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Bloomberg, IDC, Cuomo Ally Boost Grisanti

As he battles to keep his seat in a four-way race and running solely on the Independence Party line, Sen. Mark Grisanti is getting some last-minute financial help from eyebrow-raising donors who funneled their contributions through a New York City-based environmental group.

The Buffalo Republican's biggest benefactor was former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who recently penned a $350,000 personal check to the New York League of Conservation Voters with the understanding that the bulk of that cash would go to help Grisanti, multiple sources confirmed.

Bloomberg pledged to protect Grisanti and three other Republican senators who crossed party lines back in 2011 to vote "yes" on same-sex marriage. Grisanti is the last remaining member of that quartet still in the chamber.

The former mayor had already maxed out in his contributions to Grisanti for both the primary and general elections. So he turned to the NYLCV, with which he had a close working relationship during his years at City Hall.  

Bloomberg spokesman Howard Wolfson confirmed the mayor's contributions, and said he gave to the NYLCV because it is "doing good work" in the 60th SD. 

Bloomberg, a billionaire Democrat-turned-Republican-turned independent, was once the largest personal contributor to the Senate Republicans, but hasn't given them much support as a group since he departed City Hall at the end of last year.

The former mayor is still involved in politics, but his focus is now mostly national. He has been spending millions of dollars to support House, US Senate and gubernatorial candidates on both sides of the aisle, as well as on various ballot initiatives across the country this cycle.

Bloomberg's cash accounts for about half of the approximately $700,000 worth of independent expenditures the League plans on spending on this year's elections. That's about twice the amount it spent in 2012.

This isn't the first time Bloomberg and the NYLCV have teamed up to help Grisanti. In 2012, the League made Grisanit's re-election immediately after the senator's "yes" vote on same-sex marriage one of its top priorities, and co-hosted a fund-raiser for him at Bloomberg's Upper East Side townhouse. The organization spent in the six figures to assist Grisanti's successful campaign that year. 

The NYCLV recently named Grisanti its third priority Senate candidate in the general election - along with Long Island Democrat Adrienne Esposito and freshman Democratic Sen. Ted O'Brien, of Rochester. The outcome of any - or all three - of those races could play a big role in the fight for control of the Senate. 

Technically speaking, however, the League isn't taking sides in that fight, preferring instead to endorse on a case-by-case basis, supporting lawmakers it believes have backed its agenda in Albany.

Grisanti chairs the Environmental Committee in the Senate, while O'Brien is the ranking member on that committee. Esposito is a long time environmental activist. 

The NYLCV has already paid for one TV ad in support of Grisanti, and will soon hit the airwaves with another, a spokesman confirmed. Also on tap: Mailers and an extensive GOTV effort on the senator's behalf. 

The NYLCV also received a $150,000 contribution from the IDC's PAC. IDC leader Jeff Klein has been courting Grisanti since the GOP senator lost his party's primary in September to attorney Kevin Stocker.

The League also got a check for $5,000 from environmental attorney Larry Rockefeller, a moderate Republican who recently crossed party lines to endorse Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and appeared in a campaign ad on the governor's behalf.

Crain's, which first reported Bloomberg's contribution to the NYLCV, noted that both the real estate industry and the teachers unions, which are spending big to help opposite sides in the Senate fight, have given money to the League's PAC.

Tkaczyk Hits Airwaves

Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk is releasing her first television ad of the campaign on Thursday. 

The 30-second spot highlights her efforts in the Fort Plain area in 2013 following a devastating flood. 

Providing a testimonial is Republican Fort Plain Mayor Guy Barton, who calls Tkaczyk "an asset to the community" in the commercial. 

Tkaczyk faces Republican George Amedore, a former state assemblyman, once again this November. 

Amedore lost the 46th Senate district two years ago by only 18 votes, making the rematch for the seat once again a closely watched contest. 

The race is already one of the costliest state legislative races in New York, with hundreds of thousands of dollars of outside money through independent expenditure campaigns pouring in to the area. 

Friends of Democracy, a group backed by Jonathan Soros, has already been up on the air slamming Amedore. 

The Real Estate Board of New York, through its super PAC Jobs for New York, has come to the aid of Amedore with its own TV campaign as well. 

Hawkins, Following Debate, Has TV Ad 

Following his appearance in the only scheduled debate in the race for governor, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is hitting the airwaves. 

The ad, called "A Real Choice" will air in the major upstate TV markets on Time Warner Cable News and MSNBC. 

