Rob Astorino tries for an upset. Sep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Peter Tu is thrilled about meeting with Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York. Tu is the executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association and a leader in the large Chinese-American community in Queens. He’s also a self-professed Democrat. But he’s nonetheless starstruck by Astorino.
“He is a movie star!” Tu says, several times, as he introduces the Republican. With his perfectly parted hair and sonorous tenor, the 47-year-old Astorino may look and sound the part, but the Westchester County executive spent his career not in movies but in sports radio, founding and heading up New York’s ESPN radio station. And despite Tu’s excitement over meeting a big-timer, Astorino is still relatively unknown just two-and-a-half months before the election. In one recent poll, more than half of respondents said they didn’t know enough about Astorino to have an opinion of him.
But things may be changing. “These are the kind of meetings that weren’t being granted six months ago, but now people are starting to think that we’ve got a chance to win,” the candidate tells me as we leave the Chinese business group meeting in Flushing. Later in the day, Astorino does a walking tour of a strip of South Asian-owned jewelry and clothing shops in Jackson Heights, and an honest-to-God entourage of Indian men are following close behind, eagerly craning their necks and snapping photos on their phones. At a lunch stop in Corona, a working-class neighborhood where Astorino’s mother grew up, restaurant staff and customers approach to get their pictures taken with the candidate. “For our Facebook page,” gushes the hostess. One college-bound teen from Long Island is there with his family and asks politely for a photo. Astorino obliges, wishes the kid good luck as he heads off to school, and adds, “Don’t forget to vote absentee!”
Of course, he’ll need more than attention in his bid to unseat Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo. Since Astorino announced he was running in March, Cuomo has led by at least 30 points in nearly every poll. The latest survey, from Quinnipiac, shows Cuomo with 56 percent support and Astorino with 24. The best polling news for the Republican in months came in July, when the New York Times and CBS News found him trailing by “only” 24 points.
But better, possibly game-changing news for Astorino also came that month, when the Times revealed that federal prosecutors were investigating Cuomo and his aides over the abrupt closure of a powerful anticorruption commission. Cuomo himself established the 25-member Moreland Commission in July 2013 as an answer to the state’s culture of corruption, a way of, in the words of the governor and a big banner behind him at the press conference, “restoring public trust.” The commission made it into Cuomo’s campaign ads, with the governor pitching an “independent commission” led by “top law enforcement officials” to “clean up the legislative corruption in Albany.”
But as the Times reported, the commission’s investigations into campaign-finance law violations were “hobbled” once it began looking into officials connected with Cuomo. In one instance, the commission subpoenaed an ad-buying firm while investigating the activities of the state Democratic party. The firm, however, had also done work for Cuomo’s 2010 campaign for governor. According to the Times, a senior Cuomo aide called one of the commission’s co-chairs and told him to “pull back” the subpoena. The subpoena, the paper reports, was “swiftly withdrawn.” It would be one of several questionable interventions into the anticorruption panel’s activities by the governor’s office. In March 2014, Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission entirely, nine months before its proposed closure, prompting the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office to investigate.
If the federal investigation into Cuomo and the Moreland Commission becomes a full-fledged scandal, it could be the boon Astorino’s been looking for. New Yorkers are already fed up with their corrupt state government—Quinnipiac finds more than 80 percent say corruption is a “very” or “somewhat serious” problem. Since 2010, nine current or recent members of the state assembly have been convicted on corruption charges ranging from tax evasion to bribery to mail fraud. The former Democratic state senate majority leader was found guilty of embezzling millions of dollars from public health clinics. But for Astorino, the Moreland Commission investigation tops them all.
“He puts together an anticorruption commission and corrupts it,” Astorino says. “That tells you everything you need to know about New York.”
Will Tennessee’s longtime incumbent go down?Aug 4, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 44 • By MICHAEL WARREN
One name is ubiquitous at a July 22 rally for Republican Senate candidate Joe Carr, and it isn’t Joe Carr’s. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee senator Carr hopes to defeat in the August 7 primary, practically greets you the moment you turn into the parking lot at the Millennium Maxwell House hotel. Signs and posters line the driveway and the hallway into the ballroom, reading in big letters: “Beat Lamar.” The phrase also adorns stickers, buttons, even the name-tags for those of us in the press covering the event.
An electoral blind spot for conservatives.Jul 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 43 • By MICHAEL WARREN
It looks like Florida legislators are heading back to the drawing board—literally. On July 10, Tallahassee circuit court judge Terry Lewis ruled that the GOP-run legislature violated the state constitution by redrawing two congressional districts “with the intention of obtaining enacted maps . . . that would favor the Republican party.” The state won’t be appealing the decision, and, following the 2014 midterm elections, the legislature will have to approve a new map.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:10 PM, May 21, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with staff writer Michael Warren on the recent primary elections and how they're bad news for Democrats seeking to run against an "extremist" GOP.
The Republicans’ struggle in Northern Virginia.Apr 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 30 • By MICHAEL WARREN
It’s hard to believe, but the rebirth of the Republican party in Virginia may be happening in the unlikeliest of places: the liberal bastion of Northern Virginia.
5:50 PM, Mar 24, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Under sail aboard the Wind Surf, somewhere in the Caribbean
For those of you who don't yet subscribe to the new TWS newsletter (here's how to get it—and it's free!), you don't yet know that the TWS Caribbean cruise on board the lovely Wind Surf is going well, with interesting panels, good food and drink, lively entertainment, and a bit of gambling.
Michael Warren, lapsed guitaristNov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The other day, I picked up my guitar and didn’t know what to play. This is happening more and more, and I guess it’s because I pick up the guitar less and less. When I was 15, I could strum my way through the entire Beatles catalogue, half the songs on classic rock radio, and any number of self-penned blues jams before I ever had to stop and think about what to play next.
Ken Cuccinelli’s up against a carpetbagging hack, and losing. Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08 • By MICHAEL WARREN
From the looks of it, Ken Cuccinelli II isn’t enjoying his run for governor of Virginia. We’re in a small white SUV, driving from his campaign office in Fairfax County outside Washington to a rally in neighboring Loudoun County. Cuccinelli, the 45-year-old Republican attorney general, sits in the front passenger’s seat and steals glances at his speech notes or out the window. He seems a little annoyed by all the questions I’m lobbing at him from the back seat.
Elbert Lee Guillory, Cajun noir.Sep 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 02 • By MICHAEL WARREN
"Je suis un Cajun noir,” Elbert Lee Guillory, the 69-year-old state senator from Opelousas, Louisiana, tells me proudly. “I am a black Cajun.” To which he might these days add, “Je suis un Républicain noir—I am a black Republican.”
For Republicans reaching out to immigrant groups, a glimmer of hope: Protestant Hispanics are genuine swing voters. Mar 25, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 27 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The 2004 presidential election was the Republican party’s high-water mark with Hispanic voters. George W. Bush received between 40 and 44 percent of the Hispanic vote that year. Bush lost Hispanic Catholics to John Kerry, but he overwhelmingly won Hispanic evangelicals, 69 percent to Kerry’s 29 percent.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:38 PM, Mar 15, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with Michael Warren, live from CPAC. Will conservatives find a new way forward? Hosted by Michael Graham.
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