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Cuomo: Judge Me On What I've Done, Not What I'll Do

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo does not talk a lot about what his agenda would be if voters give him a third term in November. The Democrat says his record of what he’s done in the past is more important than what he’d do in the future.

In a speech before the state’s Business Council, Cuomo devoted most of a forty-minute power point presentation to listing what he said were his accomplishments during his first two terms in office. They include infrastructure projects like revamping the state fairgrounds and renovating airports.

“More construction in this state than ever before in the history of the state,” Cuomo said on September 25. “We are actually doing it.”

A half hour into the speech, the governor briefly mentioned some of the items he’d like to achieve in the next four years.

“We have a women's rights agenda, gun safety red-flag bill, campaign finance reform, ethics reform, criminal justice reform, Child Victim's Act, voting reform,” Cuomo said, without offering any details on any of the proposals.  

It was a rare mention of the governor’s future plans. Speaking to reporters afterward, Cuomo explained why he seldom focuses on the future and prefers to talk about the past. He likens the job of governor to CEO of a company.

“The first question to the CEO would be, ‘How has the company performed under your leadership? What have you accomplished?'” said Cuomo. “That should be the question that voters ask." 

In other speeches to audiences that have included Democratic elected officials and union members, Cuomo has talked more about his opposition to President Trump, saying Trump’s policies are the biggest threat the state faces.

“He’s the Bernie Madoff of politics, and ultimately the Ponzi scheme failed,” Cuomo said at a Democratic Party rally on September 18.

Cuomo’s Republican opponent in the governor’s race, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, says Cuomo is focusing on Trump to distract from flaws in the governor’s record, including corruption convictions of former top aides and associates, and high taxes in the state.

“Andrew Cuomo is like some sort of deranged Wizard of Oz,” Molinaro said. “’Pay no attention to the corruption in my administration. Look over there, it’s Donald Trump.’”

Independent candidate for governor and former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says she also opposes many of Trump’s policies, but says candidates have to offer New Yorkers more than that.

“You fight against policies by talking substance and facts and why they’re wrong,” said Miner in an interview with public radio and television. “Not just standing up and bellowing against them.”

Miner says the governor’s race needs to focus more on things like ethics reform, and delivering better health care to New Yorkers.

Steve Greenberg, political analyst and spokesman for Siena College polls, says the governor is focusing on Trump because it works.

“He uses President Trump as foil, which is a smart political strategy for the governor,” Greenberg said earlier in the campaign.

He says Cuomo knows that the president is unpopular in the state.

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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