<![CDATA[NBC New York - Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 20 Dec 2014 21:47:44 -0500 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 21:47:44 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[McCray Releases New Video Touting Accomplishments]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:58:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chrilane+mccray+campaign+video.jpg New York City's first lady Chirlane McCray released a falshy new video touting her accomplishments since her husband was elected mayor. The video affirms her powerful role in the city. Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[Security Fence Erected Around Gracie Mansion]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 21:08:44 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Gracie-Manision-Security-Fence-Ground-Level.jpg

A tall security fence has been erected at Gracie Mansion, obscuring New Yorkers' views of the iconic mayoral home. 

The large white picket fence is was put up inside an existing brick and iron fence that also circles the Yorkville home and keeps people visiting neighboring Carl Schurz Park from seeing the house's lawn and porch.

Rebecca Katz, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office, said the fence was erected at the suggestion of de Blasio's security detail and other NYPD officials after recent fence-jumping incidents at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Mayor de Blasio and his wife, who moved into the home earlier this year, have called Gracie Mansion "The People's House."

De Blasio is the first mayor to reside in the Gracie Mansion in more than 12 years. His predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, decided to stay in his East 79th Street townhouse while in office.

The home is on the National Register of Historic Places, but the landmark distinction only applies to the mansion itself, not the fence and yard that surrounds it.

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<![CDATA[The Giants: Then and Now]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 13:53:28 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/113014fumble.jpg

The 3-9 Giants have lost an NFL-high seven games in a row, with their last victory coming on Oct. 5 against Atlanta. A lot has happened in the interim, including two losses to the Cowboys and the largest comeback in Jaguars history, courtesy of the Giants last week.

The temptation is to say that nothing good has happened during the Giants’ current skid, but don’t be tempted by lies. Plenty of good things have happened; just most of them have happened to other teams.

To get a sense of how far we’ve come since Oct. 5 – as a people, as a nation, but most importantly as football fans – let’s play a little Then and Now.

Then: The Giants were 3-2 and fans were hopeful of a successful season.
Now: Fans are taking it out on their friends and family.

Then: Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara had lost his virginity and was having a career year.
Now: Amukamara is out for the season with an injury, presumably not caused by finding his virginity.

Then: Odell Beckham Jr. played his first career game against the Falcons and also caught his first NFL touchdown pass after missing the first month due to injury.
Now: Beckham hasn’t done anything memorable since.

Then: Derek Jeter had barely been retired a week.
Now: He runs a website where Tiger Woods defends his great sense of humor.

Then: Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
Now: Desperate fantasy owners are adding him to their roster for the fantasy playoffs.

Then: The best headline I’d read in 2014 was “Pig in Australia Steals 18 Beers from Campers, Gets Drunk, Fights Cow.”
Now: Nothing has changed.

Then: Victor Cruz was the team’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Now: Cruz is among an NFL-high 20 Giants on injured reserve.

Then: No one was talking about Eli Manning’s 2015 cap hit.
Now: It’s frequently mentioned in the same sentence as Tom Coughlin’s 2015 job prospects.

Then: Florida State was undefeated (5-0) and No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.
Now: Florida State is undefeated (12-0) and No. 2 in the poll behind Alabama (11-1).

Then: Yankee fans were looking forward to the team re-loading during free agency.
Now: Yankee fans are looking forward to a team led by Alex Rodriguez.

Then: Jason Pierre-Paul was the Giants’ best pass rusher.
Now: The Giants’ best pass rusher (Robert Ayers) is on injured reserve.

Then: Many people were touting the new West Coast offense implemented by new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
Now: Hardly anyone is still talking about him as the successor to Tom Coughlin.

Then: The Giants were about to win their third world title in five years.
Now: When it comes to the New York Giants, we might as well be talking about baseball.

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<![CDATA[Politician's Ex-Staffer Pleads Guilty to Accepting $7,500 Christmas Card Bribe]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 13:37:26 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/generic+bribe+bribery+generic+money+changing+hands.jpg

The former chief of staff for a Chicago alderman pleaded guilty Thursday to accepting a $7,500 cash bribe in exchange for obtaining the alderman's letters of support for a license to sell alcohol in their ward.

