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NY GOP Chooses Berntsen Against Schumer

As New York Sen. Charles Schumer sets his sights on the title of Senate majority leader (if Harry Reid loses re-election), the state Republican Party yesterday made former CIA officer Gary Berntsen its designee to challenge Schumer in November.

With fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand also up for election this year -- a special election to fill the remaining two years of Hillary Clinton's Senate term -- the Schumer race is the less attractive one for Republicans, as he has entrenched himself in his two terms in office.

Berntsen could find it difficult gaining traction in the race, as Schumer has worked hard to make himself New York's leading advocate in Washington. Even Berntsen's own name could give him trouble -- the state party misspelled it five times (the same number it was spelled correctly) in its press release announcing the decision, and his name was reportedly mispronounced several times during the state party convention voting on Tuesday.

"Gary Bernsten [sic] is certainly a game changer," said New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox. "Given his incredible professional experience on the world stage and his foreign policy acumen, Bernsten [sic] is sure to become a leader in that arena in the Senate."

Berntsen was quoted in the same press release as saying: "I will pursue Sen. Schumer in every town, on every street and every village. I will not allow him to sit in Washington, D.C. and send out campaign notices."

He'll first need to get past Conservative Party nominee Jay Townsend in the Sept. 14 Republican primary.

NY Sen: Pataki Won't Challenge Gillibrand

Former New York Gov. George Pataki confirmed today that he will not run for the seat of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is running to keep the seat in Democratic hands after being appointed more than a year ago to the vacant seat.

"When you look at what is happening in Washington, it's just a disaster for our future," Pataki said Tuesday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

However, instead of running, Pataki said "that he would create a new national organization aimed at building support to repeal the recently enacted health-care overhaul."

We reported here back in February that few Republicans expected Pataki to run, despite the fact that he was the only Republican able to hold a lead against Gillibrand in any poll. Well, except for Rudy Giuliani, who made it known last year that he wouldn't be running either.

Pataki led Gillibrand by 5 points in a Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday, and led Gillibrand by 2.8 points in the RCP Average.

Pataki's official exit from contention leaves a gaping hole in what many Republicans feel -- in the wake of Sen. Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts -- could be a potential pick-up opportunity.

2010 Primaries: Has Gillibrand Met Her Match?

Here's a brief update on some 2010 primary races around the country:

NY Senate -- Bush Adviser May Run: Dan Senor, a former Defense Department adviser in the Bush 43 administration, "is expected to decide in the next month whether to run" against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) after state and national party leaders, including Rudy Giuliani and NRSC Chair John Cornyn, encouraged him to launch a bid, the New York Times reports. Republicans have been searching for a top tier recruit to challenge Gillibrand in the November special election -- especially following the GOP's success in the January special election in Massachusetts -- though there are a couple of Republicans who have already announced bids, so Senor would face a primary.

DE-At Large -- Wealthy Candidate Wanted: Delaware Republicans got a shot of good news earlier this week when a multimillionaire businesswoman named Michele Rollins announced she was considering running for Congress. The state GOP had struggled to find a candidate who could run on equal ground with former Lt. Gov. John Carney, giving Democrats perhaps their best opportunity to pick up a House seat in the 2010 midterms. Rollins' personal wealth makes her an attractive candidate for the national party, who would prefer to use its funds on races in Democrat-held districts. Rep. Mike Castle's (R-Del.) decision to run for Senate greatly increased the party's chances at picking up a Senate seat, but made his House seat one of the most vulnerable in the country.

AR Senate - Lincoln and Reconciliation: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), in for a challenging primary race against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, is again trying to make clear that she is against using reconciliation in an effort to get health care reform through Congress and to the president's desk. That's one issue the senator and her primary opponent disagree on, FOX News reported. "I get hit from the left because I am a moderate. I get hit from the right because I'm not far right and, you know, when you're in that crosshair it's a challenging time," Lincoln said, signaling a tough year ahead for her.

