Democrats hopeful, Republicans dismayed over Cuomo's pledge to shake up state Senate

Jun 3, 2014

Democrats in the New York State Senate say they are taking Gov. Andrew Cuomo at his word to help them regain the majority, despite some indications that he might be walking back some of the promises he made at the Working Family Party’s convention Saturday night.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says she’s holding Cuomo to the promise he made to the Working Families Party, to regain Democratic control of the state Senate.

“He has to,” Stewart-Cousins said.

She says she expects to see him out on the campaign trail with Democratic candidates this summer and fall.

“I would imagine that he’ll be campaigning with the senators who will help him push forward his agenda,” she said.

At the party’s convention late Saturday night, Cuomo, in a video produced in conjunction with Working Family leaders, pledged to unify around taking back the Senate for Democrats.

“Together we must go out and we must win a majority of the seats in the Senate,” Cuomo said. “It is that simple, but it is that sweeping.”

The Senate is controlled by a coalition of Republicans and Independent Democrats, known as the IDC. In the video, Cuomo also called for the IDC to reconcile with the rest of the Senate Democrats.

“We should start by telling the IDC that they must agree to return to the Democratic Party, or face our unified opposition,” Cuomo said in the video.  

But just hours later on Sunday morning, Cuomo, speaking at a parade, seemed to be walking back those comments, saying his remarks need a little bit of context.

“I also will oppose Democrats that oppose the things that we have tried to pass,” Cuomo said. “It’s not as easy as saying all Democrats are good and all Republicans are bad, or vice versa.”  

Independent Democrats who co-lead the Senate have said repeatedly that they are for those things, but just can’t convince the GOP to go along.

Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein did not have any immediate comment.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, who has had a good working relationship with Cuomo, says the governor’s pledges to work against the current Senate leadership is a tale of two Cuomos.

He says the governor is using television commercials that portray Democrats and Republicans working together on tax reduction and other issues, while the other Cuomo is “kowtowing to the most extreme liberal Working Families Party, saying bipartisanship doesn’t work in Albany.”

Skelos says he has not spoken to Cuomo, but predicts that the more controversial end of session issues that remain will not see action this year.