Cuomo: Without Public Financing, Senate Coalition A Failure (Updated)
A conclusion to the legislative session without the passage of public financing would mean the coalition of Republicans and five independent Democrats in the state Senate is a “failure,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said.
At the same time, Cuomo pledged to “act accordingly” in helping Democrats reclaim power in the chamber, a move that would help the governor shore up support among the liberal base of the party as well as help him obtain the Working Families Party ballot line when the party meets on Saturday.
Nevertheless, Cuomo is skeptical a public financing package will ultimately pass the chamber.
“I am pessimistic today that public finance will pass, but it’s not over,” Cuomo said at a bill signing ceremony on Staten Island. “We have a few more weeks of the session and we’ll see what happens. But if they do not pass public finance, I will consider the coalition a failure. I have said that and will repeat that and I will act accordingly.”
A reunification effort between the mainline Democratic conference and the five-member Independent Democratic Conference would be politically and personally fraught.
Cuomo’s re-election campaign is airing a TV ad that touts his work with Republicans in the state Legislature, a partnership that has helped him achieve many of his first term’s significant victories, including same-sex marriage, a new gun control law and a property tax cap.
And there is little love lost between the IDC and the mainline conference.
Democrats are launching primary bids to both IDC Leader Jeff Klein as well as its newest member, Sen. Tony Avella of Queens.
But in many ways, it many be Cuomo’s final play for the labor-backed WFP ballot line, which is considering giving its ballot line to a more liberal candidate.
The WFP’s rank-and-file remains restive over Cumoo’s economic policies as well as his vocal support for charter schools.
The party is due to meet on Saturday outside of Albany to hold its nominating convention.
Updated: Klein released a statement in response to Cuomo’s comments.
“In totality the coalition has been successful in passing marriage equality, the toughest gun law in the nation, fully-funded, full day universal pre-k and increasing the minimum wage and I’m proud of this string of successes,” Klein said. “I will continue to fight for the issue of public campaign finance reform, which is a critical piece of legislation, which must get done before the end of session.”
Cuomo pointed to the Conservative Party’s staunch opposition to public financing, which Chairman Mike Long considers a line in the sand for GOP lawmakers in the state Senate, as a reason for the stalled negotiations.
The Conservative Party is a vital ballot line for Republicans, especially in close state Senate races.
Cuomo said it was “highly ironic” that Republican comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci is accepting public funds through a year-long program approved in the state budget, but GOP lawmakers remain opposed to a broader deal.
“I consider it ironic, but the Conservative Party came out against public finance and that has slowed conversations,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo in recent weeks has received a boost from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a liberal Democrat who he has disagreed with on tax policy, but maintains a good public relationship.
De Blasio has gone to bat for Cuomo in meetings with the WFP’s leadership.
“What I’ve said publicly and with my friends at WFP this governor is taking us in the direction that I believe in and his consistent with a Democratic philosophy,” de Blasio said at the same event this morning.
“We don’t have to agree on everything to still believe that we’re doing a lot of great work together,” he added.
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