UT Senate -- Bennett Getting Clubbed: The Club for Growth has begun robocalling in Utah against Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, who is facing multiple primary challengers. The call asks voters to "vote for a change" in two weeks at the precinct caucuses, where delegates will be chosen and later tasked with selecting the party's Senate nominee.

Gillibrand Sighs With Relief As Paterson Exits

Of all the Democrats who sighed with relief at the news that New York Gov. David Paterson won't run for a full term in office this year, perhaps none was louder than that of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

While his exit clears the Democratic primary field for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo -- saving him both money for the general election and a potentially bloody, intraparty battle -- Gillibrand is assured she won't be running her first Senate campaign with a politically anemic governor at the top of the ticket.

Paterson was scheduled to announce his decision to leave the race this afternoon -- less than one week after formally announcing he was running.

Republicans believe he was dead weight for Gillibrand and that Democrats in Washington knew it. Speaking with RealClearPolitics earlier this week, one New York Republican Party official said he believed the White House wanted Paterson out of the race more for Gillibrand's advantage than Cuomo's.

The White House reportedly told Paterson in September that it would prefer he not seek election to a full term this year. Paterson refused to do so until now, as revelations surfaced this week about his alleged intervention in a domestic abuse case involving one of his top aides.

Cuomo is widely seen as a much more attractive candidate to lead the Democratic ticket in November, and polling against Republican Rick Lazio proved he had a far better shot at winning the governor's race than Paterson. Cuomo hasn't officially entered the race, but it is believed he will -- especially after hiring Phil Singer, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, earlier this month.

Cuomo would enter the race with sky-high approval ratings that Democrats hope will help trickle votes down the ballot, especially to Gillibrand.

Appointed just more than a year ago to fill Clinton's Senate seat, the former congresswoman remains unknown to a third of the state's voters. A Siena Research Institute poll released this week found that just 30 percent would vote to elect her, while 40 percent would vote for someone else and another 30 percent were undecided.

With Paterson officially out of the running for governor, Gillibrand's biggest impediment right now to a November special election victory is a potential primary challenge from former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who met earlier this week with the state party chairman.

As for November, although two Republicans are currently running, the state GOP is continuing to discuss the race with other potential -- and possibly more viable -- challengers.

New York Republicans Await Gillibrand Challenger

For all the talk of a strong recruiting class and the possible Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate this year, one state sticks out as a potential lost opportunity -- New York.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, appointed just more than a year ago from her moderate House district upstate, is still unknown to a large portion of the electorate while facing low favorable and approval ratings among the rest. Yet no top-tier Republican candidate has stepped forward to challenge her.

Even in New York, where the party has long been down and out, Republicans appear in a position to pick up a seat, especially in the wake of a special Senate election win in Massachusetts. However, so far Gillibrand has had far more to worry about in her own party, as several Democratic House members considered challenging her, and former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr. is currently weighing a bid.

Rudy Giuliani and Republican Rep. Peter King declined to run, leaving former Gov. George Pataki as seemingly the party's best hope. Polls show Pataki continuing to lead Gillibrand in hypothetical general election matchups, though few expect him to run.

"He hasn't closed the door," said one national party official. "But he's a long-shot."

Republicans in the state say that evidence of a shifting electorate came later to New York than the rest of the country, causing candidates to not begin planning a race until late last year and even into this year. But several people are now considering bids.

Continue reading "New York Republicans Await Gillibrand Challenger" »

Mass. Win Ripples Through Blue State Races

I wrote today about the repercussions of Republican Scott Brown's Senate seat win yesterday in Massachusetts. Here is an excerpt:

Just two people -- John F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy -- had been elected in the last 58 years to the Massachusetts Senate seat Republican Scott Brown won yesterday. The seat's legacy and Democrats' dominance in the state were no match, however, for the lethal mix of Brown's message and a poorly run campaign by Democrat Martha Coakley, as well as a shifting public mood.

