ALBANY – Just a few days after calling for the ouster of Republicans from their power base in the State Senate, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday sought to characterize his relations with GOP lawmakers as vibrant and productive.
In Rochester, the governor was asked by a reporter if his call for a Democratic takeover of the Senate, done Saturday night to win the backing of the liberal Working Families Party, would make it hard to get things done in the Senate for the rest of the session.
“Oh, no. Look, we have a very good working relationship on both sides of the aisle,” Cuomo said. He noted that he invited Rochester Republican Sen. Joseph E. Robach to the public event he led Wednesday. In contrast, at a similar economic-development event that Cuomo held in Buffalo after the Rochester event, no Buffalo-area Senate Republicans were visible, nor did Cuomo, as he did in Rochester, introduce any from the podium.
“We’ve reversed that partisanship that existed in Albany,” Cuomo said, adding his claim that gridlock has ended in Albany. “The lack of partisanship in Albany is something that I’m very proud of. Democrat, Republicans, we’re New Yorkers first, and that’s how I govern, and that’s what has turned this state around, and we’re not going back.”
The words were a rather sharp about-face from a video he sent to delegates at the Working Families Party gathering Saturday night, when he said that the Senate had been taken over by “ultra-cons” from the Republican Party and that a Democratic takeover this fall is needed in the Senate.
The back-and-forth in Cuomo’s words was not lost on his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino. “We now have two governors in Albany: Gov. Flip and Gov. Flop. They seem to rotate days,” Astorino said.
Cuomo’s rhetorical dance Wednesday comes after Senate Democrats, upon returning to the Capitol this week, publicly welcomed the governor’s newfound political help; he has been a major helper for the Republicans for four years, including letting them draw their own district lines a couple years ago to favor GOP candidates.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, called Cuomo’s political threat everything from “desperate” to “hollow.”