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Cuomo unhappy with assault on Independence Party; Waller exits GOP race in 21st

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The New York Post’s Frederick U. Dicker is reporting this morning that a former state Democratic Party chairman is challenging the two top gubernatorial candidates to forego the Independence Party line in the 2014 election.

Should that advice be heeded, it would mean the end of the party as a statewide force, since to gain access to the ballot statewide, a party must gain at least 50,000 votes in the prior gubernatorial election. With no major party candidate carrying the party banner, the road to 50,000 votes would likely be too steep for the party to climb.

Mr. Dicker reported that the governor is livid with Jay Jacobs call to ignore the Independence Party. Mr. Jacobs is the Nassau County Democratic Chairman, and Mr. Dicker reports, he has put Gov. Cuomo “in an untenable political box’’ with his recommendation.

The Post’s political reporter says Mr. Jacobs said “Democratic leaders across the state overwhelmingly agree with me that the Independence Party is a political cesspool.’’

The governor also got more pressure to eschew the Independence Party line from his likely Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who told The Saratogian newspaper at a Saturday gun show he would not accept an Independence Party endorsement.

“The Independence Party in Westchester is corrupt; they stand for nothing,” the paper quotes Mr. Astorino as saying. “If it’s like that in the rest of the state ... they should be put out of business.”

You can read the full Post story here: http://wdt.me/kkVSLQ

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Finally, with the withdrawal of potential gubernatorial candidate Donald Trump on Friday, the race seems to have formed between Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Mr. Trump, a casino owner, real estate developer and reality TV star, had been encouraged by a number of Republican officials to seek the seat. On Friday, the hopes of, among others, the Onondaga and Erie county Republican chairmen were dashed when Trump bailed out. It wasn’t much of a surprise, however, as Mr. Trump had said from the beginning he would run only if he faced no primary — meaning he would have to be anointed by the state committee and face no petition challenge.

When Mr. Astorino announced his candidacy on March 6, the die was cast on the Trump candidacy.

Given the poll numbers on March 7, perhaps Mr. Trump saw the handwriting on the wall: while Mr. Astorino trailed Gov. Cuomo by 40 percentage points, Mr. Trump lagged by nearly 50. Few observers saw in Mr. Trump the political fire required to win in a primary and then again in a general election.

Meanwhile, Mr. Astorino promised a Saratoga County gun-show crowd that he would get rid of the state’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act if elected governor, according to The Saratogian.

“If I am elected governor, I will repeal the SAFE Act,” Astorino boomed into the mic in his introduction, receiving a hearty response from the gun show visitors, the paper reported.

Left unasked was the question of how much Mr. Astorino really understands about how state government works; to repeal a law, it would require a majority vote of both houses of the state Legislature, and given the makeup of the Assembly, the odds of that happening range from slim to none at all.

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In the 21st Congressional District race, it was a busy weekend. The likely top news was the departure of James K. Waller, 28, a former Marine who was pursuing a Quixotic course to the nomination, eschewing typical party politics by ignoring the county committees and vowing to go straight to the voters by collecting 1,250 signatures of party members on his own.

Given that Mr. Waller lives in Hamilton County, where there are 2,579 registered Republicans, gathering enough signatures — about half the registered voters in the party — would not have been a simple task. And Mr. Waller’s political views, which seemed to range from Libertarian to far-right-wing Republican, may have made him something of a fringe candidate in a Congressional District that has been trending middle-of-the-road for at least two decades.

Mr. Waller, in one rambling release, suggested the federal budget should be $11 million, for example, perhaps one of the most radical “small government” positions out there.

He has swung whatever support he may have gathered to Matthew A. Doheny, the Watertown candidate who has thrice unsuccessfully sought the seat. In his announcement, he called Elise M. Stefanik, the candidate from Willsboro who worked in the Bush White House, a “liar” for her claim that she was the only “conservative” candidate in the race. That’ll raise some bad blood.

Mr. Waller worked on the 2012 unsuccessful presidential campaign of former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, who was himself considerably right of center and whose campaign crashed and burned early.

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In addition to Mr. Astorino, the gun show in Saratoga over the weekend also drew Ms. Stefanik.

According to The Saratogian, Ms. Stefanik told the audience she believes the SAFE Act is unconstitutional.

After the gun show, the paper reports, Ms. Stefanik took her booth to the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge. There she continued her assault on the state law that increases the definition of assault weapons and that strengthens requirements for background checks for weapon and ammunition purchases.

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The Stefanik campaign this morning announced that she has been endorsed by the RightNOW Women PAC, a political action group that supports Republican female candidates.

“The mission of RightNOW Women PAC is to support women candidates from all walks of life who share common beliefs in economic growth, individual responsibility, a strong national defense, access to the best education and quality health care at a reasonable cost,” the news release from Elise Press said.

Ms. Stefanik said she has sought the support of women voters across the 21st district.

“I have always had strong women as role models to look up to – my mom, my teachers and many women I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” the release quotes Ms. Stefanik as saying. ”I will work to be the same positive role model for younger women in the district as I have had in my life.”

The PAC has four other candidates in its stable to date, all Republicans: Barbara Comstock in Virginia’s 10th district, Martha McSally in Arizona’s second, Tricia Pridemore in Georgia’s 11th and Joni Ernst in Iowa. All of their websites tout their conservative credentials.

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