The upset, which political analyst Stuart Rothenberg called the biggest of his adult life, follows Republican wins in the New Jersey and Virginia governor's races last year -- all three states voted convincingly for Barack Obama in 2008. The Massachusetts loss threatens to derail an already-stalled agenda, especially health care reform, which the House and Senate have struggled to negotiate and national polling shows is unpopular.

It also could spell trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections in November, even in states with similar political leanings as Massachusetts -- states such as New York and California, where Democratic senators are fighting to keep their seats.

Read the rest here.

NY Sen, Gov Poll: Cuomo +42

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D), still not in the gubernatorial race, leads potential foe Rick Lazio (R) by 42 points -- which is actually a 4-point margin decrease since the last survey in December, according to a new Siena poll (Jan. 10-14, 806 RV, MoE +/- 3.5%).

Lazio and Erie County Executive Chris Collins (R) fare far better against Gov. David Paterson (D) and Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy (D). Paterson is the only Dem not to lead either Republican.

In the Democratic primary, Cuomo leads with 59%, followed by Paterson (21%) and Levy (6%).

Cuomo 66 - Lazio 24
Paterson 42 - Lazio 42
Levy 40 - Lazio 33

Cuomo 65 - Collins 23
Paterson 40 - Collins 40
Levy 42 - Collins 26

Meanwhile, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), facing a possible challenge from former congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D), now has an upside-down favorable rating and trails former governor George Pataki (R) by double digits. In a primary matchup, Gillibrand leads Ford 41%-17%.

A former congresswoman, Gillibrand was appointed a year ago to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, yet she still remains unknown to more than a third of the state. Asked if they would vote to elect her or for someone else, 29% of voters said they'd choose her and 45% said someone else.

Gillibrand 38 - Pataki 51
Ford 32 - Pataki 54
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Giuliani Won't Run For Senate

Rudy Giuliani is expected to announce today that he will not run for the Senate next year, media outlets report, ending Republican hopes for the party's strongest potential challenger to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

From the New York Post:

Giuliani's decision likely marks the end of his own electoral career.

He's expected to support Republican Rick Lazio for governor.

But Giuliani plans to continue to be a force within the party, helping to expand its base as well as speaking out on issues important to him.

New York polls have regularly found Giuliani leading Gillibrand, who was appointed to the seat a year ago after Hillary Clinton was named U.S. Secretary of State.

NY Poll: Paterson Still Struggling

Even after a recent ad buy aimed at improving his numbers, New York Gov. David Paterson (D) looks like a sure loser in either the primary or general election next year, a new Siena poll (11/8-12, 800 RVs, MoE +/- 3.5%) finds.

The TV ads may have bought the governor a slight improvement in his fav/unfav rating, but that's about it. His job approval rating is still an abysmal 21 percent, compared to 79 percent who disapprove. Only 17 percent say they'd vote to elect him in 2010, while 69 percent prefer someone else. Here are how the primary and general election matchups pan out:

Gubernatorial Primary Election Matchup
Cuomo 75 (+5 vs last poll, 10/14-18)
Paterson 16 (-4)

Gubernatorial General Election Matchups
Giuliani 56 (unch)
Paterson 33 (unch)

Lazio 42 (+5)
Paterson 39 (unch)

Cuomo 53 (+3)
Giuliani 41 (-2)

Cuomo 67 (+1)
Lazio 22 (+1)

"While it's true that the Governor's new commercials had only been airing for less than a week while Siena was polling, it seems clear that he's going to have to spend a lot of campaign funds very early to even have a chance of improving the measurements by which voters judge David Paterson," Siena's Steven Greenberg said.

Fifty-two percent of voters prefer that Andrew Cuomo run for governor instead of another term as attorney general. Just as many say he has time to wait, while 33 percent want him to declare now.

