Monday, November 19, 2012

Governor, You're No Mario Cuomo

Hooray for Chris Hayes (video, below) and Alex Pareene, both of whom recently exposed Andrew Cuomo. And it's not a pretty sight.

After vowing in July "I will veto laws that are not drawn by an independent commission that are partisan," the New York governor, as Salon's Pareene notes, "signed off on gerrymandered state Senate districts."   Though the state assembly is safely Democratic, this month's elections for the 63-member state senate produced 31 Democrats and 30 Republicans.   However, Brooklyn's Simcha Felder, elected as a Democrat, announced he would caucus as a Republican, a switch which has elicited little interest from the governor.  

That leaves 31 Republicans and 30 Democrats with two races yet to be decided.  In one of these, Democrat Terry Gipson leads incumbent Repub senator Terry Saland, whom Cuomo had successfully encouraged to cross party lines to endorse same-sex marriage.

In another Senate district, another GOP incumbent who voted to support with the governor on same-sex marriage, Roy McDonald, was defeated in the primary by a tea party-backed candidate, with Cuomo nevertheless refusing to back the Democratic opponent in the general election.

Cuomo's support of the GOP redistricting map, coupled with his failure to support Democratic legislative candidates, has jeopardized Democratic efforts to enact progressive legislation, including an increase in the minimum wage, public financing of elections, and decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.  Hayes observes

Watching all this unfold, one can’t help but suspect that Andrew Cuomo does not want a Democratic majority in the state Senate, because a Republican majority gives him more of an opportunity to burnish his bipartisan compromiser bonafides before launching his presidential campaign...” 

Pareene has found Governor Cuomo's

tenure so far has been marked by flashy liberal victories on issues like gay marriage, along with a quietly conservative economic agenda: A property tax cap, total neglect of mass transit, and (partial) support for fracking. Even on economic issues where Cuomo has more liberal priorities, he rarely pushes his Republican friends particularly hard. (A Republican-controlled state Senate will almost certainly block a minimum wage increase Cuomo ostensibly supports.) There’s a reason, in other words, that the National Review loves him.

Cuomo also has cut education and health care spending, as well as benefits for public employees.   Hayes fears Cuomo is striving to "burnish his bipartisan compromise bonafides before launching his presidential campaign."   Worse, as Pareene notes, "he’s in an enviable position of being able to run and govern as a conservative while retaining a progressive reputation, because he’s, you know, a Cuomo and a big-city blue state liberal governor who got gay marriage passed."

Pushing same-sex marriage through the state legislature was a critical strategic victory for the New York governor, enhancing his support in the gay community and its allies, and enriching his fund-raising capacity among them.   But whatever positions Andrew Cuomo takes on major national issues over the next 3-4 years, his effort to clothe himself with a bipartisan veneer while taking the position of Wall Street in opposition to Main Street ought not to be forgotten in a party which will have any combination of Martin O'Malley, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Sherrod Brown (if there is a God), and other worthy individuals competing to be the party's presidential nominee.   For that matter, Andrew Cuomo's path to the Democratic nomination ought to be stopped whatever the opposition.

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