A Cat Named Pataki



Pataki the cat. Photo Tina Paquette

Pataki the cat. Photo Tina Paquette

Not a jazz playing, beret wearing George Pataki, but an actual feline.

During a campaign stop Wednesday in Hooksett, New Hampshire George Pataki got the news.  A woman participating in a small group discussion with Pataki (the human) mentioned that she named her cat “Pataki.”  Here’s what happened, with some post-roundtable information from Tina Paquette, Pataki’s (the cat) proud owner:

Pataki & No Labels



Pataki - No Labels 6-24-15George Pataki received a surprise boost this week from former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former senator from Connecticut Joe Lieberman, with the two leaders of “No Labels” penning a laudatory op-ed.  No Labels casts itself as seeking to eliminate the  “hyper-partisan viewpoint” in the federal government, with a goal of having the president and Congress “working together to achieve mutually agreed-upon goals that will solve the nation’s problems.”

It was welcome news for Pataki, who varies between running to the right and center, encouraging his emerging theme as a “moderate Republican”.  With an enormously crowded Republican field filled with more conservative candidates, any conceivable available space for Pataki lies to the left of that conservative and ultra conservative pack.

Groups of about ten No Labels canvassers clad in bright lime-green t-shirts appeared at two Pataki campaign events in New Hampshire Wednesday.  At a seaside picnic in New Castle their appearance startled the Pataki folks setting up the picnic, with Team Pataki initially concerned they were there to protest against Pataki.  The friendly nature of the visit was quickly established, however, and the No Labels group joined the picnic.  (They declined to answer a question of whether they are volunteers or paid staff.)  A separate No Labels group attended a Pataki event in Hooksett, and Pataki briefly discussed the group and the Huntsman/Lieberman op-ed.

Pataki Punts, Goes Full Brady



Former governor of New York George Pataki doubled down today on Tom Brady and New England, both the team and the region.  Self-proclaimed Jets fan Pataki gave a full-throated defense of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, saying “I don’t think there’s any proof” of Brady wrongdoing in Deflate Gate.  Pataki’s evolution as a Patriots fan began in January, with the New Yorker declaring his support for the hometown Patriots while campaigning in New Hampshire.

We spoke today as Pataki campaigned in Hooksett, New Hampshire.

Mayoral Frustration – The Rent Regulation Edition (Updated)



Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference this afternoon to demand, beg and implore Albany to renew the City’s rent regulations.  Due to expire at midnight, the legislature has yet to act on the renewal and it’s currently uncertain what steps the legislature and governor will take on extending and possibly modifying the existing legal regime.

Linkage?:

I asked the mayor whether his communications with Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie or Senate Temporary President John Flanagan have revealed whether the outcome of rent regulation renewal depends on the outcome of other issues.  The mayor responded somewhat cryptically, saying only that “we have not gotten a clear picture of how they’re going to play out the rest of the day.”  Here’s what the mayor had to say.

Update – Q&A:

Mayor de Blasio answered a lengthy series of questions on rent regulation renewal, the effects of non-renewal, the ongoing Albany negotiations, City actions in the event of non-renewal and more.  Here’s the full on topic Q&A:

Cuomo Pushes Fast Food Worker Raise



Governor Andrew Cuomo held a rally at the Manhattan headquarters of the Hotel and Motel Trades Council Thursday urging a “Wage Board”, which he appointed, to increase the minimum wage for fast food workers.  Cuomo was joined by about dozen labor leaders, including New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, HTC President Peter Ward, Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO Vincent Alvarez, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum and President of Teamsters Local 237 Gregory Floyd.  Cuomo was also joined by Jon Bon Jovi.  Bon Jovi’s song “Work for The Working Man” is frequently played at Cuomo events.

Cuomo’s appearance at the rally came as the legislature staggered toward the end of it’s 2015 session with major issues unresolved.

Cuomo Speech:

In one curious comment, Governor Cuomo declared that he does not “use those words income inequality.”  A closer look at that comment is here. Below is Governor Cuomo’s full speech.

