George Amedore as a candidate on our ballot line but we condemn him for engaging in deceiving registered Greens in AD-46 by using the arcane ballot law of Opportunity to Ballot to steal our party line,” Mattera said in an email.

An “opportunity to ballot,” or OTB, creates a primary election when there otherwise would not have been one, allowing voters the ability to write in a candidate’s name in a primary to secure a party line.

“OTB is another rule in New York’s election law that has been crafted and used by both the Democratic and Republican parties to maintain the two party cartel in this state,” Mattera said. “This is why the Green Party is opposed to fusion voting which is only allowed in a handful of states. We ask good government groups to add their voice to opposing ballot access laws that suppress voter choice.”

Mattera said the Democratic Party candidate — Niccoli — “also engaged in this ballot-stealing practice but this time around their candidate did not win out.” Mattera said neither candidate deserved the Green Party line.

Amedore is running for a second term as senator in the 46th Senate District, which includes part of Ulster County.

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Niccoli calls on Amedore to return “tainted” money

Democrat Sara Niccoli is calling on GOP Sen. George Amedore to return more than $30,000 in campaign contributions she says he’s received that are tied to Schenectady-based developer Joseph Nicolla, who was implicated in a corruption scandal last week by the state Attorney General’s Office.

In a press release, Niccoli urges Amedore to return the campaign cash and says that he has a “pattern of accepting money from shady, corrupt and even indicted individuals and it has to end.”

Niccoli is looking to unseat Amedore in the 46th Senate District, which includes a large swath of Ulster County, including the City of Kingston. Amedore was elected in 2014.

“Not only was George hand-picked to run for the Senate by convicted felon Dean Skelos, he was even drawn his own special district and lavished with millions of dollars from downstate party bosses,” Niccoli said in a release. “George has also received millions from New York City real estate developers and from Leonard Litwin, who was at the very core of the Dean Skelos corruption scandal. The Nicolla donations are simply the latest example of Senator Amedore being funded by corrupt special interests, and I urge George to do the right thing and return these tainted dollars.”

Nicolla is a Schenectady developer and president of Columbia Development, one of the biggest developers in the Albany-area. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused Nicolla last week of colluding with SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros to rig the bids for a student housing project so it would go to Nicolla’s company. Nicolla has pleaded not guilty.

Amedore’s spokeswoman, Eileen Miller, did not answer a question on whether Amedore will give back the money. But she did return the barbs over campaign cash, calling Niccoli a hypocrite.

“For Sara Niccoli to question Senator Amedore’s integrity is absurd,” Miller said. “He’s a pillar of the community, and as an elected official, he upholds the highest ethical standards with zero tolerance for corruption regardless of party.”

She went on:

“This baseless attack is the height of hypocrisy from Niccoli. Her first campaign donation was dirty money from her mentor Cecilia Tkaczyk, whose flagrant abuse of campaign finance laws to launder money from Mayor DeBlasio is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, and even now, she continues to travel to New York City to raise money from the same special interests who were involved in that shameful conspiracy.”


Posted in Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Up in Albany | Leave a comment

NRA PAC hands out grades to local politicians in state, federal races

The National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund has handed out grades for local politicians running for office this year.

The NRA-PVF ranks political candidates based on voting records, public statements and their responses to a questionnaire, according to its website.

Here’s the grades for our local races:

U.S. House of Representatives:

New York’s 19th Congressional District:

Republican John Faso: A (Also endorsed by NRA)

Democrat Zephyr Teachout: F

New York’s 18th Congressional District:

Republican Phil Olivia: B

Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney: F

New York State Senate:

39th Senate District:

Republican Sen. Bill Larkin: A (NRA endorsed)

Democrat Chris Eachus: ?

46th Senate District:

Republican Sen. George Amedore: A+ (NRA endorsed)

Democrat Sara Niccoli: ?

42nd Senate District:

Republican Sen. John Bonacic: A (NRA endorsed)

Democrat Pramilla Malick: Not listed

51st Senate District:

Republican Sen. James Seward: A+ (NRA Endorsed)

Democrat: Jermaine Bagnall-Graham: ?

New York State Assembly:

103rd Assembly District:

Democratic Assemblyman Kevin Cahill: D

Republican Jack Hayes: ?

