Cuomo leads Nixon by 31 points in Siena poll

Gov. Andrew Cuomo led Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon by 60 percent to 29 percent in a Siena College poll of likely Democratic primary voters released Tuesday.

In a survey of 630 voters taken last week, 67 percent had a favorable view of the Democratic governor, who is running for a third term, and 29 percent had an unfavorable view. Nixon, the actress and activist competing with Cuomo in a Sept. 13 primary, had a 43 percent to 30 percent favorability split, with 27 percent having no opinion about her.

The same poll found New York City Public Advocate Letitia James leading the four-way Democratic primary race for attorney general with 25 percent, followed by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney at 16 percent; Zephyr Teachout at 13 percent; and Leecia Eve at 4 percent.

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CSEA endorses Jacobson in crowded Assembly race

The Civil Service Employees Association has endorsed Jonathan Jacobson, a Newburgh city councilman and former 22-year Orange County Democratic chairman, over four other Democrats and two Republicans vying to replace the late Assemblyman Frank Skartados in the 104th Assembly District.

In a campaign announcement, CSEA President Danny Donohue gave Jacobson credit as Democratic chairman for resisting the county’s push to private the 360-bed Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation. “Jonathan fought with us to keep Valley View Nursing Home owned and operated by Orange County, saving hundreds of good paying jobs, and now we want to fight for Jonathan to be elected to the Assembly so he can fight for all working men and women in the 104th District,” Donohue said.

The public employees union hasn’t made any other endorsements in contested Assembly races in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties.

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CSEA endorses Rabbitt, Amedore and Seward in Senate races

The Civil Service Employees Association has endorsed Republican Senate candidate Annie Rabbitt over either of the two Democrats running to succeed GOP Sen. John Bonacic in the 42nd Senate District.

The public employees union also backed Republican incumbents George Amedore and James Seward over their Democratic challengers in two other Senate races touching the Hudson Valley and Catskills. Out of four Senate races affecting Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties, Assemblyman James Skoufis is the only Democrat who got the CSEA’s endorsement. Skoufis is competing with Stony Point Councilman Tom Basile for the 39th Senate District seat that Bill Larkin is vacating.

Rabbitt is the Orange County clerk and a former assemblywoman. Rosendale Councilwoman Jen Metzger and Minisink environmental activist Pramilla Malick will compete in a Democratic primary on Sept. 13 to run against Rabbitt in November.

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Skoufis touts three more union endorsements

Assemblyman James Skoufis has added some large union endorsements in his bid for the 39th Senate District seat, announcing on Monday the support of groups representing workers in the health care, communications and property services fields.

The latest unions endorsing the Woodbury Democrat are Communications Workers of America District 1, 32BJ SEIU and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Skoufis previously announced endorsements by the Civil Service Employees Association, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, Teamsters Local 445, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 373, and Laborers Local 754.

“This campaign is about creating fairness and greater opportunities for hardworking people throughout Orange, Ulster, and Rockland,” Skoufis said in a press release. “I’m proud that my commitment to improving our shared communities and growing our local economy has earned me the support of CWA, 32BJ and 1199SEIU. These are incredibly important unions who have long advocated for working people in a variety of important professions that have an impact on our daily lives. As State Senator, I will continue to fight for them.”

“James Skoufis’ work to ensure that Hudson Valley communities have access to quality healthcare, and his commitment to improving education opportunities, from pre-k to college, confirms that he knows the issues that are important to 1199 families,” said Gabby Seay, political director for 1199SEIU. “He has listened closely to 1199 members in the area and understands what healthcare workers need in order to provide the best care possible.”

Skoufis and Republican Tom Basile, a Stony Point councilman and communications consultant, are competing for the Senate seat that Republican Bill Larkin will vacate at the end of the year. The 39th District includes 10 towns and the City of Newburgh in Orange County and two towns each in Rockland and Ulster counties.

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LGBT Victory Fund endorses Maloney in AG Dem primary

A national organization that works to elect LGBT candidates endorsed Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in the Democratic primary race for attorney general and designated him a potential “game changer” for LGBT equality, Maloney’s campaign announced this week.

