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ALBANY -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Thursday led a late effort to persuade the liberal Working Families Party to endorse Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in exchange for the governor's pledge to help win a Democratic majority in the Senate.
Private negotiations between the minor party and the Cuomo campaign have been underway for weeks. The party wants Cuomo to commit to ending the Republicans' share of majority control in the Senate through this year's elections. That could clear the way for several liberal initiatives already carried by the Democratic-controlled Assembly, but which were blocked by Senate Republicans.
The Working Families Party will nominate Cuomo or reject him Saturday at its convention near Albany.
"What I've said publically -- and I've said it to my friends at the WFP -- is this governor is taking us in the direction that I believe in, and that I think is consistent with a progressive philosophy," said de Blasio, a Democrat and national liberal leader.
At the same Staten Island press event Thursday, Cuomo made his case to the Working Families Party. He raised a scenario in which he apparently could part with the Senate Republicans, who have been his allies in fiscal issues.
Twenty-nine Republicans maintain a share of majority control through a coalition with the five-member Independent Democratic Conference created in 2011 when Cuomo took office. In his current campaign ads, Cuomo brags of his bipartisan victories.
"The Senate functioned well, but the coalition also said we would get progressive things done," Cuomo said.
But Cuomo noted the Senate coalition failed to pass a Dream Act to provide college aid to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and failed to approve Cuomo's women's agenda, which included stronger protections for late-term abortions. The Senate agreed to a system of public funding of campaigns to reduce the influence of big donors, but the pilot program applied only to the comptroller's race has been widely criticized by good-government groups.
Cuomo said he will "go to the people and tell them what I thought, which was the coalition failed to deliver on important progressive items."
"If they do not pass public finance, I will consider the coalition a failure," Cuomo said. "And I will act accordingly."
Scott Reif, spokesman for Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), declined comment.
The Democratic minority conference was heartened.
"We are pleased with the level of support the governor has been giving to us this election cycle and we look forward to continuing to work together with him to achieve victory in November," said Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), who leads the Senate Democratic campaign efforts.
Cuomo has stressed to the Working Families Party that he already proved his liberal credentials in legalizing gay marriage, raising the minimum wage, enacting the nation's toughest gun control law, expanding pre-kindergarten and other measures.
With Emily Ngo