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Tensions Over Unity In NYS Senate Continue

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas
Governor Andrew Cuomo in Goshen, NY 09.22.11

Tensions between Democratic New York Governor Cuomo and the left wing of his party have heightened after the governor attended a fundraiser to raise campaign money for a now disbanded group of breakaway Senate Democrats.

Earlier this month, the mainstream Senate Democrats and eight breakaway members of the Independent Democratic Conference announced that they were joining forces for the good of the party.

The now former leader of the IDC said he would still be raising money, though, to help some of his former colleagues who are facing primary challenges.

A fundraiser was held Thursday night, and Governor Cuomo attended. That did not sit well with some left-wing party activists, the group Rise and Resist, who protested the governor, shouting “shame” and released a video widely viewed on social media.

“You will never be president!” a protester can be heard shouting, as the governor passes by.   

Cuomo’s Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon has accused Cuomo of enabling the Republicans to keep control of the State Senate for the past seven years through his tacit support of the IDC. Nixon used the incident in a fundraising appeal of her own, saying Cuomo “just can’t quit the Republican Party." 

A spokeswoman for Governor Cuomo, Abbey Fashour, says the event was “a Senate Democratic fundraiser” and she says two Democratic candidates running in a special election on April 24 also were there.

Fashour adds that $100,000 of the money raised at the Thursday night fundraiser will go to the campaign of Yonkers Assemblywoman Shelly Mayer, who is running as a mainstream Democrat in a special Senate seat election on April 24. She says other funds will go to the campaign of Luis Sepulvada, who is also running as a mainstream Democrat on April 24. The rest of the money raised will go to the former IDC members who are facing primary challenges.   

The leader of the mainstream Democrats, Senator Andrea Stewart–Cousins, did not attend and did not view the event as a unity fundraiser for all Democrats. Her spokesman, Mike Murphy, says it was “our understanding was that this was an event for the Independence Party Committee of the former IDC.”

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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