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Janison: De Blasio a Democratic powerhouse

De Blasio

De Blasio Credit: Bill de Blasio (Charles Eckert)

Even before the polls opened today, New York’s entrenched Democratic elected officials were clearly pondering what shape their dealings with Bill de Blasio, as the new power player on the scene, might take.

Given Albany’s power over municipal issues, some mayors have had famously strained relations with governors and legislative leaders. While de Blasio once worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a new dynamic remains to develop in their roles as mayor-elect and the first-term governor, a Cuomo ally said.

“There’s finally going to be a Democratic mayor after 20 years, and most Democrats will want to get along with de Blasio to the extent possible,” another state operative said. “Will there be crazy stuff behind the scenes? Sure. If there are big disagreements, you can expect they would at least start off below the surface.”

De Blasio’s proposal for a new tax on top earners to fund universal prekindergarten programs may signal tension for next year, when Cuomo and lawmakers in both houses face election. “That’s a heavy lift,” the official said.

With de Blasio carrying a progressive banner, Cuomo stands to be compared to him ideologically. To more conservative voters, the governor may wish to appear more “moderate” than de Blasio, and to more liberal voters, in tune with his goals.

This could vary by issue. De Blasio also faces a brand-new set of dealings with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and State Senate leaders.

Closer to home, one City Hall insider wondered aloud how much de Blasio may become involved in the City Council’s internal politicking over a new speaker to replace his former rival Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan). The outcome of that competition matters because of a speaker’s key role in negotiating budgets and legislation with a mayor.

When it comes to pushing its agenda in the federal arena, City Hall under the new mayor would undoubtedly need to deal with Sen. Charles Schumer. For most of Schumer’s 15 years in the Senate, Michael Bloomberg was mayor. And beyond Schumer’s wife having been transportation commissioner for more than five of those years, the senator’s working bond with the current mayor has been simpatico.

Last year, Schumer called Quinn “an amazing leader” and said “the best for her is yet to come.” But de Blasio won by running against that impression and by chipping away at Bloomberg’s record.

Dan Janison is a Newsday columnist.

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