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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo downplays challenge from left

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo is shown

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo is shown in this file photo. (Jan. 17, 2012) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo tried to downplay liberal complaints about his economic and campaign-finance policies Wednesday and knock down the idea that he might face a challenge from the left.

"I don't know if there's a lot of space to my left," the Democrat told reporters, citing the legalization of same-sex marriage and the enactment of tougher gun-control laws during his first term.

Cuomo fielded the question from reporters a day after a poll released by Siena College suggested a liberal challenger could take away votes from the incumbent. The poll found Cuomo still in solid position for re-election this fall, with a comfortable lead over Republican Rob Astorino, though his approval ratings have dipped.

In addition, the Working Families Party, which pushes a progressive platform, has been wrestling over whether to endorse a governor who calls himself progressive. The labor-backed party endorsed Cuomo in 2010, but some members have grown disenchanted over his pro-business tax policies and the lack of a fully fledged public-finance system for political campaigns. Earlier this year, Cuomo met with leaders of labor unions influential with the Working Families Party.

Cuomo said he's delivered on "progressive" issues.

"I think we've accomplished -- actually accomplished -- more progress measures than this state has accomplished in decades and decades and decades," the governor said. "Marriage equality. Safe guns. So we have a phenomenal record of accomplishment."

Some Democrats and advocates have pressed Cuomo to do more on campaign-finance and the so-called "Dream Act," which would allow children of immigrants living here illegally to participate in the state's college tuition-assistance program. The governor said those proposals "don't have the votes" in the politically split State Senate. Early this year, the Dream Act failed in the Senate by two votes.

"I'm still working on these issues," Cuomo said. "But it's not for want of my support or effort."

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