After a Democratic convention with very little drama, the fog and confetti finally spewed onto the stage. It was no surprise that Democrats basically coronated Andrew Cuomo this morning in Westchester.
Annd at a time when incumbents are despised, Cuomo boasts enviable approval ratings in the mid sixties.
Paul Bokun, a delegate from Manhattan said he hoped Cuomo would bring a fresh approach to solving Albany’s problems. And that’s exactly how Cuomo wants all voters to see him.
Cuomo is positioning himself as an outsider, but one with just enough experience inside Albany to know how to fix it.
“The State Government that is supposed to be part of the solution turned out to be part of the problem,” Cuomo told the cheering crowd. “And that is undeniable and irrefutable as we sit here today there is still not a State budget that is done.“
Cuomo avoided pointing fingers at his fellow Democrats who are in charge of all three government branches right now. But his point wasn’t lost on anyone.
“The Democrats have been in power and this convention four years ago brought forth Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson and Alan Hevesi and obviously that didn’t turn out so well for the voters of New York," he said.
Cuomo’s so called “new” Democratic agenda tests traditional Democratic boundaries, calling on the State Assembly to lift the cap on charter schools in the next few days. Cuomo said “it would be a tragedy” if New York were to forfeit hundreds of millions of federal education dollars because of inflexible policies.
Although no Democrats like to discuss it, it’s one of several issues that pit Cuomo squarely against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the powerful teachers union.
Jay Jacobs, Chair of the NY Democratic Party, insists Cuomo’s campaign and voter outrage will pressure lawmakers to do the right thing. But Jacobs declined to comment on Silver’s blunt refusal Monday to sign Cuomo’s reform pledge. Jacobs said it’s “not about any one lawmaker signing a pledge.”
Cuomo may be able to convince voters that he can force his agenda through the State legislature. But the reality of his success will depend on how many Democratic incumbents are reelected, many of whom are not on board with his proposals now.
As delegates left the convention hall Thursday, some praised Cuomo for his speaking skills, noting how much he sounded like his father, the eloquent former Governor Mario Cuomo. They seemed to eat up Cuomo’s lofty prose on social issues as he promised to fight illegal discrimination and achieve marriage equality.
Cuomo urged Democrats to resist divisive campaign tactics to “divide black from white from brown. Upstate from Downstate. Rich from poor.”
“The fact that he’s trying to bring people together. That’s what’s important to me,” said Bishop Robert Girten, a delegate from Portchester.
Potential Republican opponent Steve Levy's reaction to Cuomo's speech? Sounds familliar.
"Redistricting reform, a property tax cap, ethics reforms - he's trying to sound more like Steve Levy everyday," said Levy's campaign in a statement. "But nobody should believe that he will govern that way. The special interests will naturally gravitate toward his campaign."