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Siena: Hawkins Could Eat Into Cuomo's Big Lead

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to hold a double-digit lead over his Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, with less than two weeks to go before Election Day, according to a Siena College poll released this morning. 

The poll found Cuomo leading Astorino, 54-33, with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins receiving 9 percent of the vote. 

The result is a slight dip for Cuomo from the previous month, when Siena College found the governor leading Astorino 56-27, with Hawkins at 7 percent. 

With Hawkins gaining some ground in the polls, it's possible the Green Party candidate can eat into a chunk of Cuomo's overall total come Election Day.  

"If Hawkins does that well on Election Day – something third party candidates often don’t do – then it will almost certainly make this year’s race closer than four years ago and keep Cuomo well below his total vote from 2010," said Siena pollster Steve Greenberg.

Cuomo received 63 percent of the vote against Republican Carl Paladino in 2010. 

Hawkins is a proven vote getter for the Green Party. He received more than 50,000 votes in 2010 to give the party automatic ballot status this election. 

Hawkins is hoping to tap into liberal dissatisfaction with Cuomo, and gain some of the supporters of Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout, who ran a surprisingly strong primary challenge to the governor in September. 

Still, the poll shows Cuomo blowing out Astorino in New York City, where he leads 72-16. He also has the support of 79 percent of self-identified liberal voters.  

Upstate, Cuomo's lead is smaller: He leads Astorino 47-38. 

The race is closest in the suburban counties, where it is a virtual tie. Cuomo is actually trailing Astorino 44-46.

And the governor, who has pushed hard on his 10-point Women's Equality Act, leads Astorino among female voters 65 percent to 25 percent, according to the poll's crosstabs.  

Read more here

Reform Revelations

Cuomo, Astorino and Hawkins have all filed questionnaires seeking the endorsement of the NYC-based good government group Citizens Union, and their answers - or lack thereof - are eye opening. 

Cuomo, for example, declined to circle either "support" or "oppose" on the fill-in-the-blank portion of the questionnaire regarding whether the state attorney general should be empowered to investigate public corruption. 

Underneath this section, Cuomo (or whoever filled out the survey on his behalf) wrote that he would "have to review specific legislation."

The question of whether the AG should have more power in this realm has been an issue since Cuomo held the office.

Back then, he called for the governor - or the Legislature - to strengthen his ability to probe wrongdoing by state lawmakers in the wake of the infamous Troopergate scandal.

Cuomo's call was not heeded by either former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (himself an ex-AG) or former Gov. David Paterson. Now that he's governor himself, Cuomo has also declined to empower his predecessor, AG Eric Schneiderman.  

The AG does not have subpoena power in public corruption cases, which has caused Schneiderman to get creative, teaming up with his fellow statewide Democrat, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, whose office does have that power, to prosecute the misuse of public funds. 

The governor also neglected to circle either "support" or "oppose" on questions of judicial reform, saying he wants to work with the Legislature and other "stakeholders" to simplify a complicated system. 

And as for specific budget reforms, the governor wasn't interested in being nailed down on any of those, either, preferring instead to detail the reforms he has introduced into the budgeting process since taking office in January 2011. 

On his questionnaire, Astorino refused to take a position on lowering campaign contribution limits for legislative and statewide candidates.

But he was clear in his opposition to limiting contributions from lobbyists, placement agents and others who do business with the state and also to closing the so-called LLC loophole. 

"Well-meaning efforts to limit campaign contributions have only sent money underground," Astorino wrote. "...Prompt public disclosure of political contributions is the best possible solution."

Astorino said he supports all the budget reforms listed by Citizens Union, with the exception of one - limiting the ability of the governor to enact policy changes governing the use of resources in appropriation bills. The county executive didn't take a position on that. 

He did, however, express opposition to Prop. 1 - the redistricting constitutional amendment that has divided good government groups. Citizens Union is leading the charge to get it passed. 

Cuomo supports Prop. 1. 

It appears Hawkins did not fill out any of the "support" or "oppose" questions on the CU form. But he did express opposition to Prop. 1 and support of "full" public campaign financing. 

Citizens Union said it has interviewed both Astorino and Hawkins in advance of its endorsement decision, but has so far not managed to schedule a sit-down with Cuomo.

The interview is usually required in order for a candidate to qualify for the organization's nod. CU will announce its endorsement in the governor's race in the coming days. 

Senate Dems Mobilize Against Prop. 1

As Election Day draws near, members of the so-called "regular" Senate Democratic conference are expressing their opposition to the redistricting constitutional amendment - one of three ballot initiatives that New Yorkers will be asked to vote on next month.

Yesterday, Sen. Liz Krueger released an open letter to "friends and colleagues," denouncing Prop. 1 as "fake reform," and urging them to vote "no" on Nov. 4. 

Krueger noted she voted "no" on the amendment, which she deemed a "sneaky attempt to maintain power, cloaked as reform, by a party afraid of losing its leadership position due to demographic trends throughout our state." 

"There is still time to get this right," the Manhattan Democrat wrote. "The next New York State redistricting is not until after the 2020 Census, so there is no urgency to enshrine this power grab into our state Constitution." 

