In the aftermath of a political endorsement that has shaken up the Capitol, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to change the subject with two economic development appearances.
Cuomo has promised the Working Families Party that he would fight to take the Senate away from a coalition of Republicans and Independent Democrats, and give it to the mainstream Democrats. In a video he sent to the party’s convention, he condemned the state’s GOP.
“This is about ultra-conservatives in the Republican Party trying to force their agenda,” Cuomo said in the video. “As they have done in Washington, they now want to do in New York.”
Cuomo also has vowed to work for a slate of progressive issues like abortion rights, and raising the minimum wage.
That was on Saturday. By Wednesday, the governor was back on the moderate to conservative topics of economic development and how to reduce taxes and regulations on businesses.
Cuomo made appearances in Rochester and Buffalo to announce some high tech companies that have agreed to sign up for a tax-free program for new or expanding companies in struggling upstate cities.
Cuomo was joined by Republican Sen. Joe Robach, and he gave him a warm welcome.
“Joe Robach, who’s a great senator and good friend,” Cuomo told the crowd. “Let’s give him a round of applause.”
Robach returned the compliments, calling Cuomo’s tax-free program awesome.
“This would not have happened without the governor,” Robach said. “I can make my bad joke. A Democrat? No taxes? I didn’t know that was possible.”
Afterward, the governor was asked by reporters about his Working Families pledge to oust the GOP form the Senate. He seemed to see no contradiction when he boasted of his good working relationship with Republicans, and said he doesn’t want to change that.
“The lack of partisanship in Albany is something that I am very proud of. Democrats, Republicans we’re New Yorkers first and that’s how I govern,” said Cuomo. “And I’m not going back.”
Cuomo, referring to the party conventions in general as political silly season, says his remarks advocating the election of more Democrats should not come as a surprise or be seen as controversial.
“You had a Democratic convention and you have Democrats saying they are going to support Democrats," Cuomo said. “I don’t think that’s ultimately shocking news for anyone.”
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos is taking the governor’s pledge to get rid of the GOP more seriously, saying he doesn’t think there will be agreement on any major issues in the legislative session because of the breach.
“Most of the more controversial things will be brought up next year,” Skelos said.
The Working Families Party did not immediately return a request for comment.
Green Party candidate for governor, Howie Hawkins, who stopped in Albany as part of a statewide swing, says the Working Families Party is no longer in a position to criticize the governor over any perceived contradictions.
“After Working Families gave him the nomination, they gave him all the power,” Hawkins said. “They don’t have any leverage.”
Hawkins says the continued unrest by some on the left over Cuomo’s reelection could mean that he will get more votes than expected. He says it’s not aiming too high to expect double digits as the percentage of New Yorkers who ultimately vote for an alternative progressive candidate.