Cuomo has 'litmus test' for lawmakers

Concerned workers demonstrate in Brentwood to increase the Concerned workers demonstrate in Brentwood to increase the minimum wage. Photo Credit: Chris Ware (2012)

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Dan Janison Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison,

Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997, initially as a staff writer for the New ...

High-polling Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo threw his political weight around last week with a published opinion piece touting his legislative agenda -- including campaign finance reform, a higher minimum wage and maintenance of the property tax cap -- as the "litmus test" for lawmakers to earn his "support."

The context, of course, was announcement of a bipartisan "coalition" within the State Senate between the current majority leader, Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), and a half-dozen breakaway Democrats.

A close ally was asked what kind of support the governor meant. "Political support," the person said. "It means he'll work with anybody regardless of party who supports passage of his agenda. He will support candidates who support the agenda."

In other phrasings of interest, Cuomo said current Senate Democratic leaders have "failed to come to a cooperative agreement" with its dissident Independent Democratic Conference -- not the other way around, as the leaders claim. He also criticized the 42-year Senate Republican majority for blocking "progressive" legislation -- from 1966 through 2008. Notably, his frequent ally Skelos' first full session as majority leader began in 2011.

Cuomo's statements also may signal a shift in emphasis from the fiscal discipline theme of his term's first half -- which he said must continue -- toward "progressive initiatives" that would "further the social progress we've achieved" (in perhaps a sneak preview of next month's State of the State message).

Sensing high-handedness, one observer spoke of trying to picture President Barack Obama issuing a "litmus test" for Congress members.

 

DINNER TO GO: Nassau's sole Democratic countywide elected official, District Attorney Kathleen Rice, didn't make it to the party's dinner on Tuesday. A spokesman said Rice was working that evening as a member of Cuomo's commission to investigate the region's utilities. The fundraiser at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury drew an estimated 600 people.

Among the partisan zingers from the rostrum, county vice chairman Tom Garry took a shot at GOP County Executive Edward Mangano for calling on Bruce Ratner, majority owner of the Barclays Center, to help find ways to make the Nassau Coliseum an attractive destination -- after the New York Islanders chose to ditch the Coliseum for Ratner's Brooklyn arena. Among the guests was Adam Haber of Roslyn, who's holding a fundraiser next week for a possible run against Mangano that he'd formally announce in January.

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