politics

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Updated, 7:46 p.m.

Democrats in the state Assembly have emerged from two days of closed door discussions on whether, then how, to remove and replace the leader of their conference, who has been charged with corruption.

Assemblyman Joe Morelle, the majority leader from Rochester, told reporters Tuesday evening that Sheldon Silver will be removed from his post.

"On Monday, there will be a vacancy in the office of speaker," he said.

azipaybarah / Flickr

Updated, 11:45 a.m.:

The Democratic Speaker of the New York State Assembly was arrested early Thursday morning by federal officials on corruption charges.

The investigation and pending arrest was first reported by The New York Times. It was later confirmed by the FBI. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Freshman Republican Rep. John Katko isn’t backing the president’s plan for free community college, but he says it’s a discussion worth having.

President Barack Obama proposed a free Associates Degree for community college students in his State of the Union address last night.

"Can we afford that? I don’t know. But should we talk about the affordability of college for people on a general matter? Absolutely. And I think there’s something there we can work with," said Katko, the congressman for central New York, afterward.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The man who finished in third place for governor of New York last fall has still issued his own state of the state in hopes of a continued push for his vision.

Howie Hawkins, a Syracuse resident, has been a constantly more progressive voice than the state’s liberal leaders. He’s pushing for programs that go a step beyond what Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will lay out in his State of the State address Wednesday afternoon.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Influential central New York State Sen. John DeFrancisco is retiring today, but he’ll go right back to work tomorrow.

DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse, is 68 years old. That means he’s been eligible to retire as a state employee and collect a pension for the past three years. He’s finally doing so, even though he was re-elected to office in November and plans to continue to serve in the Senate.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says central New Yorkers should expect to hear more from her than usual next year, as she runs for a third term.

At this point, she hasn’t made any formal declarations about running. “I did not make any kind of official announcement, and I think I broke protocol, but I happened to be talking to a reporter who asked if I was running and I said I planned to," she told WRVO.

She does plan to make that formal announcement, she said.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

After Tuesday's election, gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins declared that the Green Party is now the "third party" in New York state politics.

Hawkins, who is from Syracuse, earned about five percent of the vote statewide, but did the best in Tompkins County where he received more than 16 percent of the vote.

Opposition to the natural gas drilling process known as hydrofracking is a big part of the Green Party's platform. Hawkins says in the months to come the party plans to build on the momentum of what he called a big Green vote.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

It became clear early on election night that Dan Maffei was going to lose his re-election effort to Congress, but the scope of the loss left many surprised.

“Stunning” is a word more than one political analyst used Wednesday morning to describe Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei’s nearly 20 point loss to Republican John Katko. Not in that he lost, but by how much.

Phil Roeder / via Flickr

Political polls were a crucial way of predicting the outcome of Tuesday’s elections. Polls in central New York's seat for Congress saw an 18 point swing in the campaign's final weeks. But how political polling is conducted – over the telephone – faces an uncertain future.

Pollsters have long used landline telephones to reach into people’s homes and ask them about issues and candidates. It’s far from an exact science, but it’s been the best we’ve got.

But the problem nowadays is that most people under the age of 35 don’t have landline telephones in their home.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A year ago, John Katko of Camillus was a federal prosecutor, putting criminals behind bars. Today he is congressman-elect for central New York’s 24th Congressional District.

The Republican's first foray into politics has led to a stunning victory over two-term Rep. Dan Maffei, a Democrat.      

“Anybody want to know why I’m wearing a purple tie?" Katko asked, opening his victory speech. "It’s a combination of red and blue because we all got to get together." 

He vowed to keep the promise he made on the campaign trail to work with Democrats in Washington.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The candidates for central New York’s hotly contested seat in Congress spent their final day of the campaign rallying voter turnout.

Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei has a slight edge in registered Democrats over Republicans in the 24th Congressional District, but he’s struggled to get them to the polls in midterm elections during his previous campaigns. So Monday afternoon he visited his campaign phone bank.

"Now it’s all up to the grassroots and getting out the vote," he said. "That is going to deliver this race; that’s going to deliver a lot more races nationwide." 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Green Party candidate for governor Howie Hawkins is joining the growing criticism of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a comment Cuomo made about teachers. The governor said the public education system is a monopoly.

Earlier this week, Cuomo told the New York Daily News the state’s public education system is the last great public monopoly. He says he’ll try to push for a new round of teacher evaluations if reelected.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

As WRVO profiles congressional races in central and northern New York this week, we turn to the 24th Congressional District. It features a well-known Democrat who has struggled to hold onto the office, and a political neophyte. We begin first with our profile of the incumbent, Rep. Dan Maffei.

Maffei has spent the better part of the last decade running for Congress. He’s lost, won, lost, won and now, at 46 years old, he’s running for re-election.

Sarah Jean Condon / The Citizen

A week busy with debates for the 24th Congressional District candidates continued last night with their first live televised debate.

The Democratic incumbent and Republican challenger fielded questions on infrastructure, and cuts to carbon emissions, taxes and the Affordable Care Act.

