Colby Hamilton

Colby Hamilton appears in the following:

Unofficial election totals from Tuesday

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Board of Elections released these unofficial tally results from the races on Tuesday.

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What does a Turner win mean for the future of NY-9?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NY-9: Doomed to extinction? (Courtesy of LATFOR.)

Even before Bob Turner’s upset victory last night, a lot was made about the possibility that the 9th Congressional District might cease to exist soon.

But why, exactly? On a practical level, New York State is going to lose representation in Congress. We grew slower in comparison to other parts of the country over the last ten years, according to the US Census. Since the set number of seats in the House of Representatives are divvied up proportionally among the states based on population, New York is going to get two less seats come 2012.

This process happens every ten years, and in the past there has been an agreement between the Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature, which is responsible for drawing the political lines for all New York political districts. Since the Democrats control the Assembly, and the Republicans control the Senate, when they get together to carve up the state, each side would loses a seat. As the Democrats are strong downstate, they’d likely sacrifice a seat here and vice versa for the Republicans upstate.

It’s an interesting arrangement, as the Federal elected representatives have to lobby their colleagues in the state legislature. Generally speaking, seniority and political influence rule the process, with junior and weaker members more likely to be redistricted out of a job.

“These are political decisions and the lines are drawn in regards to political balance,” said Gerald Benjamin, a political science professor at SUNY New Paltz. “You’re not dealing with math here.”

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David Weprin has conceeded to Congressman-elect Bob Turner

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I just called Bob Turner to congratulate him on a well-fought campaign.  He will now have the honor of representing Brooklyn and Queens in Congress, and I hope that he will work every day to represent all of the diverse communities that make up the 9th Congressional district.

I’m incredibly proud of the campaign that we ran, and incredibly grateful to the countless volunteers who worked day after day to bring our message to voters.  In doing so we raised the profile of issues like Medicare, Social Security, and tax relief for working families – issues that will be of critical importance for the next Congress.

Though we may not have won, our work is far from over.  The challenges that face our nation are many, and I will continue to work with all of my supporters to ensure that middle class New Yorkers have a real voice in our city, our state, and our country.

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Was Turner's win a rebuke of Obama?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Congressman-elect Bob Turner (Courtesy of the Turner campaign)

Morning! Looking to get a number of things posted, including rundowns of the other races last night, but really wanted to give a quick recap from last night.

While it wasn't a surprise, Bob Turner's upset victory over David Weprin sent shockwaves through the political world. National pundits are calling it a rebuke of Obama and a foreboding omen for 2012.

Certainly that's how the Turner people tried to paint it from Day 1: The special election to fill the seat vacated by Anthony Weiner was a referendum, and sending Turner to Washington would show the president people were fed up.

And they are. Let's be real--people in the 9th Congressional District are not jazzed about the Obama White House. But they never have been. Obama won there with only 55 percent of the vote in 2008. The only other New York City congressional district that had a lower return for Obama sent Republican Michael Grimm to congress. The district's been going red for a number of election cycles.

While I don't want to take away from the Turner win, it had as much to do with Obama as it did a weak Democratic candidate. Likewise, I don't want to kick a guy when he's down, but if the name Weiner had been on the ballot, this district would still be held by Democrats.

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9th Congessional District Special Election Coverage

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Election Day. Throughout the day we'll be updating this post with news from the campaign trail, as well as interesting info from around the web. We'll be with the candidates up until the race is decided so check back in regularly. You can also see the returns come in for the race here.

12:14 AM

From WNYC correspondent Yasmeen Khan

Turner supporters started the chant, "Yes we can!" -- a jab at Obama supporters. Turner quieted the crowd saying, "It's still me up here."

Turner is all smiles: "Maybe we started something," he said. "I sure hope so."

He says he starts work on Thursday

12:10 AM

From WNYC correspondent Yasmeen Khan

Turner has his whole family on stage and is giving a victory speech

12:08 AM

After giving the briefest of comments, Weprin headed straight for the door. Turner's victory speech is playing on the television as Weprin supporters followed Weprin's lead.