Curtis V. Thompson, Jr., former chief of staff for Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), accepted 75 $100 bills in a Christmas card from an individual he believed wanted to open a convenience store. The individual was actually a witness in an FBI undercover investigation.

Thompson, 63, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Thompson was arrested in February after a complaint was filed in a federal investigation that began in 2012. On Oct. 9, 2013, the FBI informant handed Thompson a note offering the $7,500 bribe in return for a letter of support for his liquor license form the alderman, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. After seeing the note, Thompson nodded his head and said, "Okay. I understand."

Two more meetings followed in October and November 2013, during which the informant offered a $12,000 bribe, officials said. After the third meeting, Thompson prepared two letters of support on the alderman's letterhead and signed the alderman's name.

After the informant agreed to pay the bribes, he was handed a letter from the alderman which read, "Please allow this letter to serve as my full support for a 7-Eleven convenience store ... This store will be a welcomed addition to [my] community and those that patronize the area for shopping and convenience needs. As well as wine and spirits (alcohol)."



Photo Credit: Ronen Boidek, Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[City Council Race Ends in Tie]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:25:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Padilla-McCann-Chula-Vista2.jpg

The razor-thin race for a Chula Vista City Council seat has ended in a tie, two weeks after Election Day, San Diego County officials say.

John McCann and Steve Padilla each won 18,450 votes for the District 1 seat, according to Wednesday's last tally from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. The registrar reports there aren't any other provisional ballots left to be counted that could break that tie.

Ultimately, it will be up to the city of Chula Vista to determine who takes the seat.

Padilla said his campaign is pleased with the results from the provisional ballots.

“We’re just focused on making sure every vote is counted,” Padilla said.

However, McCann told NBC 7 on Wednesday he believes what he called "dirty politics" played a role.

“We had over 900-point lead and every day it seems to continuously vanish. Obviously it raises some questions,” McCann told NBC 7.

The registrar's office will begin making sure all the votes are accurately counted ahead of the Dec. 2 deadline for certifying results.

While Chula Vista is be the second-largest city in San Diego County, the city council race came down to the narrowest of margins as the final 1,000 county-wide provisional ballots were counted Wednesday.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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<![CDATA[NYPD to Stop Arresting People for Minor Pot Offenses]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 20:29:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NYPD-generic.jpg

Many New Yorkers facing low-level marijuana charges will soon be issued summonses instead of being taken to precinct houses in handcuffs, department brass said Monday.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said that the official change to the city's marijuana policy will be issued Tuesday and will take effect Nov. 19. Under the policy change, people caught with less than 25 grams of marijuana on them "may be eligible" to receive a $100 summons in lieu of being arrested.

Bratton said the policy change saves money on overtime and allows officers to focus on fighting other crimes. 

Individuals caught burning or smoking cannabis will still be subject to arrest, Bratton said. A person who has an active warrant out for his or her arrest or cannot produce proper identification may also be arrested for minor pot offenses.

The decision represents a major shift in policing in New York City, where officers have arrested tens of thousands of people yearly on minor marijuana possession charges, and comes as Mayor de Blasio meets with the city’s five district attorneys for the first time since taking office in January.

According to The New York Times, about half of the people arrested on marijuana charges under current policies are released with an appearance ticket after being fingerprinted and checked for open warrants. The other half remain in police custody until they can appear before a judge for an arraignment hearing.

As many as 50,000 people a year were arrested on low-level marijuana charges during the Bloomberg administration. The number of people arrested fell to about 28,000 in 2013, with arrest totals forecast to again hit that number this year Blacks and Latinos disproportionately make up for the number of people arrested, with about 86 percent of those cuffed on low-level pot charges from January to August coming from those two racial groups.

The policy shift would follow Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s decision to stop prosecuting minor marijuana possession charges. The Times reports that Thompson’s office has dismissed 849 of the borough’s 2,526 misdemeanor pot cases since he announced the change in July.

De Blasio campaigned in 2013 on reforming the NYPD, criticizing the department’s marijuana arrest policies along with other heavy-handed policing practices, like stop-and-frisk. 

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<![CDATA[GOP Wins in Blue States Could Boost Christie's Profile]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:44:08 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chris+christie+windsor+locks.jpg

The Republican triumphs on Tuesday extended beyond Congress to victories in blue state governors’ races, and those successes could benefit New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a potential presidential candidate in 2016.

