Democrat Andrew Cuomo on Sunday promised a nonpartisan approach to fixing New York's economy and cleaning up Albany's dysfunctional political culture if elected governor, adding he would hold lawmakers accountable if they blocked his
"If you have elected officials who don't think we need to reform Albany, then we do have a disagreement. and I'll be right up front about that disagreement," he said.
The state attorney general spoke to reporters before marching in the annual Salute to Israel parade. He kicked off his campaign for governor Saturday.
Until now, Cuomo had largely resisted weighing in on state matters, other than those that dealt with his work as attorney general.
He declined to say much about the current budget impasse bedeviling Albany, but held up a policy manual outlining the
positions he said would guide his thinking on future budgets, if elected.
"This year's budget has been under discussion for a matter of months and is hopefully near completion," he said.
He also declined to say whether Sheldon Silver, the powerful Assembly speaker, should remain in his job. He said it was up to the Assembly to choose its own leadership. Silver put out a statement Sunday endorsing Cuomo.
Republican Candidate Steve Levy responded to Cuomo's policy manual saying the Democrat "can have his staff write a manifesto as long as War and Peace, but nothing changes the fact that his only executive experience comes from his ‘leadership’ of HUD, which we know contributed to the housing meltdown. New Yorkers are very much aware of the condition their state is in, and are looking for a Governor with a proven record of turning a situation like this around."
Cuomo was asked why he'd succeed in bringing change to Albany when governors before him had promised to do so and failed.
"You go to the people first and you get the people on your side. You get the people supporting a specific set of reforms,"
Cuomo said. "We can say to the Democrats and the Republicans in January, 'The people of the state have spoken.' Politicians tend to follow what the people in their districts want done."
While sticking with the populist tone of his campaign kickoff, Cuomo said he wasn't trying to cast himself as a political outsider. He said his years in Albany and in the federal government as housing secretary under President Bill Clinton would be an asset in working with legislators.
"Do I bring experience in state government, federal government and the private sector? Yes. But do I represent the people of the state? One hundred percent," he said.
Asked if his governorship would resemble or differ from that of his father, Mario, who served three terms from 1983-1994, Cuomo spoke of the example his father's administration had set.
"When I was growing up, state government was a source of inspiration," Cuomo said. "This state government has been a
source of degradation."
Cuomo enters the race with much higher popularity and name recognition than several Republicans seeking the GOP nomination, and is far ahead in fundraising.