10/22: Countdown to Election Day in NY

October 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Jay DeDapper, NY State, Politics

With less than two weeks until Election Day, will the Republicans take control of the New York State Senate?  Can we expect any surprises in New York, and what will turnout be like?  The Marist Poll’s John Sparks speaks with Political Analyst Jay DeDapper about this and more.  Listen to the interview or read the transcript below.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

John Sparks
Jay, Election Day is approaching. The last time we spoke about the New York Governor’s race, you told me it’s Andrew Cuomo’s to lose.  Now there’s been this debate, just curious, have things changed, or is the race tightening up any?

Listen to the Interview, Part 1:


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Jay DeDapper
If anything, it’s changed in Andrew Cuomo’s favor.  Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate, has stuck his foot in his mouth so many times that he’s run out of mouth space. He has gotten into so much trouble with so many comments and so many things he said and done that even in this Republican year, this very Republican year, this race… I don’t think you can even say, “It’s Andrew Cuomo’s to lose anymore.”  I don’t…  there’s really no conceivable way short of some unbelievable disaster on Andrew Cuomo’s part that he will not win this race.

John Sparks
You know, Jay, Andrew Cuomo isn’t the only one who has a stake in the governor’s election.  Control of the Senate is also at stake. I believe Republicans need to pick up two seats in the Senate to regain control of the majority if Cuomo is elected and only one if a Republican is elected governor.  Do you see a change in the control of the New York Senate?

Jay DeDapper
Well, the New York State Senate has been controlled by Republicans, had been controlled by Republicans, basically from the beginning of the century, the last century, the 20th Century, until two years ago.  So, there’s a lot of reason to believe that Democrats’ hold on it is tenuous.  Add to that the fact that the Democrats basically came into office taking over the state Senate for the first time and proceeded to commit fratricide by not being able to decide on a majority leader, having a war over the majority leader, when it’s finally appointing a different majority leader than the one who they thought they were going to have and then failing to accomplish much of anything.  It seems very unlikely at this point the Democrats will be able to retain control of the state Senate. That probably doesn’t mean anything at all for the way the government works because let’s face it, government in Albany doesn’t work no matter who’s in charge, and it’s going to be a tall task for Andrew Cuomo to change what three governors before him have all said they would change and failed to do.  What is at stake, though, is that the state Senate controls to some degree redistricting for congressional seats.  New York has only one Republican congressperson left. If the state Senate is controlled by Republicans, they will be able to redraw the congressional lines because New York is probably going to lose some congressional seats because of population decline, vis-à-vis other parts of the country. It looks like if Republicans were to regain control of the state Senate, which seems fairly likely, they will be able to redraw those lines to the benefit of Republicans who will likely be able to gain a couple of congressional seats and tilt the balance a little bit more towards them from a huge, huge underdog status they now face.

John Sparks
And, I believe Malcolm Smith was quoted as saying that if the Democrats retain a majority, that he would see that they would gerrymander those districts so that Republicans will be in oblivion in New York for the next 20 years.

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I mean if the Democrats can regain or excuse me, can control the state Senate, can hold onto control, there’s no reason to believe that they would not be able to draw the districts in such a way that there would be no Republican, safe Republican congressional seats. That basically has to do with political affiliation in this state. There are very few Republicans compared to Democrats and independents. It’s five to three to one. And, so finding a Republican seat, even upstate, requires some very special work with the pen. The Republicans have been able to do that. Democrats won’t need a whole lot of effort to draw a Republican district out of existence.

John Sparks
Do you still feel that New York voters are rather lukewarm about these upcoming races.  Say like in the comptroller’s race?

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Jay DeDapper
Yeah, the comptroller’s race is an interesting one because there hasn’t been any significant polling on it. It is the second most powerful seat or the attorney general. Depending on how you look at it, the second or third most powerful statewide elected official, and it can be a very important role, especially if the comptroller is of the opposite party or is in a war with the governor. The comptroller, he or she, can be a real thorn in the side of the governor, and sometimes maybe that’s a good thing.  This race has not gotten very much attention. It has a name on the Republican line that people are going to recognize because John Faso ran for governor before, and it’s got a name on the Democratic side of a guy who’s been comptroller for the last few years but hasn’t made a whole lot of noise.  He… I’m sure he thinks he has, but it’s tough to get through the — to clear the chatter when David Paterson is your meltdown governor, and Andrew Cuomo is your attorney general hard charging on all the banks and consumer frauds and all that. I think that the DiNapoli race, the comptroller race could be a surprise. That could be where a fairly low turnout, the fairly low interest among Democrats plays for the benefit of much more excited Republicans.

John Sparks
Do you think there will be a low turnout?

Jay DeDapper
You know, I hate predicting turnout.  You know we’ve worked together a long time and seen a lot of elections, and turnout predictions almost invariably proved to be untrue. I don’t think turnout in a year where even though we have two Senate seats up, which is a historical anomaly, we’ve got a big governor’s race with a big name, and we’ve got the control of the Senate and Congress in Washington at stake, I don’t get the sense from the people in New York, from talking to people, from overhearing conversations, from seeing the buzz, I don’t get the sense that this is an energized political state right now. So, I would guess if I had to be a betting person and guess, I would put my chips down on not a very large turnout.

John Sparks
We’ve seen polls, and we hear that voters are angry, they’re ready to turn everyone out. They’re really unhappy.  I talked to one of our former colleagues, Gabe Pressman, earlier this morning.  He has been in Utica, and he said that was the sentiment in Utica. And, yet, despite all this that we hear about people not being satisfied, it does not seem like that they’re going to take the time or the energy to go to the polls to make a change.

