de Blasio Press Q&A: The Motivation Edition

IMG_6951Mayor Bill de Blasio vigorously defended his 2014 fundraising for state senate candidates Monday in the face of explosive allegations by a New York State Board of Elections official.  de Blasio was unequivocal in insisting that neither he nor his “team” violated campaign finance laws in his 2014 efforts at electing Democratic state senate candidates and effecting a change in control of the senate.  He hammered at the “motivation” of that Board of Elections official, Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman, a former staffer for Governor Andrew Cuomo and appointed by Cuomo to a specially created position at the Board of Elections.  A memo written by Sugarman describing that fundraising as involving “willful and flagrant” violations of the law has prompted criminal investigations the Manhattan District Attorney and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Mayor de Blasio defended his fundraising as legal and appropriate, while lamenting the current campaign finance system.  Terming the Citizens United decision as “one of the worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court”, de Blasio urged “full public financing of elections” while criticizing the current system.  He repeatedly referenced Sugarman’s motivation in writing that memo, alluding to but not expressly mentioning Governor Cuomo and de Blasio’s seemingly endless conflicts with the governor. Continue reading

Quiet Cruz

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz passed quietly through Manhattan’s Upper East Side today, attending a closed-press campaign event at the Metropolitan Republican Club.  Accompanied by his wife Heidi, Cruz spent just over an hour with an audience of about 100-150 people.

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Cruz has been attacking Mayor Bill de Blasio during the primary, running ads declaring that de Blasio is “tearing this City apart”, but those tears were not readily apparent on a beautiful sunny morning a short walk from de Blasio’s mayoral residence.  Arriving close to 20 minutes ahead of his scheduled speaking time, Cruz’s leisurely car unloading drew a few beeping car horns and prompted a woman to get out of her car and shout for Cruz’s car to move.  That slight bit of normal city friction was as dramatic as the scene became; no protesters appeared and only four identifiable members of the press witnessed Cruz’s arrival and departure.  Even the few passers-by who asked what was happening expressed little interest or emotion over Cruz’s visit.

The Senator successfully ignored press questions on arrival, but was thwarted on departure as a former Republican candidate greeted him and invited a press question.   After answering one question Cruz continued on his way, climbing into his waiting car and rolling across a sun-dappled 83rd Street.

Photo Gallery:  Our photo gallery of Cruz’s appearance is here.

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NYS GOP Dinner (Updated)

Trump, Kasich & Cruz.  That was the underwhelming lineup at the New York State Republican Committee annual gala Thursday night, as the well-timed dinner was held just five days ahead of New York’s presidential primary.  The black tie dinner was a world apart from most of the candidates’  campaign appearances, high on money and low on anger.  The wealthy, politically connected audience bore little resemblance to the crowds at most 2016 Republican events in this anger-dominated election.

Trump spent much of his speech recounting various real estate projects in New York City, omitting the angry stream-of-consciousness musings that define his campaign rallies.  Kasich spoke as a late-served dinner appeared on the tables while Cruz spoke to a talking and shrinking audience.  Continue reading

Kasich On Cuomo

“I’m not here to give a grade to the governor of New York.”  Ohio Governor John Kasich mostly avoided commenting when I asked him about fellow governor Andrew Cuomo’s relationship with the Republican-controlled New York State Senate and Cuomo’s overall performance.  Kasich did favorably mention an instance of working cooperatively when Kasich was in Congress and Cuomo was HUD secretary, but then quickly moved to discussing his own ability to work with Democrats without further discussing New York.

Kasich spoke during a press Q&A in Jericho – his full press Q&A is here.

Kasich Q&A: The Peacock Edition (Updated)

IMG_6840Republican presidential candidate John Kasich spoke with the press today following an MSNBC town hall recorded in Jericho, New York. Network appropriate peacocks roamed the grounds of the Milleridge Inn, site of the town hall, occasionally squawking as Kasich spoke.

Question topics included advice or promises for young voters struggling to make it economically, how he can overcome his current gap in convention delegates, undocumented immigrants and the possibility of offering a path to legalization (but not citizenship), what he would say if either of his daughters “came out as gay”, his view of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s relationship with Republicans in the state senate and whether he’s lost any delegates due to inadequate organization.

Photo Gallery:

Our photo gallery of Kasich’s visit is here.

Kasich’s “Two Paths”

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich continued his efforts at separating himself from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, portraying the presidential election as offering “two very different paths” that the Republican Party and the country may take.  Speaking at the Women’s National Republican Club today in midtown Manhattan Kasich cast the nation’s options as between an irresponsible and bombastic approach and a reasoned, sober and effective approach.  Unsurprisingly Kasich casts himself as both the product of and the champion of the latter approach.