The 30-second commercial calls attention to his support for a ban on hydrofracking, a $15 minimum wage and single-payer health care. 

"You have a choice on Nov. 4," the ad reminds viewers. 

And there's a swipe at Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino as well. 

"A man who is not part of a political dynasty or funded by corporations or the 1 percent," the ad's narrator says. 

The spot comes as a Siena College poll released this week found Hawkins polling at 9 percent, potentially cutting in to Cuomo's final vote total next month. 

Hayworth Drops Big $ In NY-18

With her re-match against Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney coming down to the wire, Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth is going all in on her campaign. 

This week, according to a source familiar with her decision, Hayworth invested an additional $1 million of her own money in her effort to oust Maloney, who defeated her two years ago. 

That's the most Hayworth has ever personally spent on any of her congressional bids, though she has dropped quite a bit of cash on her political aspirations. 

So far this cycle, Hayworth has loaned her campaign $558,000. That's a lot more than the $173,533 she invested two years ago, but as an incumbent House member, raising campaign cash was considerably easier. 

Hayworth, an ophthalmologist by trade, loaned her campaign $500,000 when she first ran for office in 2010, defeating then-Democratic Rep. John Hall. 

Now that Maloney is the incumbent and Hayworth the challenger, his fundraising has been a lot stronger than hers. She had brought in (including her own cash) about $2.1 million by the end of September, while he had brought in about $3.4 million. 

Even with the additional money she's putting into her campaign, the effort to oust Hayworth dwarfs the amount being spent to get her back into office. 

To date, about $1.3 million has been spent by outside groups - mostly the DCCC and the House Majority PAC -  against Hayworth, while about $200,000 has been spent in her favor and about $150,000 went toward negative ads that slam Maloney. 

ESPA Gets Cuomo Boost, Launches GOTV Contest

New York's largest gay and transgender rights organization is celebrating the governor's election year pledge to push its signature policy issue in 2015, and hopes that will lead to the measure's passage in Albany. 

In a video recorded for the Empire State Pride Agenda's fall gala, Cuomo called for the passage of Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, which has been approved by the Democrat-controlled Assembly, but remains stalled in the Senate.  

Cuomo's video, which he sent in lieu of an in-person appearance at the event last week (he was departing for a whirlwind trip to the Dominican Republican and Puerto Rico), is the first time the governor has specifically expressed a personal desire to see GENDA pass.

In a letter sent to ESPA several months ago, Cuomo said he has a "deep commitment to protect the rights of all New Yorkers - including those in the transgendered community." He did not, however, cite GENDA specifically.

"Governor Cuomo calling for...GENDA, is the second time in recent months that we’ve seen true public support on this top human rights priority in New York,” said ESPA Executive Director Nathan Schaefer.

“With the power of the chief executive of New York State behind us, we’re more hopeful than ever that 2015 will be the year GENDA will finally pass and transgender New Yorkers will be treated as equal citizens in the eyes of the law.”

GENDA has been ESPA's top priority since the passage of same-sex marriage in 2011 - a move that won Cuomo massive support in the LGBT community, and one he continues to tout as proof of his progressive bona fides. 

ESPA, which has endorsed Cuomo for re-election, today is launching an "Out the Vote" contest to help turn out the vote on Nov. 4. 

Through midnight Oct. 30, LGBT New Yorkers and their allies are being encouraged to share an image or video that explains why it’s important they vote to help secure a pro-LGBT state government by Tweeting @prideagenda or posting on ESPA's Instagram or Facebook pages using the hashtag #OUTtheVote. 

The winner, who will be announced on Halloween, will win a ride to the polls in style in a limo with room to bring three friends. 

More information on the contest can be found here, along with ESPA's 2014 voter guide and other election-related information. 

Happening Today

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 7:10 a.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss appears live on “The Morning Newswatch” on WHCU 870 AM Ithaca.

