Astorino Attacks

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino racheted up his attacks on rival Andrew Cuomo today, releasing a TV ad modeled on Lyndon B. Johnson’s infamous “Daisy” ad.  It’s a curious choice, with the paradox that Astorino’s candidacy more closely resembles Barry Goldwater’s campaign, the target of the Daisy ad who lost in a landslide, than Lyndon Johnson’s.

At a press conference in front of the federal courthouse in White Plains Astorino spoke about his new ad and the race.


Asked about weekend reports that Governor Cuomo has accepted two debate invitations Astorino pointedly began by saying “we haven’t agreed to anything.”  He stated that “we have had no discussions whatsoever and the whole thing looks like a setup and a scam.”

Astorino Loves Green (Updated x 2)

Environmentally speaking that is.  Not Jets Green.  Today Rob Astorino spoke to a “Green Cities” group, discussing his eco-friendly actions as Westchester County Executive.  We spoke with him afterward on several topics.


Saying he’s “done with the double talk”, Astorino labeled Cuomo’s reported statement this morning that the “campaigns” are “working that out now” as “nonsense.”

Ballot Issues:

There are three ballot propositions going before voters statewide in November: A proposed constitutional amendment to establish a redistricting commission (with members to be appointed by legislative leaders), a constitutional amendment to permit electronic distribution to state legislators of pending bills, and a $2 billion school bond issue.  I asked Astorino for his view on each.

Long Island Legislative Races:

Two legislative races on Long Island have recently drawn attention for unsavory behavior.  In the 8th Senate District, Democrat David Denenberg has dropped out of the race after being sued by his former law firm for alleged falsifying client bills and expense reimbursements.  Democratic party leaders have sought to have him nominated for election as a judge, one of the only ways to get his name off the ballot.  In the 3rd Assembly District, Republican incumbent Edward Hennessy has acknowledged that his campaign placed a GPS tracking device on his Democratic opponent’s car.  Republican leaders have defended that action.

I asked Astorino about both races:

Chris, Rob & The Early Arrival

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino arrived at a campaign event 30 minutes ahead of it’s scheduled start Tuesday, to Christine Quinn’s consternation.

Quinn, former speaker of the New York City Council, is the chief public face of the “Women’s Equality Party”, a ballot line recently created by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and she hoped to confront Astorino with a pledge that Team Cuomo is pushing.  The pledge essentially provides that signatories will support legislation next year on a “Women’s Equality Plan”, covering a variety of issues ranging from pay equity to human trafficking laws to “allow[ing] for the recovery of attorneys’ fees in employment and credit and lending cases.”  Most contentious, however, is a proposed codification of abortion rights.  Should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned, and states permitted to determine state by state whether abortion is legal, that would become a significant legal matter.

Astorino says he supports nine of the ten points in the “Women’s Equality Plan”, objecting to the codification of abortion rights.  Team Cuomo has been pushing the Women’s Equality Party and Women’s Equality Plan in an effort to highlight Astorino’s opposition to allowing abortions, and Quinn sought a face to face moment Tuesday.  Here’s what happened.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The United Nations Edition (Updated x 2)

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke with the press this morning, following his speech at the United Nations Climate Change Summit.

State Senate:

In May Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to support Democratic control of the state senate.  Cuomo made that pledge as part of his receiving the Working Families Party ballot line, with Mayor de Blasio’s support vital to his success.

Cuomo has generally done minimal campaigning for others, and is following that pattern in 2014.  Combined with a belief by many that he actually prefers Republican control, or the current Republican/IDC control, of the state senate, many Democrats and WFP members are skeptical that Governor Cuomo will meaningfully satisfy his pledge.  I asked Mayor de Blasio whether he believes that Governor Cuomo has done enough so far to fulfill his pledge and what Mayor de Blasio expects the governor to do from now until election day regarding his pledge.