But the gubernatorial wins, even while good news for possible candidates, probably say less about the mood of the voters than the results in Senate and House races. Whatever the reasons for the Congressional midterm rout — anger over gridlock in Washington, D.C., worries about the economy or dissatisfaction with the Obama administration — analysts say that voters are typically less ideological and more pragmatic when picking a governor.

"With senators, people often vote pure ideology," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "With governors, party and ideology play a big role but people evaluate candidates differently."

Voters want to be convinced that the candidates have the managerial skills to lead a state, he said.

"They really do look at them as their 'little president,'" he said. 

On Tuesday, the GOP increased the number of governorships it holds from 29 to 31.

Republicans will replace Democrats in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts and beat back opponents elsewhere, including Florida, Iowa, Maine, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin. In Texas, Republican state Attorney General Greg Abbott outpolled state Sen. Wendy Davis to replace outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

At the same time, Democrats held onto the office in Colorado and Connecticut and picked up Pennsylvania, where Democrat Tom Wolf beat Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Still undecided is the race in Vermont, where a strong challenge to Gov. Peter Shumlin by Scott Milne means the state's Legislature will decide the winner in January. Democrats control both houses, which have by tradition gone with the candidate with the most votes when no candidate received 50 percent of the vote. Shumlin maintains a small lead.

Also too close to call is Alaska where challenger Bill Walker, a Republican turned independent, has a slight lead over Republican Gov. Sean Parnell. Absentee and early votes must still be counted.

“It just seems like such a mixed bag of results,” said Dianne Bystrom, director of Iowa State University's Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

Some of the Republican wins might have been a result of a general mood of discontent, partly with the economy despite indications of improvements, she said. 

“People aren’t feeling it in their heart and souls that things are getting any better and will be better,” she said. “So I think there’s just a general political malaise sort of sweeping the country, that they're just fed up."

Illinois’ race was largely about the economy, said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at The Cook Political Report. Gov. Pat Quinn’s attempted solution — one of the largest tax increases in the state’s history — was not successful and voters wanted a different approach, she said.

But Duffy attributed Democrats’ loss in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race to the lethargic effort by state Attorney General Martha Coakley after the primary. By contrast, Republican Charlie Baker had been campaigning since losing to Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010, she said.

“Governors’ races tend to exist in their own orbit,” Duffy said.

The most surprising race was in Maryland, where Republican businessman Larry Hogan defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, she and Sabato said.

“You figure in a state as overwhelmingly Democratic as Maryland the guy would be able to win,” Sabato said.

Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics, said that the overall Republican success might be attributed to better mobilization of voters.

“Maybe that tells part of the story in some of these races,” she said.

As far as the number of women governors, the tally stayed the same at five, she said.

The Republican Governors Assocation outraised its Democratic counterpart by more than two-to-one, according to the latest tallies — $102 million by Christie compared to $47 million for the Democratic chairman, Shumlin.

The Republicans successes are a boost for Christie, who has now spent lots of time in states important for the 2016 presidential race, said Lee Miringoff, the director the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He criss-crossed the country for his fellow governors, visiting 37 states this year, some of them many times.

"When you’re out campaigning for president, you want a nice welcome mat from the sitting governor," he said.

Republicans hold Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, all states Democrats would want to do well in, he said. Christie not only worked for the election of those governors, but also met other influential residents while visiting, Miringoff said.

And Tuesday's numbers helped to mute speculation that controversy over lane closures and subsequent traffic snarls on the George Washington Bridge — the so-called Bridgegate — had hurt Christie's effectiveness, he said.

"He's a big winner for Tuesday within the Republican party ranks should he decide to toss his proverbial hat in the ring," he said.

"He's done the introduction, now it will be reacquaint, not only the governor but I'm sure many of the folks he was at events with," he said. "In an earlier era, we would say he built a nice Rolodex."

Christie downplayed his role on the "Today" show, saying the credit belonged to the candidates. He told Matt Lauer on Wednesday that he had not decided whether to run for president.

"It's not about me," Christie said. "I was happy to help. I'm glad to have their confidence, but that’s all it is."

Besides the advantage for Christie's prospects, the results could also help Wisconsin’s Gov. Rick Scott and Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, both of whom have been talked about as possible Republican candidates. Both were victorious Tuesday.

