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NY Gov. Cuomo, Pelosi Rally To Take Back The House For Democrats

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting involved in New York’s Congressional races. At a rally with House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, he vowed to help defeat the state’s nine eight republican members of the House of Representatives when they are up for election next year.

House Democratic Leader Pelosi introduced Governor Cuomo at the rally of union workers at the Jacob Javitts Center in New York City.

“We will remove you from office on November 2, 2018,” Cuomo shouted. “And we are telling you those are not just words, you can bet your political life that New Yorkers will do just that!”

While Cuomo says he’s working to defeat all of the state’s GOP congressional representatives, the governor directed his ire at Western New York Congressman Chris Collins and the Hudson Valley’s John Faso. The two angered Cuomo earlier this year when they successfully included in the House repeal of the Affordable Care Act a plan to force the state to take over billions of dollars in county Medicaid costs.

“Today, I charge Congressman Faso and Collins and their colleagues with violating their oath of office to represent the interest of the people of the state of New York,” Cuomo told the cheering crowd. “I also charge them with defrauding the voters of this state. They said they would help their districts, they said they would help the struggling middle class. They are doing the exact opposite.”

Cuomo never mentioned President Trump by name.

A spokesman for Collins called Cuomo’s attempt to defeat the congressman “laughable” and said that Cuomo received only 34% of the vote in the district during the governor’s last reelection campaign.

Cuomo’s actions also drew notice and a critique from the Republican National Committee, who connected the governor to a former top aide Joe Percoco, who is facing trial on bribery and other charges. They referenced Percoco’s use of code words from the Sopranos TV series including saying “boxes of ziti” for “money” while Percoco allegedly carried out pay-to-play schemes. The governor has not been accused of any wrong doing.

State GOP Chair Ed Cox accused Cuomo of having “delusions of grandeur”, and putting his national interests ahead of the state.

Groups on the left are also critical of Cuomo, saying the governor has more work to do closer to home.  The state’s Working Families Party director Bill Lipton says while it’s a “great” that Cuomo wants to help take the House back for Democrats, he should be working just as hard to reunite Democrats in the New York State Senate.

“We have this contradiction of the governor being out there fighting to take back the House, and we have the State Senate controlled by Trump Republicans,” said Lipton. “And he’s turned a blind eye to that.”

The state Senate is currently ruled by Republicans, with the help of several break away Democrats. Democrats have 32 seats, numerically enough to rule the chamber, but are divided into different feuding factions. There are the mainstream Democrats, the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, and one lone Democratic Senator who conferences with the Republicans.  Lipton says back in 2014, when the governor was seeking reelection, Cuomo pledged, in exchange for the Working Families Party endorsement, that he would help elect more Democrats to the state Senate. Lipton says that promise was never fulfilled.

“The governor is not just the governor, he’s also the head of the New York State Democratic Party,” Lipton said. “The Democratic Party needs to rediscover a mission, a purpose.”

Cuomo did raise money and endorse some Democratic candidates for State Senate in 2016.  

Democrats already control the state Assembly, and, of course, the governor’s office. Lipton says if Democrats also ruled the state senate, New York would be in a stronger position, like that of the state of California, to provide a counter vision to President Trump and the Republican led Congress.

A spokesman for Governor Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, says even with the state’s present political divisions, New York still has some policies that are more progressive than California’s, including for paid family leave.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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