99th Assembly District:

Democrat Assemblyman James Skoufis: A (NRA endorsed)

Republican Colin Schmitt: Aq

98th Assembly District:

Republican Assemblyman Karl Brabenec: A

Democrat Aron Weider: D

101st Assembly District:

Republican Brian Miller:  Aq

Democrat Arlene Feldmeier: ?

I haven’t listed races where there is no challenger.

Here’s the NRA’s guide to what the scores mean:

A+: A legislator with not only an excellent voting record on all critical NRA issues, but who has also made a vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment.

A: Solidly pro-gun candidate. A candidate who has supported NRA positions on key votes in elective office or a candidate with a demonstrated record of support on Second Amendment issues.

AQ: A pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate’s responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.

B: A generally pro-gun candidate. However, a “B” candidate may have opposed some pro-gun reform or supported some restrictive legislation in the past.

D: An anti-gun candidate who usually supports restrictive gun control legislation and opposes pro-gun reforms. Regardless of public statements, can usually be counted on to vote wrong on key issues.

F: True enemy of gun owners’ rights. A consistent anti-gun candidate who always opposes gun owners’ rights and/or actively leads anti-gun legislative efforts, or sponsors anti-gun legislation.

?: Refused to answer the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire, often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners’ and sportsmen’s rights.

Posted in Down in D.C., Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Up in Albany | Leave a comment

New Siena/TWC poll shows Teachout and Faso neck and neck

A new poll shows that Republican John Faso is leading Democrat Zephyr Teachout by just a single percentage point in the race to replace Rep. Chris Gibson in the 19th Congressional District.

Conducted by Time Warner Cable News and Siena College, the new poll shows that 15 percent of people are still undecided, that both candidates have 75 percent support among voters from their own parties and that independents are virtually tied between the two.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22 by land a cell phone calls in English to 678 likely voters in the 19th Congressional District, which includes parts or all of 11 counties, including all of Ulster and Sullivan counties. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent points and a “likely-to-vote probability was computed for each respondent based on their stated likelihood to vote and interest in the upcoming election as well as by virtue of the imputation of a turnout probability score based on past voting behavior applied to their specific voting history,” according to Siena.

“This is the textbook definition of close,” said Siena College spokesman Steven Greenberg. “One point separates the candidates among both all voters and independents. Both have three-quarters support from their party’s voters, and the partisan breakdown of the district’s likely voters is near even as well.”

Greenberg said Teachout, with a net 11-point positive favorability rating, is viewed a little more favorably than Faso, with a net two-point positive favorability rating, while each remains unknown to nearly four in ten likely voters.

“Faso has a strong 14-point lead with men, while Teachout has a nearly as strong 11-point lead with women,” Greenberg said. “She also leads by 20-points with those with a college degree, while he holds a 22-point lead among voters without a college degree. Teachout leads in Ulster and Dutchess Counties and Faso leads in the rest of the district.”

Greenberg said both candidates have room for growth “which is not surprising given that 55 percent say they have not seen a Faso commercial or been contacted by his campaign, and 44 percent say the same about Teachout.”

Greenberg also said polling shows the district split on national issues.

“This is not a pure left or right ideological district,” Greeneberg said. “Voters, including huge majorities of Democrats and independents and a plurality of Republicans, say climate change is real and a significant threat. Democrats overwhelmingly and independents strongly support a path to citizenship for those here illegally now, however, a small plurality or Republicans want to see them deported.  On the other side, however, very large majorities of Republicans and independents identify as 2nd Amendment supporters, while Democrats strongly see themselves as gun control supporters.  On Obamacare and federal involvement in the economy, voters are closely divided, with independents siding much more closely with Republicans.”


Posted in Down in D.C., Sullivan, Ulster | Leave a comment

Malick campaign filing omitted newspaper ads

Ulster Republican Chairman Roger Rascoe said this week that he has filed a complaint with the Board of Elections’ enforcement office about Democratic Senate candidate Pramilla Malick’s failure to disclose how much she paid for Times Herald-Record ads she bought before the Sept. 13 primary in her financial filings.

Rascoe announced in a press release that Malick, a political newcomer who was waging a write-in effort to get on the ballot against Republican Sen. John Bonacic in November, bought at least 10 campaign ads before the primary and that he had sent a complaint letter to Risa Sugarman, the board’s enforcement counsel, to report that Malick’s financial statements didn’t record the advertising expenses. “It has become obvious that they are engaging in fraudulent behavior to disguise their campaign spending,” Rascoe fumed. “What else are they trying to hide?”

