New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today stopped by his Westchester town to cast his vote in the Democratic primary for governor and lieutenant governor. As WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne reports, the governor only recently began campaigning against his upstart opponent.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and his partner Sandra Lee cast their votes in the Democratic primary election. Cuomo’s message upon departing the polling site inside the Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco was:
“Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote,” Cuomo says.
His challenger in the primary, Fordham University Law School Professor Zephyr Teachout, previously has distinguished herself from Cuomo this way.
“And I’m running on a very down-the-line traditional Democrat platform,” says Teachout. “And I see him basically as more of a trickle-down Republican.”
Asked why he waited until the final days of primary season to campaign, the first-term governor replied:
“My campaign I’ve been doing every day, 365 days a year. My campaign is delivering for the people of the state,” says Cuomo. “And I believe that the best way to campaign is not talk about what you’re going to do; do it, deliver, you know.”
He then touted his accomplishments.
“I lowered your taxes. We created 500,000 jobs. We turned the state around. I walked across the aisle. I made peace with Democrats and Republicans. I got budgets passed,” says Cuomo. “I passed laws that were floundering for years. I passed a property tax cap after talking about it for 20 years. That’s my campaign.”
Cuomo’s running mate for lieutenant governor is former Congresswoman and former Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, who voted in Buffalo.
“As the governor said yesterday, experience matters, and I know how to do the job,” Hochul says.
Her opponent is Timothy Wu, a Columbia University professor.
“One of the most enjoyable things about this campaign is to actually inspire people, to feel you’re inspiring people,” says Wu. “And whether it’s some of my staff or people you meet… You meet people and they just feel like, I love what you’re doing. I feel inspired. I want to vote for the first time in a long time. I really feel excited about this election.”
Cuomo is expected to defeat Teachout; the question is by how much and whether it could negatively impact his runs in future political races. Pundits have speculated on how well Teachout must perform to damage the governor, but Cuomo wouldn’t play that parlor game.
“51 percent works,” says Cuomo.
The race between Wu and Hochul is expected to be closer.
Five protestors from two anti-fracking groups greeted Cuomo in Mount Kisco with signs and chants. New York has a de facto moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, until Cuomo makes a decision. At first, a police officer asked the protestors to leave, per a request from the pastor of the church. The protestors insisted it was Cuomo behind the request. A Cuomo spokesman says that was not the case. Jessica Roff is downstate regional organizer for New Yorkers Against Fracking.
“This is completely political,” Roff says. “We’re being asked to leave a public polling place with our First Amendment exercise of our rights to tell the governor that we want a ban on fracking now. We want him to protect the people of New York State, like he has been elected to do. And that’s it. And they’re going to ask us to leave? That’s crazy.”
Ultimately, the protestors were permitted to stay until the governor departed the site. Before leaving, though, Cuomo addressed reporters on the issue. He says emotions run high on both sides, and his decision will be based on science.
“My point has been, I’m not going to make the decision emotionally,” says Cuomo. “I want to make the decision based on information. And let’s get a study and we have that being done now by the health commissioner and the environmental commissioner.”
Teachout is opposed to fracking.
Cuomo says he’ll be in the office when the polls close at 9 p.m., while Hochul says she’ll be in Buffalo with her family. If Hochul wins, she has plans.
“I think I’m going to go get a nice plate of Buffalo chicken wings someplace and have a great time, says Hochul. “It’s going to be great.”
Teachout and Wu are holding a New York City party.
Meanwhile, Republicans heading to the polls in Mount Kisco and elsewhere in the 40th state Senate district have a choice between Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy and former Assemblyman Bob Castelli. They are battling for a chance at the seat held by Republican Greg Ball, who is not seeking re-election. The primary winner faces Democrat Justin Wagner, who lost to Ball in 2012.