New poll: Faso opens up six-point lead against Teachout with independent support

On the eve of election, Republican John Faso has opened up a six-point lead against Democrat Zephyr Teachout in the 19th Congressional District, according to a poll by Siena Research Institute and Time Warner Cable News.

In a poll conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 3, pollsters found Faso leading Teachout 48 to 42 percent. That’s up from September when the two were nearly neck and neck at 43 to 42 percent.

And while both candidates have shored up support within their own parties, Faso’s lead has come from independent voters who have swung in favor of Faso since September polling, according to Siena spokesman Steven Greenberg.

Polls in the race had consistently shown up to this point that the race between the two was within just a few points and within the margin of error.

“Thanks to independent voters, Faso takes a six-point lead in to the closing days of this hotly contested and closely watched congressional race,” Greenberg said. “Teachout and Faso both had their parties’ voters locked in six weeks ago and that’s only intensified as each has at least 80 percent support among their respective parties. However, in this district closely divided between Republicans and Democrats, independent voters have moved into the Faso camp by a 13-point margin, after being nearly evenly divided.”

The polling also shows that Faso has eliminated Teachout’s previous 11-point lead with women and now the two are tied. Teachout leads by 21 points among those with college degrees while Faso’s two-to-one edge is among those without college degrees, Greenberg said.

Polling also shows that Teachout’s favorability rating has dropped. While she was previously viewed favorably by an 11-point margin, she’s now seen unfavorably be a seven-point margin, according to the poll. Greenberg said by a 36-30 percent margin voters say Faso, not Teachout, is waging a more negative campaign.

“Turnout. Independents. It looks like that’s what this race is going to come down to in the final days. Can Teachout win back support among independent voters – who are less committed to their current choice of candidate than are Democrats or Republicans? Which side will do a better job of getting their voters to the polls and ensuring that they vote on this crucial down ballot race? The answer to those two questions will likely determine the next Representative from this district,” Greenberg said. “Faso heads into the final days with a small lead and an even smaller enrollment edge. He’s looking to run out the clock. Still a few days to go.”

The poll was conducted to 605 likely voters via cell phones and landlines in the 19th Congressional District. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The 19th district include parts or all of 11 counties, including all of Ulster and Sullivan.

In 2014 outgoing Republican Rep. Chris Gibson blew out Democratic newcomer Sean Eldridge by about 30 points. Siena’s last poll before that election underestimated Gibson’s advantage by seven points.

You can find the crosstabs for Siena’s poll here.


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Doles switches party enrollment to Republican

Monroe Supervisor Harley Doles, a lifelong Democrat, says he changed his party enrollment to Republican in October, a possible signal that he plans to run for re-election next year and sees a better chance of success with the GOP.

Doles gave a number of reasons for switching parties in an email exchange, none of them directly addressing next year’s Town Board elections. He said that “rather than focus on issues like civil rights, too many local Democrats focus on creating civil disorder,” without explaining further what he meant. He also said that “faith changes a person” as another reason, and that “If the Republican Party can use its power in pursuit of protecting ALL the residents in Monroe, I am all in.”

“I will stop destructive growth,” Doles wrote. “If new groups are to move in I pray my fellow Republicans will help me provide a more constructive approach. Monroe has much to offer, but we do feel we are being taken advantage of.”

Doles, whose four-year term as supervisor ends next year, told the Times Herald-Record in March, after a 10-week absence and a loss of power on the Town Board, that he “truly, truly” doubted he would run for reelection in 2017.

But that may have changed. His enrollment switch happened right around the Oct. 14 deadline for him to change his affiliation and run as a member of that new party — the Republicans — next year. Doles didn’t answer when initially asked if his party switch was a strategic move for reelection next year, and didn’t respond Friday to a follow-up question on that issue.

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Panel may decide Thursday on raises for state lawmakers

A state commission deciding on potential pay raises for state lawmakers could vote on them on Thursday, two days after elections for all 213 legislative seats and five days before the commission’s deadline for a decision.

The panel has no agenda for the meeting, so the vote is uncertain. But the next day is Veterans Day, which would leave only the following Monday and Tuesday for the commission to reconvene if it puts off the decision.

One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s three appointees to the seven-member commission quit last week, leaving the panel with six members and no voting advantage for the governor. The other four members were appointed by legislative leaders and the former chief judge of the state Court of Appeals. Gary Johnson, the appointee who resigned, said in a letter to Cuomo on Oct. 28 that he had to step down to pursue “other career and personal options.”