In an emailed response on Friday, Malick told the Record that her campaign treasurer “forgot to include those expenses because they were not paid out of our committee account but rather directly by my husband. Although he had given her the information about the expense, in her rush to get the papers filed, she forgot to include it and is filing an amendment today. Please note that at the time those expenses were incurred we did not yet have a bank account or a Treasurer for that matter.” The amendment had not been recorded on the state Board of Elections website by the end of the day.

Malick, who won her write-in bid and will challenge Bonacic in the Nov. 8 election, had only $1,300 in her campaign account as of Monday. Bonacic has $750,000. His last filing indicated that he raised $26,000 in less than three weeks.

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Wieder sweeps write-in primaries in Assembly race

Democratic Assembly candidate Aron Wieder appears to have picked up four additional ballot lines through write-in votes in primaries held last week, judging from tallies provided by the election boards in Orange and Rockland counties.

Wieder, a Rockland County legislator who will challenge Republican Assemblyman Karl Brabenec on Nov. 8, wrested the valuable Conservative Party line from Brabenec by winning 287 write-in votes, more than double the 140 machine votes cast for Brabenec on Sept. 13. Wieder also won the Green Party line with 35 write-in votes, stripped Brabenec of the Reform Party line with a mere nine votes, and apparently took the Women’s Equality Party line from his Democratic rival, Krystal Serrano, with only four votes.

Unless those totals change when the state Board of Elections certifies the results, Wieder will have six ballot lines in all in November. He beat Serrano for the Democratic nomination and defeated Brabenec is a separate primary for the Independence Party line on Sept. 13.

Brabenec, who won a Republican primary against United Monroe activist John Allegro that same day, will have the GOP line and a independent-party line for his first re-election bid. He’s a former Deerpark town supervisor who eked out victory a three-way race in 2014 to claim the open 98th District seat, which represents a board area from rural western Orange County to almost the middle of Rockland County.

Wieder has been a county legislator for five years and is making his third Assembly run.

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DCCC Poll: Teachout leading by five points in NY-19

A new poll conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this month shows Democrat Zephyr Teachout ahead by five points against Republican John Faso in the 19th Congressional District.

With less than two months to go before the general election, the DCCC’s new poll says Teachout holds a 16-point advantage over Faso among registered Independents in the district, 51 percent to 35 percent. She also leads by 45 points among 18 to 34 year at 61 percent to 16 percent, by 14 points among voters aged 35 to 44 years old at 52 percent to 28 percent and leads by 10 points among women at 48 percent to 38 percent.

Out of those surveyed, 11 percent were undecided, according to the poll.

The DCCC says it surveyed 532 likely general election voters from Sept. 13-14 in the district via phone. The interviews were both live and automated. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percent, according to the DCCC.

According to the same poll, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds a slimmer 3-point lead against Republican Donald Trump.

Polling by a group paid for by Faso’s campaign and conducted in early August showed Faso with a five point lead in his favor. He was ahead with 46 percent of the vote and Teachout with 41 percent, according to that poll.

Teachout is a 44-year-old Democrat from Clinton Corners and professor at Fordham Law School. Faso is a 64-year Republican from Kinderhook and former assemblyman. They’re looking to replace retiring GOP Rep. Chris Gibson in the 19th Congressional District, which includes all or part of 11 counties, including all of Ulster and Sullivan.

Posted in Down in D.C., Sullivan, Ulster | Leave a comment

Write-in count in Senate Democratic primary starts Monday

The Orange County Board of Elections will start reading and counting hundreds of Democratic write-in votes in the 42nd Senate District race on Monday, a process that will determine if environmental activist Pramilla Malick gets to challenge Republican Sen. John Bonacic in the Nov. 8 general election.

Some 2,910 Democrats cast ballots in the write-in-only primary on Tuesday, with 1,255 votes cast in Orange, the largest total of the four counties in the 42nd Senate District. Since no other Democrats were seeking the nomination, the only question is whether Malick withstood an unlikely pitch by the longtime Republican incumbent for Democrats to write in his name instead. Bonacic would have no opposition in November if were to get more write-in votes than Malick.

