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The Takeaway

Campaign Ads Sway Judicial Decisions

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A new study has found that Citizens United has had an impact not only on elections, but on judicial decisions in the courtroom.

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The Takeaway

Money Talks: Outside Money Floods State Races

Monday, October 20, 2014

The 2010 Citizens United ruling allowed unlimited contributions to political campaigns. Now, four years later, the amount of outside money has reached unprecedented levels.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Flooded by Messaging

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Over the last week, the number of TV ads, fliers, mailings and robocalls in the elections have grown significantly. Azi Paybarah, Capital New York political reporter, joins us to take stock.

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The Takeaway

The Court as Campaign Changer

Monday, June 25, 2012

The presidential race is getting nastier and nastier and it’s all on video: both the Obama and Romney campaigns have released new ads in the last few days. At the center of the race is the Affordable Care Act, and as a result, the Supreme Court may become an unlikely potential victim of partisan politics. 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

200 Years of Campaign Posters

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

W. Ralph Eubanks, publishing director at the Library of Congress and author of Presidential Campaign Posters: Two Hundred Years of Election Art, and Brooke Gladstone, co-host of WNYC's On the Media, talk about the new collection of campaign posters from Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama.

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The Takeaway

Wooing Latino Voters, Politicians Risk Blunders

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Today’s political candidates are increasingly savvy in their attempts to targeting Spanish-speaking voters. But as attempts to court Latino voters have become increasingly commonplace, so have cultural blunders. Jude Joffe-Block is senior field correspondent for Fronteras, a multimedia collaboration focusing on the southwestern border between Mexico and the United States. Ruben Navarette is a nationally-syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: So What? Herman Cain's 'Smoking' Ad is His Beatles Moment

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Herman Cain's polling numbers are out of this world for a candidate with no money, little organization and no previous political experience. It seems like his campaign team decided to see how weird they could get, perhaps to get earned media, perhaps just for the fun of it, perhaps to see just if Herman Cain was made of Beatles-level-teflon.

-Karol Markowicz, It's A Free Country blogger.

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It's A Free Country ®

Herman Cain's Bizarre 'Smoking' Campaign Ad Spawns Parodies

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Republican presidential contender and (sometime frontrunner), Herman Cain is out with a new ad that features his campaign chief of staff, Mark Block raving about the campaign while taking a drag on a cigarette. The bizzare ad has gone viral, and has even spawned a few parodies - notably one in which Cain "Chief of Staff, Jay Smooth' is charged with "keep Herman Cain in the news for another three, four months" so he can get a gig on cable TV.

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It's A Free Country ®

'Drive to 25': Democrats Target GOP Seats to Win Back the House

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The Democrats have been been on the offensive since the 2010 midterm when they sustained huge losses to Republicans, ceding 63 seats and the House majority. To return from minority status and retake the House, the Dems need a big surge, something the Democratic Congressional Campaign calls the "Drive to 25."


The Empire

'Challenging Albany Dysfunction'

Monday, September 20, 2010

Democratic State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is out with his first television ad hitting his Republican rival, Harry Wilson, and branding himself as separate and apart from the Albany establishment.

Like Senator Gillibrand and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, DiNapoli's ad does not identify him as a Democrat.

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The Empire

Lazio: 'Andrew Cuomo is Albany'

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rick Lazio paints Andrew Cuomo as something more than an incumbent (which, technically, he's not): "Andrew Cuomo is Albany."

It's 30 seconds and doesn't say how Lazio will "change" Albany, or, for that matter, what about it he wants to change.

The ad features images of David Paterson, Pedro Espada, Alan Hevesi and Eliot Spitzer under the headline "Special Interest Rule Albany."

Not shown is Joe Bruno, a Republican who led the State Senate and was actually convicted of using his office to put money in his pocket.

Oh, and the color of Lazio's tie is purple - that bi-partisan hue, which some have used in order to signal something beyond the red-state blue-state dichotomy.

The ad though is, at least, about Albany, which the New York Post editorial today urged Lazio to focus on, instead of that other thing he's been talking about.

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The Empire

Air Espada

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

/> Pedro Espada's new ad notes there's "a dishonest campaign being waged by wealthy outsiders against me."

That would be the Roosevelt Initiative, organized by one-time LT gubernatorial candidate Bill Samuels.

The ad is straight to camera, defiant, and paints the senator as the victim of an organized attack. And for good measure, he quotes the bible. Espada is facing an organized opponent in Gustavo Rivera, and a second challenger, community board member Dan Padernacht. Critics fear Rivera and Paderncacht could split the opposition vote, ensuring Epsada's victory.

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The Empire

Grimm Airs Giuliani

Friday, August 20, 2010

Michael Grimm, one of the GOP candidates looking to take on Rep. Michael McMahon in NY13, is out with a new ad featuring Rudy Giuliani.

Grimm is in a primary fight with Michael Allegretti, a local businessman with lots of ties to the Brooklyn side of the Staten Island-dominated district.

And if you're keeping track, Grimm also has the support of Sarah Palin.

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The Empire

Former Silver Aide Rails Against Albany, 'Career Politicians'

Friday, August 20, 2010

Braunstein and Skala

Braunstein's FaceBook Page

Braunstein works for Albany. Now, he campaigns against it.

Ed Braunstein is a staffer who worked for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Now, he’s running for an Assembly seat in Queens by railing against Albany.

“Albany is an embarrassment and career politicians are completely out of touch with our values,” Braunstein's recent mailer says.