Jay DeDapper
I mean, I don’t … when I say “low turnout,” I don’t mean that it’s going to be like primary low turnout, like in primaries where 4% or 6% of the people turn out. I just don’t think this is going to be anywhere near obviously a presidential year, and I kind of doubt that in New York it’s going to be as big as 2006, which was a very large off-year election in terms of turnout. I think what Gabe found in Utica is probably right.  Upstate, as you know, Upstate New York has been economically depressed and down at the heels for the most part, not every city, but for the most part for decades. I don’t think you could go up there even in best of times and find people that are particularly happy with government, whether it be in Albany or in Washington, and I think that those folks — I think they are motivated to vote to some degree, although no more or less motivated than they are in any other year when they’re particularly upset.  I do think that it’s worth remembering that Upstate New York is an increasingly small part of the electorate of New York State.  You only have to win New York City and either Long Island or Westchester County, and you can’t be beat.  You just can’t be beat in this state.  There’s just not enough people upstate to make a difference, and I’m not sure that activated, energized, mobilized feeling is as strong in the suburbs here or in the city.  Part of that has to do with the economy.  New York’s economy has weathered this recession better than almost any major city other than Pittsburgh and a couple of bright spots, and the suburbs, while being hit somewhat hard, it’s nothing like Arizona or California or Florida or Nevada or many of these other places where real estate has just sucked the life out of people in the economy. It hasn’t happened here and there may be anger, but it’s not the visceral anger that you see out West and in the South.

John Sparks
I’d like to take a quick look at some other races. Andrew Cuomo of course will be leaving the attorney general’s position one way one or another.  Any contest in the race for attorney general?

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Jay DeDapper
It’s possible.  Eric Schneiderman has certainly won over Democrats.  He’s fairly popular among the Democratic clubs and the folks that can get the vote out if it’s a lowish turnout.  He is popular in the suburbs.  He’s a Manhattan guy, but he’s popular enough in the suburbs, and his Republican opponent doesn’t have enough of a name or, I think, a widespread name recognition and so far not enough money to cut through the clutter.  I think that there’s always a chance that after you get past Andrew Cuomo and maybe Chuck Schumer on the ticket, I think there’s always a chance you’re going to see ticket splitters and people saying, “Screw it — throw the bums out,” and voting for Republicans. I wouldn’t think it’s going to happen in the attorney general race, but it’s always a chance.

John Sparks
Glad you mentioned Schumer. I was about to ask you, the president’s popularity has been on quite a slide. Will that translate into a problem for Schumer or Kirsten Gillibrand?

Jay DeDapper
Both Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have anemic, and that’s putting it kindly, anemic Republican opposition.  I think this is a year that if Republicans in New York State had gotten their act together and put up a really strong candidate, especially against Kirsten Gillibrand, they might have a seat in the Northeast to win.  Chuck Schumer, that’s a harder nut to crack. Schumer’s got a lot of money. He’s got a lot of popularity.  He’s a campaigner.  As you know, he works harder than anybody you’ve ever seen campaigning and governing and being on the job. He will be a tough person to beat even when Republicans manage to put up a Grade A candidate. This year they have not.  Both of those seats are very safely Democratic.

John Sparks
You know I mentioned a minute ago about the possibility of gerrymandering and redrawing congressional districts. I’m just curious about the congressional seats in New York at this time.  Any that might change hands?

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Jay DeDapper
Oh yeah. I mean, two years ago when Democrats almost swept, they almost took every seat from Republicans, and this would’ve been an entirely Democratic state as represented in Congress, That was the high water mark.  Maybe people didn’t recognize that at the time that that was the high water mark.  This year there are numerous seats that were — that are already kind of 50/50 seats. In other words, half of the people are Democratic, half are Republicans, or better put a third are Democrats, about a third are Republicans, about a third are independents.  There are actually a number of districts that way throughout the state which have elected only in the last two or four years, only in the last two cycles Democrats for the first time in many cases in decades. I think many of those seats are vulnerable. John Hall in the Hudson Valley I think is vulnerable. That’s a seat that was Republican historically.  There’s a seat outside of Albany, historically forever a Republican seat.  Since the Civil War, it was a Republican seat until a couple of terms ago. I think that’s at risk.  Tim Bishop out of the end of Long Island, Suffolk County, probably not in a huge amount of trouble, but facing an extremely wealthy self-financed candidate, and if voters in Suffolk County are angry enough, Tim Bishop could be another victim.  I think New York wakes up the day after the election with at least a couple of more Republican members of the House.

John Sparks
We’re right on top of it.  Do you see anything taking place between now and Election Day?  Politics is dynamic.  Any surprises? Anything you’ve heard of that might change your opinion about what we talked about today?

Jay DeDapper
Nothing that you can see, but that’s the nature and the excitement of politics is that you never know what’s going to happen in the final two weeks of the campaign. Typically, if it’s going to be something that another campaign, an opposing campaign knows about, you actually don’t save it till the final weekend. You start to roll it out about now because it takes a couple of weeks to take hold and to have its effect. We saw that with Chuck Schumer and Al D’Amato when Al D’Amato back in 1992 — 1998, excuse me, called Schumer a putzhead on the radio. That took a few days, about four/five days for Schumer to kind of traction on it, to work it up, that was two weeks out from the election and that was the end of D’Amato.  So, if there’s a surprise out there, if there’s somebody that’s going to screw up, this is the time they’re going to have to do it.  You get too close to Election Day and those kinds of things don’t generally happen and they don’t generally work.  I don’t see anything on the horizon, but who knows?  That’s the fun of politics.

9/28: The New York Ballot in 2010

September 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Jay DeDapper, NY State, Politics

Despite calls to replace all incumbents regardless of whether they are Democrats or Republicans, Political Analyst Jay Dedapper thinks most of New York’s incumbents will hold onto their seats. And, he tells the Marist Poll’s John Sparks that’s because he believes voter turnout will be low in the upcoming midterm elections.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

Listen to Part 1 of the Interview:


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John Sparks
Jay, the last time we spoke, you told me New Yorkers were not all that excited about races coming up on the November ballot.  Since then, however, the Tea Party scored a couple more primary victories, and a New York Times‘ poll recently reported that voters across the country, they said they’re disenchanted with all incumbents regardless of whether they’re Democrats or Republicans.  Do you still feel that New York voters are rather lukewarm about these upcoming races?

