Gentile Press Q&A: The Nomination Edition

Newly designated congressional candidate Vincent Gentile spoke with press following his selection and speech to the Richmond County Democratic Committee.  Topics included the Eric Garner case and the absence of any direct discussion of it in his acceptance speech, his plans for continuing post-Garner “healing”, opponent and incumbent District Attorney Dan Donovan’s prosecutorial abilities, the absence of an indictment in the Garner case, a poll (which did not include Gentile) showing Donovan as the leading candidate, his assessment of President Barack Obama and his assessment of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

A detailed look at his assessment of Obama and de Blasio is here.  Here’s Gentile’s full Q&A:

Gentile On Obama, de Blasio

Obama – great, or good, job.  de Blasio – meh.  That’s the essence of Council Member and congressional candidate Vincent Gentile’s response when asked about the two Democratic elected officials.  Gentile spoke during a press Q&A following his nomination to run as the Democratic candidate in the 11th Congressional District special election scheduled for May 5th.


When I asked Gentile to rate President Obama’s overall performance he responded with an answer solely focused on the economy.  Gentile termed Obama’s performance “great”, although he also amended his answer to “good”, saying that “I’m prepared to say that he’s done a great, a good job with the economy.”  Although viewed by many as a political liability, President Obama carries substantial support in some areas.  He won Staten Island in his 2012 reelection bid, 78,000 to 74,000, after having lost it in 2008 by 7,000 votes.  It’s also worth noting, however, that Bob Turner won a neighboring district congressional special election in 2011 (to replace Anthony Weiner) by galvanizing discontent with Obama’s approach to Israel.  It’s unclear at this early stage whether Obama will be a meaningful part of the campaign, but Gentile’s initial positioning is supportive of his fellow Democrat.

Here’s Gentile on Obama:

Continue reading Gentile On Obama, de Blasio

Congressional Race Underway (Updated)

A congressional campaign is now underway, but it’s not the 11th Congressional District race to succeed Michael Grimm.  It’s the 2016 13th Congressional District race to succeed Rep. Charles B. Rangel.  Rangel, re-elected to a 23rd term in 2014, has said that he will not run again.

Adam Clayton Powell IV, son of the legendary congressman defeated in 1970 by Charles Rangel, kicked-off his campaign with an East Harlem fundraiser this evening.  Powell is a former state assembly and city council member who has run against Rangel twice.  He supported Rangel in 2012 and 2014 against strong challenges each time from NY State Senator Adriano Espaillat, however.

I spoke with Powell tonight, with our conversation covering why he’s begun campaigning so early, whether he’s asked for Rangel’s endorsement, what voters are looking for, the large field of prospective candidates and how his career ups and downs have affected him.

Update – The Competition:

Among the large group of possible competitors for the seat is New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who ran and lost to Rangel in 2012 and 2014.  The Dominican-born Espaillat represents much of Upper Manhattan and was widely regarded as likely to win in 2014.  Powell had some non-encouraging comments about a third Espaillat candidacy.  Although he described Espaillat as “a great guy”, Powell noted that Espaillat has lost twice in seeking the seat and offered (without any apparent irony) that “I don’t think he wants to go out with three strikes.”  He also suggested that Espaillat “ought to be planning his retirement rather than Charlie Rangel’s retirement.”  Powell spoke in response to a question from Will Bredderman of the NY Observer.

Cuomo At Hotel Trades Council

Governor Andrew Cuomo today lauded his administration’s increase of the minimum wage applicable to tipped workers to $7.50.  Currently the minimum wage for tipped workers is $4.90, $5.00 or $5.65, varying by the industry.  Effective as of December 31, 2015 there will be a uniform minimum applicable to all tipped workers.

Saying that businesses are “making record profits” and that “it is time that they share”, Cuomo also urged the state legislature to approve an increase in the statewide minimum wage to $10.50, with an additional $1.00 per hour in New York City.  Lamenting that “the rich are getting richer and the middle class and the working families are being left further and further behind”, Cuomo cast the increases as the “right thing … the fair thing … the honest thing” to do.

Cuomo spoke at the Hotel Trades Council midtown Manhattan headquarters.

Best Governor/Mayor Relationship?

Does Mayor Bill de Blasio share Governor Andrew Cuomo’s view that their relationship “will be the best relationship between a mayor and governor in modern political history when all is said and done?”