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The Empire's 9th Congressional District Voters Guide

Monday, September 12, 2011

Compiled by WNYC's Alana Casanova-Burgess

Endorsement selections

Bob Turner (Courtesy of the Turner campaign)

Bob Turner: NY Daily News; NY Post; the Jewish Voice; former governor George Pataki; former mayors Ed Koch; former mayor Rudy Giuliani; Assemblyman Dov Hikind

David Weprin: The New York Times; Queens Tribune; El Diario; Senators Joseph Lieberman; Senator Kirsten Gilbrand; Senator Charles Schumer; City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; New York State AFL-CIO; SEIU; 32BJ; DC 37

Federal budget policies

Turner has publicized his goal of cutting federal spending by 35 percent across the board – but that he would not cut Social Security of Medicaid in their present form. Turner was endorsed by former Mayor Ed Koch in part because he has pledged not to privatize Medicare and Social Security and turn Medicaid into a block grant, as per Paul Ryan’s proposal. He also said that he would be open to increasing revenues.

Weprin has attacked Turner by saying his goals to cut federal spending are not realistic. “The Republicans in the House are looking to slash Social Security and Medicare. Frankly, people are scared,” he said. “I will fight to preserve Social Security and Medicare, not to privatize Social Security and Medicare.”

Zadroga Act for 9/11 first responders

Turner has said that the $4.3 billion health law for 9/11 first responders has flaws. “I think it is a little too broad,” he told the New York Daily News Editorial Board last month. Volunteers should not have been included in the law, he added.

Weprin shot back, supporting the law famously championed by Rep. Weiner. “Those volunteers risked their lives,” he said.


The focus early in the campaign seemed to be on competing support of Israel. The district is home to many Orthodox Jewish voters. For the record, here’s what both candidates said on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC:

David Weprin (Colby Hamilton / WNYC)

Weprin: I think we have to be careful about asking Israel to make concessions that we’re not asking of the Palestinian Authority. Obviously, while there is aid to the Palestinian Authority certain support for recognition of the state of Israel is important but.. I don’t think we differ too much for our strength for the state of Israel. But I think we have to really talk about the other issues where there’s really a major difference.

Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, has also said that he disagrees with President Obama’s stance on Israel.

Turner: I think Mr. Weprin said it himself when he said I will follow the party caucus. The caucus is not always in line with what is in the best interest of Israel or even the U.S. in this regard. So I think that’s an important distinction… I think some UN votes, UN funding will be a part of this. Just the other day we had the Democratic caucus supporting Obama in paying the Palestinians who in turn are paying terrorists who are in Israeli prisons. … I think [cutting off all aid to the Palestinian authority from the U.S. is] a good starting point until we get some cooperation out of them in terms of firing rockets at Israel.

Debt Ceiling Vote

Weprin would not have voted for the compromise deal reached for the debt ceiling, but acknowledged that something had to be done to prevent default. Cuts to Medicare and Social Security would be particularly painful for New Yorkers, he said on WNYC. More recently, he told the Daily News Editorial Board that he thought the federal debt was $4 trillion. It is actually roughly $14 trillion.

Turner also called the deal imperfect, but said in a press release that he supports the deal reached in Washington. “This agreement is far from perfect, but it will protect Social Security and Medicare and prevent default on our debt, which would have damaged this weak economy even more.” Overspending on both sides of the aisle, he added, is to blame.

Gay Marriage

Turner has said he supports marriage as being between a man and a woman. He has received support in his campaign from the anti-gay marriage group, The National Organization for Marriage.

Weprin “supported the same-sex marriage bill in Albany” as a state Assemblyman, he told Brian Lehrer. “It was a civil issue. We basically just authorized civil marriage. It wasn’t a religious issue.”

Turner lives in the 9th Congressional District, although Weprin does not.

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NY-9 Special Election: Maybe You Can Vote Tomorrow!

Monday, September 12, 2011

By It's a Free Country blogger Stephen Reader

A sample ballot for tomorrow's special election. (WNYC)

Remember Anthony Weiner? Man! Where did the summer go?

Anyway, that guy is gone and after tomorrow we'll have a new representative of New York's 9th congressional district. The candidates are Republican Bob Turner and Democrat David Weprin, and the contest is being cast as a referendum on Barack Obama, etc.

Maybe you didn't know there was an election tomorrow. Maybe you don't know if you're even in this oh-so-coveted and exotic 9th district. Your eighth grade civics teacher would be ashamed. What's a New Yorker to do?

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The 54th Assembly campaign contribution breakdown: Where have all the in-district donors gone?

Monday, September 12, 2011

We've posted before about the financial dealings in the 54th Assembly District in Brooklyn. The three candidates are all pulling money from their networks of donors, and we had been asked--sometimes sarcastically--when we'd breakdown the donations to see, mostly, who had done the most fundraising in district.

Well, folks, ask and you shall receive is our mantra over at the Empire blog. Thanks to the map wizardry of WNYC's John Keefe, we've been able to break down the data from the Board of Election to paint a fiscal picture of where the candidates are getting their support.

