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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Cuomo, Democrats accepted Independence Party backing before it was offered

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the rest of his statewide Democratic ticket have accepted the endorsement of the Independence Party, apparently before it was offered Friday.

The Independence Party announced its decision Friday after a vote of members at its convention in Albany, when "the party delegates gave their nod," according to the party' news release.

But Cuomo and his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, signed their acceptance of the endorsements in papers filed with the state Board of Elections and dated Thursday. On Thursday afternoon, however, Cuomo had staved off reporters' questions at a news event by saying his decision on whether to accept the controversial minor party's support would be made "down the road."

"Today, Andrew Cuomo got caught in a lie," said Republican nominee for governor Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive. "He lied to the press."

A Cuomo campaign spokesman denied that. He said the acceptances were signed before they were actually endorsed.

"The governor signed all party paperwork in advance because he was going to be unavailable and we were going to discuss the Independence Party question when and if they intended to endorse him," said Peter Kauffmann, spokesman for Cuomo-Hochul 2014, in a statement released Friday afternoon. "We had the conversation and delivered the final paperwork last night."

The documents filed with the Board of Elections appear to show the paperwork was signed during the state Democratic convention in Melville.

DiNapoli and Schneiderman accepted the Independence Party endorsements in signed records dated Wednesday. DiNapoli and Schneiderman accepted their Democratic nominations on Wednesday.

Frank MacKay of Rocky Point, chairman of the state and Suffolk County Independence Party, didn't respond to requests for comment.

The endorsement itself was politically dicey for Cuomo.

Some Democrats led by Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs had urged Cuomo not to accept the Independence Party endorsement. A heated debate at this week's state Democratic convention was cut off and the issue was eventually tabled indefinitely.

The Independence Party provided Cuomo 146,576 votes four years ago. The labor-backed, liberal Working Families Party provided him with more than 154,000 votes in 2010 among his more than 2 million votes.

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