The battle for the 37th Senate District, Cohen v. Latimer, has all the makings of a good old-fashioned slugfest. It's only April but already the pair of political heavyweights are standing toe-to-toe trading punches. So far, it has been Cohen coming out of his corner throwing haymakers with New Rochelle Judge Susan Kettner now becoming an issue in the race.
In a press release last week, Bob Cohen, the Republican candidate to replace Suzi Oppenheimer, raised questions about $17,000 in unitemized credit card receipts on Latimer's finance disclosure reports.
The Cohen campaign specifically called on Mr. Latimer to make public the names of who he dined with on those various occasions, stating "many of which were clearly dinners for two", a not-too-subtle jab at Latimer for his close personal relationship with New Rochelle Judge Susan Kettner. Latimer is married with a wife and a child living in Rye.
Latimer declined to respond to Cohen's insinuations.
"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."
In state filing records provided by the Cohen campaign, Assemblyman George Latimer (D-WFP) lists five separate payments to a Chase credit card totaling nearly $17,000 over a six month period in his January 2012 filing.
Based on a recent court decision (Fox et al v. Branca), credit card filings must be fully itemized to meet the requirements of Article 14 of State Election Law, Cohen's campaign said.
"One of the biggest problems plaguing Albany politicians is their lack of transparency," Cohen campaign spokesman Bill O'Reilly said. "The people of Westchester have a legal and ethical right to know exactly where campaign dollars are being spent. Mr. Latimer has failed to follow both the letter and spirit of the state's campaign finance laws and he should amend his filings immediately to avoid any further wrongdoing."
Latimer punched back.
"There are legitimate public policy issues to discuss and that's what I intend to discuss as an Assemblyman and as a Senate candidate," Latimer told Talk of the Sound. "If he wants to discuss transparency, he can begin by telling us all who funded the attack robo-calls that have gone against me, anonymously and uncredited, since January."
There have been reports of voters throughout the 37th Senate district getting automated phone calls critical of Latimer over the past several months.
Stay tuned for what is sure to be a knock-down, drag-out, fight to the finish in a district that is almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.