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Astorino: Cuomo, like Spitzer, has alienated allies with bruising style

Westchester county executive and former Republican candidate for

Westchester county executive and former Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino called Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the man he lost to, a bully on Monday, March 16, 2015. Astorino was equally adamant campaigning on Aug. 11, 2014 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY - Republican Rob Astorino compared Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to one of his predecessors, Eliot Spitzer, on Monday, saying both Democrats bullied and alienated other state lawmakers.

Astorino, who lost to Cuomo in the gubernatorial election in November, said Cuomo is running into resistance in this year’s state budget negotiations because of his style — a problem Spitzer faced in his mercurial tenure.

“The governor has become such a bully, he’s angered so many people . . .  that the allies he’s counted on aren’t there any more,” said Astorino. “Look at Eliot Spitzer. After he fell down, nobody was there to lend a helping hand. The governor [Cuomo]  punched so many people in the face, that I think people said, hey, you’re not going to get what you want, you’re going to have to compromise.”

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, was at the State Capitol in part to promote the agenda of the state Association of Counties.

Spitzer, a Democrat, described himself as a “steamroller” but his ways angered so many Democrats and Republicans alike that when he resigned as governor in 2008 – after just 14-plus months in office – for being named in a prostitution scandal, he had no political allies to help him continue governing.

Cuomo has acknowledged criticism about his hardball style but has said it is how a governor gets things done.

This year, Cuomo has started to maximize a governor’s power over legislators by linking many policy issues to funding proposals in the state budget. For example, the governor has tied a tax credit favored by private schools (an idea Republicans like) to college aid for children of parents living in the United States illegally (which Democrats favor) in way that, if legislators reject both they also kill funding for New York’s college Tuition Assistance Program.

Legislators have criticized Cuomo’s tactics, though it isn’t clear whether the tension is serious enough to threaten lawmakers’ attempt to adopt a budget by the state’s fiscal deadline, April 1.

Cuomo defeated Astorino, 54 percent to 40 percent, in 2014.

Cuomo communications director Melissa DeRosa sought to dismiss Astorino's comments, saying on Twitter: "Hold the phone — the guy that ran against the governor and lost said something negative about him? Shocking."

Asked if he was considering another statewide run in 2018, Astorino said: “That’s three years away.”

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