It's not even May but already Republican State Senate candidate Diane DiDonato Roth is attacking Republican State Senate candidate Bob Cohen for attacking Democrat State Senate candidate George Latimer over his personal relationship with New Rochelle City Judge Susan Kettner while Republican State Senate candidate Bob Cohen is ignoring Republican State Senate candidate Diane DiDonato Roth attacking him while renewing his attacks on Democrat State Senate candidate George Latimer for failing to explain $17,000 in credit card receipts paid by Latimer's Campaign Committee as Democrat State Senate candidate George Latimer says little and New Rochelle City Judge Susan Kettner says less.
This is going to be interesting.
Last week, Cohen went after Latimer over unitemized credit card bills paid with campaign cash, dropping the now infamous "dinner for two" line into the press release, widely seen as a jab at the married Latimer over his close personal relationship with Kettner. Cohen never explicitly raised the issue but now Diane DiDonato Roth, his Republican challenger, is making an explicit statement and demanding that Cohen retract what she has labeled a "smear" against Latimer.
In a press release issued yesterday, DiDonato Roth condemned Cohen for making a specific, direct allegation of marital infidelity by Latimer despite Cohen not having made such an allegation. In the process, DiDonato Roth did manage to repeated the words "Latimer Infidelity" twice in her press release while criticizing Cohen for doing so.
In an interview the next day, DiDonato Roth campaign spokesperson Johnny Russo told Talk of the Sound that the campaign was unaware of the Latimer-Kettner relationship and only learned of it by reading Talk of the Sound.
Russo would not explain what DiDonato Roth meant by saying that Cohen was "playing fast and loose with the facts". He was asked whether she meant that it was not true that Latimer was unfaithful to his wife or that it is true but is not a legitimate campaign issue or that true or not it was not a legitimate campaign issue.
Latimer has previously told Talk of the Sound he will respond only to specific criticism by Cohen.
"If he has a specific attack to make, I'll respond. But so far, he has made the effort to attack me continually, and I will not indulge his campaign daily in that direction," said Latimer.
Cohen campaign spokesperson Mr. Bill O'Reilly picked on the same phrase and tossed it Latimer's way.
"Albany politicians have been playing fast and loose with the rules for too long and the result is a government no one trusts anymore," said O'Reilly. "All we are asking -- demanding -- is that Mr. Latimer comply with the law. Is that too much to ask?"
Asked whether the $17,000 in unspecified credit card payments was a legitimate issue, Russo of the DiDonato Roth campaign agreed it was and that the campaign would raise that issue in a race against Latimer. He declined to say whether the Latimer-Kettner relationship was a legitimate issue if Latimer was using campaign donations to pay for their dinners.
For their part, Cohen's camp issued a statement today again calling on Latimer to account for the $17,000 in expenses expanding on the "dinner for two" line by calling on Latimer to say who he dined with using campaign cash, asking "was it with lobbyists?, union bosses?, other elected officials?"
DiDonato Roth labeled Cohen “lower than low” for leveling "a smear" against Latimer and called on Cohen to apologize. She also accused Talk of the Sound of reprinting the "smear".
A smear is generally understood to be a false statement implying that DiDonato Roth knows for certain that Latimer is not being unfaithful while her campaign admitted they were not even aware until the Talk of the Sound story of the close personal relationship between Latimer and Kettner, a relationship that is widely known in New Rochelle.
Some New Rochelle political observers tell Talk of the Sound, going after Latimer may be a bit of Republican payback after Mayor Noam Bramson, a Democrat, attacked Republican Mayoral candidate Richard St. Paul last year over a family court case involving St. Paul and the mother of his child in New Jersey. St. Paul, who has never been married, was found to owe child-support in the case and was in the process of an appeal. Bramson's opposition research staff provided the information to the Journal News which repeatedly questions St. Paul about the court case and published information about the case.
Bramson was also caught using anonymous mailers to spread false statements about St. Paul during the campaign. The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee later determined that Bramson committed an unfair campaign practice.