Favorable Ratings
Paterson 27 / 61
Lazio 29 / 22
Cuomo 67 / 20
Giuliani 62 / 34

After the jump, a look at Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's improving re-election prospects.

Continue reading "NY Poll: Paterson Still Struggling" »

Siena Poll: Paterson Numbers At Record Lows

The likelihood of Gov. David Paterson's (D) name appearing on a ballot next year appears to be increasingly unlikely as a new Siena poll (624 RVs, 10/14-18, MoE +/- 3.9%) finds his numbers show no signs of improvement. While Andrew Cuomo remains a surer bet for Democrats to hold the office in 2010, Rudy Giuliani has narrowed the gap against the attorney general in a hypothetical matchup.

Gubernatorial Primary Election Matchup
Cuomo 70 (+4 from last poll, 9/13-17)
Paterson 20 (unch)

Gubernatorial General Election Matchups
Giuliani 56 (+4)
Paterson 33 (-2)

Cuomo 50 (-2)
Giuliani 43 (+4)

Paterson 39 (unch)
Lazio 37 (+2)

Cuomo 66 (+2)
Lazio 21 (+3)

Paterson's job approval rating is just 19 percent, with 79 percent disapproving. An all-time high of 72 percent of voters say they'd prefer someone else in 2010. Meanwhile 49 percent of voters say they want Cuomo to run for governor, while 36 percent want him to seek re-election. "A potential Democratic primary is now less than a year away, and while a year is a political lifetime, the hill that the Governor must climb is incredibly steep," Siena's Steven Greenberg said.

Favorable Ratings
Paterson 27 / 61
Lazio 23 / 27
Cuomo 67 / 20
Giuliani 60 / 35

Now about one-third of voters say they want Giuliani to run for governor, while 21 percent want him to run for Senate, and 43 percent don't want him to run for either. After the jump, Siena's polling on the Senate race.

Continue reading "Siena Poll: Paterson Numbers At Record Lows" »

NY Poll: Cuomo +13 vs. Giuliani

New York Gov. David Paterson has reportedly rebuffed the White House in its attempts to nudge him from the 2010 gubernatorial race, but a new survey from Siena College finds that an overwhelming majority of voters feel he isn't getting the job done and doesn't possess the leadership skills necessary to be governor (Sept. 13-17, 792 RV, MoE +/- 3.5%).

Paterson has a 29% favorable rating and just 18% say he's doing a good or excellent job as governor -- 80% say he's doing fair or poorly, while 59% have an unfavorable opinion of him. Matching the months of April and May, 71% again say they would prefer someone else if Paterson runs in 2010.

"Even Democrats, by a significant margin, believe the Governor is well intentioned, ineffective, bad on fiscal issues and lacking leadership," said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg This may explain why Paterson is again near record low favorability and job performance ratings."

Nearly half of voters want Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to run for governor next year, rather than run for re-election. If he does, he currently holds significant leads over Paterson in the Dem primary, and Rudy Giuliani and former Rep. Rick Lazio in the general election.

Dem Primary
Cuomo 66 (+1 vs. last poll, Aug. 24)
Paterson 20 (-3)
Und 14 (+2)

General Election Matchups
Cuomo 52 (-1)
Giuliani 39 (-1)
Und (+2)

Cuomo 64 (-2)
Lazio 18 (+2)
Und 18 (nc)

Paterson 39 (+1)
Lazio 35 (-2)
Und 26 (+1)

Giuliani 52 (-4)
Paterson 35 (+2)
Und 13 (+2)

In the Senate race, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand still hasn't registered with the general public, as just 53% know enough about her to form an opinion -- 29% favorable, 24% unfavorable. That could be having an effect on her horse race numbers, as Giuliani currently leads her in a hypothetical matchup, 46%-38%.

Pataki: Obama Wrong To Pressure Paterson

George Pataki said today that the White House pressuring Gov. David Paterson to not to run for re-election further undermines his ability to right New York's economy in challenging times, and he suggested President Obama's time was better served focusing on policy and not politics.