But on Democratic side, the loss in Maryland damaged former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s chance at his party’s nomination, Sabato said.

“He killed his candidacy for president, too,” Sabato said. “Nobody’s going to take that seriously now.” 

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said the results affirmed Republican leadership even in the bluest of blue states.

"Even the president's home state, where he campaigned vigorously, elected a Republican, and that's how big this victory really is," he said at a news conference.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Weary Rivals in SoCal Race Hopeful]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:15:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DeMaio-Peters-June-Primary.jpg

The long, divisive road to the 52nd Congressional District seat stretches on for its two weary candidates, incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Peters and former San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio, as officials prepare Thursday to start counting around 46,000 still-uncounted ballots.

Exhausted by a late election night that left DeMaio leading by just 752 votes, both candidates are trying to put a positive spin on the numbers.

“This is a historically bad night for Democrats, turnout historically low, and the fact that we're even close is a miracle. I think we're going to win this thing," Peters said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

The initial surge of results had DeMaio in the lead, but as the late ballots came in Tuesday night, the trend was in favor of Peters.

But DeMaio was just as confident that his campaign will come out on top.

“I believe when all votes are counted, we will prevail, and I will have the honor of being San Diego’s voice in the U.S. Congress,” he said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters says there were 36,000 mail-in ballots and 10,000 provisional ballots from the 52nd District to be counted, and all were sorted Wednesday.

On Thursday, the counting starts on those 46,000 ballots. Both candidates are sending representatives to make sure each vote is counted correctly.

The registrar is expected to release more numbers Thursday evening, and a final winner should be announced Monday.

But even after the ballots were cast, the biting comments remained.

When asked if he is prepared for a recount in the event of a very close final tally, DeMaio replied, “After what Mr. Peters has done in this campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised by anything.”

Peters’ response later in the day: “I think the campaign's over now. We can get past the hard feelings, stop whining. You know, let's just count the votes."

With nothing to do but wait, both candidates had time to reflect on their contentious campaigns and their plans for the future.

DeMaio will be hopping a plane to Washington, D.C., next week to attend the Congressional freshman orientation.

“What I emphasized last night was that my candidacy hopefully is the beginning of the Republican Party becoming more inclusive, of us getting past labels and putting people in boxes,” the gay candidate said.

While DeMaio zeroed in on reforming his own party, Peters said his focus will be reaching across the aisle in the now Republican-led Congress.

"Well the middle is my territory. I don't think there's enough of us who want to be in the middle,” he said. “I think one of the problems with Congress is it's so polarized and what I offer is a promise that I will always work with anybody."

Voters will continue to watch the results of the race closely, but the end of election season brings one thing both sides can be thankful for: no more political ads.

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<![CDATA[Andrew Cuomo: "Restore NY As the Progressive Capital of the Nation"]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 23:12:40 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005248307_1200x675_352689731684.jpg In his victory speech Tuesday night, Gov. Andrew Cuomo touts the accomplishments of his first term and looks ahead to his priorities for the next four years.]]> <![CDATA[Booker: "Looking to Represent Best of NJ Values"]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 10:20:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005248111_1200x675_352680003801.jpg In his victory speech Tuesday night, U.S. Senator Cory Booker promises New Jersey voters to fight for them in Washington, D.C. and wants to override politics to "represent the best of New Jersey values and the best of our national values."]]> <![CDATA[NJ Nature Center Campaign Signs Stolen, Vandalized]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 19:51:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tenafly+nature+preserve+vote+battle.jpg The battle over a new headquarters for Tenafly's Nature Center has taken a nasty turn on Election Day, with supporters' signs being stolen and spray-painted. Brian Thompson reports]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Tot Wants to Vote ]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 08:35:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/195*120/Xavier+cries+p1.jpg

Xavier is only 3 years old.

He cannot legally vote for another 15 years. 

But Xavier is passionate about the democratic process. 

The tyke went with his mom, Erica Hallman Nagy to vote this morning near Grande Reserve Elementary in Yorkville, Illinois, and was visibly upset over the fact that he can't cast a ballot -- or get one of those stickers.

Just when it seems like Xavier is coming to grips with his lack of a role in choosing his elected officials, his mom drops a bombshell. 