Gas tax

In the Syracuse Media Group/WCNY debate aired live, neither Rep. Dan Maffei nor Republican challenger John Katko supported raising the gas tax, which the federal government uses to fund bridge and road repair.

Ryan Delaney/WRVO & Zack Seward/WXXI

The four candidates for governor of New York met on a stage together in Buffalo Wednesday night for likely the only time this fall.

The debate began with questions of economic development, hydrofracking and political corruption. It soon turned into a series of no longer on-topic jabs between Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican challenger Rob Astorino, the executive of Westchester County.

Cuomo is seeking his second term as governor.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Some powerful Washington politicians are visiting central New York, stumping for their chosen candidates for the 24th Congressional District, in the final weeks of the campaign season.

It was Republican John Katko's turn first. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) headlined a $75-a-plate fundraising brunch in Auburn Sunday in support of Katko. McCarthy and Katko then toured the Seward House, once home to Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state William Seward.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Republican Congressional candidate John Katko is trying to hold Rep. Dan Maffei to a clean campaign pledge the congressman proposed early in the campaign.

To flash back to April, Congressman Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) called on Katko, the former federal prosecutor trying to unseat him in the 24th Congressional District, to run a straight forward, issued-based campaign.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Green Party candidate for governor, Howie Hawkins, doesn’t just want to do away with the Common Core education curriculum, but as much standardized testing as possible.

That dislike for Common Core is one of the few things Hawkins and Republicans can agree on. Both he and the GOP candidate for governor, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, want to see the national benchmarks for English and math learning be revoked.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins says the natural gas industry’s short-sighted attitude is not what New York needs. 

Hawkins recently visited a northern Pennsylvania region that’s experienced an energy rush using the drilling method known as fracking. Part of New York state sits on the same shale formation, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been hesitant to open the state up to extraction, over pressure from environmental advocates.

Rob Astorino, the Republican running for governor, says fracking would bring a major economic boom to the struggling Southern Tier.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

When Howie Hawkins began his second run for governor as a member of the Green Party, he says he found education to be a key issue, so that’s where he looked for a running mate.

"We had a checklist of items that would make the ideal candidate," he said. "And my running mate, Brian Jones, he added to the list. He checked every box."

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Green Party candidate for governor Howie Hawkins wants the minimum wage for New York workers to be nearly doubled.

Hawkins, the perennial political activist and UPS worker, is calling for the state’s minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour.

It’s $8 right now and on track to rise to $9 by the end of next year. Hawkins says that should also go for tipped workers, who right now make a base salary of just $5 an hour, something the state is considering.

An increase in the minimum wage reduces poverty and takes a burden off of welfare programs, he argues.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

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.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Republican John Cahill is asking the state’s top prosecutor to debate him multiple times, but so far, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman hasn’t agreed to anything.

Cahill wants to take on Schneiderman, a Democrat, in every region of the state.

"It’s a long process to convince voters and to talk to voters about the issues that they face, the roll of the attorney general," he said in an interview.

Cahill wants ten regional debates and one statewide.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor, has about six weeks left to get his state-wide support up to levels where it is in Syracuse.

Hawkins, a Syracuse resident, has won over a quarter of voters in the city, according to a recent poll. Hawkins says he would earn even more support if voters considered just the issues.

Onondaga County

A concert venue along Onondaga Lake is not the economic development project the state should be investing in, according to Rob Astorino, the Republican running for governor of New York.

Astorino, the Westchester county executive, said Monday a proposed 17,000 seat concert amphitheater for the west side of Onondaga Lake will be a hollow space.

Talk Radio News Service / via Flickr

The nation's most powerful Republican will be in central New York this evening to campaign for the man challenging Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei.

It could be a welcomed boost for John Katko, who needs to make up ground against Maffei with just over six weeks before Election Day.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Republican candidate for governor and other state-wide conservative candidates have submitted their names for a new “Stop Common Core” party ballot line.

The campaign of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino says they collected about four-times as many signatures as the 15,000 needed to apply to create a new ballot line.

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci, who is running for state comptroller as a Republican, is also applying for the line. He says they hope to win votes on the line from liberals and conservatives.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Republican candidate for the Syracuse-area's congressional seat has won the endorsement of one labor union leader, but other area labor unions are saying they're still strongly behind the Democrat in the race.

Tim Hogan, the former president of the now dissolved Teamsters 182 says he endorsed long-time friend John Katko's effort to unseat Rep. Dan Maffei back in April, before his union chapter merged with a Teamsters chapter based in Albany.

File Photo
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Rob Astorino is working to keep heat on Gov. Andrew Cuomo over reporting the governor interfered with an Albany ethics panel.

Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor, made several stops across upstate New York Monday, as Cuomo made his first public comments since The New York Times reported Cuomo and his office tried to influence an independent commission set up by the governor to investigate corruption.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy says he had no direct knowledge of alleged meddling by his boss into an ethics commission the governor set up.

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