"I just think it's wrong," Pataki said when asked about reports that Obama aides are urging Paterson not to run for a full term in 2010. "New York state is facing very difficult times. We're going to have an extraordinarily difficult challenge in dealing with the state's financial situation. ... To weaken and undermine the governor beyond the weakness that already exists, at a time when he will be the governor for the next 15 months, to me just doesn't serve the interests of the state, doesn't serve the interests of our country."

Pataki, who served as New York's governor for 12 years, said on a conference call hosted by the RNC to rebut Obama's visit to the Albany area that any officeholder or potential candidate's decision to run is a personal one, and should be made not just based on the likelihood of winning, but because a person has the "ideas" and "vision" to lead.

"That's what this decision should be made on, not on poll numbers," said Pataki, who is a potential U.S. Senate candidate.

Asked if he was, indeed, considering a bid, Pataki said he's been flattered by people urging him to run for office again, but would not say what if any office he might seek. He also indicated a decision won't come soon.

Continue reading "Pataki: Obama Wrong To Pressure Paterson" »

NY Poll: Cuomo Popularity Sky High

A new Siena College poll finds 68% of New York voters would prefer someone else if Gov. David Paterson (D) decides to run for governor next year. This number has moved little since March, as his 32% favorability rating.

Matched up in a Democratic primary with Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo, Paterson trails by 42 points -- no change from last month. For the GOP primary, Rudy Giuliani continues to dominate the field against former Rep. Rick Lazio and Erie County Executive Chris Collins.

Cuomo leads Giuliani by 13 points -- an 8-point margin increase from last month when Cuomo led 49%-44%. Cuomo's favorability rating hit the 70% mark for the second time in three months.

Dem Primary
Paterson 23 - Cuomo 65 - Und 12

GOP Primary
Giuliani 73 - Lazio 6 - Collins 8

General Election
Paterson 33 - Giuliani 59 - Und 11
Paterson 38 - Lazio 37 - Und 25
Cuomo 53 - Giuliani 40 - Und 7
Cuomo 66 - Lazio 16 - Und 18

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), appointed to Hillary Clinton's former seat, received mixed numbers in the poll, as more than half of voters still don't know much about her. Just 24% said they would definitely vote to elect her, while 35% said they would prefer someone else and 41% were unsure. In general election matchups, Gillibrand leads Rep. Peter King (R) 46%-24% and trails former governor George Pataki (R) 39%-42%.

The survey also asked registered voters to compare the New York state politicians of today versus those of 40 to 50 years ago. And, well, you can see for yourself how today's politicians did.

8-24-09_NYS Politicians Poll.jpg

With Maloney Out, Supporters Line Up for Gillibrand

Since Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) announced Friday that she would not challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in the Democratic primary next year, supporters have again begun to line up behind the appointed senator. Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel and Anthony Weiner, both from New York City, announced their support for Gillibrand this week, as did the United Steelworkers District 4.

It had been two months since a Democrat from the state delegation had endorsed Gillibrand. She now has the public backing of 13 New York Democrats in the House -- half the total number.

"I am proud to support Kirsten Gillibrand for the United States Senate," Weiner said today in a released statement. "In just over six months on the job, Kirsten has proven herself to be a leader that can bridge upstate and downstate and serve as a strong voice for the middle class and those struggling to make it."

Engel gave a similar statement Tuesday, saying, "Over the past seven months, Kirsten has brought a new, innovative approach to the new problems that New York families are facing in these tough economic times."

The White House had been pressuring intraparty challengers to exit the race and succeeded with the exits of Reps. Steve Israel and Carolyn McCarthy more than two months ago. But Maloney kept her options open until Friday, when she announced she would instead run for re-election to her district in Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (N.J.) publicly thanked Maloney on Friday.

