(Updates with comment from Cuomo administration on extreme conservatives)
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has said there is no place in New York for conservatives opposed to abortion and gay marriage, has reportedly called state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-Bronx), a conservative minister, to help secure support from the influential Latino clergy.
In an interview, Diaz wouldn’t deny the report carried on Twitter quoting Diaz as saying, “Things are getting heated” in the governor’s race. The tweet was from a person in Thursday’s meeting of evangelical ministers.
Diaz wouldn’t comment on what he called a “private conversation” with Cuomo.
“I won’t deny it,” Diaz told Newsday. “I’m not denying anything, I am not confirming anything. The governor and myself, as you know, have not been friends, so we are trying to start a relationship,” said Diaz, who opposes abortion and gay marriage.
Cuomo had no comment.
Cuomo has since January said that “extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay ... have no place in the state of New York.” In his Sept. 10 campaign kickoff in Buffalo, Cuomo said, “That’s what we’re dealing with in November, a hyper-conservative mentality: against a woman’s right to choose, against equality ... those hyper-conservatives, you cannot participate [with] within a democracy.”
Cuomo aides have said the governor meant there is no place for extreme conservatives among statewide office holders in New York.
Diaz said the evangelical ministers will soon meet with Republican candidate Rob Astorino as well as Cuomo before any endorsement is considered.
Astorino has sought the Latino and conservative clergy vote since he kicked off his campaign in the Bronx. He used fluent Spanish to say he was seeking support from voters unaccustomed to voting for a Republican.
Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud said the Republican has been attending church services on Sundays and meeting privately with Latino clergy.
“They hold their faith very dear to them and lot of them are very upset about what the governor said about people who don’t agree with him not having a place in New York,” Proud said Thursday. “That’s something a lot of ministers are very upset about and we’re hearing from them from all over the state.”