Sheldon Silver won't be boxed in by Andrew Cuomo. The Assembly Speaker flatly declined Monday to sign a pledge supporting Cuomo's reform plans for the State.
"I don't sign pledges," Silver snapped.
Cuomo is putting skiddish incumbents to the test by demanding they take a stand on a series of reforms they've buried in the past.
The reforms include limiting their campaign contributions and reporting their outside income.
Silver says he supports Cuomo for Governor and speaking generally, says he believes they can work together to build consensus.
During a radio interview Monday, Cuomo was diplomatic about speculation he and Silver are headed for a showdown.
"Sheldon Silver is not an obstacle," said Cuomo.
But political observers say it's clear Cuomo is aiming directly at Silver with his pledge challenge.
"I think what Cuomo is doing in taking on Shelly Silver is he is making a statement that he is no longer going to tolerate business as usual," said Democratic political consultant Dan Gerstein. "To political insiders, it's a sign that Shelly Silver is weakened. For things to change in Albany you either have to weaken Shelly Silver's grip or you have to take him out."
Silver reminded reporters Monday that as Governor, Cuomo will not have a say in who is chosen as Assembly Speaker. Past attempts to "take out" Silver at the polls and within the Assembly have failed.
Cuomo may score points for his willingness to challenge the Democratic establishment in Albany. He's also going out of his way to reach out to Republicans, naming three seasoned GOPers to his campaign team.
But State GOP Chair Ed Cox told NBCNewYork he doesn't buy Cuomo's efforts to run as a fiscal conservative.
"Has he walked the walk?" Cox asked.
Yet former State Senator and longtime Republican Michael Balboni is candid when he tells NBCNewYork why he supports the Democratic Cuomo.
"First off, the obvious. It's not so bad to back someone who is at 60 percent in the polls," Balboni admits. "Second is, if you take a look at Cuomo's platform it is a pretty Republican platform. Then the third thing is that here is someone who I think can do the job."
Meanwhile, Republican Rick Lazio, who trails Cuomo by more than 40 points in a new Siena poll, released a list of ten questions sure to make partisan heads turn if and when Cuomo answers them.
The first three questions on the list are: 1. Where do you stand on Obama's health care bill?; 2. Why aren't you calling for personal and business income tax relief?; and, 3. Was Obama's stimulus bill a good use of taxpayer dollars?