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I do.  I think there’s the anger and the frustration that voters say they feel in polls actually hasn’t really showed up at the polls. It’s showed up in terms of the number of people who do come to the polls and vote, but take a look at that race in Delaware, for instance, with Christine O’Donnell, and here’s someone who got a big victory over a moderate Republican that was supported by the party structure.  But, look at the number of people who turned out to vote. It was fewer than 25% of — or less than 25% of the Republican electorate.  So, yeah, people are frustrated and upset and angry. So far, there hasn’t been a lot of evidence that mass numbers of people are so upset and angry that they’re actually going to bother to go to the polls and do anything about it, at least not in primaries.  I think the situation in New York is exacerbated by the fact that there’s such a large Democratic registration advantage, and at least right now the premier race, the marquee race, which is for governor, is headlined by a guy, Andrew Cuomo, who does not really  –  there’s not a lot of animosity towards him among independents.  Republicans may not like him because his Cuomo, but independents don’t really seem to dislike Andrew Cuomo all that much, and they are the only ones who could swing this race into something that would be considered competitive, I think.

John Sparks
So, Andrew Cuomo in the governor’s race, Paladino really doesn’t have a shot since he knocked off Lazio?

Jay DeDapper
Well, again, you have to look at the registration advantage the Democrats have in the state, and for a Republican to win in New York, any statewide office, in the last ten years or so, it hasn’t happened, and it hasn’t happened because that registration advantage is so large.  When it’s happened in the past, even when the Democrats have held a big registration advantage, it happened at the end of Cuomo, for instance, the last Cuomo when he was running for a fourth term, and George Pataki ran as kind of an outsider and an independent.  In this case, Andrew Cuomo, the son of Mario Cuomo, is not running for a fourth term.  He’s running as an outsider.  He’s running as the guy who could come in and fix Albany. There is no incumbent that’s running, so I don’t think that the Republicans have the advantage that they have when they’re running against incumbent Democrats who have frankly been in office too long.  That’s not the case in this case, and it’s going to — it would take a overwhelming turnout among independents and Republicans and for Democrats to simply stay home, lots and lots of Democrats to stay home, to get Paladino much of a chance, and that doesn’t even accept the fact that Republicans are pretty split about him winning.

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John Sparks
And, so I don’t suppose Chuck Schumer’s staying awake at night worrying about Jay Townsend these days?

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I mean there are on top of the gubernatorial race, there are two Senate races. Chuck Schumer is one of them, and Kirsten Gillibrand is the second.  So, both U.S. Senate seats are up.  Chuck Schumer is clearly the one that doesn’t have anything to worry about because he still has, among all the politicians in New York that are in office and running for re-election, he’s the one who has the highest rating of favorability.  It’s not as high as it once was, but as you said at the very beginning, it doesn’t really matter what party you’re in, if you’re an incumbent, people are angry.

John Sparks
You know, Gillibrand’s an interesting study I think.  At one time there were mixed reviews even among Democrats when she was appointed.  What sense do you get now?  Is there any chance that her opponent can surprise her?

Jay DeDapper
I think there’s more of a chance there than there is that Paladino’s going to surprise Cuomo or Jay Townsend’s going to surprise Chuck Schumer.  There doesn’t… She has failed over the course of her term — her time in office, and remember, she replaced Hillary Clinton when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. And as you alluded to, there was a lot of consternation among Democrats that the governor at the time, David Paterson, appointed her as opposed to appointing someone else, like Caroline Kennedy. Kirsten Gillibrand came in with that problem of Democrats feeling that she wasn’t the best — many Democrats feeling she wasn’t the best candidate, and I don’t think she’s done a lot in the last two years. I think she’s tried, but I don’t think she’s made a lot of progress in convincing Democrats that she’s really the senator that they would pick if they really had their choice.  It’s not much of a choice.  I mean all of that being said, the Republican challenger that she’s facing is not well — particularly well-known, not particularly well-funded, and in a year like this when you’ve got a Cuomo and Schumer on the ballot, it seems unlikely to me that a Gillibrand is going to have enough trouble that she is going to be in danger of losing this seat.  But of all the major races, she’s the one because she has failed to really garner strong Democratic support.  I think she’s probably the one who faces the only real challenge.

John Sparks
And whoever wins this one will be up again three years from now.

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, well two years from now. Three years from now, but two years from Election Day…

John Sparks
True.

Jay DeDapper
Therefore, January.  Yeah, this is a strange race because she was appointed, and by New York State law, once you’re appointed to fill out the seat, you don’t actually fill out the entire time. You actually have to run in the next general election so that the voters get a chance to approve or disapprove of the appointment. But then you only fill out the term as it is legislatively laid out or constitutionally laid out, and Hillary Clinton’s term was supposed to end in 2012.  So Kirsten Gillibrand, should she win, will be running again in 2012.  So, there’s a lot of races for her.  But I suspect that with most  –  as with most incumbents, the longer that you — the more you’re able to get through tough races early on, the more — the better chances you have later on of fending off tough challengers and having tough races.

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John Sparks
You know Charlie Rangel’s had his problems lately.  Do you think that that will sway voters in his congressional district this time?

Jay DeDapper
Wel, if that was going to happen, it was going to happen in the primary. He was running against Adam Clayton Powell IV. Remember, Charlie Rangel won his historic race back in the ’70s against Adam Clayton Powell’s father.  Adam Clayton Powell was a historic African American congressman.  Charlie Rangel ran as the new blood, the new breed, the new guy who was going to come in and shake things up.  Well, now he’s the old guy, the old guard, and Adam Clayton Powell IV didn’t come anywhere close to unseating him in the Democratic primary.  And let’s face it, in our Harlem, a Republican’s not going to win in Harlem. The district that Charlie Rangel is in is one of the most Democratic districts in the entire country. So, if you don’t beat him in the primary, he’s not going to lose the race.