Also yesterday, Sen. Martin Malave Dilan, a Brooklyn Democrat who served on the last legislative redistricting task force, issued a statement in opposition to Prop. 1. 

"What I learned traveling the state as a member of the task force charged with drafting new legislative districts was that the original intent of the process was misrepresented; citizens and participants were misled as to its openness and transparency; and it was fundamentally fraught with gamesmanship," the senator wrote.

“The independent commission to be created if voters support ballot proposal one this November is neither independent or capable of restoring the public’s trust in the process," Dilan continued. 

"Proposal Number One, like the public hearings leading up to the lines adopted in 2012, the task force that formulated them, and the end product, is a farce.”

Happening Today

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Erie County.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

At 7:25 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will be a guest on Joe Piscopo in the AM, AM 970, to discuss his re-election bid.

At 8:05 a.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss appears live “Good Morning Westchester”, WVOX 1460 AM.

At 8:30 a.m., members of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s board of commissioners hold board and committee meetings; 15th floor, 225 Park Ave. South, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., AARP joins NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other city business and community leaders to talk solutions for making the city more affordable and livable–and stopping “Boomer Flight,” East Side Marriott, 525 Lexington Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., 9 a.m. SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner attend the New York State Association for Affordable Housing annual conference, Turning Stone Resort & Casino, 5218 Patrick Rd., Verona.

At 10:45 a.m., Onondaga County Comptroller and GOP state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci is interviewed by WNYT, Albany.

At 11 a.m., Moss attends and delivers remarks at the NYS Sheriff’s Association Executive Assistants Graduation Ceremony, Gideon Putnam Resort, 24 Gideon Putnam Rd., Saratoga Springs.

Also at 11 a.m., Brooklyn BP Eric will demonstrate AT&T’s “Texting While Driving” simulator, along with AT&T New York State President Marissa Shorenstein and NYC Department of Transportation officials, Columbus Park, downtown Brooklyn.

At 11:15 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill will be a guest on “Creativity & Technology for Business and Life” with Joe Dans, AM 1110 and FM 93.5 WTBQ.

At 1 p.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will hold a press conference to unveil the Astorino/Moss Empowerment and Opportunity Plan, Buffalo Central Terminal, 495 Paderewski Dr., Buffalo.

From 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., representatives from DEC and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation continue statewide public hearings to discuss a draft “Open Space Conservation Plan”; the department’s Region 2 office, 47-40 21st St., Queens.

At 2:30 p.m., Antonacci and Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli participate in a joint interview with The Journal News’ editorial board, White Plains.

At 4 p.m., members of the New York State Nurses Association, 1199 SEIU and CWA will host a rally and phone bank for Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko and Democratic NY-19 candidate Sean Eldridge, NYSNA Capital District Office, 155 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 4:30 p.m., DiNapoli will be a guest on “The Ride Home with Pat Kiernan and Rita Cosby”, AM 770.

At 6 p.m., Cahill will attend and speak at the Lewis County GOP Dinner, Ridgeview Inn Restaurant, 6912 Bardo Rd., Lowville.

At 6:30 p.m., Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz hosts a pre-debate rally in support of Cuomo and his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, near WNED/WBFO studios, 140 Lower Terrace, Buffalo.

Also at 6:30 p.m., anti-frackers to demonstrate outside the studios.

Also at 6:30 p.m., AARP holds a member-only candidate forum with the NY-1 candidates – Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and GOP state Sen. Lee Zeldin – Island 16 Cinema Delux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville.

At 7 p.m., Moss attends and delivers keynote remarks at the Sullivan Republican Dinner, The Club House at Villa Roma, 340 Villa Roma Rd., Callicoon.

At 8 p.m., Cuomo, Astorino, Hawkins and Libertarian Michael McDermott will participate in the campaign’s lone televised debate hosted by WNED-TV, WBFO-FM and The Buffalo News, WNED Studios, 140 Lower Terrace, Buffalo. The debate will be broadcast live on PBS television stations and NPR radio affiliates across the state.

On CapTon Last Night:

- NRCC Chairman Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, joined us from NYC for a last-minute look at New York's competitive congressional contests.

The GOP is feeling very secure in its chances of retaining the majority, and Walden predicts the party could pick up as many as 11 seats across the nation - including here in Democrat-dominated NY - next month. 

- Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin told us he'll be amending his ethics complaint with JCOPE about Cuomo's alleged misuse of his public office to promote his memoir for private gain to include revelations yesterday that the governor's campaign had sold its email list to the book's publisher, HarperCollins. 

- The Insiders - Jack O'Donnell from NYC and Brendan Quinn in the studio - discussed tonight's debate and other political headlines to date this week. 

Coming up on CapTon:

 - We'll be hosting a debate between the NY-19 contenders - GOP Rep. Chris Gibson and his Democratic opponent, Sean Eldridge - at 7 p.m.

- On the regularly scheduled show, Siena's Steve Greenberg will be in the studio to review today's poll numbers. 

- Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky will be in the studio to discuss - among other things - why he's in favor of Prop. 1

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