Cuomo criticizes Senate republicans
Governor Andrew Cuomo ruffled some feathers Wednesday when he criticized Senate Republicans for being too conservative and not passing his plan to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Capital Tonight reporter Nick Reisman has more on Cuomo comments and how they could impact the upcoming election cycle.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Cuomo and Senate Republicans have worked well over the last year and half. They've teamed up on reducing state spending, while the GOP leadership allowed a vote on the successful same-sex marriage law. Cuomo has been hesitant to endorse his own Democratic Party's takeover of the chamber.
“We'll discuss political decisions in the political season but we're now in the government season. We're trying to get government bills passed so let's keep the conversation about government,” Cuomo said.
But for the first time on Wednesday, cracks appeared in the mutually beneficial relationship between Cuomo and Senate Republicans. The governor criticized the GOP conference for not taking up a measure that would decriminalize up to 25 grams of marijuana, a move meant to reduce stop and frisk arrests in New York City. Cuomo suggested conservative elements in the party scuttled the measure.
Cuomo said, “The Republican Senate has to go before the voters. I believe when they've done well these past 18 months. It's because they've been a moderate Republican Party. I don't believe this state will tolerate a party that caters to the extreme ultra conservative side of the party.”
Democrats, struggling to gain traction, sought to broaden the governor's message to include other failed issues this session such as the Republicans' refusal to increase the state's minimum wage and require the microstamping of bullets.
“I'm comfortable that the ideology of the Senate Democrats, the agenda of the Senate Democrats, is more in synch with Governor Cuomo's agenda, more in synch with the people of the state of New York and the Senate Republicans have made it clear they stand with the extreme right wing of their party,” State Senator Michael Gianaris.
Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous disagrees and in doing so, brought attention to the long-held Republican argument that a GOP controlled Senate in an overwhelmingly Democratic state is a good thing.
“I think what the governor might be saying a number of us live in very conservative districts. I know that when you get to the city, it's very liberal. But in the Southern Tier area, we still have a lot of conservative folks and I know they don't like that bill when it comes to decriminalization,” Libous said.
Senate Democrats still face an uphill climb this election year, even if President Obama leads the ticket. They're running races in Republican-drawn Senate districts that Cuomo himself signed off on.