Cuomo Meeting in Harlem After Being Accused of Ignoring Black Community

Andrew Cuomo is meeting with African-American leaders in Harlem today on the heels of criticism that he hasn't done enough outreach to the black community.

The meeting also comes as he faces unexpected challenge from Tea Party Republican Carl Paladino -- who has  had his own problems with race during this campaign.

The meeting, which is being run by former gubernatorial candidate H. Carl McCall and former state comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, will deal with potential Cuomo staff appointments and other issues, but will also touch on the frustrations between Cuomo and the black community. The Rev. Al Sharpton and other clergy and business leaders were also expected to attend.

As the race for governor against GOP upstart Carl Paladino seems to be tightening, Cuomo is looking to gain support from wherever he can, and in a close race, turnout from black voters could be the difference between victory and defeat.

Cuomo was criticized recently in an recent editorial by Amsterdam News editor-in-chief Elinor Tatum chided Cuomo, writing, “You have proved nothing to us. You have showed us nothing that makes us want to stand strongly behind you. We feel as though all too often, you have taken us for granted and you have less than 40 days to turn this ship around."

Meanwhile, Paladino faced a severe public relations problem with the black community in April, when racist emails he had forwarded came to light. One email was a photo of President Obama and the first lady altered to appear to be a pimp and hooker.  Another forward was a video clip of African tribesman dancing and was entitled "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal."

In an interview with the New York Times, senior campaign adviser Juanita Scarlett said that Cuomo has an ambitious agenda in the works, and it will include places to increase housing developments, improve city schools, and create access to healthier foods.

“Andrew Cuomo is committed to addressing the concerns of communities of color,” Scarlett said to the Times. “His urban agenda is comprehensive and will make significant strides to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.”

Cuomo has had to work to repair relations with black leaders before. A 2002 primary campaign with McCall had created tension between the two camps, as McCall would have been the first black governor if elected.

Now that Mr. Cuomo is facing the energetic Paladino, it seems as if he will be forced to campaign more aggressively  than he may have when he thought he was facing Rick Lazio, who seemed unable to energize voters.

"Right now, there are a lot of compelling reasons not to vote for anybody,” said Tatum to the Wall Street Journal. “If the African-American community stays home, Cuomo is in big trouble."

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