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Capitol Confidential


The Capitol Confidential podcast is a weekly show from the Times Union that focuses on the policy, personalities and politics of New York's state government.

The Capitol Confidential podcast is a weekly show from the Times Union that focuses on the policy, personalities and politics of New York's state government.


United States


The Capitol Confidential podcast is a weekly show from the Times Union that focuses on the policy, personalities and politics of New York's state government.






Stefanik's Red Wall

North Country Representative Elise Stefanik has been a steadily rising star in the Republican party since she joined Congress in 2014. Her stock rose sharply during the Trump presidency, when she aligned herself with the administration and actively supported its policies. She won a fourth term representing New York's 21st district handily this past November, with widespread support from local leaders and lawmakers. Yet more than a week after a violent siege at the U.S. Capitol and the...


A Tale of Two Violent Capitol protests

As a violent mob of President Trump's supporters broke into the United States Capitol Wednesday afternoon, a smaller protest also turned violent outside the New York State Capitol. Times Union Managing Editor Brendan Lyons, Washington correspondent Emilie Munson and State reporter Ed McKinley discuss the events of this week, New York lawmakers' reactions, and what it all means for government at both the federal and state levels. *This podcast was recorded on Thursday, a day after the...


New York's first dose

The first FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines have arrived in New York this week, and the state has started vaccinating front-line healthcare workers. Times Union Capitol Bureau reporter Amanda Fries leads a discussion of the state's plan for the initial doses with reporter Ed McKinley and Washington correspondent Emilie Munson. Also on this episode, the latest on sexual harassment allegations leveled against Governor Andrew Cuomo this week, and an interview with State Senate-elect Michelle...


The Supermajority

This week New York State Senate Democrats declared that they'd gained a history-making "supermajority," after the absentee ballot count in several key races swung the results in their favor. Times Union Capitol Bureau reporters Amanda Fries and Chris Bragg join Managing Editor Brendan Lyons to talk about the development, and what it means for legislative priorities going into the year. Will they address progressive agenda items like recreational marijuana? And will they exercise their...


Crimson surge or red mirage?

As the counting of absentee ballots in New York continues, the ultimate power balance in the state Senate and Assembly remains somewhat murky. A number of close races in both chambers that initially appeared in favor of Republican candidates after Election Day seem to be narrowing even further as the numbers come in, and the final outcomes are still not definitive. The process may take weeks yet, and will determine whether this historically blue state saw a legitimate surge in support for...


Election 2020: GOP Celebrates, Dems Wait

State Senate Democrats were confident going into the 2020 election that they'd come out with a supermajority. But as the returns came in this week, it became clear that it wasn't as likely as they'd hoped. Instead, it was the GOP leaders who celebrated a potential increase in their ranks. But as Times Union Capitol Bureau reporters Amanda Fries, Chris Bragg and Edward McKinley observe in this episode of Capitol Confidential, the final outcome of the balance of power in New York is still...


6 Questions About Election Night

What are the scenarios that could play out on Election Night? Will it be decided before the sun rises, or will there be protracted legal battles that will delay the final result for weeks? Capitol Bureau reporter Ed McKinley and Washington correspondent Emilie Munson answer these questions and more in this special edition of Capitol Confidential.


Repealing 50-a and making police records public in New York

Times Union editor Casey Seiler and state editor Brendan Lyons discuss the history of the controversial New York law 50-a, which protects police records, and the likelihood of a historic repeal this week.


COVID-19: New York in Crisis - Rep. Paul Tonko and a frontline nurse

As New York state battles the coronavirus pandemic, Washington correspondent Emilie Munson checks in with Capital Region Rep. Paul Tonko on the $2 trillion stimulus package Congress passed. Meanwhile, state editor Brendan Lyons connects with a nurse working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight at a hospital in Long Island.


Coronavirus pandemic: Cuomo’s health commissioner on state's battle

New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker talks to the Times Union's Brendan Lyons about the coronavirus, how it spreads, and what New Yorkers should be doing to slow it.


