2010-09-22 / Political Page

‘Let’s Get Ready To Rumble’ With Andy Vs Carl

After sitting on the sidelines watching his opposition rivals waging a mild fight to take him on in November, Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, must have been surprised (as were the rest of us) to see pugnacious Carl Paladino emerge as his GOP opponent in the general election when Rick Lazio had been expected to win the nomination.

We say “surprised” because realistically, Cuomo should be confident he can defeat any Republican since the odds are always with a Democrat in a statewide race and Cuomo also has an excellent record as attorney general to bolster his election effort, plus a healthy $24 million campaign bank account to spread his message.

It’s possible Cuomo was not surprised at Paladino’s easy victory over Lazio, because the Siena College poll about a week before the primary showed the upstate millionaire had virtually erased Lazio’s lead and had momentum going for him as the primary election approached.

So what kind of a Cuomo vs. Paladino campaign can we expect? It’s for sure Paladino can be expected to continue his angry, “mad as hell” style, fueled by his successful appeal to Tea Party voters. There’s no way we can predict what will happen or what Cuomo’s reactions might be in the heat of battle.  So what kind of a Cuomo vs. Paladino campaign can we expect? It’s for sure Paladino can be expected to continue his angry, “mad as hell” style, fueled by his successful appeal to Tea Party voters. There’s no way we can predict what will happen or what Cuomo’s reactions might be in the heat of battle. So what kind of a Cuomo vs. Paladino campaign can we expect?

It’s for sure Paladino can be expected to continue his angry, “mad as hell” style, fueled by his successful appeal to Tea Party voters. He has said as much in interviews since his election. In one typical response to an interviewer, the 64-yearold Buffalo developer declared: “They say I am an angry man, and that’s true. We are all angry.”

And in his victory remarks after winning the primary, Paladino stated: “We are mad as hell. New Yorkers are fed up. There is a people’s revolution. The people have had enough.”

Paladino’s campaign manager, Michael Caputo, confirmed that angry “would be the campaign theme”, as he noted in another story, “Anger in 2010 is the most unifying theme in America, and Carl is not afraid to tell it like it is.”

And showing that he would continue his use of frank, colorful and anger-tinged words along the campaign trail, Paladino reacted to ex-Mayor Edward Koch and exstate Comptroller Carl McCall, who described him as “unfit to serve” as governor by responding, “Take a look at the nuts making those statements—the three Stooges.” He also allegedly called ex- Governor George Pataki a “degenerate idiot”.

There’s no way we can predict what will happen or what Cuomo’s reactions might be in the heat of battle.

All we’ve had to go on so far is a 30- second campaign ad put out by Cuomo before the primary. In it, a narrator describes Albany as “a swamp of corruption overrun with lobbyists and special interests” which “could get worse”. It goes on to take aim at Lazio and Paladino—Lazio for being a Wall Street lobbyist for years and Paladino as a developer who has given nearly a half-million dollars to politicians while receiving $10 million a year in government rents.

Through a spokesman, Paladino’s response to the ad was that Democrats are the “snakes managing the swamp”.

But Cuomo, 52, stated in one story last week, “I don’t know Mr. Paladino, and I don’t think my characterization is all that relevant or appropriate.”

So we await further developments in the next 40 days leading up to the November 2 election.

There’s also a possibility of formal debates between the pair. That surely could lead to some sizzling moments.

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D–Manhattan), who strongly opposed Governor David Paterson’s proposed caps on local school and property taxes, said in a published report he is anxious for Cuomo to be elected governor because, “I don’t see a problem finding common ground with him on most issues, including a property tax cap.”

Although the state senate has passed Paterson’s tax cap proposal, calling for a four percent cap or 120 percent of inflation, whichever is lower, it has never come up for a vote in the Assembly and Silver has said it would not pass there. It will be interesting to see what Silver could work out with a Governor Cuomo on this issue.

On another front, Cuomo continues to try to beef up a “Republicans for Cuomo” contingent as part of his strategy to defeat Paladino. In the most recent move along those lines, former state Republican Chairman Pat Barrett has been brought aboard the Cuomo campaign management team which heretofore consisted of Congressmember Nydia Velazquez (D–Brooklyn) and former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson.

