New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks to the media...

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks to the media after a campaign rally at Hostos Community College in the Bronx on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

Shortly after get-out-the-vote efforts ended last week, get-out-the-blame operations went into full swing.

Two days after Election Day turnout proved alarmingly low across the United States, re-elected Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said regarding Democrats' down-ballot defeats: "These things tend to move on large currents, and the current was a Republican tide, dissatisfaction with a Democratic administration in Washington, premised on economic anxiety."

But while President Barack Obama said he accepted responsibility for his party's weak performance nationally, some party activists in Nassau and Suffolk privately pointed a few fingers at Cuomo, the state's top Democrat.

"The governor's poor performance on Long Island killed us in Suffolk," said one Democratic operative, declining to be identified given possible involvement in future campaigns. "When Democrats don't come out because they're not interested in voting for governor, they're also unavailable to vote for every other position. They were not there to vote for [Rep. Tim] Bishop or for [James] Gaughran for comptroller" -- Democrats who lost their races.

Another local partisan player said, with a little less edge: "Our people disappeared. It could be for various reasons, including maybe a lack of excitement over the governor as a spillover from the primary."

Cuomo's office declined to add to the governor's previous comments. But a state Democratic operative said: "It seems odd to blame the governor for the national Republican wave. Democrats lost the governor's office in deep blue Massachusetts and Maryland. Other blue states with incumbent Democratic governor's races were nail-biters. Cuomo was one of only two incumbent Democrats to win big."

Still, local numbers for governor showed not so much a Republican tide as a Democratic drought.

The still-to-be certified Suffolk vote for GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, 150,335, falls amazingly close to Cuomo foe Carl Paladino's official 2010 total of 150,380. Cuomo's vote total in the county, meanwhile, plunged to 146,615 from 227,374 four years ago.

In Nassau, Astorino has 135,472 votes so far; Paladino got 137,892 in 2010. Cuomo fell to 160,214 from 233,349 in 2010.

The Democrats' failed drive to win a State Senate majority and losses of House seats also prompted internal griping. Predictably, there's chatter over whether Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) will continue to head his party's Senate campaigns. But some complain of what Cuomo's state committee did or didn't do to help.

After his side lost ground in New York, outgoing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leader Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) was widely quoted as saying that despite talks months ago with the governor's staff about coordinating campaigns, "I didn't see the fruition to those conversations."

And it isn't just the Democrats. Astorino's campaign manager Michael Lawler accused Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) of working for Cuomo as much as Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who endorsed the governor. Skelos spokesman Scott Reif suggested Lawler should "look in the mirror" and accept responsibility.

During the campaign, Republicans warned that a Democratic Senate would dance to liberal New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's tune.

This week, de Blasio posted a commentary saying "too many Democratic candidates lost sight" of the party's "core principles" -- such as fighting income inequality -- "in deference to a conventional wisdom that says bold ideas aren't politically practical."

He said, "I know my party need not search for its soul, but rather, its backbone."


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