Donovan On Additional Debates

Dan Donovan dismissed complaints that he’s participated in too few forums and confirmed that he does not plan to attend any additional candidate forums or debates ahead of the May 5th 11th Congressional District special election.  Donovan has participated in three forums/debates, not attending an additional four forums held by various groups.  We spoke with Donovan outside of a Chinatown press conference where he received the endorsement of the Lin Sing Association.

Bay Ridge Debate

Democratic Party candidate Vincent Gentile and Green Party candidate James Lane participated in a candidate debate Wednesday in Bay Ridge.  Republican/Conservative/Independence Parties candidate Dan Donovan was invited but did not attend.  Hosted by the Bay Ridge Council on Aging at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center, the debate also included a self-described write-in candidate, Tom Weiss, despite the moderator’s efforts to limit the debate to Gentile and Lane.  The candidates face a May 5th special election to fill the 11th Congressional District seat vacated by Michael Grimm.

Here is the full debate:

Why Are We Married To Staten Island?

So said one of the audience members questioning, and complaining about, the inclusion of a slice of southern Brooklyn in the Staten Island-dominated 11th Congressional District. It’s a reverse of the more common refrain from Staten Islanders who often feel politically neglected and marginalized.

Neither Democrat Vincent Gentile nor Green Partier James Lane quite got it right in their response, however.  Gentile was reasonably close, noting that the state legislature, not congress, is responsible for drawing district lines.  He omitted the fact that the current lines were actually drawn by a court-appointed expert as part of a federal lawsuit in 2012, however, and that the 11th district is a reasonable, coherent district.  Lane lamented the process and effects of gerrymandering without appearing to know that it’s not an accurate description of how the current congressional district lines were drawn nor of the composition of the current congressional districts.

Gentile On Outside Support

Democratic candidate Vincent Gentile has received little outside support so far as he campaigns toward a May 5th special election.  The 11th Congressional District seat he’s seeking is widely regarded as likely to stay Republican despite former Rep. Michael Grimm’s guilty plea to federal tax evasion and subsequent resignation.  Democrats have had some recent success there, however, with Andrew Cuomo winning the district this past November and Barack Obama winning Staten Island (which comprises most of the district) in his 2012 reelection.  Neither has given any visible support to Gentile.

With Cuomo’s significant 2014 margin of victory in the district his support could be meaningful for Gentile.  In February, on the day that Cuomo set the election date and before Gentile was selected as the Democratic candidate, Cuomo suggested that he would not get involved in the race and offered kind words about Republican Dan Donovan.

I asked Gentile about the absence of significant outside Democratic support and whether he plans to ask Governor Cuomo for his endorsement.  Here’s what he had to say:

Photo Gallery: 11th Congressional Debate

NY11 Debate 4-22-15

Here is our photo gallery from New York’s most recent congressional candidate debate.  The Bay Ridge Council On Aging hosted a debate this morning featuring candidates in the 11th Congressional District special election.  The May 5th special election will select a successor to former Congressman Michael Grimm in a district which includes all of Staten Island and a crescent shaped slice of southwestern Brooklyn.

NY11 Debate 4-22-15

The debate, held at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center in Bay Ridge, included Democratic Party candidate Vincent Gentile and Green Party candidate James Lane.  Republican/Conservative/Independence parties candidate Dan Donovan was invited but did not attend.  His absence drew considerable condemnation from Gentile and Lane.  A self-described write-in candidate, Tom Weiss, was not invited but nonetheless participated despite repeated objections from the moderator.

Click here for our photo gallery.

NY11 Debate 4-22-15

Photo Gallery: 19 Presidential Candidates In New Hampshire

19 Republican presidential candidates attended a “Leadership Summit” hosted by the New Hampshire Republican Party on April 17th and 18th.  We’ve produced a great photo gallery from that parade of candidates.

Rand Paul

Click here for our photo gallery.


Trump On Trump

“I’m gonna make the country rich again, and then I’m gonna make the country great again, if I run.”

Donald Trump’s closing line at a post-speech press Q&A summed up his appearance at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s Leadership Summit yesterday.  One of 19 putative candidates appearing at the conference, Trump’s pitch was based on pledging to replicate his “phenomenal” personal financial success for the country as a whole and visceral anger at a diminished United States.  He mostly avoided policy discussions, but did say that he would not cut social security, medicaid or medicare as he “would bring so much money into this country” that such cuts would be unnecessary.  Similarly, Trump said that he was open to considering an increase in the federal minimum wage but that such an increase would be “unimportant” as a Trump presidency would produce dramatic financial improvements for all.