"Congresswoman Maloney is a terrific member of Congress, and her constituents ought to be proud that she will continue to be their voice in Washington," he said. "She came to the right decision on this and it means New Yorkers will continue to have a powerhouse delegation in Congress. In just a short time, Senator Gillibrand has already proven she fits the mold of strong New York leaders, working day and night to represent New Yorkers in Washington."

With all her major Democratic challengers now out, Gillibrand appears to have a clear shot at the 2010 special election, and more than likely the regularly scheduled 2012 election.

N.Y.C. Dems Support Gillibrand

Two more New York City Democrats have announced their support for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), further evidence of a swarming of support for the senator whose upstate roots and politics had turned off some of the more liberal members of Congress.

Reps. Ed Towns and Nydia Velazquez, both of Brooklyn, endorsed Gillibrand today, giving her 11 total endorsements from members of New York's House delegation and five from N.Y.C. In the past month, Gillibrand has also touted the endorsements of a number of women's groups, labor unions and prominent New Yorkers.

"I am confident in her commitment and ability to deliver on behalf of New Yorkers and look forward to working with her closely for many years to come," Towns said in a statement released by the campaign.

"As our state faces a time of great opportunity and extraordinary challenges, Kirsten Gillibrand has proven herself as an advocate for working families," said Velazquez, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D) of Queens and the Rev. Al Sharpton had been the latest to endorse Gillibrand, announcing their support on Friday. The senator also received other good news that day: Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D) announced she would not challenge Gillibrand in the primary -- the second House Dem to bow out of the race, following Rep. Steve Israel.

Gillibrand Racking Up Endorsements

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has notched a few more endorsements on her belt in the last few days. Running for the 2010 special election, every endorsement counts as the new senator -- appointed in January to fill the vacant seat left by Hillary Clinton -- could face intraparty challenges from some of her former House colleagues.

The Gillibrand campaign announced today that State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith is endorsing her candidacy.

"Throughout her career, Kirsten Gillibrand has exhibited the kind of leadership that has yielded results for the people of New York," Smith said in a press release. "Her agenda to advance economic development opportunities and revitalize our communities is the kind of vision we need in Washington fighting for us."

Last week, Gillibrand won an endorsement from NARAL Pro-Choice New York, a leading abortion rights group that has previously backed the House campaigns of Gillibrand's potential Dem challengers -- Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Carolyn McCarthy.

Just days after being appointed by Gov. David Paterson in January, Emily's LIST made a suprisingly fast endorsement of Gillibrand's special election bid.

Each endorsement Gillibrand touts is one less that a potential rival could use as ammunition against her in a primary, and the backing of two women's groups and a leading state Democrat -- not to mention the public support of New York's senior Senator Charles Schumer -- could be enough to keep others out of the race.

One already has dropped out. After a 15-minute phone conversation with President Obama on Friday, Rep. Steve Israel announced he would no longer run. Maloney and McCarthy, though, have yet to follow suit.

N.Y.: The State to Watch in Primary Season

With rumblings today that Rep. Steve Israel may jump into the Democratic primary mix for Senate, New York will be the state to watch next year for intraparty fireworks.

Israel joins fellow Reps. Carolyn McCarthy and Carolyn Maloney as a potential challenger to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's vacant seat. Gillibrand's politics in her first two years in office fit her upstate congressional district well (she won re-election in 2008 by 24 points), however she'll likely have trouble if one of the three Dems from NYC decides to run.

A Marist poll released last week found Gillibrand leading Maloney by just 5 points in a hypothetical primary contest. Add to the drama the Will he/Won't he aspect of Sen. Charles Schumer's potential to steer votes toward Gillibrand, whom the New York Times reported last week Schumer has taken under his wing.

Should any of the three run for Senate, their decision not to run for re-election would also set off a rush of Dems to fill their shoes.