WILL LAZIO RUN ON CONSERVATIVE LINE? One of the major questions left unanswered after Paladino defeated Lazio last week was if Lazio would remain as the Conservative Party candidate in the general election. Odds are he will, we believe, because of his loyalty to the Conservative Party and its chairman, Michael Long.

As matters stand, the Working Families Party, which has endorsed Cuomo, will wind up with the necessary 50,000 votes for Cuomo on its ballot line. But there’s a chance Lazio could get more than the WFP, so he’ll probably run on the Conservative line.

The downside is, however, if Lazio says “yes” to Mike Long, he’ll draw some voters away from Paladino, but surely it wouldn’t be realistic to think that it would make a difference to Lazio. There’s also virtually no chance that Long would ask Lazio to surrender the Conservative line so it could go to Paladino. Long and his party members don’t want to have Paladino as their candidate, Long has said.

WILL OGNIBENE BE ON BALLOT? Former Councilmember Tom Ognibene, who’s been a major figure in the Glendale/Middle Village/Ridgewood community for many years, lost a very close race for the nomination for the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor on Election Day. He was on the Paladino slate and lost to Greg Edwards, who was on Lazio’s ticket. However, Edwards was also Lazio’s running mate on the Conservative Party line so Edwards remains alive on both the GOP and Conservative Party tickets.

But Ognibene is still slated to be on the ballot as lieutenant governor on Paladino’s second ballot line, the Taxpayers Party. Paladino associates say he would still like to have Ognibene as his running mate on the Republican line and is exploring ways to try to make it happen.

GIANARIS IN SWEET SPOT: Assemblymember Michael Gianaris is in an enviable position. He has authored a truly historic bill, one which would establish an independent commission to redraw legislative districts, thus taking that power away from the legislators themselves.

Every reform group, from former Mayor Edward Koch to the Citizens Union and beyond, is strongly in favor of the measure and the New York Times has called Gianaris’ bill “the real key to reform” in Albany.

On Election Day, Gianaris is running, but not for his Assembly seat; he is seeking the 10th state senate seat from which George Onorato retired, and which Gianaris is a solid bet to win. Therefore, when the reapportion reform bill he wrote in the Assembly comes up for a vote in the senate after next January 1, Gianaris will likely be able to vote for it again, this time as a senator. Very few people ever get a chance to do that.

Gianaris’ bill has been approved by the Assembly Governmental Operations Committee and will probably be one of the bills the 2011 Assembly considers after it starts its session next year.

SHEEKEY SET UP HAGGERTY DEAL, HAGGERTY SAYS: According to a Daily News story last Saturday, John Haggerty who’s charged with stealing more than $1 million from Mayor Bloomberg, has said in court papers that former Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey thought up the whole deal.

Haggerty of Forest Hills is presently awaiting trial. The charges arose out of a scheme under which Bloomberg gave a large sum of cash to the state Independence Party for campaign purposes during the mayor’s most recent re-election campaign in 2009. Independence Party leaders then turned over $1.1 million to Haggerty for an Election Day poll watching assignment, but he allegedly used most of the money for his own purposes. Haggerty’s lawyers claimed his client carried out the poll watching assignment satisfactorily.

The mayor has never discussed the deal publicly, but a 41-page motion submitted to the court by Haggerty’s attorneys says: “It was Mr. Sheekey who decided that Mr. Haggerty should contact the Independence Party and request that ballot security be conducted through that political party.”

The Independence Party didn’t have to report any of those details until two months after the election on Nov. 3, 2009. At that time, they listed payments to a shell company which Haggerty had set up. Haggerty is under indictment and presently awaiting trial.

TABONE BLASTS OPPONENT, THANKS THE LOSERS: Republican candidate Vince Tabone, running for the 26th Assembly District seat in Eastern Queens, congratulated his opponent, Ed Braunstein, upon winning the Democratic primary and also Braunstein’s opponents, John Duane, Elio Forcina and Steve Behar, “for participating in the democratic process”.

But then he did a quick about-face and lambasted Braunstein for being “part of the Albany establishment”.