John Sparks
Do you see any upsets in congressional races in New York?

Jay DeDapper
Mike McMahon on Staten Island. That’s a seat that has been Republican for many years.  Vito Fossella lost that or decided not to run for re-election in that seat after the scandal involving a mistress and a child.  Before that, Susan Molinari held that seat.  It’s been a Republican seat for a long time.  Mike McMahon won it in a tight election in an overwhelmingly Democratic year, 2008.  I would say that’s probably in the New York City area, the one where there’s the most risk to an incumbent, and in this case a Democrat. There’s some outside of the direct New York City area.  John Hall in the Hudson Valley who won in 2004, I believe, it may have been 2006.  He won in what was kind of a Democratic year. It must’ve been 2006.  That’s a district that has been Republican in the past.  It’s kind of a swing district, and I imagine he’s facing — I believe he’s facing a veteran, Iraq War veteran.  That could be a tough race as well.  And there’s some in Upstate New York, some congressional Democrats that won again in either 2006 or 2008, very strong Democratic years, in seats that have traditionally been kind of squishy, not very Democratic, a little bit more Republican, and all of them could face some problems. But in the New York City area, Mike McMahon, I think, is the only seat to really watch for an upset.

John Sparks
But, all in all for the most part, I take it that you see not very many upsets in, what, low to moderate turnout?

Jay DeDapper

Yeah.  There doesn’t seem to be the passion. And even again, this goes back to my original point. If you look at what happened in the Republican primary in New York, Paladino beat Lazio, Lazio being the kind of the standard candidate of the Republican Party, by a very large margin, but the number of people who turned out was not huge. It wasn’t like 50% of Republican voters turned out. The turnout was really quite low.  These are among allegedly very angry voters, the Republican voters, and they didn’t really turn out. I think that what you see in election years like what’s coming up, and we saw it in 1994, is that you have a very motivated portion of the electorate that turns out and can sway elections. I’m not denying that they can sway elections in dramatic fashion, but it’s not a majority. It’s not even a significant minority.  It’s a fairly small number of people who are really upset and really angry who bother to go to the polls, and they do make a difference in years like this. I think unfortunately apathy is the more common thing that you see in a year like this, voters that are just frustrated and angry or frustrated and angry, but angry in a way that doesn’t translate into action.

Listen to Part 4:


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John Sparks
Jay, always a pleasure to talk politics with you.  Any other thoughts you’d like to share about the upcoming midterm election?

Jay DeDapper
I think it’s going to be really interesting to see if the people who have been driving the elections this year, and they’re not all Republicans and they’re not all Tea Party members, the people who have been driving elections all year all across the country have been people who are angry. Some of them are Democrats.  Some Democratic incumbents have lost in primaries.  It’ll be interesting to me that once you get to the general election, and everybody in the nations focused on this first major Election Day after Barack Obama became President.  And if Barack Obama throws some of his weight into this, as it looks like he’s going to, it’ll be really interesting to me to see if there’s kind of a counterweight to that anger, that anti-incumbent anger, that ends up supporting some incumbents (In many cases, that would be Democrats) and whether that’s enough to offset some of this anger that seems to be aimed at ousting incumbents, including many Democrats. I think the other thing to watch for, and everybody’s talked about it, but it’s fascinating to me, is — what is the role the Tea Party plays in the future of the GOP?  In Tea Party activists and in angry voters electing or putting on the ballot, excuse me, in primaries, people like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware — does that create a situation where the Republican Party in a general election is so out of the mainstream, is so filled with candidates who are so crazy that the party actually ends up blowing an incredible opportunity that’s been handed to them on a silver platter and fails to capitalize in a significant way on the intense voter dissatisfaction? That is something that I think is fascinating, and I think everybody’s looking at that. Everybody’s talking about, but that’s the big story, and I think will remain the big story all the way to Election Day.

Jay DeDapper

September 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Jay DeDapper

Jay owns and runs a media production company called DeDapper Media that specializes in creating video content for the web, smartphones, and television. His company also teaches organizations to create their own video as part of the innovative VidLab101 program.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

Jay keeps his nose in the news with his hard-hitting political and media website Get Real in which he works to inject facts into often opinion-laden “news” coverage.

Jay spent 22 years in television news reporting from around the world and hosting live and taped news-talk shows. Jay’s innovative writing and fresh on-camera delivery have led to dozens of awards including the national Cronkite Award and a dozen Emmys.

Jay is well known in New York television after 17 years at the two top stations in the market (WABC and WNBC) and his live ad-libbing, easy conversational style, and quick thinking have made him a favorite on radio talks shows and cable news.

Jay earned his Master’s Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from University of California at Santa Barbara.

Jay grew up in California and Connecticut and currently lives in Manhattan and Columbia County, NY.

9/10: Bloomberg, His Political Aspirations, and the Islamic Center

September 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Jay DeDapper, NYC, Politics

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken some heat for his support of building an Islamic community center near the World Trade Center site.  Has the mayor contributed to that criticism?  Hear what political reporter Jay DeDapper had to say about this and Bloomberg’s job performance when he spoke with the Marist Poll’s John Sparks.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

Listen to the interview or read the transcript below.

John Sparks
Jay, as we’re speaking, the Marist Poll is out in the field polling New Yorkers on how they would rate the job Mayor Bloomberg is doing in office. I know you talk to the Marist people frequently, as do a lot of other folks, just curious what you hear about how he’s doing on the job and how you feel about his performance in his third term.

