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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Is Cuomo out to 'out-progressive' critic de Blasio?

Progressive? You want progressive? I'll give YOU progressive.

Even if that isn't really Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's most recent political slogan, it could be.

Leave it for another time to define just what the flexible "P" word means and to whom.

Cuomo recently drew direct fire from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who last week was in Rome for a big discussion on climate change, apparently part of the mayor's chosen outside-the-city role as self-declared progressive Democrat.

Last week Cuomo occupied a more local limelight with a rally in Manhattan celebrating his appointed wage board's hiking pay for fast-food workers to a minimum $15 per hour. "This is just the beginning. We will not stop until we reach true economic justice," he said.

The increase will be phased in gradually. But it puts the city and state -- partially -- in the company of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, which are escalating their minimum wages across the board to $15 an hour. Fast-food franchise owners, mulling a lawsuit, complain about being singled out. The state Senate has balked at further general minimum-wage hikes.

Speaking before the NAACP in Philadelphia the other week, Cuomo talked about New York trying to bridge racial divisions with his directive that the attorney general investigate the death of any unarmed civilians at the hands of police.

"The answer is not to litigate this case by case and who's right and who's wrong, because there is a pattern. And the pattern spells distrust, and the pattern spells a system that has lost the trust of many communities in this country," he said.

Cuomo, who earlier moved to classify 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles in the criminal-justice system, also called in the speech to end the "incarceration madness."

Not that criticism from Cuomo's left has disappeared. A group called "Hedge Clippers," which assails the role of hedge fund billionaires in politics, picketed outside an East Hampton fundraiser for Cuomo hosted by Daniel Loeb, founder and chief executive of Third Point LLC, who's also a major charter school supporter.

While it may not fit a progressive-versus-conservative mold, Cuomo, whom some call "centrist," has been making other stops in the de Blasio terrain. On Monday, the governor is due to join Vice President Joe Biden to tout improvements to LaGuardia Airport. Last year, the two announced a design competition for the airport's central terminal, and this is expected to be a follow-up.

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