He also signed the NY Uprising reform pledge which, his former boss, has not.

Disclaimer: Above is a photo of Braunstein with Bayside activist Frank Skala, who nearly failed me in 7th grade social studies.

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The Empire

Rice, Leading AG Field in Money, Goes on TV

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kathleen Rice

Crowley for Congress' Flickr page

Kathleen Rice, getting endorsred by Queens Democratic officials

Kathleen Rice maintains her financial edge in the five-way Democratic primary for Attorney General, as she and another well-funded rival, private attorney Sean Coffey, launched television ads.

Rice, the Nassau County district attorney, ended the 32-day pre-primary filing with $4,424,391.33 on hand, with more than $623,267.47 being raised in this latest filing. She spent about half that amount, or $368,630.06. Among her expenses were $99 at Bergdorf Goodman's, for "clothing for a film shoot," according to records the campaign filed with the State Board of Elections.

But a campaign spokesman said they inaccurately described the expense. It was actually for a hairdo Rice received before a televised debate, campaign spokesman Eric Phillips told WNYC.

Rice also launched her first ad of the campaign season. It's a 30-second biopic, with a man's baritone voice telling viewers, "If anyone thought Kathleen Rice would be a pushover as Long Island's first woman district attorney, they were wrong."

No one has raised that issue with Rice during the AG race -- if anything, she's been accused of being too tough on drug offenders, and not supporting a repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Law earlier. But the ad allows Rice to underscore the point that she is a woman: the only one in this race and one of the only ones running statewide for Democrats (the other is appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand).

State Sen. Eric Schneiderman of Manhattan ends the filing period with $2,191,966.57 on hand. He raised $263,646.92, and spent more than half of that, $182,930.85, this period. Schneiderman is not airing ads. His biggest expense in this filing was for a $22,500 "database" from Voter Activation Network.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester transferred $966,576.30 from his Assembly re-election campaign account into his attorney general account. That helped him end the filing period with $1,512,534.70 [figure corrected] on hand. Among his $93,961.91 in expenditures this period was a $13,023.20 poll from the Washington-based Lake Research Partners.

Former State Insurance Superintendent Eric DiNallo has $1,627,233.68 on hand, after raising $109,231.31. But he spent more than he raised: $170,496.48.

Among DiNallo's notable expenditures was $22,500 on a voter file from Smartvan NY, and $324 on Google Adwords. He's not running ads yet, but his campaign is purchasing archival video. There was a $321 purchase of "archive video" from a place called Video Monitoring Service. Another $80 was spent purchasing "archive video" from New York 1 News.

A campaign spokeswoman told WNYC they had purchased footage from the 2006 attorney general debate, for preparation. They also paid $500 for "photo permission" to Nathaniel Brooks, better known as the New York Times photographer based in Albany who has taken many memorable photographs, including this front-page image of Gov. David Paterson's troubled aide, David Johnson, which caused quite a stir.

The biggest spender in this cycle was Coffey, the attorney in private practice who is basically self-funding his campaign, and airing television ads.

Coffey, again, lent his campaign $1 million, helping him end the filing period with $3,162,032.49. He spent $824,028.22 in this period.

Coffey's expenditures include $20,462.12 on polling from Lables & Lists Inc.

But the real big expenditure --  besides the five-figure fees to consultants like the Mirram Group -- was $286,600 for television ads with GMMB (coincidentally, that's the same firm Anthony Weiner used to create some memorable ads during his 2005 mayoral race).

In Coffey's ad, black and white images of him slowly fade in and out of the screen as a narrator talks about his military record and his record as "a lawyer who took on Wall Street."

"New Yorkers don't need another politician seeking office, they need an attorney general seeking justice," the narrator says, highlighting Coffey's lack of political experience as an asset.

Public opinion polls show that none of the candidates are really known to the public. So, much of the money candidates are raising will probably be unleashed around Labor Day, when people return from vacation and realize that one of the most sought-after offices in New York State, if not the country, is up for grabs.

UDPATE: An informed reader notes that the money Coffey spent on TV ads with GMMB was for the "ad buy," since the firm purchases airtime for the ad creator working for the campaign, Jimmy Siegel.

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The Empire

Rice Ad: No Pushover

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The advantage to raising the biggest amount of money in a crowded race where the candidates are unknown is you can define yourself, and highlight criticisms that actually make you appear stronger. That's what Kathleen Rice is doing with her first ad in the attorney general's race.

Here, the narrator (and dramatic music) stress that Rice is "no pushover," hardly a charge she's faced on the campaign trail. But in appearing to knock down a criticism, she's able to underscore an advantage her allies have vocalized: she's the only woman in an otherwise all white, all male Democratic slate.

(h/t Haberman)

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The Empire

A Loophole for Lawyers

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Andrew Cuomo (Azi Paybarah/WNYC)

The Daily News catches Andrew Cuomo's campaign fund-raising running slightly afoul of the donation restrictions set out by…Andrew Cuomo's campaign.

The issue is Cuomo's decision to not take money from people or companies with business before his Attorney General's office, which is smart policy. But, as the campaign describes to The Daily News, there's a glaring loophole they allow:

"Cuomo's campaign says lawyers representing clients before the AG are not subject to the restrictions on donations."

Also, Cuomo campaign spokesman Josh Vlasto tries pushing the issue off their back, and onto the lap of Albany lawmakers:

"The real issue is not the campaign's voluntary rules ... but rather the entire campaign finance system, which is in desperate need of real reform."

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