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Jay DeDapper
Well, I think his people think that he’s doing the job that he has always set out to do, which is to stick by his guns.  He certainly has done unpopular things and stood for unpopular things on principle like stopping smoking or banning smoking in bars. That was an early thing that he did that a lot of people I think thought, “You’re crazy. It’s going to kill you politically.”  And, it didn’t hurt him, and I think that he and his people have taken from that or took from that many years ago that a man of principle is someone that voters will reward in the long run.  That being said, I think right now after the flap about the Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan and all the attention that that’s gotten, the fact that the mayor has been a very staunch proponent of allowing that Islamic Center to be built even when a majority of the public in many cases has been shown to not approve of that, I think it’s probably going to hurt him to some degree.  But remember, he’s not running for anything. He has won three times. He has shown no intention running for a fourth, and even if he were to, nobody’s going to remember this by that time.  I think New Yorkers feel like they do about a lot of their mayors they have in the past that he’s our guy and unless he crosses us in some meaningful way, he’s our guy and he’s doing a pretty good job.

John Sparks
You know there’s been some misinformation about this Islamic Community Center. I know that some folks confuse it, think it’s a mosque, and so do you think that that misinformation contributes to the attitude toward the mayor’s support of it?

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I mean absolutely.  I think the mayor went on Jon Stewart, for instance, and called it a mosque.  That doesn’t help his cause of trying to be someone who stands up for the First Amendment rights, religious liberty, and things like that.  He has never been the best spokesman for his own causes politically.  He has lots of misstatements. He’s never the best with words, and I think this is a case where he hasn’t helped his own cause. A lot of people think it’s a mosque.  A lot of people think it’s on Ground Zero, it’s being built in the actual site of where the twin towers fell, where neither of those things is the case, and I think the Mayor has not really stood very firmly about the misunderstandings and the misstatements and instead pushed this position that “hey, it’s about religious freedom.”  Well, it’s about religious freedom, but at least get people to get their facts straight, and I don’t think he’s done a particularly good job of being a spokesman for get your facts straight.

John Sparks
Now you alluded a moment ago to his political future, do you think he has any ambitions for president or any other higher office?

Listen to Part 2:

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Jay DeDapper
I mean, I think it’s a fool who would say that a guy like Mike Bloomberg would never run for another office.  That being said, he has said that he doesn’t — he’s not really thinking about it, and he’s going to leave public office after this — public life — public office anyway after this — after his third term, and he’s going to run his foundation.  You can take him at his word, but he did say that after — in the middle of his second term, and then he forced to change in term limits so he could run for a third term.  So, I don’t think anything’s off the table with a guy like Mike Bloomberg.  He hasn’t made it in business and made it in politics by being predictable, and I think that holds true.  Does he have ambitions?  Sure, lots of people have ambition.  Does he practically have a path to the presidency or really even to another term as mayor?  I’m not so sure about that.  He probably could figure out a way to run a fourth term for mayor.  President, it’s just hard to see how a guy who is by all accounts around the rest of the country would be measured as a moderate to liberal Democrat, it’s hard to see how a guy running as an Independent but having the views that he has would be able to collect enough votes to beat mainstream party candidates, and I don’t think the Republicans are going to welcome him back into the fold, and I would – - it’d be hard for me to see how Democrats would bring him into the party when they – - when they’re going to be coming off of a Barack Obama presidency.

John Sparks
Thinking about being mayor of New York City, there’s still a significant amount of time left in his third term.  But I’m just curious though, we got folks lining up that would like that job?

Jay DeDapper
Oh yeah, absolutely. The race for mayor for 2013 started on election day of 2009, and the Democrats have been lined up.  Remember, Democrats haven’t won the mayoralty since David Dinkins in 1993 — in 1989, excuse me. It’s been an incredibly long dry spell, and Democrats are salivating at the opportunity to run in a city that is overwhelming Democratic and not have to face an opponent that has a billion dollars at his disposal.  So, yeah, they’ve been lining up. They’re lining up their supporters.  They’re lining up financial support. The race began on Election Day in 2009.

John Sparks
We have an off-year Congressional election coming up. There are also some other races on the New York ballot, but I don’t get the sense that these races are creating a whole lot of interest among voters. Is that the case?

Listen to Part 3:

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Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I think the only interesting race is going to be the gubernatorial race, and the reason for that is that there’s a guy named Cuomo running.  I don’t think any of the other races are getting a lot of attention in New York anyway right now whether it’s the comptroller race or any of the others.   I don’t get the sense that there’s a lot of interest in those, and polling indicates that Andrew Cuomo’s way out in front as well.  I mean, it’s a heavily Democratic state, and it takes quite an effort for a Republican to win a statewide office, at least in the last 10 or 15 years.  George Pataki being the last of them able to do that. But I don’t think… I think the only marquee race this time around is the governor’s race, and I think it’s a marquee only because there’s a marquee name in it, a marquee political name, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how voters after all these years of rejecting Mario Cuomo for a fourth term, how they embrace or fail to embrace his son, Andrew.

John Sparks
So at this point from the numbers that you see, you think he’s got a significant lead, will not have any problems?

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I mean even in this anti-incumbent year where Republicans and Independents and Tea Party activists and people like that seem to be gaining a lot of traction, it’s really hard to see how in New York with it’s overwhelming Democratic registration advantage, how a guy like Andrew Cuomo is going to lose to either of the two Republicans who are running, especially when the no-name Republican is a guy who has some Tea Party support and he’s closing the gap against Rick Lazio who is kind of the standard bearer for the Republican party.  He ran against Hillary Clinton for God’s sake.  I mean, this is a guy who is a real party Republican who has done the right things. He’s falling on the sword, who’s taken the shots for the party, and now, he’s got the shot at running for governor, and the primary looks like it could be a lot squeakier than he was expecting. It’s hard to see how Andrew Cuomo doesn’t claim the advantage in that kind of intra-party scrimmage on the Republican side.

John Sparks
It’s interesting you mentioned Lazio. He has been trying to make a lot of political hay out of the Islamic Community Center as I recall.

Jay DeDapper
Well, you know when you are a politician who’s not getting any press, and someone hands you an issue like this, and you recognize that you can get on the cable news networks, and you can get in the tabloids, and you can get your name splashed all over, you do it, and I’m not saying he doesn’t believe what he’s saying. I’m sure he does, but this is an issue that has in a slow news vacuum of August, and there have been many of those over the years, this is the issue that has taken center stage.  For him as a politician not to take advantage of that would be malpractice.