“Sean’s commitment to fighting for the rights of all Americans and his experience and passion as the first openly gay member of Congress from New York makes him the right choice to be the state’s top attorney,” Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBT Victory Fund, said in a press release.

Maloney has represented New York’s 18th Congressional District since 2013 and is one of four Democrats planning to compete in a Sept. 13 primary for attorney general. He has been emphasizing his experience in Washington, the barriers he overcame in his career and personal life and his fights for LGBT rights in Congress. He released a biographical campaign ad this week in which he recalled his and his husband Randy’s adoption of three children years ago, their marriage in 2014 and his past job in the Clinton White House.

“I’ve personally stopped attempts to fund discrimination with federal tax dollars and halted Republicans’ attacks on the transgender community,” Maloney said in the endorsement announcement. “The biggest threat to our civil rights is coming from Washington, and I’m the only person in this race that has taken on the tough fights against Trump and his Republican allies, and knows how to win.”

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State pays remaining 2018 salary to Skartados estate

A bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month allowed New York to pay the remainder of the late Assemblyman Frank Skartados’ 2018 salary to his estate, awarding almost $64,000 he would have earned from the time of his death until the end of this year.

The payment to the Frank K. Skartados Living Trust was one of four such bills that the Legislature approved and Cuomo signed in this year’s legislative session. Also compensated were the surviving spouses of the late Assembly members William Nojay, Barbara Clark and Michael Simanowitz, who died in 2016 and 2017. The salary balances for those members ranged from around $27,000 to $83,000.

Skartados, a Milton Democrat, died from pancreatic cancer in April after representing the 104th Assembly District for eight years. Five Democrats and two Republicans are running in primaries on Sept. 13 to compete for that vacant Assembly seat in November.

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Faso, GOP colleagues question Cuomo on highway sign flap

Rep. John Faso and five fellow House Republicans from New York released a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday in which they demanded to know what he was doing to correct or remove several hundred tourism promotion signs that the state posted on highways and that could cost it $14 million in federal funding.

Faso, a freshman from Kinderhook who has had a series of verbal dust-ups with the Democratic governor since take office last year, opened the latest round in concert with Claudia Tenney, Elise Stefanik, Chris Collins, Tom Reed and John Katko. In their letter, dated Thursday, they remind Cuomo that the Federal Highway Administration has threatened to withhold highway funds for New York because the more than 500 signs – which bear “I Love New York” and “Taste New York” logos – violate federal standards and pose “a significant safety risk” to drivers. The deadline for New York to comply is Sept. 30.

“As we are nearing the end of the federal fiscal year and the September 30 deadline, what steps have been undertaken by your Administration to prevent the permanent loss of these critical funds?” the Republican House members wrote. “Are both NYSDOT and NYSTA working with FHWA towards a resolution? We urge you to direct NYSDOT and NYSTA to follow the law and not jeopardize the loss of badly needed federal funds for our highway and bridge repair programs.”


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CSEA endorses Skoufis in Senate race

A major public employees union that previously backed Sen. Bill Larkin in his re-election runs has endorsed Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis in his bid to succeed the retiring senator, rather than the Republican candidate Larkin is supporting.

Danny Donohue, president of the statewide Civil Service Employees Association, praised Skoufis’ experience as an assemblyman and a Woodbury councilman before that in a campaign press release, saying it “indisputably makes him the best candidate to represent the 39th Senate District.”

“James has a strong record advocating for working people and putting our communities’ best interests first,” Donohue said. “Orange, Rockland, and Ulster counties are home to many CSEA members and we are proud to give him our full support.”

Skoufis and Republican Tom Basile, a Stony Point councilman and communications consultant, will compete on Nov. 6 for the 39th District seat, which Larkin is vacating after 40 years in Albany as a senator and assemblyman. The district consists of 10 towns and the City of Newburgh in Orange County, and two towns each in Ulster and Rockland counties.

“I could not be prouder to have the support of CSEA and its membership of over 265,000 hardworking New Yorkers,” Skoufis said in the endorsement announcement. “From plowing our roads to providing critical mental health services, the men and women of CSEA are the backbone of our state and local governments.”

