Winners and Losers 08/15/14
Winners and Losers 08/15/14
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made headlines with an international excursion to demonstrate his solidarity with Israel, opening himself up to attacks from rivals but conveniently moving the conversation away from the Moreland mess. It's unclear if he was an outright winner or a loser, so read on to see who made this week's list.
Linda Rosenthal and Tony Avella - Tinder users will have to find a new way to get dates–at least in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week signed a bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Rosenthal and state Sen. Avella, making it illegal for fairs and circuses to let patrons take pictures with big cats like lions and tigers (no word on bears). Rosenthal, an animal rights advocate, said she had never before heard of “tiger selfies,” but pushed the bill to protect animals from being exploited … and to protect humans from giant predators with sharp claws and teeth.
Robert Duffy – Taking charge of the state while the governor was in Israel, Duffy cut loose with New Yorkers, other politicians and reporters on Twitter. Not only that, the LG has earned some good press for being one of the few pols who SHOULD be writing his own tweets. Since Cuomo left the country, Duffy has joked about his "official aircraft," informed followers he was getting executive order ideas from watching “Veep,” posted a picture of a morbidly obese housecat when the “tiger selfie” bill passed.
Jack Martins – The Long Island state senator is in the midst of one of the GOP’s tougher reelection battles, but this week his campaign had a couple things go his way. First, the New York League of Conservation Voters sided with Martins over his Democratic challenger, Adam Haber. Then NYSUT, the statewide teachers union, opted to stay out of the race entirely. With Haber poised to spend boatloads of his own cash in the contest, every little bit will help for Martins.
Eric Schneiderman – Nine months ago, the racial profiling scandal surrounding Barneys New York was getting national headlines. The AG's office launched an investigation into the scandal, and then the story faded from the headlines. This week, Schneiderman announced a settlement with the high-end clothing store. The money wasn't much of a windfall, but the message that he is standing up for the African American community is surely going to help get out the vote efforts come November.
Zephyr Teachout - She's officially on the ballot–at least for now, pending a promised appeal from the governor's lawyer–and the Democratic upstart got a lot of free press and positive editorials in response to Cuomo's campaigns challenge of her residency. Not too shabby to pick up the PEF endorsement to round out the week, either.
Gia Arnold - Although politics and sexual indiscretions sometimes seem to go hand in hand, it's the cover-up that often becomes a bigger problem than the act itself (see: Clinton, Bill). Not so in the case of Gia Arnold, a long-shot candidate for the seat being vacated by state Sen. George Maziarz. The 24-year-old issued a statement openly acknowledging an affair that started earlier this month—but not exactly apologizing for it—while announcing her exit from the race.
Jeff Gural - When speaking about patrons of his racetrack casino recently, the Tioga Downs owner said they were "overweight" and "have an oxygen tank next to them." Even if it is true, don't say it! Especially in the middle of a bid to get a license to build a full service resort casino at the track—which probably would attract some skinnier folks who aren't pumped up on oxygen.
Tom, Frances and Matthew Libous – State Sen. Tom Libous and his son, Matthew Libous, were already under federal indictment. Now the No. 2 Senate Republican’s wife has been dragged into the legal mess, as investigators seized papers, a laptop and cell phone owned by Frances Libous, who is also a top official with the state Workers Compensation Board. It’s unclear if the raid of the Libous home was directly tied to the charges against the father and son, who have denied any wrongdoing, but it is another sign that at least somebody is serious about cleaning up Albany.
Riyad Mansour – The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations got shot down in a big way by the governor and top state lawmakers who visited Israel: Cuomo declined the diplomat’s invitation to visit the Palestinian territories because of a lack of “flexibility” and admitted to not even having read Mansour’s letter. State Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos took it further, equating such a detour with lending “credibility to Hamas.” This burn handed down from the highest levels of New York government is probably low on the list of Mansour’s worries, but within the silo of state politics it's quite the snub.
Robert Wiesner - The saying goes that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich. Which is why Wiesner, the husband to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, had been pushing to have the charges against him thrown out after he bashed state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office for orchaestrating a public perp walk last year. This week a judge ruled that a grand jury can hear the case against Wiesner for his role in an alleged bid-rigging scandal—a major setback for the businessman, his legal team, and of course his high-profile wife.