Update – Full Q&A:

On topic question topics included whether other municipal leaders around the world are following New York City’s efforts on climate change, whether/how the City may mandate private sector actions, the grassroots nature of the movement urging action on climate change and the protests that closed Broadway and other streets in lower Manhattan yesterday.  Off topic questions included his speech tomorrow to Britain’s Labour Party, Chirlane McCray’s attendance at  an NYPD CompStat meeting, whether ISIS and the recent U.S. military strikes will cause a ramped-up security/counter-terrorism effort by the City, Governor Cuomo’s efforts at supporting a Democratic state senate, Congressional approval of military strikes ordered by President Obama, the City school system’s policy on student cell phones and continuing problems at Rikers Island.

Update #2 – Protests:

Mayor de Blasio accepted the notion of protestors blocking City streets.  He was asked about a protest on September 22nd in which approximately 100 protestors sat in the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway for several hours and left only when they were arrested and removed by the NYPD.

Cuomo Astorino Debate

Yes.  Really.  We exclusively have the first Cuomo/Astorino debate.

Created through the magic of editing, we have a virtual debate between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican challenger Rob Astorino.  In our first-in-the-state debate the candidates lay out their respective presentations on some serious issues; among them New York’s overall financial and economic condition, property taxes, Start Up NY and fracking.

We’ve primarily used video from their appearances at the Business Council of New York State last Thursday and Friday, although we’ve also incorporated other recent press conferences.

Handshakes, Chapter 2 (Updated)

Rob Astorino and Andrew Cuomo shook hands this morning.  It was a different outcome than Zephyr Teachout’s infamous attempt to shake hands with the governor, involving an actual handshake, albeit quick with a very brief back and forth.

Astorino spoke to the New York State Business Council Thursday night, giving some pointed critiques of the business community’s support of Governor Cuomo.  His remarks are a sign of the challenges Astorino faces, as traditional supporters of Republican candidates embrace his Democratic opponent.  Astorino has struggled for attention as well as support, with a modest amount of money and many potential supporters convinced from the start that he will lose.  Cuomo has mostly publicly ignored Astorino, further limiting his exposure.

Astorino stayed overnight at the conference, held at the Sagamore Hotel on Lake George, and came to the morning conference session just before Governor Cuomo’s scheduled speech.  He worked the room, greeting all present and talking with reporters before moving toward the stage entrance.  Here’s what happened as Cuomo entered the conference room:

Update – Gaggles:

Astorino and Cuomo separately spoke with the press this morning, Astorino before Cuomo’s speech and Cuomo afterwards.


Astorino was asked why he was present, (it’s a good place to be), kiddingly responding “he’s coming here this morning?” when asked if he intended to say hello to the governor.  Other question topics included reports that the governor’s staff tried to have him bumped from the conference schedule, whether he expected or sought an endorsement from the Council and the federal indictment of Sam Zherka, who is a plaintiff suing Astorino.


A frequently bemused, even goofy, Cuomo covered a wider range of topics, although he was asked about his handshake with Astorino and his thoughts on Astorino appearing this morning (“I hope he enjoyed it.”)  He was extensively asked about the state senate, including business community concerns about how a Democratic senate could affect state policies and whether he plans to assist Republican Senator Mark Grisanti.  Other topics included plans for spending the billions of dollars recently received by the state from penalties and settlements with large financial institutions, debating Astorino (“we will have, uh … we will debate), local government consolidations whether he will commit to serving a full four year term if re-elected (“what if I die?”) and the recent court decision removing the word “independent” from the ballot issue description of a proposed constitutional amendment changing the redistricting process.

Astorino At The Business Council

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino confronted a lost constituency Thursday night, politely, but pointedly, criticizing the business community for supporting Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Typical electoral expectations suggest that Republican Astorino would be supported by the business community broadly, and the Business Council specifically.  The Council, however, is expected to endorse Cuomo on Friday, and Cuomo has received enormous financial contributions from a wide range of the business community.  Astorino began his speech to the Council by saying that “your graciousness makes it a little harder to say what I came here to say.”  Here are selected excerpts from Astorino’s speech:

His post-speech discussion with press, with a focus on his speech, is here.

