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ALBANY - In driving snow and cold, liberal political leaders, union members, students and parents held a rally in Albany on Monday for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as his rival, Hillary Clinton, dominated the air waves in rallies with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo days before the New York primary.
“We need to take back our democracy so we can take back our economy,” shouted Karen Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action of New York, a progressive group, at the Sanders gathering of a few dozen supporters.
“I’m here for my two 4-year-old kids!” shouted Albany County Legis. Alison McLean Lane in the windy 22-degree weather that was part of a winter weather advisory.
The New York primary is April 19. Former Secretary of State Clinton, New York’s former junior senator, is endorsed by Cuomo and most other top Democratic elected officials who appeared with her New York City on Monday. She was scheduled to meet Democrats in the state Legislature later on Monday near Albany in part to bolster her ground game among Democratic elected leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said Friday.
Sanders’ supporters said their outdoor event Monday with homemade signs that wilted in the wet snow mirrors Sanders’ campaign without video screens and theatrics. The campaign is funded mostly by small donations and shuns large donors from Wall Street, Washington and the Democratic leadership that supports Clinton.
Clinton joined Cuomo as the governor celebrated the passage on Friday of a $15 minimum to be phased in for workers in New York City and Long Island. Upstate’s initial target is $12.50.
Cuomo had sought to have New York be the first state to reach a $15 minimum wage, but negotiations stalled and made the state budget late. The budget passed on Friday. California agreed to the measure on March 28. Cuomo on Thursday downplayed the California law, saying he hadn’t seen it.
On Monday, however, Cuomo signed the bill into law about an hour before California Gov. Jerry Brown signed his state’s law.
Sanders credited both states.
“I’m proud that today two of our largest states will be increasing the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour, raising the wages of some 9 million workers in this country,” Sanders said in a statement issued Monday. “Not too long ago, the establishment told us that a $15 minimum wage was unrealistic. Some thought it was ‘pie-in-the-sky.’ But a grass-roots movement led by millions of working people refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. Loudly and clearly workers said, ‘yes we can increase the minimum wage.’ ”
A year ago, Cuomo had dismissed as politically unrealistic an effort by the Assembly’s Democratic majority to seek a $15 minimum wage for New York City, to pressure a higher rate statewide. Paid family leave led by Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) has also been blocked for years in Albany, until it was approved as part of the 2016-17 budget Friday.
“New York is also joining California, New Jersey and Rhode Island in guaranteeing paid family leave,” Sanders said in his statement. “In my view, we must go further.”