Business Community Hedges on Cuomo
From today’s Morning Memo:
Four years ago, the state Business Council broke with tradition and made an endorsement in the governor’s race for the first time in its 30-year history, backing then-state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic frontrunner, over his Republican challenger, Carl Paladino.
The decision, made while Ken Adams (now a member of the Cuomo administration) headed the Council, wasn’t that big of a stretch, despite the fact that the business community traditionally trends toward the Republican side of politics.
Paladino, despite his own considerable prowess as a businessman, wasn’t considered a viable candidate. His strategy of bringing a baseball bat to Albany to more or less blow up the establishment didn’t sit terribly well in the risk-averse business world.
But this time around, things are different.
The state’s business community has fared fairly well under Cuomo – perhaps not as well as its members would have liked, and too well in the eyes of liberals, which arguably makes things about even.
This year, however, Cuomo’s rhetoric has taken a decidedly leftward turn – especially given his public support of a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate.
All the talk of progressive policies like another minimum wage hike and establishment of a public campaign finance system and a formal fracking ban makes business leaders very nervous.
Also, the Republican challenging Cuomo in the November election, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, is no Carl Paladino, though he is unknown and under-funded and highly unlikely to win.
So that puts the business community in a bit of a fix.
Should they back Astorino, whose policies are more in line with their way of thinking, compared to this new, progressive version of Cuomo (provided his words aren’t just empty campaign promises)? Or should they play it safe, politically speaking, and either remain neutral or support Cuomo outright?
State Business Council spokesman Gary Hughes told me yesterday that whether the organization will choose a favorite in the governor’s race “hasn’t been determined at this time.” He didn’t provide much more in the way of specifics, and couldn’t give me a timeline.
It’s worth noting that Astorino is on the schedule to speak Thursday night at the Council’s annual meeting at The Sagamore in Bolton Landing next week – site of the infamous Paladino-Dicker smackdown.
Cuomo has received multiple invites to attend, but has no far not replied to a single one, Hughes said.
Other candidates – including Democratic state AG Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and their respective GOP challengers, John Cahill and Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci – are all scheduled to attend.
It’s worth noting that the Council didn’t announce its support for Cuomo in 2010 until early October, so there’s certainly still plenty of time for it to act this year.
Also, Cuomo didn’t attend the Council’s 2010 conference, sending his running mate, then-Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, in his place.
The organization that represents the state’s small businesses, NFIB, hasn’t weighed in on the governor’s race yet, either.
NFIB released its legislative endorsements yesterday, and its state director, Mike Durant, came onto CapTon to discuss the list.
On the governor’s race question, he said:
“We have a major concern with the governor’s agenda for the next four years with the Working Families Party, talking about minimum wage, talking about a progressive Senate.”
“We’ve seen today labor leaders feel like they’re owed favors now. (New York City Mayor) Bill de Blasio feels he has chits. And that should make the business community and taxpayers feel very concerned.”
“That said, it’s still on the table, we’re still looking at that race, and we hope to have a decision in the coming days.”
I asked Durant if he was concerned that backing Astorino would make him an enemy of the Cuomo administration. He (surprisingly) channeled the governor’s failed primary challenger, Zephyr Teachout, recalling her advice for anyone contemplating a run future run for political office: Be brave.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on September 12, 2014 at 7:57 am, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo, Rob Astorino. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|