One of the Legislature’s appointees, Roman Hedges, suggested awarding legislators 47 percent raises in July, setting off howls of public opposition. Other panelists have voiced skepticism about raising lawmakers’ $79,500 base pay at all, particularly with the Legislature having failed to ban or limit how much outside income its members can earn or enact other proposed ethics reforms this year.

Lawmakers’ base pay hasn’t changed since 1999. Most also get stipends of between $9,000 and $41,500 on top of their base pay.

The panel, known as the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation, also must decide by Nov. 15 on raises for the heads of state agencies and for statewide elected officials, under the language in the 2015 budget bill that created the panel. Commission staff have indicated that the attorney general and comptroller are the only statewide elected officials whose salaries the panel will determine, and not the governor and lieutenant governor. Cuomo is now paid $179,000; a 47 percent raise would put that salary at $263,000.

Numerous lawmakers and legislative candidates have submitted letters to the commission in opposition to raising legislative pay at all or by 47 percent. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie took the opposing view, arguing that raises were “long overdue” and that stagnant pay was limiting the types of people who could be senators and Assembly members.

“The people who can afford to pursue these positions will disproportionately become the retired, the independently wealthy, and younger people who plan to serve for a short time and then move to the private sector,” Heastie wrote. “While these groups often produce excellent legislators, it should not be the only pool from which legislators are drawn.”

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Larkin announces $1.2M in grants before election

Sen. Bill Larkin announced $1.2 million in state grants for municipalities and libraries in the 39th Senate District over four weeks in the run-up to the Cornwall-on-Hudson Republican’s re-election bid next week.

Much of the money came through the State and Municipalities program, which enables senators and Assembly members to distribute millions in borrowed state money as grants for their districts. Senate Republican leaders and Assembly Democratic leaders divide the available funds among members of their respective chambers as they see fit; Senate Republicans haven’t let Democrats in their chamber have any.

Here are the grants Larkin’s office recently announced:

Town of Monroe street sweeper, $275,000 (Sept. 23)

City of Newburgh body cameras and other police equipment, no amount specified (Oct. 5)

Village of Woodbury recycling truck, $200,000 (Oct. 11)

Washingtonville, Blooming Grove, South Blooming Grove street sweeper, $250,000 (Oct. 12)

Town of Cornwall dump truck, $135,000 (Oct. 13)

City of Newburgh Fire Department tow truck, $60,000  (Oct. 14)

Orange County District Atttorney’s Office drug task force, $50,000 (Oct. 14)

Walden river boardwalk, $150,000  (Oct. 18)

Five libraries, $50,000 (Oct. 20)

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Obama makes robocall pitch for Eachus

Democratic households in New York’s 39th Senate District are getting recorded phone calls from President Barack Obama, urging them to vote for Chris Eachus, the Orange County legislator and New Windsor Democrat who’s running to unseat Republican Sen. Bill Larkin on Tuesday.

The robocalls are part of an effort by the outgoing Democratic president to use his current popularity to help elect Democrats in state races around the country, a key strategy for the national party in part because of the control state legislatures exert over redrawing congressional district lines every 10 years.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats in state elections, last week released an initial list of 93 candidates in 20 states that Obama had endorsed. The list included Eachus and four other Democratic Senate candidates in New York, all from battleground districts on Long Island: Sen. Todd Kaminsky (9th District);  Jim Gaughran (5th District); Ryan Cronin (6th District); and Adam Haber (7th District). The outcome of those and other competitive races in the Hudson Valley will help determine if Republicans retain control of the Senate.

“I thank President Obama for endorsing my candidacy and for weighing in on this important State Senate race,” Eachus said in a statement about the endorsement. “President Obama, as a former State Senator, appreciates how much vital work is done by state governments, and I find that that makes his endorsement even more significant and meaningful.”

The robocall itself is a generic message of support with the candidate’s name dropped in. (Obama correctly pronounced Eachus.) Here’s the text:

 ”Hi, this is Barack Obama, and I’m asking you to support Chris Eachus. This election isn’t just about defeating extreme Republican candidates. It’s also about electing strong Democrats. Chris Eachus will fight to defend the progress we’ve made over the past eight years. Our children need to us to keep working to make this country stronger, fairer, safer and cleaner, and Chris Eachus will do just that. Again, this is Barack Obama, urging you to get to the polls to vote for the candidate who has my back and yours. Thanks. And go vote.”