9/10: September 11th Nine Years Later

September 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Jay DeDapper, NYC, Politics

Nine years have passed since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  Are New York City residents concerned about another attack?  How much progress has been made in rebuilding the World Trade Center site?  Political reporter Jay DeDapper spoke with the Marist Poll’s John Sparks.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

Listen to the interview or read the full transcript below.

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John Sparks
Let’s talk about Mayor Bloomberg’s predecessor just for a moment, Rudy Giuliani.  Rudy was certainly at center stage following the attacks on 9/11.  You and I were there at NBC covering it that day, and we’ve got the ninth anniversary of the attack coming up next week.  The Marist Poll asked New Yorkers if they’re worried about another major terrorist attack in New York City.  I’m no longer in New York. I don’t have any idea.  You are.  Any thoughts on that?  Are they in fact concerned about another attack?

Jay DeDapper
I mean, I haven’t seen any polling on this, so this is more of a gut check than it is something based on any data.  I don’t really hear that.  I don’t hear it from anybody in conversation that I overhear, in conversations I have with people, in policymakers, in cocktail party conversations, whatever.  Wherever I hear people talking or wherever I talk to people, I don’t really hear that. I think that that moment, that that fear has, as you would expect, has ebbed pretty substantially even.  And, the reason I think that is that with what happened in Times Square not long ago with the truck that — the pickup truck attempted bombing, it was very, very quickly that things returned to normal.  It wasn’t like after 9/11 where normal was many years later.  It was within a week people were back in Times Square.  People weren’t talking about it, being worried about it.  People… you didn’t hear people fretting about what would happen, put together your emergency kit.  Do you have your plans in case something happens?  None of that was discussed as it was after 9/11, so I don’t think that New Yorkers right now are particularly concerned about that.

John Sparks
Now, what’s going on down at the site of the Towers?  Where do things stand right now as far as any rebuilding?

Jay DeDapper
The rebuilding has obviously taken a very long time to get going. But the Freedom Tower, which is the — kind of the centerpiece of this in terms of the rebuilding that is most obvious and most visible … the steel is well above the ground.  There’s several hundred feet above ground, and it is on track for an opening in a couple of years.  They’ve signed some big leases to have tenants in there, and there has been talk among private real estate interest in buying into it, in buying some sort of a way into it from the Port Authority because … you’ve got to believe that private real estate investors are interested.  They see this as a viable building.  That’s the commercial side of it. There are three other towers. One of them is also going up.  Two others are delayed, and there’s a long battle that’s been going on with Larry Silverstein who’s the leaseholder of the World Trade Center, and that has not been resolved. All these years later, two of the four towers, who knows if they’re ever going to be built.  The actual site, though remember, most of the actual site is going to be turned over to the memorial.  And if you go there now, you can see not just the outlines of the reflecting pools that are going to be built where the two towers stood, you actually see the entire form. They are very far along on the memorial. It took a very long time to build the understructure of this, because there’s parking garages, there’s security, there’s a PATH train system, there’s all kinds of things that had to be built underground. They have done that, and they’re at ground level and the memorial, if you go down there now, the memorial, you can see what the memorial’s going to look like because the structure is in place.  It’s going to take awhile to finish, but they’re on track to open that on time now as well.  So, there’s been real progress in the last year and a half, real visible progress, that I think for people who visit the site, I think it’s reassuring that finally they’ve gotten past the morass of four or five years of nothing happening, and things seem to be happening pretty quickly now.

John Sparks
As you and I are speaking, Marist is also polling asking people if they feel the government has done too much or too little take care of the families of the 9/11 victims and those first responders who worked in the days following the attacks. We really don’t have an idea of what those results will tell us. Do you have any feel for this from the people that you talk to?

Jay DeDapper
Well, I mean nationally or locally, I think that it’s hard to find …  you would be hard pressed to find people who are going to vociferously talk about how the first responders haven’t — we haven’t done enough for the first responders. Whether people think privately though that that is the case, I don’t know, and I don’t know if you’re going to find that in polling. It’s a super sensitive issue. It’s a live wire still. I think that we’ve seen, at least politically, that bills that have been advanced to fund to the tune of several billion dollars additional medical help and other kinds of help for first responders that were there and that are suffering medically, I think you’ve seen opposition of that and politically from politicians who aren’t from the Northeast and aren’t from New York. Whether that reflects a broader measure of their constituents’ feeling like this is welfare for first responders on Ground Zero, I don’t know. I don’t know that you’re going to get that answer in polling, but certainly there has been evidence of that, at least politically there’s been evidence of what’s been called first responder fatigue by some commentators.

John Sparks
I’d like to ask you one more thing.  A number of folks I talk to miss seeing you at NBC and I’m just curious about what kind of things you’re up to these days.

Jay DeDapper
I’ve been running a production company, video production company, and we’re making videos, especially for the Web, for lots of clients — nonprofits, organizations, companies, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun to make videos that are different than what I’ve done for the 20-25 years I was in television news. Branching out from everything from doing cooking things with chefs to a biography of a huge soccer star for a sports network, so it’s been a lot of fun doing different kinds of things and I’m enjoying that a lot.

John Sparks
So if anyone was interested in engaging your services, do you have a Web site, a company name?

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, dedappermedia.com.  Last name D-E-D-A-P-P-E-R Media dot.com.  That’s the Web site.  And of course, I still keep my hand in politics at Get Real, my blog, which is at jaydedapper.com, and I try and keep away from the incendiary and stick with the facts with that. I don’t get to file as often I’d like to there because my company takes a lot of my time, but I can’t quite break from my past and I like to get a word in edgewise every now and then. So, I post on that fairly — as often as I can.