First, some background and general info. What you're looking at are the donors to each campaign, not the individual donations. Looking at the number of unique donors is a better measure than total number of donations. The individual donors were then tagged to the map using their address information. Some of the addresses didn't compute, meaning a small percentage -- less than two percent -- aren't present on the map. Corporate, PAC and other group donations were combined with individuals in all averages and tallies.

Here are the raw numbers:


The first thing you notice is that, despite calls from a number of quarters for a breakdown of in-district donations, the truth is not one candidate managed to get into double digits when it comes to either total donations, or the percentage of money raised.

That being said, the Towns and Gonzalez campaigns have the highest totals, respectively. In truth, these ridiculously low in-district numbers shouldn't be surprising. The area we're talking about is a poor one, and raising tens of thousands of dollars in-district would have been a tall feet.

Still, no one can really claim to be pulling their support--at least financially--directly from the people they represent.

What's interesting about the map below is how close to home the candidates ended up raising money. Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think.

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Clinton and Cuomo robocall for Weprin, as Turner files an Israel reminder

Monday, September 12, 2011

David Weprin, left, and Bob Turner ( )

The Weprin campaign is pulling out the big guns a day before voters go to the polls in the 9th congressional district. Governor Andrew Cuomo and former president Bill Clinton are asking voters to support the Democrat for congress. Cuomo's calls will start today. Click on the link to hear the audio.

Cuomo for Weprin

Hello, this is Governor Andrew Cuomo asking you to support David Weprin in tomorrow’s special election for Congress. I’ve known David for many years, and I’ve known him to be a leader who stands up for what’s right. In Congress he’ll stand up for middle class families and he’ll fight to preserve Social Security and Medicare. David will bring jobs to New York and get our economy moving.  That’s why he’s also been endorsed by the New York Times. Once again, this is Governor Andrew Cuomo and I’m asking you to support David Weprin for Congress. I hope you will.

Clinton's call will be going out tomorrow.

Clinton for Weprin

Hello, this is President Bill Clinton. I’m calling to ask you to support David Weprin in today’s special election for Congress. The New York Times endorsed David.  They support him for the same reasons I do: because he’ll stand up for the middle class, he’ll support a good program to put Americans back to work, and he’ll oppose the Tea Party plan to destroy Medicare. Again, it’s President Bill Clinton, I’m proud to support David Weprin for Congress and I hope you will too. Thanks.

Meanwhile, the Turner campaign this morning came out swinging for Israel, demanding the Obama administration rebuke Turkey over the Israeli embassy raiding last week.

"If Turkey wants to be a NATO member, it needs to behave like one," Turner said in a statement. "NATO countries don't militarily escort terrorist weaponry used to attack allies of fellow NATO members. The world is becoming a more dangerous place because of Mr. Obama's demonstrated ambivalence toward Israel and his naïve and academic belief in moral relativity. This is the real world, and President Obama must put his foot down."

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Bloomberg's approval rating goes positive thanks to Irene

Monday, September 12, 2011


New Yorkers are back on Mayor Bloomberg's side, thanks to his handling of Hurricane Irene according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released this morning. The mayor's job approval rating is up to 54 percent from 45 percent in late July. The vast majority of those polled -- 86 percent -- approved of the mayor's handling of Hurricane Irene.

“Maybe it was the decisive preparations for Irene – Bloomberg’s job approval has moved up nicely.  As usual, Manhattan likes him best of all,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement. “This survey was conducted after Hurricane Irene and during the storm about Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith’s arrest – but maybe that second storm is a tempest in a teapot.

“The critics cried ‘overkill!’  But most people agreed with the mayor, ‘better safe than sorry.’  Overwhelmingly, Bloomberg’s handling of Irene gets high marks.”

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The New York Times publishes its profile of David Weprin

Friday, September 09, 2011

Colby Hamilton / WNYC

The Times published its follow-up candidate profile of David Weprin in the race for congress out in Queens today. (I'm guessing Chris Hoeppner's not getting his piece in before Tuesday.)

As we did with Turner's piece yesterday, here's the money section that sort of speaks to the big issue for the Weprin campaign right now:

Among his worst setbacks, he said, was finishing last in the 2009 Democratic primary for comptroller, which he attributed to a lack of support from the Democratic Party machine.

But political operatives who worked with him in that race said he had proved to be a sometimes temperamental candidate.