Cuomo and de Blasio do have a long relationship, with de Blasio having worked for Cuomo in the 1990’s at Department of Housing and Urban Development, and there have been moments when Cuomo has looked to de Blasio for assistance.  At many other times however, and as have virtually all New York governors and mayors, Cuomo and de Blasio have found themselves at odds.  They’ve mostly worked to keep their disagreements and differences out of public view, but those frictions clearly exist.

I asked Mayor de Blasio about Governor Cuomo’s comment today at an unrelated press conference.  Here’s how he reacted (hint – the real answer is in the smile):

de Blasio Press Q&A: The M/WBE Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference this afternoon following a closed-door “Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise Stakeholder Meeting.”

Questions during the off-topic portion of the press conference included his opinion of the expected Democratic candidate in the 11th Congressional District special election and whether he’ll campaign for Gentile, the prospect of Department of Homeland Security losing funding, religious organizations renting City school facilities for prayer/worship services and the related lawsuit, a NY Post report criticizing a newly-created NYPD training program, reported terror threats against shopping malls, the absence of a Lunar New Year message from the mayor and his non-attendance at the Lunar New Year parade, his reaction to Governor Cuomo’s comment that their relationship will be “the best relationship between a mayor and governor in modern political history,” his scheduled trip to Albany on Wednesday and delays in federal funding of Sandy rebuilding.

Cuomo Speech Protest

A group of about ten protesters staged a brief demonstration in the lobby of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater Friday morning, just ahead of a speech by Governor Andrew Cuomo.  The group chanted school-related slogans (“protect our kids not billionaires”) and held signs (“School Teachers Over Hedge Funders”) critical of the governor.

Police and Cuomo staffers prevented the protesters from entering the theater where Cuomo would be speaking.  After a police officer (unclear if he was NYPD or a state trooper) and Cuomo staffer Rodney Capel pushed a protester out, the remaining protesters left with less dramatic confrontations.

Here’s a brief cell phone video clip:

Coverage of Cuomo’s appearance is here.

Cuomo Gaggle

Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke with the press today following his speech in Brooklyn.  Questions during the post-speech “gaggle” included the cost of a special election, his reaction to a New York Republican Party 50 Shades of Grey parody of Bill de Blasio and Al Sharpton, Rudy Giuliani’s recent comments about Barack Obama, the expected Republican candidate in the 11th Congressional District special election, state legislature financial disclosure forms, the refusal of Port Authority commissioners to accede to Cuomo and Chris Christie’s request to resign, his planned trip to Cuba, congestion pricing, and UFT comments asserting that the governor has shortchanged New York City schools by $2.5 billion.

Here is the full gaggle:

We also have separate clips of Cuomo’s comments on Rudy Giuliani and the 11th Congressional District special election.

Cuomo On Donovan: He’s OK (Updated)

Governor Andrew Cuomo had kind words for the expected Republican candidate in the 11th Congressional District special election.  That election will select a successor to Michael Grimm, who resigned on January 5th after pleading guilty to a federal crime.  Republican county leaders in Brooklyn and Staten Island, who select their party’s candidate in this special election, have settled on Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan.

I asked Cuomo about his relationship with Donovan, whose tenure as DA overlapped with Cuomo’s term as attorney general, and what he thinks of Donovan as a candidate.  Cuomo spoke highly of Donovan, adding that “I don’t know that I’ll be taking a position in the race.”  Cuomo’s endorsement could be influential as he won this district with 60,973 votes in November over Republican Rob Astorino’s 44,385, and an absence of Cuomo support for the Democratic candidate would be a victory for the Republican candidate.  Donovan’s professional biography includes running in 2010 as the Republican candidate for New York State Attorney General, hoping to succeed Cuomo.  Donovan lost to Democrat Eric Schneiderman.

Cuomo issued a proclamation this morning setting this special election for May 5th.

Cuomo’s full Q&A with the press is here.

Cuomo Gaggle

Governor Cuomo today spoke with the press on several separate topics, including the scheduling of a special election in the 11th Congressional District, the recently revived idea of congestion pricing for motor vehicles in Manhattan, challenges in getting legislators who are also attorneys to disclose their clients, involving judges in grand jury deliberations and possible changes to the grand jury system, Port Authority commissioners not yet tendering their resignations, a federal judge in Texas suspending the Obama administration’s planned changes in deportations and whether Cuomo has spent any additional money on criminal defense counsel since his January campaign finance filing disclosure.