Cuomo attack ads target Stefanik, 6 other Republicans

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched a series of attack ads against seven New York Republican members of Congresss, claiming they “aid and abet” the National Rifle Association, in the wake of a massacre of Florida schoolchildren.

Those being targeted by Cuomo are Reps. Elise Stefanik of Willsboro, Chris Collins of Clarence, John Faso of Kinderhook, Claudia Tenney of New Hartford, Lee Zeldin of Long Island, Tom Reed of Steuben County and John Katko of Syracuse.

Cuomo, in a statement released by the state Democratic Committee, threatened that the seven “will be held accountable for placing domestic-violence victims and our children in harm’s way.”

Cuomo “scared”

Offering the sharpest response to the governor’s jab was Collins, who branded his critic “King Cuomo.”

“He’s scared that we’re lowering your taxes, protecting our Second Amendment rights and helping businesses create hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” Collins said in a statement released to his supporters.

A Faso aide also ripped the attack ads from Cuomo, contending they distort the congressman’s record of advocating for legislation designed to enhance school safety.

Cuomo’s criticisms, said Joe Gierut, a Faso spokesman, amount to “false attacks and smears on responsible gun owners.”

Stefanik bill

A spokesman for Stefanik’s re-election campaign, Lenny Alcivar, called the congresswoman “a strong supporter of both the Second Amendment and of common-sense, bipartisan reforms to protect our children and prevent gun violence in schools.”

Alcivar noted that Stefanik is expected to vote this week in support of legislation she co-authored — STOP School Violence Act of 2018 — that is aimed at deterring school violence before it happens.

The state Democrats said in a statement they are spending “six figures” on their messaging aimed at the seven Republicans. They spared two downstate GOP House members: Rep. Dan Donovan of Staten Island and Peter King of Long Island.

National model

Cuomo, in recent weeks, has participated in a string of television interviews to argue that his 2013 gun-control measure, the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, should be a national model at a time when the nation has experienced several mass shootings.

His media blitz coincides with the release of polling results showing that public support for restrictive gun laws jumped after the Florida massacre took 17 lives.

Cuomo said in an email to his supporters that “the NRA doesn’t like me” and that he views its disdain for him “as a badge of honor.”

Student walkouts

Students in several North Country schools are planning walkouts on Wednesday in solidarity with the anti-gun-violence efforts of students in Parkland, Florida. Young people from schools in Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Plattsburgh and Beekmantown are among those who have actions planned.

(Editor’s note: Joe Mahoney is the state reporter for CNHI, parent company of the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh. Four daily newspapers in the North Country — the Enterprise, Press-Republican, Watertown Daily Times and Post-Star of Glens Falls — are sharing content to better cover New York’s 21st Congressional District.)