"Did you know there's people out there who can vote that just don't?" she says.

Information about derelict voters is too much for Xavier to handle, and the kid loses it. 

The moral of this story: Go vote -- it's important and you get stickers. 

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<![CDATA[Connecticut's Last Dry Town No More: Vote Reverses Alcohol Ban]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 22:18:31 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/beer+bottles+generic+edit.jpg

Voters in the Connecticut town of Bridgewater made the historic decision Tuesday to end prohibition and reverse an alcohol ban in the state's last dry town.

Some residents have bars in their garages but the affluent town, which is home to actress Mia Farrow and a large weekend population of people from New York City, currently does not have a restaurant aside from a village store with a delicatessen.

The question arose last winter when Bridgewater faced the prospect of losing its only school and began searching for a way to breathe life back into the community.

Today, Bridgewater residents passsed the measure allowing alcohol sales at restaurants by a vote of 608 to 226, according to First Selectman Curtis Read.  Absentee ballots still needed to be counted Tuesday night.

The question on the ballot read:

"Shall the Town of Bridgewater adopt the following ordinance: The town of Bridgewater shall allow the sale of alcoholic liquor in all establishments operating under restaurant or café permits only between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday; between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight on Friday and Saturday; between the hours of 12:00 noon and 10:00 p.m. on Sunday; and between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. on New Year's Eve?"

Businesses with restaurant or café permits will now be allowed to sell liquor between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and between noon and 10 p.m. on Sunday, as well as 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year's Eve.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Conn. Gov., GOP Challenger Debate]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 16:09:17 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/malloy+foley+chaz+and+aj+debate.jpg

While Connecticut's Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley may have hugged it out before their last debate at the request of radio hosts Chaz and AJ, their battle for the governor's seat remains fierce a day before the election.

The debate started in Milford at 8:30 a.m. and aired live on "Chaz and AJ In The Morning" on rock radio station 99.1 PLR.

Just a day after unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti announced that he is suspending his campaign, Foley said he welcomed the unaffiliated candidate's support.

"This is about guns," Malloy said in response Visconti's endorsement of Foley, referencing Foley's opposition to new gun control legislation in the state.

Answering the opening question about jobs in Connecticut, Malloy touted his job creation record but admitted the state workforce has been reduced by about 1,000 people since he took office.

Malloy said he has "no plans to eliminate future workers," but added that there is "always the possibility that the use of technology will allow us to do things more effectively."

Foley promised not to cut state workers' jobs and vowed to lower car and property taxes.

"People are feeling the big squeeze," he said. "I'm not happy and most people I'm talking to aren't."

After Foley criticized Malloy for tax hikes and spending increases, the incumbent defended his administration's decisions, saying he and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman have budgeted responsibly. Malloy explained that he didn't cut the budget because it would have led to job losses, hospital closures and police and fire layoffs.

The governor also said he plans to reinstitute tax cuts on prescription drugs if re-elected.

"We've weathered tough storms and human tragedies. I'm asking for your vote," Malloy said.

With a day to go before the polls open, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Malloy pulling support from 47 percent of likely voters to Foley’s 44 percent. Seven percent remain undecided. The results were released soon after Visconti suspended his campaign and endorsed Foley.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, independent candidate Joe Visconti’s last minute exit from the governor’s race doesn’t look like it will help Republican Tom Foley,” said Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement.  

This is the second time the two candidates are in a battle for the governor's seat. In 2010, Malloy defeated Foley in the general election after a heated race.

Chaz and AJ closed the debate by having Malloy and Foley participate in a more light-hearted battle – Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots.

Malloy's blue robot quickly defeated Foley's red one. The radio personalities quipped that when they asked the candidates to play four years ago, the winner of the game ended up also winning the election.

Monday's gubernatorial debate was the last before the polls open Tuesday.

National party leaders are maintaining a presence in the state in the hours leading up to one of the closest governor's races in the country.

President Barack Obama rallied support for Malloy in Bridgeport on Sunday, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will appear in Windsor Locks alongside Foley this evening.