9/21: An Interview: The 2009 Mayor’s Race

September 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Jay DeDapper, NYC, Politics

Jay DeDapper is a veteran television political reporter who has covered New York politics for more than a decade.  In an interview with the Marist Poll’s John Sparks, DeDapper considers the matchup between New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Democratic challenger Bill Thompson, and he discusses the impact of the $36 million the mayor has spent on his re-election campaign.

Listen to the Interview, Part 1:

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John Sparks
Jay, back in July, 51% of registered voters in New York City told The Marist Poll it was time to oust Mayor Michael Bloomberg from office and elect someone else.  Now in that same poll, Bloomberg led Bill Thompson 48% to 35%.  Do you sense that, as we get closer to the general election, that the Mayor’s pulling away and widening his lead?

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper
I think there’s a limit to how much of a lead that he can get, even though he’s not a Republican, a registered Republican anymore.  He’s not registered in any party.  He’s created his own party to run, and he’s running on the independent line.  I think that in a city that this is overwhelmingly Democratic, there is a limit to how many votes anybody can get that’s not on the Democratic line.  That being said, he is widely seen, and the Marist Poll has shown this, previous Marist Polls have shown this, he’s widely seen to be politically independent and not really a Democrat or a Republican, and I think that appeals to a lot of people.  So, I think his wide lead that he has now, and it is sizeable, I don’t think it’s going to grow much more. I think that there is a limit to how wide a lead that he can get in this race.

John Sparks
Now you mentioned he’s an independent.  He’s also independently wealthy. He spent a reported $36 million on getting re-elected.  Is it the money that makes this an insurmountable race for Bill Thompson?

Jay DeDapper
Well, money is always important and he spent — Mike Bloomberg spent $70 some odd million for the first time around.  He spent $80 some odd million last time. There’s been talk that he’d spend $100 million by the time all the final checks are cut in this election, and that’s a huge disadvantage for Bill Thompson.  Bill Thompson is participating in the public finance system in New York City, which is pretty progressive.  It’s one of the most advanced in the country, but it doesn’t account for people who spend all of their own money, and there’s kind of no way to account for that under the law right now.  So, it’s a huge disadvantage for Bill Thompson. But, to say that it’s only money, I think misses a point, and that is that there have been lots of candidates with a lot of money that have lost races. In fact, until Mike Bloomberg came along, the rule was you could spend — that super rich people could spend all the money they wanted and didn’t have a very good chance of winning election, all other things being equal.  All other things are not equal in this case.  Bill Thompson has not been an aggressive, an assertive candidate.  He has had fewer public events, campaign events, than Mike Bloomberg, and if you’re the guy who is the underdog in the money race, then you’ve got to out-hustle the guy who’s got all the money. Bill Thompson isn’t out-hustling anybody right now.

John Sparks
So, what would it take for Thompson to win in November?

Listen to Part 2:

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Jay DeDapper
He would have to become a different candidate.  New York … I think New Yorkers, and you look back at the mayor’s races and the mayors that have been elected in the past, New York has a long history of electing characters.  There’s, of course, Fiorello La Guardia. There was Ed Koch.  There was Rudy Giuliani. Lindsay was in his own way a character.  And, in between these characters, there have often been kind of quiet technocratic kind of people.  Abe Beame was one.  You could argue that Dave Dinkins was.  He certainly wasn’t much of a character.  He was historic, but he wasn’t much of a character.  Mike Bloomberg has turned into a character.   As much as he was kind of a colorless billionaire when he first ran, he’s turned into a bit of a character, a little bit a hottie [sic].  The Marist Poll has shown over the years that people don’t really like his attitude.  They don’t think he relates to them or that he understands their concerns, but at the end of the day, he’s got a character, and they think he does a pretty good job.  Bill Thompson is not a character. He is as colorless as you can get, and he hasn’t demonstrated any knack for becoming a character in people’s minds.  In the very short period between now and election day, Bill Thompson would have to become a different person. That maybe is something he can do.  Candidates have done that in the past, but he’d have to become a different person.

John Sparks
I was going to follow-up and ask–does he really have enough time to accomplish that?

Jay DeDapper
I think maybe the way I’d like to answer that is: Could a candidate in this amount of time accomplish what has to be accomplished?  And, I think in the hypothetical, yes.  Bill Thompson is going to have to go from zero to 60 tomorrow to be able to pull this off.

John Sparks
I’m curious about something else.  Is Governor Paterson hurting Bill Thompson’s chances to be elected?

Listen to Part 3:

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Jay DeDapper
I don’t think there’s any evidence of that.  Paterson has plenty of his own problems, and that’s a whole other story.  He’s gotten tremendously high negatives and a real, real problem with trying to get re-elected next year.  But, I don’t think there’s any link in voters’ minds between Bill Thompson and David Paterson. They haven’t appeared together.  They aren’t particularly close.  Certainly, David Paterson’s not going to come and campaign for Bill Thompson, because Bill Thompson probably doesn’t want David Paterson to come and campaign for him.  So, I don’t think that’s his problem.  I mean Bill Thompson is not tainted by the leading Democrat in the state having low poll numbers.  Bill Thompson is tainted by the fact that he simply is not running a campaign so far that has energy, ideas, attitude, assertiveness, aggressiveness, fire in the belly.  There’s no fire in the belly.

John Sparks
Hindsight’s 20/20.  Did Anthony Weiner make a mistake by dropping out?

Jay DeDapper
That’s a hard question.  I mean, I think most people, most political analysts, myself included, believe that Anthony Weiner had a much better shot at winning — at beating Mike Bloomberg than Bill Thompson did.  But, could he have beaten him?  I don’t know, and Anthony Weiner in a purely political calculation, I think, looked at the map and said, “Look, I can run again in four years, and I will have been out there in two different cycles.  I will have a lot of name recognition.  I will be able to continue to raise issues and get free media and talk, and Mike Bloomberg won’t be running again in four years, and I won’t have to face his $80 million or whatever it’s going to be.”  I think that Weiner, I’m sure, thinks in his own mind that he made the right choice because he’s a young guy, and he’s looking at the long run.  He wasn’t looking at the short-term advantage.  It would’ve been a tough race. It would’ve been … I think it would be a much competitive race if it was Anthony Weiner versus Mike Bloomberg than it is shaping up to be with Bill Thompson versus Mike Bloomberg.

