Schumer, Gillibrand win straw poll of rural Democrats in state

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   The straw poll results for U.S. Senate at the Democratic Rural Conference convention are in, and there aren’t any surprises.

   Incumbent U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer received 352 votes; Krone got six votes. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand received 359 votes while Jonathan Tasini received five and Dr. Scott Noren, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon from Ithaca, got 11 votes.

   The nominations for lieutenant governor are underway. Bill Samuels received cheers from the crowd when he said Senate Democrats made a mistake in taking Sen. Pedro Espada, D-Bronx, and now-former Sen. Hiram Monserrate, D-Queens, back into the Democratic conference last year. Espada and Monserrate partnered with Republicans last year in a coup to take over Senate leadership in the chamber, which has 32 Democrats and 30 Republicans. They ultimately returned to the Democratic fold and helped their party regain control of the chamber, and Espada was named majority leader.

    Monserrate was removed from the Senate by his colleagues this year based on a misdemeanor conviction for assaulting his girlfriend. Espada is under investigation by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who has accused him of “siphoning” $14 million out of a not-for-profit health-care corporation he founded in 1978. Federal authorities raided his company’s offices in the Bronx last month.

   Samuels said he would be a “salesman” for the state.

   Christopher St. Lawrence, supervisor of Ramapo, Rockland County, said he would stand up for farmers and wants to make sure the state does the right thing about the Marcellus Shale, meaning tap into its economic potential while protecting the environment. He wants to bring jobs to New York and control property taxes, he said.

   “We use our homeowners as ATMs,” he said.

   Next up are the nominations for attorney general, with five Democrats vying for votes in the poll.

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