Spokesman Robert Hornak said on behalf of Tabone that Tabone will run on his record as “a proven reformer and job creator who has fought for Northeast Queens as a community activist”. He said they would contrast Tabone’s record with Braunstein’s, “whose only work experience has been as an aide to Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver”.

WEINER OPPOSES JET PLANE SALES TO SAUDIS: Citing Saudi Arabia’s history of financing terrorism and its failure to help the U.S. when gas prices soared, Congressmember Anthony Weiner is opposing a proposed deal for this country to sell Saudi Arabia jet planes and other high tech weapons.

In a letter to President Obama, the Forest Hills lawmaker also complained the deal would undermine the security of Israel and he threatened to block the sale with congressional action if necessary.

Weiner was joined by 104 members of Congress in 2008 in introducing a resolution of disapproval of the sale of satellite guided missiles to Saudi Arabia.

ADDABBO HAILS NEW LAW

AGAINST BULLYING STUDENTS: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) announced that Governor David Paterson has signed into law legislation that would protect school children from facing harassment and abuse in school.

“This law exemplifies our commitment to providing all students with a safe learning environment,” Addabbo said. “I’m proud to support this legislation. Incidents of harassment, bullying and intimidation should not be tolerated in our schools.” The lawmaker added, “Bullying has been a problem in our schools for far too long.”

BUSINESS GROUP ENDORSES PADAVAN: State Senator Frank Padavan has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business, a broad-based small business association headquartered in Washington with affiliates throughout the country.

Mike Elmendorf, the organization’s New York state director, stated that Padavan (R–C, Bellerose) has been a staunch defender of small business in the legislature and has stood with small business on key issues, including opposing “the biggest tax increase in New York state history”.

Elmendorf cited Padavan as “an experienced leader who gets results and we need him back in Albany”.

Padavan is being opposed in the November 2 election by former Councilmember Tony Avella of Bayside. Padavan’s 11th senate district covers Northeast Queens.

MAJOR UNIONS BACK MARKEY: Seeking her seventh term in Albany, Assemblymember Margaret Markey (D–Maspeth) announced she has received several endorsements from major labor organizations.

Among them are the New York State AFL-CIO, District Council 37, one of the largest municipal employees’ organizations, and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). NYSUT President Richard Ianuzzi stated, “[Markey’s] advocacy and voting record have earned [her] our endorsement.”

ULRICH SUES OVER SCHOOL BUS CUTS: Declaring that the city Department of Education’s elimination of school bus service for 7th and 8th grade students citywide impacts students in his district in Ozone Park and the Rockaways, Councilmember Eric Ulrich (R–C) has joined a suit aimed at restoring the service.

Ulrich declared, “The city has left the residents of the Rockaways and other neighborhoods to fend for themselves and is placing thousands of children at risk by making it difficult for them to get to and from school. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that the judge will eventually rule in our favor when presented with all the evidence.” Ulrich said six schools in the 32nd Council District are impacted by the DOE action including P.S. 114, St. Francis De Sales, Scholars Academy, St. Camillus, St. Rose of Lima and P.S. 47.

Ulrich also spoke out against Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to expand the public smoking ban to public parks, beaches, boardwalks, pedestrian plazas and other public places.

CLINTON DEMOCRATIC CLUB MEETS: Clinton Democratic Club President Paul Vallone and state Committee Member John Dorsa congratulated Ed Braunstein on his primary victory in the 26th AD (Bayside) at the club’s first meeting of the year recently.

Other speakers at the meeting included Assemblymember Rory Lancman and state Senate candidate Tony Avella, who is challenging Senator Frank Padavan for the 11th senate district seat. The club is located at 25-59 Francis Lewis Blvd. in Flushing.

HALLORAN BLASTS SMOKING BAN: Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed expansion of the public ban on smoking “is another step towards making our city a complete ‘nanny state,’” Councilmember Dan Halloran charged last week. Halloran (R–C, Whitestone), who is not a smoker, declared, “Our government needs to get out of people’s private lives. The mayor is happy to tell government to leave Wall Street alone, but he wants to dictate to Main Street what to eat, how to act and what to do.”

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