Faso on 2014

We spoke briefly with John Faso about the 2014 gubernatorial race and how it compares to Faso’s race as the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2006.  Faso, then an Assembly Member from Columbia County, faced many of the same challenges that Rob Astorino faces this year; including limited name recognition, a widely known and popular opponent holding statewide office and a dramatic money gap.  Faso was unable to really ever get traction, and lost to Eliot Spitzer by more than 30 percentage points.

We spoke with Faso at the New York State Business Council conference, just before Astorino addressed the group.  I began by asking what he sees in terms of both similarities and differences between his 2006 race and Astorino’s current campaign.  Faso offered an interesting set of differences, while recognizing the steep odds facing Astorino.

From Gotham to George, Lake

Gubernatorial candidates campaigned Thursday, with Governor Andrew Cuomo holding a press conference in Gotham and Rob Astorino speaking with the press following a speech to the New York State Business Council at a conference on Lake George.


Cuomo held a press conference to announce a “women’s equality pledge.”  Cuomo, and running mate Kathy Hochul have created a “Women’s Equality Party” ballot line for November, and they’re now pushing for all candidates for state office to sign a pledge in support of their “women’s equality agenda.” Among the other topics was Astorino’s recent ad labeling Cuomo a “unicorn killer.”  What  follows is the Q&A portion of their press conference in midtown Manhattan.  They were joined by former council speaker Christine Quinn.


Astorino addressed the New York State Business Council at it’s annual conference Thursday night, held in Bolton Landing on Lake George.  The Business Council should be friendly territory for Republican Astorino, but the group is poised to endorse Andrew Cuomo on Friday.  Astorino challenged the Council and the business community as complicit in New York’s economic shortcomings, and much of the questioning centers on his speech and the audience reaction.  Other topics included whether the Cuomo campaign has responded concerning candidate debates and Astorino’s take on Cuomo’s unicorn comments.

Teachout Looks Ahead (Updated)

Defeated Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout discussed the November elections, Governor Cuomo and the New York State Senate this afternoon, charging ahead in electoral politics despite the end of her own candidacy.  She spoke just before appearing at a rally near City Hall calling for continued net neutrality opposing the proposed merger of cable giants Comcast and Time Warner.

Update – Book Discussion:

Teachout also discussed her forthcoming book, Corruption In America:

Fans, Food & A Few Questions (Updated)

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio ate their way up Mulberry Street this afternoon, marching in the annual San Gennaro Festival parade.  Held in Manhattan’s Little Italy, the parade moves through a narrow street lined with with food booths offering an array of treats.  Sandwiches, rice balls, cannoli and more fueled the governor and the mayor as they moved through a packed, friendly crowd.

Press Gaggle:

Governor Cuomo spoke briefly with the press after the parade.  (Mayor de Blasio did not.)  The session lasted barely two minutes, with two non-parade questions.  Cuomo gave a “yes”, but without any commitment on when/where etc., on whether he will debate Republican Rob Astorino, and a non-answer on whether he wants Zephyr Teachout’s endorsement and what he’ll do to get it.  He spoke at greater length about the parade, both today’s march and his family’s attachment to the parade.

Update – Leave the Picture, Take the Cannoli:

Here’s a look at the governor and mayor’s culinary experience Saturday:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Freestyle edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Friday afternoon visit to a middle school after school program included being serenaded, freestyle.  The mayor, joined by his wife Chirlane McCray and several City officials, visited Gramercy Park’s M.S. 255 to promote the lesser publicized part of his universal pre-K/middle school after school program initiative and urge parents and students to enroll.

Press Q&A:

Press questions were primarily “off topic,” with on topic questions covering the enrollment statistics and remaining available seats and whether legislative changes to the common core state standards will be an improvement for students, teachers and parents.  Off topic questions included city enforcement efforts around Airbnb and Airbnb’s hiring of de Blasio’s campaign manager, why a proposed ban on carriage horses has taken far longer than initially promised by the mayor, Tim Wu’s comments on the mayor’s central role on defeating Wu and Zephyr Teachout in Tuesday’s primary, revised statistics on NYPD chokehold incidents, charter school co-locations, the mayor’s lack of a federal security clearance and resulting inability to receive classified information, school bus drivers movement toward a strike, his relationship with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his efforts to help elect a Democratic majority in the state senate.