Most of the 19 “candidates” appearing at the conference are not legally declared as candidates, but are in various stages of “considering” and “contemplating” running.  “I’d say June, July” replied Trump, who’s flirted with running for office numerous times and is not legally declared as a candidate, when I asked for his timeframe on a decision of whether to run.

Ted Cruz Q&A

Senator Ted Cruz wrapped up his appearance at the New Hampshire Republican “Leadership Summit” by discussing his opposition to Loretta Lynch’s nomination as U.S. Attorney General and to holding a vote on her nomination, his views on federal marijuana policy and whether he thinks “it’s time for a woman president.”

Cruz opposes Lynch’s nomination and also opposes holding a vote on her nomination.  It’s been an effective strategy, leaving a lame-duck Eric Holder in place as AG and markedly shortening the time Lynch will have in office if and when she’s confirmed.  With five months having passed since President Obama announced her selection, her possible time in office has shrunk significantly as the January 2017 end of the Obama administration looms ever larger.  Refusing to hold a Senate vote on presidential nominees is a strategy that Cruz may come to hold a different view of, however, should he become president.

Cruz also discussed why he opposes a Justice Department policy of not prosecuting low level marijuana offenses but accepts individual states legalizing the use of marijuana.  Finally, he responded to a question of whether “it’s time for a woman president.”  Echoing arguments made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, he attacked Obama and Hillary Clinton over rising income inequality.

Cruz, a declared candidate for president, spoke with the press following his speech Saturday at a New Hampshire Republican party presidential candidate conference in Nashua.

Pataki At NH Presidential Candidate Summit

Former New York Governor opened a 19 candidate parade through Nashua, New Hampshire’s Crowne Plaza Hotel this morning, kicking off one of the, if not the, largest gathering of presidential candidates in recent history.  Many of them, Pataki included, are not legally declared candidates, wink wink, but are nonetheless acting as though they are running.

Each candidate is given 30 minutes to speak, determining for themselves how much time to devote to Q&A.  Pataki went further, pushing the lectern aside and placing two stools on stage as he was joined by a New Hampshire radio host who asked questions.  The conversational style worked well for Pataki, allowing him to drop a number of well-received quips and one-liners.

Post-Speech Q&A:

Pataki spoke with the press following his speech.

Pataki On Cuomo’s Cuba Trip

Former New York Governor George Pataki politely disagreed with current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s upcoming trade mission to Cuba, scheduled for Monday.  Pataki was harshly critical of President Obama’s decision to move toward normalizing relations with Cuba, recounting his own experience visiting Cuba.  Pataki tried to avoid directly criticizing Cuomo however, citing Mario Cuomo’s similar stance toward Pataki, but expressly said that he would not have made such a trip if he were in office now.

We spoke at a Pataki campaign appearance in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Donovan On Smoking Marijuana

During an 11th Congressional District candidate debate Tuesday evening, both Republican Dan Donovan and Democrat Vincent Gentile acknowledged smoking marijuana.  The question was posed during a “lightning round” by moderator Errol Louis in which the candidates were asked for yes/no answers (and occurs at about 35:45).  As the Staten Island District Attorney Donovan oversees prosecution of marijuana and other drug charges.

After the debate I asked Donovan when and how frequently he had smoked marijuana:

CD 11 – The Post-Debate Gaggles

NY1 and the Staten Island Advance hosted an 11th Congressional District candidate debate Tuesday evening between Republican Dan Donovan and Democrat Vincent Gentile.  Held at the College of Staten Island, the debate topics ranged from whether the candidates have ever smoked marijuana to how to deal with Israel, Iran and the deep issues raised by President Obama’s recent executive orders on immigration.

Both candidates spoke with the press following the debate.

Donovan:

Gentile:

Donovan & The Minimum Wage

During a candidate debate hosted by NY1 and the Staten Island Advance Republican Dan Donovan appeared to not know the federal minimum wage.  His Democratic opponent, Vincent Gentile, asked him that question during a “cross examination” portion of the debate (at about 31:00).  When asked about it during a post-debate Q&A with reporters, Donovan denied hearing the question as posed.

Gentile:  Here’s what Gentile had to say about his minimum wage question and Donovan’s response when speaking with reporters after the debate.