ALBANY - Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of New York’s most powerful Democrats, defended Andrew Cuomo’s refusal to answer questions about how he would act as governor until he formally announces he will run.
Silver’s comments Tuesday come as Cuomo amasses a campaign fund five times larger than Democratic Gov. David Paterson’s, and after Paterson’s campaign accused Cuomo of ducking hard questions on the state’s fiscal crisis.
“I think there is one governor in the state, there is one Senate, one Assembly,” Silver said Tuesday. “It is their job to talk about the budget ...
I just don’t think it’s really necessary to craft a budget based on a consensus of all the people who say they are running for governor.”
Although Paterson has been a friend for 20 years, the Assembly speaker said he won’t likely make an endorsement until a Democratic nominee is chosen.
Meanwhile, Cuomo has the highest polls among New York politicians, while Paterson’s polls fell to record lowest over the last two years as he fought with special interests, cut spending and raised taxes in the fiscal crisis.
“Since it’s clear Mr. Cuomo is running for governor, it’s time for him to stop ducking the hard questions of how he would close a $7.4 billion deficit, balance the budget and pass ethical and fiscal reforms,” said Paterson campaign manager Richard Fife.
Cuomo has raised more than $16 million for a campaign that won’t identify what office he’s running for. His pitch includes promises to “continue our efforts to restore honest government in Albany.”
John Milgrim, Cuomo’s attorney general spokesman, said Cuomo remains focused on his current job and “will focus on politics at the appropriate time.” Republican candidate for governor Rick Lazio says Cuomo is undermining the Democratic governor’s efforts and eroding the last bits of support Paterson has in the party. Lazio also said Cuomo is putting his own political future ahead of the state.
“While Albany politicians may support Andrew Cuomo’s political games the people are demanding better from their elected leaders,” Lazio spokesman Barney Keller said.