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Cuomo On Income Inequality



Governor Andrew Cuomo does not use the term “income inequality.”  Except when he does.

During a rally today aimed at raising the minimum wage for fast food workers Governor Cuomo declared that “I don’t use those words ‘income inequality.'”  He has, of course, including as the opening words of a New York Times op-ed he wrote in May.  When asked at a post-rally press Q&A (by NY1’s Josh Robin) about the seeming contradiction, Cuomo propounded the view that “we don’t believe that we should have a system of equal income” and that instead the key focus should be on ensuring opportunity.  Left unsaid was any direct criticism or mention of the elected official most closely associated with the phrase currently, and who’s view appears much closer to a desire for “a system of equal income,” Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Here’s Cuomo’s comment during his speech and post-rally response:

Pataki Polling Progress



Pataki - Thumbs Up Exeter 5-28-15Is 10th place ever better than 1st place?  It is for George Pataki, as a recent poll showing him in 10th place has far more positives than another recent poll showing him in 1st place.  Both a CNN/ORC national poll and a Quinnipiac University New York poll contain good news for Pataki, but the national poll listing him in 10th place has far more positive news for him.

The CNN national poll lists Pataki as 10th among 16 current or expected contenders.  The field is extremely tightly packed, with Marco Rubio placing first at 14% and eight more candidates jammed in before Pataki appears with 3%.  It’s a pretty low percentage for Pataki, but far better than the “N/A” he received in at least four prior CNN polls that excluded him.  Stretched to it’s most negative for Pataki, the +/- 4.5% margin of error could put him at zero (or even below).  Stretched to its most positive for him, he could be as high as third, behind only Rubio and Bush.  That’s highly unrealistic, but it illustrates the closeness of the field and the lack of certainty in any ranking of the current Republican field.  It is realistic, however, to regard Pataki as in the large pack, albeit toward the rear, but in it nonetheless.

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Rent Regulation Renewal Rally



Mayor Bill de Blasio and many other New York City elected officials joined a Harlem rally Saturday demanding the renewal of rent regulations.  Hosted by Assembly Housing Committee Chairman Keith L.T. Wright, the rally drew a modest crowd of about 200 people.  Speakers included the Rev. Al Sharpton, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Rep. Charles Rangel, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh and Guillermo Linares, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Members Inez Dickens, Vanessa Gibson, Ben Kallos and Jumaane Williams.

With the legislative session rushing toward conclusion next week, expiration of the soon-to-sunset state laws governing rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments is an ever-increasing possibility.  While it’s still likely that they’ll be renewed, the prospect of expiration is driving City Democrats into increasingly frantic efforts to renew and expand those laws.  For Mayor Bill de Blasio it’s both an essential part of a core focus of his mayoralty and yet another chapter in the story of his friction-filled relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Here are the remarks of selected speakers:

Mayor Bill de Blasio:

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The 20 Candidate Conundrum



IMG_3616The TV networks hosting Republican presidential debates face a conundrum – how to effectively and fairly present as many as 20 candidates.  It’s a real issue as the typical debate format, with set opening and closing statements and allotted answer time, would likely grind to a maddeningly slow pace with so many candidates.

Fox News, host of the first debate, recently announced its solution: only the top ten candidates will be invited to join.  Fox News will determine who those top ten candidates are by using an average of the five most-recent national polls, as chosen by Fox News.  For lower tier candidates Fox News “will provide additional coverage and air time” on the day of the debate.  While the number of “serious” candidates isn’t yet settled, with about 20 people either declared or flirting with running it’s reasonably likely that we’ll have around 15 Republican candidates.

Fox News’ plan is a rational response to a meaningful organizational and logistical challenge, but it doesn’t fully solve the problem.  If in August the field resembles its current condition, with the highest candidate polling in the mid-teens and the field closely following, the selection process may itself become controversial.  Additionally, shrinking the field to ten reduces the challenges but doesn’t solve them.  Having ten candidates in a typical format of fixed time allotments will still be unwieldy and larger than any past presidential debate.