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Kiryas Joel voter total tops 10,000

One hundred new voters registered in Kiryas Joel in two weeks in October, pushing enrollment in the bloc-voting community over 10,000 for the first time.

An updated list of Monroe voters registered with the Orange County Board of Elections in time for the upcoming election shows 22,788 in the entire town, with 10,014 in the Village of Kiryas Joel and about another 400 in two election districts outside the village that have a largely Hasidic population. About 12,375 voters are registered in the rest of Monroe.

A little over half of the 100 Kiryas Joel voters who signed up in October enrolled in the Conservative Party. That is likely a strategic move to influence future Conservative Party primaries.

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Larkin campaign corrects big report error

Sen. Bill Larkin’s campaign has corrected a big mistake in the finacial disclosure report it filed on Friday, removing two errant zeros that made it look as though it had spent an ungodly $246,300 on lawn signs and put itself in the red as a result.

The true sum the Larkin campaign paid Capital Productions for signs on Oct. 24 was $2,463, according to an amended report now posted online at the state Board of Elections website. That left the Cornwall-on-Hudson with $241,002 on hand as of last Monday – not -$2,836, as his campaign initially reported. The correction of his bill for lawn signs put Larkin’s total spending for the reporting period at $350,857, rather than $594,694.

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Larkin campaign spends almost $600,000 in 20 days

Sen. Bill Larkin’s re-election campaign got a $360,000 cash infusion from the Senate Republicans’ campaign committee and went on a spending spree this month, buying $320,585 worth of TV commercials and $246,300 in lawn signs that left his account with a negative balance as of Monday.

Larkin’s campaign reported -$2,835.50 on hand in the financial disclosure report it filed on Friday, showing a total of $564,694 in spending between Oct. 4 and Oct. 24. That is in addition to the lavish amounts that outside organizations and the Senate Republican Campaign Committee have spent to defend the Cornwall-on-Hudson Republican’s seat against a challenge by Democrat Chris Eachus, an Orange County legislator from New Windsor who’s waging his second attempt to unseat the veteran lawmaker.

Larkin reported $25,298 in contributions in his latest report, in addition to the $360,000 the Senate Republicans gave him.

Eachus reported $33,937 in contributions and $19,069 in expenses from Oct. 3 to Oct. 24, leaving him with a $48,056 balance. He, too, is getting support from outside groups that are buying commercials and mailers on his behalf. On Friday, the Fund for Great Public Schools – a New York State United Teachers political action committee that already has spent heavily on Eachus – reported $84,000 in additional spending on TV ads and phone surveys on Eachus’s behalf.

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WTBQ to hold candidates’ forum (updated)

Five candidates in four state Legislature races have accepted invitations to speak at a candidates’ forum WTBQ radio station will hold at 1 p.m. on Thursday, five days before the election.

Both Sen. John Bonacic and Pramilla Malick, the Democrat challenging the Republican incumbent for the 42nd Senate District seat on Nov. 8, have agreed to take part. So have Chris Eachus, the Democrat challenging Sen. Bill Larkin for the 39th Senate District; Republican Assemblyman Karl Brabenec; and Colin Schmitt, the Republican who’s challenging Assemblyman James Skoufis for the 99th Assembly District seat. Skoufis has declined the invitation. (Update: Skoufis has accepted the invitation; make that six candidates participating.)

As of Thursday, the station had not heard back from Larkin or Aron Wieder, the Democrat challenging Brabenec for the 98th Assembly District.

Station manager Taylor Sterling called the forum more of a “conversation” than a debate, saying the participants will answer questions – including some suggested by listeners – but will not engage one another. “We are trying to keep it civil and less negativity and have them highlight what they are going to do, not what the other candidates cannot do or did wrong,” she said.

The station can be found at 1110 AM, 93.5 FM, and online at

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Maloney maintains huge funding edge in NY18 race

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Republican challenger Phil Oliva entered the final three weeks of their race for New York’s 18th Congressional District with the Democratic incumbent holding a 60-to-1 advantage in campaign funds.

Financial disclosure reports the two campaigns filed on Thursday showed Maloney with $2.1 million on hand and Oliva with about $35,000 as of Oct. 19. Maloney had raised $103,811 and spent $280,617 in the preceding 18 days, while Oliva had raised $10,120 and spent $21,514 in that same period.

Maloney, a Cold Spring resident seeking a third term in Congress, and Oliva, a Somers resident and aide to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, will compete on Nov. 8 for the 18th District seat, which represents all of Orange and Putnam counties and parts of Westchester and Dutchess.

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