They said he would miss scheduled meetings with black and Latino groups, only to be discovered spending time with Orthodox Jewish constituents. While he was very skilled at raising money, they said he was also absent-minded.

The Weprin campaign's missteps might be more of trait following the candidate from race to race than any sort of bad luck. And they seem to be taking their toll: Siena came out with their poll this morning showing Turner capturing the majority of the support of those polled, leading the former frontrunner Weprin by 6 points.

The big question will be how the Weprin camp responds this weekend. Mobilizing support from endorsers in labor and elected office, hitting the pavement in the district, using the poll for a last-minute fundraising push--all of these things would indicate a campaign that was still going for the gold.

If today's event today was any indication, things don't look good for Weprin. After the poll was released showing Weprin sliding into second place, the campaign held a "protest" against Donald Trump's endorsement of Bob Turner. In Midtown. Far, far away from the district that could be slipping through his fingers.

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The Deal with Special Elections

Friday, September 09, 2011

Colby Hamilton, writer for WNYC's city and state politics blog, The Empire, discusses the special election process in New York and how it affects political power in the state.

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The Empire Guide to Winning a Special Election in New York

Friday, September 09, 2011 / Pincasso

Years like 2011 are usually the lull before the political storm. There’s the big quadrennial presidential year (2008), which brings out the most voters and puts the most candidates on the ballot, from the commander-and-chief to your local assemblyman.

Then there’s the citywide elections (2009), headlined by the mayoral race and giving voters a chance to pick their city councilmembers. These are followed by another big Federal election year (2010) for Representatives to the house and, every six years, a Senator.

This year was supposed to be a sleepy political off year, with only the most low profile of local races bringing out the die-hard believers in the electoral process.

But not this year. Here in New York City, a number of special elections will be held on next Tuesday, September 13, to fill vacant seats in the New York State Assembly and one in the United States Congress. These ad hoc scrambles are spectacles of arcane electoral rules, political opportunism, and questionable democratic value. They can also be the launching pads of long political careers and shakeups of the established political order.

But understanding these political peculiarities, and the special circumstances surrounding special elections, can be confusing. So we thought, why not lay out just how it all works?

In that spirit, ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the Empire’s Guide to Winning a Special Election in New York.

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Turner blows past Weprin, leads by 6 points in latest NY-9 Siena poll

Friday, September 09, 2011

Poll results after the jump.

With only four days until election, Republican Bob Turner appears to have gained major ground in his race against Democrat David Weprin, according to the Siena Research Institute poll. Turner now leads Weprin 50-44 among likely voters, in a dramatic reversal from last month, when Siena had Weprin up 48-42.

Courtesy of Siena

“Republican Turner heads into the final days of the campaign with a six-point lead in this heavily Democratic district after having trailed Democrat Weprin by six points just four weeks ago,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement. “While Turner has an overwhelming 90-6 percent lead among Republicans, Weprin has only a 63-32 percent lead among Democrats, and Turner has a 38-point lead among likely independent voters. Currently, Turner enjoys a slightly larger lead among independent voters than Weprin has with Democrats. Weprin needs to find a way to win a larger share of Democratic and independent voters if he’s going to turn the race back around in the final days.”

A series of polls over the past few weeks showed the race tightening, though they were mostly from partisan polling firms or commissioned by the campaigns. Earlier this week, the New York Times pollster Nate Silver said that, based on available data, he was giving Weprin the slightest of edges.

"Over all, Mr. Weprin’s advantages are more tangible, which is why I would consider him a modest favorite given the ambiguity in the polling," Silver said in his article Wednesday. "But a victory by Mr. Turner would hardly be surprising. I always caution against drawing national implications from special election results, and would certainly do so here given the idiosyncrasies of the district. But it would represent a nice little notch in Republicans’ belts and a troubling data point for Democrats."

With this latest poll, Weprin's chances appear to be slipping, as Turner's call to send a message to Washington appears to be gaining major traction.

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Focus on flood recovery raises new hydrofracking concerns for for upstate Assemblyman Cahill

Thursday, September 08, 2011

This story has been updated.

Courtesy of the Assemblyman's website.

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

The news has been dominated this week by two upstate stories that strangely have dovetailed, at least in one regard.

The additional flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Lee has only made the decision to limit the time for public comment on a hydrofracking report more problematic for critics.

Assembly Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill says he’s disappointed with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to make the public comment period on a draft final report on hydrofracking 90 days long, an increase from 60 days but still not long enough largely because of the flooding.

