Friday, October 08, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
Democrats have commanding leads in two US Senate races in New York, but the race for attorney general is closer, according to a Quinnipiac poll of likely voters.
Kirsten Gillibrand leads former GOP congressman Joe DioGuardi, 55-34 percent. That's up from the 48-42 percent race that Quinnipiac had in their poll two weeks ago.
Chuck Schumer leads Republican Jay Townsend 63-32 percent, with 65 percent of respondents saying they don't know enough about Townsend to have an opinion.
In the attorney general's race, Democratic State Senator Eric Schneiderman leads Republican District Attorney Dan Donovan 43-32 percent. Another 24 percent of voters remain undecided.
Donovan leads Schneiderman among independent voters, 36-30 percent. Schneiderman narrowly leads Donovan among upstate voters, 37-35 percent, (which is within the poll's 2.9 percent margin of error), and nearly splits the suburban vote, 40-39 percent.
Schneiderman's biggest leads is among New York City voters, where he leads Donovan 54-24.
In the state comptroller's race, incumbent Tom DiNapoli (who was appointed to the position and has not run statewide before) leads his Republican rival, Wall Street financier Harry Wilson 49-31 percent.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
Chuck Schumer's latest ad pulls the heart strings with a story about one particular constituent helped by the senior senator. The anecdote fits into a larger narrative that a lot of challengers, and incumbents too, are saying this season: things in Washington need fixing.
The ad also makes no mention of his Republican challenger, Jay Townsend, whom Schumer seems intent on ignoring.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
Jay Townsend smiled at the end of nearly every sentence. Gary Berntsen measured each syllable coming out of his mouth like a man trying not to lose his temper.
The two senate candidates running for the Republican nomination and the chance to take on Senator Schumer differed more on style than on substance. In their fist televised debate Monday night in Schenectady, Townsend, a communication consultant, and Berntsen, a former CIA operative, both agreed on supporting Arizona’s tough immigration law; disbelief in global warming; and, somewhat surprisingly, support for civil unions for same-sex couples.
The biggest clashes between the two candidates came when each claimed to have been early opponents to the plan to build an Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero.
“I’m proud to say I was the first statewide candidate to go to Ground Zero and speak publically about the mosque and suggest that the imam put it elsewhere,” said Townsend.
Later, Bernsten, whose work in chasing the Taliban through the hills of Tora Bora were told in a best-selling memoir, said, “I’ll let you know I’ve been doing this for twenty years and a time stamp on your press release doesn’t mean very much.”
The other flashpoint between the two came when Townsend argued he’s more electable in November because already has the endorsement of the Conservative Party, a necessary ingredient for any Republican running statewide.
Townsend said, “I’m the only one on stage tonight who will have the Conservative line. No Republican has won a statewide election in New York without the Conservative line since Gerry Ford.”
Berntsen shot back, “I have the Taxpayer line, a new line that was created. I am the Republican designee, having won by twenty-five percent at the convention. I will turn out a large number of Republicans, I will turn out the Tea Party, in force. The Tea Party is the new conservative movement in New York. The Conservative Party will be small in comparison.”
Both men were unsparing in their criticism of Schumer, who is seeking his third term in the Senate and, depending on whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid survives his re-election, be in a position to become that chamber’s highest ranking official.
Townsend and Berntsen – when they finally put their focus on Schumer, said he had compromised his responsibility to New York for the sake of elevating himself in the Senate.
“He is more interested in being majority leader than fighting for the state of New York,” said Townsend. Specifically, Townsend said the new federal health care legislation contained billions of unfunded mandates that will be borne by New York property taxpayers.
Schumer “doesn’t stand up on the tough issues,” said Berntsen. “On the issue of the mosque right now, he’s in the fetal position in his office. He hasn’t made a statement. He’s hiding.”
A spokesman for Schumer has previously said the senator “is not opposed” to the plan.
Monday, August 23, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
The fisticuffs between New York's political establishment on the right -- the Conservative Party -- and the newer insurgency from the (further?) right -- the Tea Party -- were on display tonight in the debate between GOP Senate candidates Jay Townsend and Gary Berntsen.
Townsend noted he has the Conservative Party's endorsement and no GOP candidate has won statewide without it in decades.
Berntsen replied, "Tea party is the new conservative movement in New York. The Conservative Party will be small in comparison."