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Basile gets Independence line for Senate run (updated)

Republican Senate candidate Tom Basile touted the endorsement on Wednesday of the Independence Party, which gives him a coveted third-party ballot line for his race with Assemblyman James Skoufis for the 39th Senate District.

Both Basile and Skoufis had petitioned to run on the Independence line, but needed the party’s permission. The party’s endorsement of Basile means it authorizes only him to run, preventing a Sept. 13 primary to determine which candidate gets the line.

In Basile’s news release, Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay praised retiring Republican Sen. Bill Larkin for working across the aisle and said Basile would do the same. He also indicated he wants Republicans to retain control of the closely divided Senate so Democrats don’t hold all the levers of power in Albany.

“Tom will also help ensure the kind the balance in Albany that is necessary to protect taxpayers from the impact of one-party rule,” he said.

The Independence Party aimed to preserve the Republican majority in 2016 as well, dispensing its ballot line almost exclusively to Republican Senate candidates and Democratic senators who had aligned themselves with the Republican conference.

Basile, a Stony Point councilman and communications consultant, said of the party’s endorsement: “As Senator, I will be a voice in government for people who want greater independence from a corrupt state government that taxes and spends far too much for people to afford to live here.”

Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat, recently beat out Basile for the Reform Party line, a previously Republican-only slot, although someone has since petitioned for a write-in primary on Sept. 13 to give Basile another shot at the Reform line. Skoufis is assured the Working Families and Women’s Equality lines for the Nov. 6 general election, and Basile has the Conservative and Independence lines.

(Update: Skoufis fired back at Basile and the Independence Party leaders with this statement: “It’s a shame the Albany Independence Party bosses who feed at Senate Majority patronage jobs like pigs at a trough refuse to let the people be heard. No questionnaire. No interview. Our campaign even submitted nearly 800 signatures – 150 more than our opponent – clearly demonstrating who local Independence Party members prefer to run on their line.”)

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Maloney raises $1.1M in five weeks for AG run

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney raked in $1.1 million in contributions for his attorney general run in a little over a month, only slightly less than the Democrats’ endorsed candidate and far more than the other two candidates in a four-way primary race, according to financial disclosure reports filed this week.

The Cold Spring Democrat, a prodigious fundraiser with $3 million in his House campaign account, flexed those skills to keep pace with New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who has Democratic establishment support and the big contributions from unions and others that come with it. What Maloney lacked in institutional support, he made up for with a slew of big checks from wealthy donors and tons of small donations. His campaign said 90 percent of his 1,500 donations were $200 or less and half were $10 or below.

“I’m the only candidate with the experience and independence to be the AG our state needs – someone who will fight corruption in Albany, in Washington, and in corporate suites – and I’m proud that so many New Yorkers have joined my campaign,” Maloney said in a statement on Monday.

James reported raising $1.2 million and had $991,000 in her coffers after expenses, only $10,000 more than Maloney had.

The other two Democrats competing for the attorney general nomination on Sept. 13 are Zephyr Teachout, who raised $551,000 and had $314,000 in her coffers, and Leecia Eve, who collected $300,000 and had about $250,000 on hand.

Maloney’s biggest donors were two Florida couples who each gave him $130,200: Adam and Melony Lewis of Coral Gables, and Mark Zitelli and Jonathan Lewis of Miami.

A dozen other couples or individuals each gave $20,000 to $25,000 to Maloney’s campaign. Jon Cohen and Karen Kostroff of Great Neck, N.Y., gave $50,000. Carl Loewenson and Susan Brune of Garrison, N.Y., gave $42,200, as did David and Jacqueline Simon of Carmel. Another $25,000 came in from Newburgh and White Plains law firms.

Maloney, who has represented New York’s 18th Congressional District since 2013, didn’t raise any money for his House campaign during that time. He had already petitioned to run for a fourth term in Congress when the attorney general opportunity arose in May with Eric Schneiderman’s resignation, and he plans to resume his House race if he doesn’t win the attorney general primary.

Orange County Legislator Jim O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for the 18th District, reported this week that he raised $45,000 from June 7 to June 30 and had $222,000 in his account.

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