Cahill says many of the key regions in the Marcellus Shale were flooded first by tropical storm Irene and now the remnants of Hurricane Lee, with several of them declared federal disaster areas. He says people there will be too busy cleaning up ruined homes and businesses to focus on attending hearings or submitting opinions on the future of natural gas drilling in New York.

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Donald Trump robocalls for Turner campaign

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Donald has spoken and he's for Republican Bob Turner in the race to fill the vacant 9th Congressional District seat, according to a robocall the Turner campaign released today. Take a listen to the actual call below the transcript:

This is Donald Trump, and I'm not calling to fire you, as we say on The Apprentice. I'm calling to fire you up!

Because there's an important election in Queens and Brooklyn on Tuesday, and we need to elect businessman Bob Turner to Congress.

If you don't like what's going on in Washington, if you don't like what's happening with Israel, because Israel is being treated very badly and very unfairly by the Obama administration, vote for Bob Turner.

Trust me, they'll notice. Electing Bob Turner on Tuesday will be a shot heard 'round the country.

Everybody is talking about this election, and everybody is looking to see what's going to happen.

President Obama and Congress will know that you had a lot to do with it.

It's enough with the game-playing. It's enough with all of the nonsense.

Protect Israel. Join me, Donald Trump, in supporting Bob Turner for Congress on Tuesday, September 13th.

Thank you.

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New rules will make it easier to know who spends what on NYC elections

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Anna Sale over at our WNYC sister site,It's a Free Country, posted a great piece about the news rules that require groups like unions and political action committees to disclose the money they spend on campaigns in the city. From the piece:

These disclosure rules that the public can see who's spending what, and on behalf of which candidate, in city elections, in a database like the one that already exists for candidate spending. One of the more parts of the rules is how the board distinguished between campaign activity and membership-building communications. For example, is a union mailing to members weeks before an election a campaigned expenditure that needs to be disclosed, or is it internal communication with members?

Check out the rest of the story here.

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New York Times profiles Bob Turner, who reminds us his opponent can't vote for himself

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Courtesy of the Turner campaign

The quote:

“I do have an appreciation for shtick,” Mr. Turner, 70, conceded with a mischievous laugh. “It draws attention to the race and makes the mundane newsworthy.”

Yes, it's been noted on this blog before, as the race at times has felt like an episode of the Springer Show. The piece does go on to give some important insight into Turner's background in television that haven't been looked at in-depth before.

In other Turner news, his campaign reminded us this morning that his opponent, Democrat David Weprin, doesn't actually live in the district and won't be able to vote for himself next Tuesday:

"Bob Turner will be voting for himself next Tuesday morning; I have no idea what Mr. Weprin will be doing at the time," Turner campaign spokesman William O'Reilly said in a statement. "Mr. Weprin doesn't live in the Ninth Congressional District, but he I guess he couldn't resists running to represent it.  Mr. Weprin is a professional politician who evidently runs for everything."

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Weprin campaign releases new video

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Check out the up-beat, if not musically derivative, campaign spot from the Weprin campaign. It'll be running through Election Day next week. According to the Weprin campaign:

The ad prominently features David’s endorsement by the New York Times, which states that David “has far more expertise and fiscal rationality” than his opponent, and points out that David “has promoted education and civil rights and fought to protect senior citizens”.

The ad also notes that the Times warned against Bob Turner’s Tea Party budget ideas, specifically that “Turner would force a reduction in benefits for those on Social Security and Medicare”.  A recent poll conducted by the Global Strategy Group found that when voters are informed about the New York Times endorsement, David Weprin’s lead increases to 23 points over his opponent.

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State releases fracking report, extends comment period

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

 By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

The state’s environmental agency has granted an additional 30 days for public comment on hydrofracking, to 90 days, and has agreed to four public hearings, three in the Marcellus shale region and one in New York City on its draft final report on gas drilling.

The new 90 day comment period was welcomed by environmentalists, though they say they would have liked double that amount of time.

The gas drilling industry, represented by the Independent Oil and Gas Association, does not object to the longer comment period.

“90 days seems appropriate in light of the fact that there is significant new material contained in the revised report,” said spokesman Paul Larrabee.

Larrabee says the gas drillers are still studying the report and will make reserve comments on specifics until the hearings.

The report estimates that anywhere from around 33,000 to over 47,000 jobs could be created from fracking and related services.  It also says and that increased truck traffic, noise and visually unattractive well sites could be a problem.

The report says the state should also require that drilling companies consider using green chemicals first, before using the more potentially hazardous mixtures to extract the gas.

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