Here’s an alternative approach: put all of the candidates, whether it’s 10, 12, 15 or more, onstage for a single debate session without a moderator or host.  Mic them, set out a semi-circle of stools, turn on the camera and let them have at it for 90 or 120 minutes.  Seriously.  I bet we’ll learn more about the candidates from a completely unstructured session than any structured and moderated session could ever provide. Continue reading

The President of Peekskill



IMG_2438Presidential candidate George Pataki returned to his hometown of Peekskill for a boisterous reception Sunday.  About 200 people attended a rally at Peekskill’s Lincoln Depot Museum, fondly recalling Pataki’s past elections as mayor, local assembly member and senator as well as governor and proclaiming him “the next president of the United States.”

The rally may not have significant meaning in electoral terms, but the combination of reminiscing and encouragement it provided to the candidate is undoubtedly helpful.  The several New Hampshire campaign appearances of Pataki’s that I’ve attended, including three last Thursday, don’t provide this type of boost.  He’s generally well-received there, but his New Hampshire audiences are mostly paradigmatic New Hampshire primary voters; interested, attentive and perhaps supportive but usually committed to the idea that they are on a long term effort to meet and evaluate multiple candidates.  IMG_2447

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Pataki On Cuomo/de Blasio Spat



We asked New York’s most recent full term governor, George Pataki, for his thoughts on the rapidly deteriorating relationship between current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Pataki has generally avoided criticizing Cuomo and has, in other circumstances, offered harsh criticisms of de Blasio. We spoke at the conclusion of a Pataki presidential campaign rally in Peekskill.

Pataki Launches Presidential Campaign (Updated)



Pataki Speaking - Side Exeter 5-28-15Former New York governor George Pataki launched his presidential campaign Thursday in Exeter, New Hampshire.  Pataki, who’s been campaigning for months under the guise of a super Pac, joined the growing list of declared Republican candidates with a speech to about 200 supporters in Exeter’s Town Hall.  Abraham Lincoln is among the many politicians previously appearing at the 160 year old Town Hall.

Before an invited audience Pataki spoke of his small town upbringing, his election victories and time as New York governor while castigating “oppressive government.”  Noting that the Republican Party was created (or at least named) in Exeter, Pataki cast it as the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan and as “the party of the middle class” and the party of immigrants.  Or at least the party of immigrants “who come here legally.”  (Pataki’s opening included a few sentences in Spanish.)

With several invocations of September 11th, and despite declaring that America “will not be the world’s policeman,” Pataki pledged “to stand with our ally Israel”, to “stand with our allies in NATO and the free Baltic states” against Russia, to make sure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons and to destroy ISIS, using American troops if necessary.  He also included his frequent disclaimer, and seeming indirect condemnation of the Iraq war and it’s aftermath, that he “will not spend $1 trillion or a decade nation building overseas.”Pataki Speaking - Front Exeter 5-28-15

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President Pataki – An Update



IMG_1944George Pataki.  Eye roll.

George Pataki in New Hampshire.  Eyyye rolll.

George Pataki running for president.  Of the United States.  Eyyyyye rolllll.

You’re not the only one – it’s a common New York reaction as former governor George Pataki moves toward formally announcing his presidential candidacy tomorrow.

Slim chances notwithstanding, he’s been running hard for several months (via a Super PAC) and has done well for himself.  “Done well for himself” doesn’t mean that he’s remotely a leading or even close to leading candidate.  It does mean that he’s succeeded in gaining exposure with local appearances and media, and also with numerous national cable network appearances.  More people have seen or heard Pataki in the past five months than had in the prior eight years, since he left office.  (I’ve covered three of his New Hampshire trips, in January, February and April, and some of my early analyses of his candidacy and reports on his early New Hampshire visits are here and here.)

George Pataki onstage at the New Hampshire Republican Party Leadership Summit.  4/17/15

George Pataki onstage at the New Hampshire Republican Party Leadership Summit. 4/17/15

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