Preliminary vote counts obtained from two of the 42nd District’s counties and announced this week by Malick’s campaign suggest there is little chance she will lose. According to her campaign, those numbers indicate she had won roughly 87 percent of the 931 write-in votes cast in Sullivan County and as much as 97 percent of the 157 write-ins in Delaware. The campaign had no early indications of the tallies in Orange or in Ulster, where 565 votes were cast.

Malick, who had filed what is known as an opportunity-to-ballot petition to stage the write-in primary, said in a statement that her winning a spot in the general election would be a “victory for America’s democratic process.”

“Voters are entitled to a choice when they go to the polls on Election Day,” she said. “Taking away this choice discourages participation in the electoral process and undermines our democracy.”

When the other counties will begin counting the Senate ballots and how long it will take all four to finish is unclear. Thursday is their deadline to certify the results.

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Judge dismisses case against NY pay raise panel

A Nassau County judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of an appointed commission that is considering raises for state officials and lawmakers and is due to convene again next week.

The case was brought in April by James Coll, a New York City police officer and college teacher from Long Island who leads an Albany reform group. Coll, representing himself in the suit, had argued that state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo had violated the state constitution by forming a seven-member commission that could raise their salaries without any action by elected officials to enact those pay increases. The New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation raised judges’ salaries last year and is now weighing pay hikes for all 213 senators and Assembly members, Cuomo, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and state department heads. Its deadline is Nov. 15.

In a three-sentence decision dated Sept. 1, state Supreme Court Justice George Peck granted the state’s request to dismiss Coll’s case, and rejected the idea that he should recuse himself as a beneficiary of the pay commission. “Although this court has a financial interest in the outcome of this case, recusal is not necessary because every New York State Supreme Court Justice would have the same interest,” he wrote.

Attorneys from Schneiderman’s office had questioned Coll’s standing to bring the case and insisted that raise authority still lies with the Legislature, since lawmakers theoretically can reject or change whatever salaries the commission recommends. Coll points out in response how far-fetched that prospect is, given the fact that lawmakers ended their 2016 session in June and aren’t scheduled to return to Albany until next year.

One commission member appointed by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie suggested in July that the panel raise everyone’s salaries by 47 percent, a proposal that would increase lawmakers’ base pay to $116,900 from $79,5000 and raise Cuomo’s salary to $263,000 from $179,000. No alternative proposals were made at that meeting.

The commission is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. on Sept. 22 in Manhattan.

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Assembly District 98 primaries leave 3-way race

The seven primaries held Tuesday for the Assembly District 98 seat have left a three-way race for the general election, with Assemblyman Karl Brabenec as the Republican candidate, Democrat Aron Wieder running on as many as six ballot lines and United Monroe activist John Allegro as an independent candidate.

Brabenec beat Allegro in a Republican primary by around 700 votes, despite losing to Allegro by several hundred votes in the areas of Orange County outside Kiryas Joel. Brabenec, a Republican freshman from Deerpark, was endorsed by Kiryas Joel’s majority political faction and won half of his 2,652 total votes in that village alone, judging from Kiryas Joel’s own vote tallies.

That endorsement may be viewed more as a rejection of Allegro – a leader of the United Monroe citizens group, which has fought the attempted expansion of Kiryas Joel – and a form of support for Wieder than an embrace of Brabenec. The same Kiryas Joel leaders who steered votes to Brabenec in the Republican primary backed Wieder instead of him in the Independence and Conservative primaries, a likely indication of their preferred candidate. And having both Brabenec and Allegro remain in the race and compete for votes in November is a scenario that seems to benefit Wieder.

Kiryas Joel voters also played a major role in the Democratic primary, voting 768-32 for Wieder over Krystal Serrano, his opponent, according to the village’s vote count. Wieder, a Rockland County legislator, trounced Serrano in the Rockland portion of the Assembly district, but Serrano beat him in Orange and had a similarly lopsided majority in that county in all areas outside Kiryas Joel.

Still to play out is a court battle for the United Monroe ballot line that both Brabenec and Allegro sought. Two pending cases seek to invalidate Brabenec’s controversial petition to run under the banner of his rival’s party and, alternately, to block him from using the United Monroe name for his ballot line or campaign.

Also undetermined is the outcome of four primaries with write-in votes that county election boards are expected to read and count next week. Wieder will have six ballot lines in all in the Nov. 8 election if he wins all four of those contests, for the Conservative, Women’s Equality, Reform and Green parties.

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