Here is Kasich’s full speech:

Chill Kasich

It’s all about the attention.  That was Republican presidential candidate John Kasich’s response when asked today about the rising crowds attending his campaign events.

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Kasich avoided both his audience and the press following his “Two Paths” speech in midtown this morning, walking immediately offstage as he concluded and then departing through a side exit.  Handshakes with some cops and a quick selfie were Kasich’s only distractions as he made it into his car.  As others traveling with him loaded in the window suddenly rolled down to a “hey, it’s Halperin.”  Kasich and Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin chatted for a bit, with some pleasantries and a couple of questions.   Kasich credited increased attention with growing crowds at his events.  Although he’s increasingly better known, he’s not quite to the level where people know how to pronounce his name Kasich chuckled.  When asked where he stands on actually becoming the Republican nominee Kasich replied with a light smile “I’m sitting right now” and rolled up the window as his car eased out onto a rain-soaked 51st Street.

Kasich In Westchester

IMG_6806Ohio Governor John Kasich held a rally at Iona College in New Rochelle Saturday, the first of the three remaining Republican presidential candidates to hold a campaign event in Westchester County.  His audience of about 1,000 was supportive, beginning and ending with standing ovations and reacting positively throughout his remarks.

The audience was a mix of ages, with a strong but not predominant  number of Iona students, and overwhelmingly white.  The audience members I spoke with were about evenly divided between strong Kasich supporters and interested but undecided.

Kasich offered himself as an accomplished alternative to Trump and Cruz, touting his lengthy tenure in Congress and his gubernatorial experience as effective preparation for the White House.  His presentation was heavy on exhortations of the importance of caring and the value in fully developing each person’s true self.  It’s somewhat Oprah-esque; offering a sense of caring that contrasts sharply with Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Ted Cruz.  It also contrasts sharply with the apparent mood of many voters in an election dominated by anger.

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Photo Gallery:

Our full photo gallery is here.

Video – Kasich’s full town hall:

A Tale of Two Gaggles (Updated)

IMG_6638Making up for two boycotted years, Mayor Bill de Blasio bookended his first of two three marches in todays St. Patrick’s Day Parade with two gaggles.  He spoke with a large group of press before marching, focusing on the Parade’s opening this year to LGBT groups marching under their own names and banners.  After marching he again spoke with the press, focusing on the recently reported federal investigation into lead paint conditions in New York City Public Housing.

Gaggle #1:

de Blasio began with a statement lauding the opening of the parade to LGBT groups, calling it a powerful and very moving day in New York City.  Four of the five questions concerned the change in parade policy, including whether his boycott brought about the change, whether it’s a sign that discrimination has been abolished in the parade and what it means politically for the City.  A final question focused on de Blasio’s announcement that he plans to close the “Campaign For One New York”, an outside advocacy organization he created upon taking office.

Gaggle #2:

Mayor de Blasio returned to the press after marching, giving a statement on the recently revealed federal investigation into lead paint in NYCHA housing and NYCHA’s federal reporting on lead paint conditions.  de Blasio emphasized the preliminary nature of his information on the investigation, but pointed out that New York City has long had stringent laws on abating lead paint and a resulting longterm NYCHA effort on abatement.  Other question topics included the use of police officers in place of school crossing guards, Governor Cuomo’s announcement that he will appoint an outside management expert to examine CUNY and Mayor Dinkins’ 1991 hostile St. Patrick’s Day Parade reception.

On his initial march, with the NYPD, Mayor de Blasio inspired minimal reaction from the large crowd, receiving a polite reception with modest applause and little heckling or boos audible over the sounds of the NYPD’s marching band.  de Blasio’s second trip up Fifth was not disclosed in advance to the press and I did not join him for that march.  His third trip was the centerpiece of his day at the Parade, joining the Green & Lavender Alliance as the Parade fully opened to LGBT groups after years of bitter resistance.  The Alliance was near the end of the Parade’s line of march and Fifth Avenue was gray and largely deserted as they made their way up.  The few remaining spectators greeted the Alliance and the Mayor with repeated rounds of applause, however.

Photo Gallery:

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Our parade photo gallery is here.

13th CD Candidate Forum

13th CD Candidate Forum 2-28-16

Seven candidates for the 13th congressional district seat currently held by Charles Rangel met for a candidate forum Sunday.  Hosted by the Allianza Dominicana Cultural Center, the forum featured Adam Clayton Powell IV, Michael Gallagher, Assembly member Keith Wright, Suzan Johnson Cook, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Clyde Williams and Assembly member Guillermo Linares.

Our full photo gallery is here.

13th CD Candidate Forum 2-28-16

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