At 8 a.m., NYC deputy mayor for housing and economic development, Alicia Glen, is the featured speaker as the New York Building Congress presents a “Construction Industry Breakfast Forum” to discuss the release of the organization’s construction forecast through 2016; Trianon Ballroom, New York Hilton Midtown hotel, 1335 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., Crain’s New York Business and the state’s “Taste NY” program host a “Made in New York” networking event and trade show featuring nearly 50 artisanal food manufacturers, brewers, distillers and winemakers; Fashion Institute of Technology, Seventh Avenue and 28th Street, Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., state Education Commissioner John King and Regent Charles Bendit will visit Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, 511 West 182nd St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill will be a guest on WCSS Talk Radio Show, AM 1490 WCSS.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor de Blasio will join Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton at a press conference to make an announcement, One Exchange Plaza, 55 Broadway, 28th Floor, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Hillary Clinton, Cuomo and Cuomo’s running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, attend a “Women for Cuomo” event, Grand Hyatt, Grand Central Terminal, 109 E 42nd St., Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., joined by members of the Yonkers City Council, Cahill talks about returning “autonomy” to the city, Van der Donck Park, Yonkers.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the NYS Business Council endorses Terrence Murphy, a small business owner and candidate for state Senate in the 40th district, Somers Chamber of Commerce, 2 Old Tomahawk Rd., Granite Springs.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Sakima Green-Brown, candidate for the 104th Assembly District, will be joined by Rep. Chris Gibson for a special announcement, corner of Civic Center Plaza and Mansion Street, Poughkeepsie.

At 10:34 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on WABC radio 770AM with host Geraldo Rivera.

At 11 a.m., broadcaster and chef Marc Murphy, Rep. Charlie Rangel, NYC Council members, religious and union officials and other supporters of the Powered by Breakfast NYC coalition hold a news conference to call for the mayor to expand breakfast programs to all city public schools; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez and business owners discuss a US Government Accountability Office report examining federal programs intended to assist small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy; The Red Hook Winery, pier 41, 175-204 Van Dyke St., Brooklyn.

At 11:35 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on AM970 with host John Gambling.

At noon, Hochul speaks at the at Eleanor’s Legacy Fall Luncheon, where US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will be the special guest, Grand Hyatt, Grand Central Terminal, 109 E 42nd St., Manhattan.

Also at noon, Astorino holds a post-debate press conference, outside the LCA room, 3rd floor, NYS Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, Moss appears live on “Talking Back with Shannon Joy” on WYSL 1040 AM Rochester.

Also at noon, LG Bob Duffy delivers the keynote address at the Genesis Group’s 14th annual meeting and luncheon, Daniele’s Banquet Specialists, 8360 Seneca Turnpike, New Hartford.

At 1:30 p.m., Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club President Allen Roskoff, Albany City Councilman Judd Krasher, and Albany County Legisator Doug Bullock speak about Hawkins’ growing grassroots support, LOB Press Room (130), LOB, Albany.

At 2:45 p.m., Moss holds a news conference with Broome County Sheriff Dave Harder, Tioga County Sheriff Gary Howard, Chenango County Sheriff Ernie Cutting and Delaware County Sheriff Tom Mills, in front of Government Plaza, Binghamton, 38 Hawley St., Binghamton.

At 5 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on WBEN with host Tom Bauerle.

At 5:30 p.m., Astorino will attend and deliver remarks at the Herkimer GOP Annual Dinner, Francesca’s Restaurant, 144 E. Main St., Ilion.

At 6 p.m., US Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky will be honored during the Washington-based Center for the National Interest’s “Distinguished Service Award Dinner”; JW Marriott Essex House New York hotel, 160 Central Park South, Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., Moss attends and delivers remarks at the Rockaway Republican Dinner, Belle Harbor Yacht Club, 533 Beach 126th St., Belle Harbor. (Cahill will also attend later in the evening; the event is honoring former Rep. Bob Turner).

At 8 p.m., Hochul speaks at the Richmond County Democratic Gala, Excelsior Grand, 2380 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island.

On CapTon Last Night:

-  Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky was in the studio to explain his support for the redistricting constitutional amendment, Prop. 1.

A longtime defender of the Legislature, Brodsky says he likes it because it doesn't fully remove the responsibility for drawing district lines from the hands of state lawmakers - exactly the reason some good government groups and elected officials are calling this "fake" reform. 

- Siena pollster Steve Greenberg joined us to review the numbers from his latest survey, which found all three Democratic statewide candidates with wide, double-digit leads over their respective GOP opponents.

Cuomo's favorables are at an historic low, however, and he's tied with Astorino in the suburbs. 

- NYCLU's Corey Stoughton joined us from NYC to discuss the organization's settlement this week with the state of a lawsuit challenging the shoddy and/or complete lack of legal defense provided to low income offenders in five counties - four upstate, the fifth on Long Island. 

Stoughton agreed with critics who say this should have been a statewide settlement, but said she's hopeful the historic deal will pave the way to something bigger. 

Coming up on CapTon:

 - Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz joins us from Buffalo to discuss ongoing efforts to collaborate with Canada. Also, he'll offer some post-debate perspective, and provide a WNY view of the final weeks of this election season. 

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