Schmitt holds Assembly campaign kickoff

Republican Assembly candidate Colin Schmitt formally launched his campaign for the 99th Assembly District seat on Saturday with a rally with relatives and supporters at an American Legion hall in New Windsor.

“I will work tirelessly to deliver our fair share from Albany to lower property taxes, invest in our schools and create jobs in our community,”  Schmitt said in a press release afterward. “I will stand up for our students to stop common core and return control of our children’s education to local parents. ”

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, Assemblyman Karl Brabenec and other Republican officials spoke in support of Schmitt at his announcement. Schmitt, a New Windsor resident who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the 99th District seat in 2012, registered as a candidate for the 2016 election in December and has conducted a series of “Coffee with Colin” stops at eateries and coffee shops in the 99th District’s 10 towns.

Assemblyman James Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat who won the 99th District seat in 2012, has created a Senate campaign committee and has said he’s seriously considering running for the Senate seat that Republican Bill Larkin has long held. But he has not announced yet which office he will seek in November. No other Democrat or Republican has opened a committee to run for the 99th Assembly District, which consists of nine Orange County towns and Stony Point in Rockland. Petitions to run for state offices in November aren’t due until July 14.

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Teachout says she’s raised $530K in first quarter of 2016

Zephyr Teachout says she’s raised more than half a million dollars in the first three months of 2016 as part of her bid for congress in New York’s 19th Congressional District.

Teachout, who rents a home in Dutchess County, says she raised $530,732.75 in the first quarter of 2016. Her campaign says the 13,248 contributions from 10,657 donors average to $40.06 a person.

“Teachout’s 13,000 + contributions reflect a broad and enthusiastic grass-roots response to her candidacy,” her campaign said in a press release.

Zephyr Teachout

The full filing with the Federal Election Commission will be up on April 15, her campaign says.

In the last quarter on 2015 before Teachout announced her run, her GOP opponents John Faso and Andrew Heaney took in $858,429 and $1,009,331, respectively. A third GOP opponent, Bob Bishop, took in only $6,000.  Those three haven’t yet released their first-quarter hauls.

Will Yandik, Teachout’s Democratic competitor, also has not yet released how much he hauled in this year.

Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, has said he’s not running again in the 11-county district that includes all of Ulster and Sullivan counties. He’s thinking about running for governor in 2018.

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Orange, Ulster GOP leaders endorse Trump

As candidates hopscotch to events from Rochester to Brooklyn and New York basks in its rare relevance in a presidential primary, Donald Trump’s campaign rolled out a list of 33 Republican county chairmen who are supporting him in the state’s contest on April 19, a lineup that includes Courtney Canfield Greene of Orange County and Roger Rascoe of Ulster County.

Party leaders in most of the Hudson Valley – plus Long Island and three of five boroughs in New York – have jumped on board. In the Hudson Valley, that included the Republican chairmen in Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess and Ulster counties.

The “honorary co-chairmen” of Trump’s New York campaign are: Carl Paladino, the Buffalo developer and 2010 gubernatorial candidate; Rep. Chris Collins of Western New York; and Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson.

“I’ve known Donald Trump for a decade; I know his handshake is a solemn pledge,” Anderson said in a campaign press release. “Here in Dutchess County, he has done great things, always keeping his word and delivering even more than he promises. What he has done for Dutchess, I know he can do for America, so I proudly stand with him as he works to Make America Great Again.”

Absent from the list of Trump supporters is Sullivan County Republican Chairman Dick Coombe, who criticized Trump’s call to ban Muslim immigrants in December and was stunned that he remained the GOP front-runner.

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Democratic enrollment edge grows in Orange County

The slight Democratic enrollment advantage in the formerly Republican-dominated Orange County has grown in the last four years, bringing with it a greater edge for Democrats in the county’s congressional district and two state Senate districts.

The state Board of Election has posted statewide voter registration data as of April 1, showing Orange County with almost 8,000 more active Democratic voters than active Republicans – a margin that increases to 10,000 when inactive voters are lumped in.  Among active voters, that was a net gain of about 5,000 voters for Democrats since 2012 (4,000 additional Democrats and 1,000 fewer Republicans). The totals as of April 1 were 75,896 enrolled Democrats and 68,087 Republicans in Orange.

In New York’s 18th Congressional District, which includes all of Orange County, Democrats now hold an enrollment edge among active voters of about 15,000, up from 5,000 in April 2012. The district, represented since 2013 by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, now has 147,018 Democrats and 131,948 Republicans in its active enrollment.

In the 39th state Senate District, the seat held by longtime Republican Sen. Bill Larkin of Cornwall-on-Hudson, the Democratic enrollment edge among active voters has grown to almost 13,000 voters from 8,000 four years earlier. And Orange County’s other state Senate District – the 42nd, held by fellow Republican Sen. John Bonacic of Mount Hope – now has almost 11,000 more active Democratic voters than Republicans, up from 7,000 in 2012.

