ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday he will support a Democratic takeover of the state Senate in this fall’s elections, despite his often close relationship with the Senate’s longtime Republican majority.
“I’m a Democrat,” Cuomo said at a news event in the Bronx. “I will support Democratic candidates in these elections, first and foremost Sen. Clinton” for president, “and I am going to support Democrats for the Assembly and Senate.”
There wasn’t any outpouring of thanks by Democrats or even a flurry of tweets following the pledge of support by the governor, who heads the state Democratic Party. Democrats seeking a Senate majority have heard this promise before, but have found it lacking. Senate Democratic candidates have unsuccessfully sought the governor’s help on the campaign trail at the height of his popularity, only to see him appear in Republican campaign fliers from past official events without Cuomo’s objection.
Cuomo’s level of support “remains to be seen over the coming months,” said Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), who heads the Senate Democratic campaigns. “We certainly welcome his support and are looking forward to working with in the majority.”
Gianaris said Cuomo “clarified” his position from a day before.
At a Niagara Falls news event on Tuesday, Cuomo was asked by a reporter: “Governor, are you in support of a full Democratic takeover in this fall and does that include the IDC coming back to the mainline conference?”
Cuomo: “It’s too early for any political conversation about that right now.”
Twenty-four hours later in the Bronx, it apparently was time.
A reporter asked: “Do you feel you feel as if you should have a Democratic-led Senate?”
Cuomo responded this time with his support for a Democratic majority in the Senate chamber, which has been ruled by Republicans for most of a half-century. Explaining his differing responses over a day, Cuomo said: “I was asked the other day about what the IDC will do with the Democratic conference. I can’t speak for them.”
The IDC is the Independent Democratic Conference, which broke away from the mainline Democratic conference in 2009, after a year of fiscal crisis and political gridlock when Democrats had briefly gained the majority. Now the five-member IDC is an independent group that works closely with Cuomo and the Republicans’ slim majority. The Senate majority is bolstered by a conservative Democrat who sits with the GOP and is the cushion provided by the IDC in many close votes.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said, “We are confident we’re going to keep and grow our majority because Senate Republicans are focused on the issues that hardworking Long Island families are focused on — taxes, schools and quality of life.”