From today’s morning memo, ICYMI:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a bevy of policy ideas ranging from an increase to the state’s minimum wage, equal pay for women and the toughest gun control laws in the nation in his third State of the State address.

The consensus is that not only is Cuomo returning to his liberal roots after two years of austerity proposals, but he’s positioning himself as a true-blue Democrat should he run for president in 2016.

On the surface, the evidence of the left turn on both economic and social issues is compelling.

In his first two years as governor, Cuomo proposed and won a 2 percent limit on property tax increases and a new, less generous pension tier for state workers. He slashed spending in his first year and approved a modest spending increase in his second budget.

Cuomo negotiated cheaper state worker contracts with the public employee unions while dangling the threat of layoffs in front of them if they didn’t agree to his terms.

He resisted tax increases at first, but later engineered a rejiggered tax code that kept part of the state’s millionaire tax, while being able to claim he and state lawmakers cut middle-class taxes.

Cuomo’s signature issue, the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York that he fought so hard to pass in a Republican-led Senate, remains his best-known and decidedly liberal victory.

But now the governor, it would seem, is leaning left, pursuing a mix of progressive goals ranging from the public financing of political campaigns, a tough campaign disclosure law, raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.75, a sweeping assault weapons ban that would be the toughest in the country and a women’s’ rights and equality act that advocates have fought for for decades.

Can he win on these issues?


In some ways he already has. In fact, Cuomo — who has said previously he backs a wage hike, campaign finance and new gun control laws before the State of the State — is making his case for these issues when they have never been more politically popular.

Take the minimum wage increase, which polls show has support of about 80 percent of voters.

And Cuomo — like his predecessors dating back to Gov. George Pataki’s address in 1999 — have called for campaign finance reform in their speeches. The governor’s call for a disclosure act on donations above $500 comes as everyone in state government seems to be pursuing some sort of transparency effort in the wake of the Citizens United ruling and the onslaught of political spending in the last election cycle (public financing may be a heavier lift to get through the Senate GOP).

The women’s’ equality measure, Cuomo’s big reveal for the speech, is the most intriguing.

While it wasn’t the lede in many of today’s SOS stories — many of which were written by male political reporters — it could be a defining agenda piece of Cuomo’s first term. While that offers the most evidence that Cuomo is looking nationally, it’s also one that could be a surprisingly easy layup for the governor in the Legislature. Consider that pugnacious Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island is part of the governing coalition in the state Senate.

Talking to Savino yesterday after the speech, she indicated that she was more than excited that Cuomo proposed the measure, said she wanted it stronger and predicted her GOP colleagues would be amendable to it.

Cuomo’s aides are quick to point out that he doesn’t need to shore up his left flank, that his poll numbers in New York remain high across the board for those who identify as liberal, conservative, independent, Democrat or Republican.

But there is grumbling from liberal advocates that he hasn’t done enough. The people upset with Cuomo in New York watch Chris Hayes, they protest fracking and the demonstrate against new pension tiers. While there numbers may not be big enough to tip the balance on a Siena poll’s crosstabs, they’re the ones who are political engaged. They are the ones who are key to GOTV efforts in say, 2014, when Cuomo would surely not only like to win, but grind whatever Republican nominee runs against him into a fine powder.

With 2016 on the horizon, it’s tantalizing to see this as the kick-off that campaign, especially as Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a potential Democratic primary rival, makes a similar play for banning assault weapons in his state.

But in the more near term, Cuomo may be looking more toward 2014 instead.