Then, of course, there is the gubernatorial showdown, in which Gov. David Paterson (D) -- also appointed to his post -- is getting pulverized in the polls by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D), not to mention potential GOP opponents.

It seems unlikely anyone would run in such harsh conditions. But if Paterson does, the race will be interesting to watch at the very least.

NY Gov, Sen Poll: Paterson's In Deep Trouble

NY Gov: If the election were today, New York Gov. David Paterson would get crushed in a Democratic primary with Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo, according to a Quinnipiac poll released today (April 1-5, 1528 RV, MoE +/- 2.5%).

Cuomo's lead over Paterson has grown from 32 points in February to 43 points in the latest survey. Paterson's approval rating has tanked, dropping to a dismal 28% -- Cuomo's has now hit 75%. In potential general election matchups, Rudy Giuliani (R) defeats Paterson by 21 points (they were tied in February), while Cuomo beats Giuliani by 17 points.

Dem Primary
Cuomo 61 (+6 vs. last poll, Feb. 17)
Paterson 18 (-5)
Und 17 (-3)

General Election
Giuliani 53 (+10 vs. last poll, Feb. 17)
Paterson 32 (-11)
Und 9 (-1)

Cuomo 53 (+2 vs. last poll, Feb. 17)
Giuliani 36 (-1)
Und 9 (nc)

NY Sen: In a potential 2010 Senate primary, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D) continues to lead appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), though her 10-point lead in February has shrunk to just 4 points. In a potential general election matchup with Rep. Peter King (R), Gillibrand's lead slips to 12 points.

After being in the Senate for just a few months, almost two-thirds of voters still haven't heard enough about Gillibrand to form an opinion of her. The same goes for King and McCarthy. A side note: Gillibrand announced this morning that her Senate campaign raised a healthy $2.3 million in the first quarter.

Dem Primary
McCarthy 33 (-1 vs. last poll, Feb. 17)
Gillibrand 29 (+5)
Und 33 (-6)

General Election
Gillibrand 40 (-2 vs. last poll Feb. 17)
King 28 (+2)
Und 28 (nc)

EMILY's List Endorses Gillibrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has won the endorsement of EMILY's List in her 2010 special election bid. The endorsement wouldn't be terribly surprising -- since the group works to elect pro-choice women candidates -- however, Gillibrand has received criticism for some of her non-progressive stances.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) of Long Island criticized Gov. David Paterson's selection of Gillibrand before he even officially announced the pick. McCarthy said she would challenge Gillibrand in the Democratic primary due to Gillibrand's stance on gun control issues, or find someone who would. EMILY's List apparently decided not to wait for a potential Gillibrand challenger to step up.

"In Congress, Gillibrand has fought for progressive policies such as equal pay and expanded health care for children," EMILY's List president Ellen R. Malcolm stated in a press release. "She has pioneered government accountability and transparency by becoming the first member of Congress to post her schedule online for all to see, and has championed economic development in a region hard-hit by the economic downturn. We look forward to her continued leadership for the people of New York and women across the country."

Senate Seat Fills, House Seat Opens

As one seat fills, another opens. New York Gov. David Paterson's ensuing appointment of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's former Senate seat leaves open a Republican-leaning congressional district.

Gillibrand first won election to Congress in 2006, when incumbent Republican John Sweeney faced extremely bad press (photos of him at a Union College fraternity party, a report that his wife made a domestic violence call to police, connections to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff) in a bad year for Republicans. Although Gillibrand was outspent, she knocked off Sweeney by 6 points.

She followed that up with a 23-point win in 2008, despite being outspent once again. However, the open seat levels the playing field for Republicans in a district that George W. Bush won by 7 and 8 points in 2000 and 2004, respectively.

Democrats may face a tough challenge holding on to the Senate seat as well. The new senator will now need to begin fundraising for the next two elections, a 2010 special election and the seat's regularly scheduled 2012 election. Clinton spent a total of $75 million on her Senate elections in 2000 and 2006.