A day after Republicans and independent Democrats swept to unprecedented joint control of the New York state Senate, Governor Andrew Cuomo is feeling the heat from members of his liberal base.The issue centres around the perception among liberals that Cuomo, widely considered to be a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, “didn’t do enough” to elect Democrats” in the New York state Senate.
In the 2012 cycle, Cuomo endorsed two Republicans in their respective elections because of their support for his gay marriage bill in 2011. When asked before the election which party he prefers to control the state Senate, he said he doesn’t care.
Democrats won a numerical majority, but on Tuesday five Democrats broke from the party’s caucus to form the Independent Democratic Caucus, which will share governing powers with Republicans.
Markos Moulitsas, a prominent liberal blogger and founder of The Daily Kos, responded with an angry blog post today, writing that Cuomo was not a worthy potential successor to President Barack Obama because of how he has handled the Senate situation.
This is the sort of thing that gets the No Labels and America Elects crowd all excited, but if you’re looking for a successor to Obama who will be a strong Democrat who will fight for Democratic ideals and his or her party, don’t be looking at Cuomo. Point to his record on marriage equality all you want. The only thing that “he’s with us more than he’s against us” argument proves is that Cuomo is a worthy successor to the legacy of Joe Lieberman.
That’ll make him popular with the Sunday morning talk shows. It should make him persona non grata in a Democratic presidential primary.
For his part, Cuomo is trying to frame his governorship as one that transcends party politics and is based on “progressive goals,” which he outlined in a sternly worded op-ed in the Albany Times-Union today. In the op-ed, he slammed both sides of the Senate and wrote that the only way for individual legislators of either party to win his support was to advance his goals.
“Corruption is no stranger to the Senate, as I well know from the cases I brought as Attorney General. Neither the Republican nor Democratic conferences come to this juncture with clean hands.
From 1966 to 2009, the Republican Conference led for 42 years and blocked much progressive legislation, including last year’s efforts to increase the minimum wage, enact campaign finance reform, and end the controversial “stop and frisk” policy. The Democratic Conference was in power for two years and squandered the opportunity, failing to pass any meaningful reform legislation despite repeated promises. The Democratic Conference dysfunction was legendary and the current leadership has failed to come to a cooperative agreement with Mr. Klein’s IDC faction.”
One national Democratic consultant told Business Insider that Cuomo’s lack of involvement in the Senate elections was just the tipping point for many liberals. Cuomo’s close ties with Wall Street and his early 2012 fight with unions cemented his reputation as having at least some conservative leanings.
“It is another data point that gives progressives pause about a Cuomo candidacy,” the consultant said. “The fight over unions and pensions, his closeness with Wall Street after the party has inched away, and then this reluctance…”
For now, liberals and Democrats in the state remain hopeful Cuomo and the legislature will promote the governor’s “progressive goals.” But it’s clear that uncertainty clouds over the New York legislature.
“We’re in sort of uncharted territory here,” said one liberal activist based in New York. “It’s hard to know what it’ll actually look like. … Governor Cuomo has said that he wants to implement these progressive measures. We’d like to see him do it.”