More Decision 2014 coverage is available here.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[NY Governor's Race Goes to Church]]> Sun, 02 Nov 2014 21:15:45 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cuomo+church.jpg Both Governor Cuomo and Republican challenger Rob Astorino stumped for votes and perhaps a higher endorsement at local churches Sunday. Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[Most NYers Approve of Cuomo's Ebola Response: Poll]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:20:01 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cuomo+astorino1.jpg

Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers approve of the way Gov. Andrew Cuomo handled the state's first case of Ebola, and even more are in favor of quarantining people who have come in contact with Ebola patients, according to a new poll that shows him with a solid lead over his gubernatorial challenger.

Sixty-three percent backed Cuomo on his reaction to the hospitalization of a New York City doctor with Ebola versus 22 percent who did not, the NBC 4 New York/The Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll released Thursday found.

The poll comes less than a week before Cuomo faces Republican challenger Rob Astorino at the polls in a bid for a second term. Cuomo is ahead of Astorino, the Westchester County executive, by almost two to one, with 56 percent of likely voters supporting the incumbent and 30 percent supporting Astorino. The Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins, gets 6 percent of the vote.

Seven percent of respondents are undecided.

“This remains a lopsided contest between Cuomo and Astorino,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

The poll surveyed 1,042 adults from Oct. 26 through Oct. 28. It included 880 registered voters, 503 of whom were expected to vote. The margin of error for all adults was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The poll comes after Craig Spencer, a New York City doctor who had recently volunteered with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, was hospitalized and diagnosed with Ebola last week, and after Cuomo announced strict new quarantine requirements for Ebola workers returning from West Africa. The day before Spencer developed symptoms and was isolated at Bellevue Hospital Center, he had gone running, visited a park, eaten at a restaurant, taken the subway and gone bowling in Brooklyn.

On Oct. 24, Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced a mandatory 21-day quarantine of all medical workers and others arriving from West Africa who had had contact with Ebola patients. The policy immediately drew criticism from public health and medical experts who called it unnecessary and likely to discourage much-needed volunteers in West Africa.

New York’s new protocols allow travelers to be quarantined in their own homes. If a traveler were planning to stay at a hotel, the New York City Health Department must first assess its suitability. Out-of-city and out-of-state quarantines can also be approved.

New Yorkers, according to the poll, are in favor of a ban on travel to the United States from the West African countries in the midst of an Ebola epidemic, with 57 percent approving a ban compared with 38 percent who do not. Only black likely voters disapproved of such a ban, with 42 percent backing one and 53 percent opposing one.

Cuomo has said that the federal government should consider a travel ban during the Ebola crisis.

An even greater percentage of New Yorkers, 82 percent, said they supported the 21-day quarantine of anyone arriving from West Africa who had contact with Ebola patients, regardless of whether the person were showing symptoms. Only 15 percent disapproved of that quarantine.

Joy Dunkley, a 53-year-old librarian from New York City, said there was no need for quarantines for medical personal who could monitor themselves, nor for a travel ban.

Dunkley, who has a master's degree in public health, said she was a Democrat but would not vote for Cuomo.

“I think he was just an opportunist,” said Dunkley. “This is an election year and we all know his intention is to run for president so he just thought he could jump on the band wagon. But it’s a poor way to treat our health professionals.”

In the race for governor, Cuomo is winning among three-quarters of Democrats and almost a third of Republicans, Miringoff said. The race is closest upstate, where the governor is ahead of Astorino by 9 percentage points. In New York City, Cuomo leads 72 percent to 13 percent. In the suburbs, Cuomo leads 57 percent to 37 percent.

Those numbers are little changed from September, when Cuomo led Astorino 54 percent to 29 percent among likely voters.

The majority of voters who favor Astorino are voting against Cuomo, he said. Forty-one percent of likely voters do not have a favorable opinion of Astorino compared with 32 percent who do. Twenty-seven percent said they were unsure or had never heard of Astorino.

Favorability numbers were flipped for Cuomo as compared with Astorino. Fifty-six percent had a favorable opinion of the governor, 37 percent had an unfavorable one and only 7 percent were unsure.

But if New York’s registered voters seem inclined to re-elect Cuomo, they have little interest in sending him to the White House. Only 20 percent said they wanted him to run for president in 2016. Sixty-seven percent said they did not.

“Not a big send-off at this point if Cuomo has wider ambitions,” Miringoff said.

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