Sen. Stewart-Cousins in Conversation at Times Union's Hearst Media Center

What's it like to be the first woman in the room during state budget negotiations after decades of all-male closed-door talks? A special edition of the Times Union's CapCon political podcast features a discussion with state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins that addresses that very question.


Medicaid maladies in New York

Two recent reports are sounding the alarm about the state's Medicaid spending this year, which could result in future cuts to health care or education. Mark Ustin, a health care lobbyist and veteran of the Pataki administration, joined the podcast to explain what this means for New Yorkers who use and pay for Medicaid. The conversation touched on recent efforts to curb Medicaid spending in New York, creative budgeting practices and what might be gleaned from the state's mid-year financial...


New York's bet on casino gambling

New York's gambling landscape is far from settled, with the next big shakeup likely to be the introduction of casinos into the New York City area. One potential recipient of a casino license is the Empire City Casino in Yonkers, where harness racing and electronic gaming is available. Empire City Casino President Uri Clinton joined the podcast to discuss the continuing evolution of gambling in New York, the future of racing in Yonkers and the competition for gaming dollars in the...


The Assembly's loyal opposition

Assemblyman Ed Ra isn't naive enough to think that even his best floor debate can stymie legislation being advanced by his Democratic colleagues, who enjoy an overwhelming majority in the chamber. But the Long Island Republican, who serves as the assistant floor leader for the GOP, does believe he plays an important part in the legislative process by raising concerns, asking questions and (in some cases) prompting bills to be amended. Ra joined the podcast to talk about life on the floor...


Getting from red light to green

Legislation enabling undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses had a lot working against it in Albany this year. Despite Democratic-control of the state government, the proposal was wildly unpopular with members from the New York City suburbs and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo seemed unenthusiastic about the issue. Sen. Luis Sepulveda, the Bronx Democrat who helped shepherd the proposal across the finish line, joined the podcast to explain the uphill battle for the year's most unlikely...


Miss Mitchell Regrets

Joyce Mitchell made her case for parole on June 4 at the women's prison in Bedford Hills. The former Clinton Correctional employee has been incarcerated for nearly four years due to her role in aiding a high-profile prison escape in 2015. Following the hearing, Mitchell was denied parole. The Times Union has turned excerpts of the transcript from the hearing into a bonus episode, with editors Susan Mehalick and Sara Tracey lending their voices.


Confessions of a tabloid journalist

For about a decade, reporters in Albany would take their Monday morning cues from Ken Lovett's weekly column, which would be filled with state government scoops. This past February, the veteran reporter retired from journalism on his own terms after 25 years of Capitol coverage. Lovett joined the podcast to talk about his time with the state's two prolific tabloids: the New York Post and Daily News. The conversation addressed his approach to reporting, the pressure to break news and...


The Paulin process

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin is one of the busiest lawmakers in Albany, where she routinely shepherds the most bills through the legislative process. She joined the Capitol Confidential podcast to explain her approach, and how it has evolved since joining the Assembly nearly two decades ago. The conversation also touched on how she finds sponsors for legislation in the state Senate, her affinity for policy details and what's on tap for next year's session. She also explained the challenge of...


The winner's circle

It's a time of transition for the New York Racing Association. This includes a new leader, David O'Rourke, who is steering the organization through an evolving gambling landscape, major changes at their tracks and concerns about equine safety. He joined the Capitol Confidential podcast to talk about all this, and much more, including the legacy he hopes to leave. Editor's note: This interview is also featured on New York Now


The cost of combating climate change

In the waning days of the legislative session, state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo agreed to ambitious energy and emissions goals to help combat climate change. And while it's clear where New York needs to end up, it's not so clear how we'll get there. Business Council of New York's director of government affairs Darren Suarez and New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe joined the podcast to highlight the potential paths New Yorkers might follow, and how it will...