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Clinton leads Sanders by 12 points in NY poll

With less than three weeks to go before New York’s presidential primaries on April 19, a Quinnipiac University poll of likely primary voters in New York released on Thursday shows Donald Trump with a commanding lead on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders by 12 percentage points among Democrats.

Clinton’s lead was narrower than the 21-point margin that Siena College reported in polls of New York voters in February and March. Quinnipiac’s results underscored the glaring contrast in the preferences of younger and older workers: Voters 44 and under support Sanders over Clinton by 63 percent to 36 percent, while 73 percent of the 65-and-older survey respondents chose Clinton. Support among white voters was evenly split, while black voters preferred Clinton by 66 percent to 31 percent.

Among likely Republican primary voters, 56 percent supported Trump, 20 percent backed Ted Cruz and 19 percent preferred John Kasich. Trump fared best with male voters and those without college degrees, but did just fine with women and college graduates: 50 percent of college graduates and 48 percent of women said they supported him over Cruz and Kasich.

Both Clinton and Sanders beat all three Republican candidates in head-to-head matchups, with Sanders doing slightly better than Clinton and Kasich coming within 5 points of Clinton in a race between the two of them.

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Gillibrand makes fundraising pitch for Teachout

Kirsten Gillibrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has made a quarter-ending fundraising appeal on behalf of congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout, the law professor and 2014 gubernatorial candidate who is competing against two other Democrats with lower profiles to run for the 19th District seat that Chris Gibson will vacate this year.

Gillibrand, a Democrat who represented the same district before advancing to the Senate, praises Teachout for encouraging women’s participation in politics – a favored cause of Gillibrand’s – by both running for office and hiring women for her top campaign positions. On the last day of the first-quarter fundraising period, Gillibrand’s email is urging donors to pump up Teachout’s coffers for her three-way contest with Will Yandik and John Patrick Kehoe for the Democratic nomination.

Here’s an excerpt:

Zephyr Teachout

“There’s another thing I love about Zephyr – she’s got courage. Running for office isn’t easy. You’re vulnerable in ways you never imagined. But that doesn’t seem to worry Zephyr. She has a real commitment to public service, a joy for the democratic process that you don’t often see.

“When women raise their voices, they can impact politics in a positive way. I’m supporting Zephyr because I know she’ll go to Congress and continue to stand up for all the women of the Hudson Valley region and the New York Southern Tier.

“I can’t wait to work with her on the New York delegation, and I think her unique voice will be a breath of fresh air in the halls of Congress.”


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Gibson’s multiple-choice Cuomo analysis: “belligerent, tone deaf, or insincere”

Taking a windmill windup at the governor he may seek to unseat in two years, Rep. Chris Gibson unloosed a scathing statement on Thursday about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget priorities, his feud with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the typically secretive way in which Cuomo and two legislative leaders had negotiated their budget deals and the absence of any ethics reform in their horse-trading.

Gibson, a Kinderhook Republican who has been in Congress a little over five years and whose district includes Ulster and Sullivan counties, is clearing shifting his attention to Albany as his stint in Washington winds down. He is foregoing a re-election run for New York’s 19th Congressional District this year, and has been traveling the state to prepare for a potential run for governor in 2018.

Here’s Gibson’s full statement, which reads like his inaugural campaign manifesto:

“Once again, we have a budget deal that was delivered to New Yorkers after backroom arm twisting and deal making, and driven by political spats and retribution.

“Governor Cuomo’s desire to make New York City ‘pay’ is because of his political frustration and anger with the Mayor.  His mandate to raise the minimum wage without serious regard to the consequences on Upstate, non-profits, small businesses and family farms is a direct result of his desire to drive up his flagging poll numbers.  And, his retreat – once again – on ethics reform when it is desperately needed is not only disappointing, but indicative of the type of Capitol Governor Cuomo wishes to preside over. On ethics reforms and so much more he is either belligerent, tone deaf, or insincere.

“This is a budget that will ensure more of the same in Albany and in our state.  Our counties will continue to struggle, our small businesses get no relief – just more mandates and regulations, and hardworking New Yorkers will continue to bear the largest tax burden in the nation.  We didn’t fundamentally change the myriad of policies on job creation, Medicaid spending, disabilities support, education, regulations, infrastructure investment and so much else – which will only result in our state continuing to struggle and more and more New Yorkers choosing to live elsewhere.

