Cuomo's Democratic Credentials
June 22nd, 2011
Its a dreary rainy day in Albany that has brought yet another leaders meeting and a lot more of the same–waiting. According to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos there remain a number of sticking points in the deal on rent regulations and mandate relief. He expects to vote on parts of the deal this afternoon–including the SUNY 2020 deal. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said that he would like to finish voting on all the issues today. But Skelos repeated a familiar refrain–that same sex marriage was not part of the discussion with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Silver. A refrain that has disturbed both same-sex marriage advocates and Democratic legislators. Their faith in Cuomo’s negotiations are waning.
As the details of the deal are hashed out few Democratic legislators and tenant advocates are not exactly hopeful that the rent deal will get any better for them. An emergency meeting of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative caucus was called today to discuss the rent deal. Yesterday many minority legislators from the city were trying to come to terms with the deal Cuomo negotiated. They thought they had made it clear him that he needed to deliver big on rent laws if he wanted their continued support.
For the last three months members have been talking about how the Cuomo administration has neglected them and could only make it right with a big delivery on rent laws and a vote on gay marriage to prove that Cuomo is still a Democrat. With such small gains in the rent package lawmakers are wondering whose side Cuomo is on and what exactly he was able to get for Democrats in the deal. It seems almost certain that gay marriage will pass if it comes to a vote but Skelos has made it clear that his members will decide whether to bring it to a vote.
With only a few days likely left of session in Albany minority lawmakers are trying to decide how best to represent themselves and their districts–go along with the popular Cuomo but go back to their districts with very little to show for it, or demand more of Cuomo, challenge the popular and powerful governor and be able to make it clear to their constituents that their best efforts were thwarted.
Cuomo’s austerity budget was particularly damaging to the minority community in the city and legislators say Cuomo has done nothing since that budget to make it clear that their communities are important to him. What will it mean to Cuomo if he loses their support? That isn’t particularly clear–his poll numbers are sky high and he doesn’t particularly need their votes for anything. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats could benefit from Cuomo’s popularity in their fight to retake the majority. Leaders in the Senate Democratic conference have cautioned their members on a number of occasions not to rock the boat. They think that a quiet session for them–regardless of the legislative outcome means that the Republicans Senate will be held responsible for any negative results. The leaders think that any attempts by minority members to send a message to Cuomo, or vote against the measures they disapprove of could lead to negative publicity and the resurrection of memories of the Democrat’s troubles when they were in the majority.
Minority legislators are trapped between a rock and a hard place.By David King on June 22, 2011, 2:13 pm
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