John Sparks
You addressed what Bill Thompson would have to do in order to prevail in November, but I want to ask you: What must Mike Bloomberg do to hold onto his lead and to win in November?

Listen to Part 4:

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Jay DeDapper
Bloomberg has real vulnerabilities, and The Marist Poll, this one and previous ones have pointed it out, and I’ve alluded to at least one of them, people, New Yorkers, the average New Yorker doesn’t think that he understands them nor is particularly concerned about what affects them.  He is seen as a fairly aloof kind of sarcastic, not necessarily very nice rich guy, but he’s also seen as someone who is effective.  And, in this case and in this economy, effectiveness seems to trump likability, at least so far, at least according to the polls.  He has to work on the likability thing though because the danger is that he is seen as even more arrogant than he’s already seen if he simply goes forward assuming that he is going to win because he’s the right guy for the right time, and he’s got the track record to do it.  So, I think you are going to see that.  I think you are going to see the campaign working on trying to make Mike Bloomberg a little less of the out-of-touch billionaire and a little more of the I may not feel your pain, but at least I understand it billionaire.

John Sparks
Jay, do you think there’s any lingering resentment toward Bloomberg over the third term?

Jay DeDapper
I think that if you polled people, and you asked them that question specifically, and the further away we get it from it, it probably diminishes, but there has always been a lot of lingering resentment, at least in the polls that I’ve seen since this — since the term limits went through.  But even at the time that the term limit debate was at its hottest, and the vast majority of New Yorkers said, “We don’t think the term limits should be overturned,” when those same voters were asked:  “Well do you think Mike Bloomberg deserves a third term?” almost the same majority who were opposed to overturning term limits said: “Well, yeah, we think Mike Bloomberg should get a chance at a third term.”  So, there’s a contradiction in voters’ minds, and I don’t think this has hurt him.  I don’t think that whatever lingering resentment there is, I don’t think it’s enough to drive his supporters into the arms of Bill Thompson right now, and Bill hasn’t done a particularly effective job of stoking that resentment.  It’s not an issue we’ve heard very much about in the last three months, and if you can’t make that an issue during the slow summer months, the dog days of August, you’re not going to make it an issue in October I don’t think.

John Sparks
I would think in the short time between the primary and the general that he’s going to really have to mount up an attack on the mayor.  Having said that, do you think that there’s any chance in that short period of time that the mayor will stumble?

Listen to Part 5:

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Jay DeDapper
There is. The mayor has shown over his eight years in office a tin ear to the perceptions of him. One of the most egregious cases was when a reporter in a wheelchair in the front row of a news conference inadvertently, or it was thought, had inadvertently played back a little piece of his tape recorder and it sounded like — it was a noise that interrupted the on-going press conference.  And, the mayor castigated him in terms that were just nasty.  It turned out it wasn’t even this guy’s tape recorder, and it took the mayor awhile to apologize.  That kind of thing, and it got some attention in the press, that kind of thing in the heat and the glare of an election battle in the really hot campaigning over the last three or four weeks of campaigning, a talented opponent could take that and really hurt the mayor with it, with that kind of thing.  The mayor is capable of that kind of gaffe.  He’s demonstrated it repeatedly, and he is certain enough of his own success that his closest advisors are not going to keep him — be able to keep him from making a gaffe like that if it’s going to happen.  The question would be: If a gaffe like that happens, would Bill Thompson be able to take advantage of it?  That’s the bigger question to me than will the mayor make a gaffe.

John Sparks
Do you think that the Democrats could’ve fielded a more formidable opponent?

Jay DeDapper
Yes.  Anthony Weiner, the polls showed repeatedly, would’ve been a more formidable opponent, and clearly, here’s a guy who knows how to get free media.  He learned at the feet of Chuck Schumer, the king of free media.  He knows how to get attention. He knows how to throw a punch.  He knows how to appeal to the resentment about the term limits.  He knows how to appeal to the anger there is, especially among ethnic blue-collar workers about the state of the economy and playing outer borough against Manhattan.  He knows how do that, and that’s how you’re going to win.  That’s how you’re going to beat Mike Bloomberg. Not that it would be an easy thing to do, but he would’ve been a formidable candidate.  He was the only name that was out there mentioned that was serious. People talked about Bill Clinton running or something like that.  I mean, yeah, Bill Clinton probably would’ve been a formidable candidate, but in terms of the realistic possible candidates, they could’ve fielded someone better, and his name is Anthony Weiner.

John Sparks
Jay, it’s always interesting to talk about your observations. You’ve covered New York politics for well beyond a decade.  Anything else that you’d like to comment on the mayor’s race?

Listen to Part 6:

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Jay DeDapper
I think what’s probably most interesting is this notion, and I’ve alluded to it, but this notion of effectiveness versus likability, and Rudy Giuliani, to some degree, succeeded in the same way.  I remember in 1997, we went out to an African American middle class neighborhood in Queens, St. Albans, after Rudy Giuliani was re-elected overwhelmingly.  Rudy Giuliani had had a terrible relationship with the African American community from … really from 1989 on … but from 1993 his election on … terrible relationship.  He … I don’t recall if he came very close to winning, or he did win in St. Albans.  And, when we talked to people on the street: why?  They all said they didn’t like him, but crime was down.  The streets were safer.  Things were better.  And, I think, at the end of the day, that voters, as much as we talk about how much voters vote just about who they like, who would they most like in their living room, when you’re talking about incumbency, effectiveness trumps likability, and I think there’s case-after-case of that, at least in New York City, where that is true.  And, Mike Bloomberg is not very well liked, but he is well respected, and that, in this year with this economy, with the troubles facing the city, is an advantage that will be very difficult for Bill Thompson to overcome.

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