“We need a governor that is less focused on political revenge and driving up his poll numbers and instead prioritizes what is good for every New Yorker – Upstate and Downstate.  We need a governor who will lead an inclusive, democratic legislative process that isn’t defined by 3, or 4, men in a room.  We need a governor who will change the fundamental direction of our state – towards greater economic prosperity, a more honest government, and the individual freedom that every New Yorker deserves.

“Andrew Cuomo will never be that governor.  He must be defeated if we are to change the direction of New York State.”

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Brabenec denounces closed budget talks

Assemblyman Karl Brabenec voiced outrage on Wednesday morning as the state’s budget deadline approached and Albany’s all-powerful leaders continued to hash out the terms behind closed doors, undeterred by the scorching corruption scandals last year that led to the removal of both legislative leaders and cast a harsh light on the concentration of power in New York.

“It’s grossly irresponsible and an embarrassing reflection on our state that three men alone have the authority to spend over $140 billion as they see fit,” Brabenec, a freshman Republican from Deerpark, said in a statement, referring to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “It’s unbelievable that legislative leaders continue the same practices that resulted in two of their former colleagues leaving Albany in handcuffs. ”

Brabenec then teed off on the Assembly’s ruling Democrats, while apparently referring to practices that festered under the Senate’s Republican majority as well: “What we need are term limits for legislative leaders and pension forfeiture for corrupt politicians to hinder the kind of abuses of power and public money that took place with Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos. Assembly Democrats continue to perpetuate Albany’s dangerous culture of secrecy and corruption in exchange for re-election. In doing so, they disenfranchise millions of New Yorkers and cement New York City’s stranglehold on New York State politics.”

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Sara Niccoli gets Working Famlies Party endorsement

Democrat Sara Niccoli, the Town of Palatine supervisor who’s looking to unseat state Sen. George Amedore, has won the endorsement of the Working Families Party.

In a statement Karen Scharff, co-chair of the state Working Families Party, accused Amedore, R-Rotterdam, of being beholden to real estate developers, New York City lobbyists and being too focused on his development company.

“We need a State Senator who understands the challenges facing our communities and is truly one of us. Unfortunately, our current representative is beholden to real estate developers and big business lobbyists from New York City and is more focused on his development company rather than our communities. In contrast, Sara Niccoli has worked tirelessly to build an economy that works for all of us — for fair wages, funding for our schools, and state policies that help small businesses, farms and communities thrive. We are proud to support Sara Niccoli for Senate because she will fight for good jobs and good schools for the working families of the 46th Senate District,” Scharff said in a press release.

Amedore beat former senator Cecilia Tkaczyk in 2014 in the race for the 46th Senate District. The district includes parts of Ulster County, including Kingston, Woodstock Stone Ridge and Saugerties. Amedore won that race 42,009 to 53,553 in 2014, more than 11,000 votes. Tkaczyk took only Ulster County in the five counties of the 46th that stretch up to Albany.

But in what was considered a major upset in 2012, a presidential election year, Tkaczyk beat Amedore, then a state assemblyman, by 18 votes.

The 2014 race was also record-setting in the amount of money that was poured into the race — about $6.8 million was spent between both candidates and independent expenditures, according to Politico New York analysis.

Among the big spenders were real-estate interests, which spent more than $1 million to campaign for Amedore. Meanwhile, the state’s largest teachers’ union, New York State United Teachers, spent about $600,000 towards Tkaczyk’s campaign, according to New York Public Interest Research Group.

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Maloney bill would waive college debt for disabled vets

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, introduced a bill on Wednesday that would automatically waive student-loan debts for disabled veterans, sparing them the bureaucratic hassle and wait they must undergo now to have their federal loans discharged.

“My dad was disabled while serving in the Navy, and when he came home his country had his back, helping him go to college on the GI Bill,” Maloney said in press release about his bill. “But far too often these days, the burden is on our veterans to find and secure the benefits they earned while serving our country. We should be making it easier for our veterans to go to college, not harder.”

The bill, known as the Disabled Veterans Student Loan Protection Act, has a Republican co-sponsor: Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania. According to Maloney’s office, the measure would ensure greater cooperation among the Department of Education, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense. Those three agencies would share information for veterans with 100-percent, service-connected disabilities who have outstanding student loans, so that loans are automatically discharged and veterans are told that has happened.

A string of supporters, including representatives of four national veterans’ organizations, praised Maloney’s bill in his press release. Closer to home, Maloney also got commendations from Christian Farrell, director of Orange County’s Veterans Services Agency, and SUNY Orange President Kristine Young.

“The Disabled Veterans Student Loan Protection Act of 2016 ensures that the military men and women who’ve bravely put the welfare of their countrymen first, and in the process have become totally and permanently disabled, are now relieved of having to repay their personal student loans – without having to fill out any paperwork,” Farrell said. “That’s what we call ‘taking care of the troops.’”


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