Karen DeWitt

Capitol Bureau Correspondent, Albany

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now.  She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers. 

Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.

She is a past recipient of the prestigious Walter T. Brown Memorial award for excellence in journalism, from the Legislative Correspondents Association, and was named Media Person of the Year for 2009 by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

Karen is a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Ways To Connect

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made some of his most extensive comments on the controversial topic of hydrofracking to date.

For the past two years, ever since the governor asked his health department to conduct a health review, Cuomo has had little to say about the review, or even what was being studied. He would only say that the work was continuing.

Cuomo now says it is a challenge for his administration to hurry a decision, because there is new and often conflicting evidence emerging every day.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been endorsed by the state’s largest business lobby for his reelection bid. The New York State Business Council made the announcement Wednesday at the Plug Power energy manufacturing company near Albany.

Business Council President Heather Briccetti says her group is endorsing Cuomo over his GOP challenger Rob Astorino because of the governor’s record on achieving four on-time budgets, enacting business tax cuts and holding the increase in state spending and property taxes to two percent each year. She also praised Cuomo’s bi-partisan governing style.

The topic of preventing the Ebola virus in New York state became part of the governor’s race, when the Republican candidate proposed that flights be banned from countries with Ebola outbreaks.

Saying we should “err on the side of caution,” GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino is calling for a ban on all flights from Ebola stricken countries in Africa to New York’s airports. He says the Ebola case in Texas, where the victim allegedly did not tell authorities that he had been in contact with someone with the disease, shows that the screening process is not adequate.

New York state has received a multi billion dollar windfall from bank settlements this year, but a new report from the state comptroller shows the settlement took a bite out of Wall Street profits in 2014, which could have repercussions for the state budget in the future.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reports Wall Street profits are down by 13 percent so far in 2014, compared to the previous year, 2013, when profits had already shrunk by 30 percent.

“Certainly we’re seeing profits, but down from what we saw last year,” DiNapoli said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his democratic running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, and other women’s rights advocates spoke to a cheering crowd of union members and local elected officials as part of an upstate bus tour to promote a 10-point women’s rights plan.

Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act failed in the state Senate, when neither party could muster enough votes for an abortion rights provision. Now Cuomo and Hochul are making it a campaign issue.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has forged his public image as a bipartisan governor, working with both Democrats and Republicans. But the governor has also promised a left-leaning minor party that he would help shift control of the state Senate away from the GOP, and help Democrats regain control of the chamber. The governor has been walking a fine line between the two parties ever since.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a rare appearance before the State University of New York Board of Trustees to urge them to pass a system-wide set of policies on how to respond to sexual assault and rape on campuses.

Cuomo convinced the board to adopt the new policy that helps prevent sexual assault. It includes a uniform definition of what it means to consent to sexual activity, amnesty for students who report an assault or rape, and a new sexual assault victims’ bill of rights.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has accepted two debate offers from media outlets, but neither format includes a one-on-one televised contest between the incumbent Democrat and his Republican opponent. GOP candidate Rob Astorino is objecting.

One of the debates would take place in Buffalo, sponsored by the Buffalo News, and public television and radio stations WNED and WBFO. It would include Cuomo, Astorino, the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins and Libertarian candidate Michael McDermott.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reaching out to moderate Republicans to try to win over their vote in next month’s elections, and his efforts have been bolstered by a new ad featuring Larry Rockefeller.

Rockefeller, the nephew of former Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, says in the spot that GOP candidate Rob Astorino is too conservative for New York, and that he favors the mainstream Cuomo in the election.

“I’m a lifelong Republican," says Rockefeller in the ad. “But I cannot support the ultra-conservative Rob Astorino.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has until the end of this week to fill a vacancy on the state’s highest court. His choices include the reappointment of a Republican woman judge who currently holds the seat, and several Democratic alternatives.

Judge Victoria Graffeo’s term on the New York State Court of Appeals ends later this year. Under the rules Cuomo could reappoint her, but she would only be able to serve out part of the fourteen year term. Graffeo is now 62 years old, and the mandatory retirement age for state judges is 70. Graffeo is also a Republican, and Cuomo is a Democrat.

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino is far behind in the polls and in fundraising, compared to incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But Astorino is making the most of his campaign and is quick to improvise or bend a situation to his advantage. He also maintains that he expects to win.

Since last winter, Astorino, who currently serves as Westchester County executive, has been determinedly traveling the state and expounding on a core message that he lays out in an introductory video.

“As a state, are we winning or are we losing?” Astorino asks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not running the typical campaign. In fact, it could be called the Zen campaign.

The incumbent governor with a $35 million war chest who is well ahead in the polls, is employing a classic Rose Garden strategy. He seldom holds an overtly political event, and his limited public schedule often includes a carefully stage managed  economic development announcement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent the weekend in Afghanistan, as part of a contingent of four U.S. governors on a trip to learn about counterterrorism measures.

Cuomo and the other governors were invited by the Defense Department, to receive briefings on counterterrorism efforts and increasing global threats, and to meet with the troops, including 270 Members of the New York National Guard and 900 members of Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division.

Cuomo held a conference call with reporters while in Afghanistan.

Incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s agreed to two debates with his opponents, both on public broadcasting. But his GOP challenger is angered because the formats do not include a televised contest between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

Cuomo says he’s accepted an invitation to debate on television in Buffalo, along with GOP candidate Rob Astorino, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and the Libertarian Party’s Michael McDermott.

The governor has also agreed to a radio debate in New York City. It will be a one-on-one between Cuomo and Astorino.  

A new poll finds that six weeks before elections, Gov. Andrew Cuomo maintains a double-digit lead against his Republican opponent, but the governor’s job performance rating has hit an all-time low.

The Siena Research Institute poll finds Cuomo continues to be around 30 points ahead of Republican challenger Rob Astorino, leading 56 to 27 percent. Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins received seven percent.

Stepped up security at railroad and other mass transit systems was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who say it’s absolutely necessary, but no there’s specific terror threat.

The governors of New York and New Jersey say they are reacting to the increasingly active terrorists in the Middle East, and stepped up military activity by the United States, including air strikes.

Reform groups are split over the merits of a November ballot item to change the way new legislative and congressional districts are drawn in New York.

Some groups see the amendment as an opportunity to finally end rampant gerrymandering of Senate and Assembly districts in New York.  Others fear it would just solidify legislative control of a process that allows legislative leaders to draw districts that suit their own political interests.

State Democrats say their prime strategy to motivate voters this fall will be to paint Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Republican opponent as an ultra-conservative who has a negative view about New York.  

Kathy Hochul, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, went on the attack against Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino, saying the GOP opponent and his running mate are too conservative and his portrayal of the state as economically troubled and dysfunctional is too pessimistic.

The Republican candidate for governor temporarily upstaged incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, when Rob Astorino appeared unexpectedly at the Business Council of New York State's annual meeting and attempted to talk to the governor.

Astorino addressed the Business Council Thursday night, in a speech scheduled months ago. Cuomo did not commit to speak to the group at its annual meeting on Lake George until the conference had already started, and Cuomo chose a Friday morning time slot.  

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino received a mostly polite reception from the state’s biggest business lobby at their annual meeting in Lake George.

A judge has ruled that the wording on a November ballot item making changes to New York‘s redistricting process is biased and must be altered before Election Day.

The Supreme Court judge ruled that language describing a new board created to oversee redistricting in New York as independent is misleading and must be struck from the amendment’s description.

This election season seems to feature more than the usual amount of negative ads, with television spots painting opponents in a dark light. But an ad that criticized a candidate’s choice of football team may have backfired when controversy arose over a picture that was altered to cut out his son.

Viewers of the most recent Buffalo Bills game saw an ad, sponsored by Erie County Democrats, that criticized Republican candidate Rob Astorino for being a Miami Dolphins fan.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has rejected a plan by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to raid the state’s clean water fund to help pay for the New York Thruway’s Tappan Zee bridge replacement.

The issue of hydrofracking played a role in the recent Democratic primary for governor in New York, and those who oppose the gas drilling process hope it will influence the general election, as well.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, once on a fast track to begin the natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing in New York, has put his decision on hold while his administration is conducting a health review that began two years ago. Cuomo, asked about the future of fracking in the state one day after the Democratic primary, said he’s still reserving judgment.

The Green Party candidate for governor wants to be included in any upcoming debates. Howie Hawkins says he is the only candidate left in the race to represent the state’s progressives.

Hawkins, a Syracuse-area UPS worker and Teamsters union member, says by any reasonable standard he should be included in any debates for the governor’s race that feature major party candidates, Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo and Republican Rob Astorino.

The primaries are over and the focus now shifts to the general elections, which are a little over seven weeks away. Incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces Republican challenger Rob Astorino.

Cuomo made a rare campaign-style appearance in Buffalo with running mate Kathy Hochul just after winning the Democratic primary with 60 percent of the vote. Without mentioning him by name, he portrayed Republican opponent Rob Astorino as a hyper-conservative who was out of touch with New Yorkers.

After winning Tuesday’s Democratic primary, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now poised to run strongly against his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino. But will he have any lingering problems after more than one-third of primary voters rejected him for an obscure law professor?

Cuomo’s challenger, Fordham Law School Professor Zephyr Teachout, managed to win over one-third of the vote against the incumbent governor, despite Cuomo’s multi-million dollar war chest and near unanimous support from the state’s Democratic political establishment, from Hillary Clinton to local mayors.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his running mate Kathy Hochul beat off a challenge from two law school professors in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. But, challenger Zephyr Teachout won over one-third of the vote, opening  a potential weakness for the incumbent governor among progressive voters.

Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor cast their ballots Tuesday, and urged others to vote as well.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to win the primary, cast his ballot near his home in Westchester.

“I encourage people to vote,” Cuomo said. “You have no right to complain about who is in the office if you don’t actually exercise the franchise and go out and vote.”

Tuesday is primary day in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a challenge from Democrat Zephyr Teachout, which he is expected to easily win, but the governor could face a headache when it comes to the race for his running mate for lieutenant governor.

Cuomo, known as a clever strategist who carefully maps out his political future, did not anticipate a primary challenge from obscure Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout.

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