Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Cuomo greeted a roaring crowd of supporters Saturday when he made Saratoga County the final stop on his tour of all 62 counties in New York state.
Cuomo was introduced by U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls. A Siena Research Institute poll released last week showed Murphy trailing Republican challenger Chris Gibson by 9 percentage points. Saturday was the first of three campaign events Murphy is hoping will boost Democratic voter turnout in his district. He’s scheduled to make appearances with former President Bill Clinton Monday and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., today in Troy.
Murphy said his campaign knows it needs to energize Democrats to get to the polls in what he predicts will be a close election.
“We’re excited to have Andrew Cuomo here to talk about his plans to move upstate New York’s economy forward and the kind of common-sense solutions that I want to use as a businessman to get people back to work,” Murphy said.
Cuomo took the stage at the Lakeside Farms pavilion to the sound of excited applause and loud chants of “Cuomo! Cuomo!” He charmed the crowd.
“When I started this campaign, I said I was going to visit all 62 counties, and this is number 62. I saved the best for last,” Cuomo said.
Without mentioning Republican opponent Carl Paladino by name, Cuomo said his opposition has sought to divide New Yorkers by religion, race and sexual orientation. He added that Republicans nationally would provide lax oversight for Wall Street and have “learned nothing” from the recent financial crisis. He said he doesn’t have to attack his opponents: their own words do that well enough.
“The more they talk, the better we look. You couldn’t make this stuff up. I just let them talk. I want my commercials to be them talking,” he said.
The Cuomo campaign blasted Bon Jovi’s “Work for the Working Man” before and after the candidate’s speech in what was clearly an enthusiastic Democratic Party event. Other Democrats in attendance included Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton and U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko.
After his speech, Cuomo posed for photos with a woman and her daughter, who was holding a photo of her mother as a young girl posing with Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
When Cuomo’s speech harkened back to what he called the great past of New York state’s government, he received booming cheers and applause. When his rhetoric turned against Albany, currently controlled by Democrats, and against taxes, he also received some cheers and applause but of lesser intensity. The crowd included public employee union members and Albany politicians and their staff.
“You have to get the taxes down, and there is no reason the taxes are as high as they are. There is a universal economic equation: You can only spend that which you make. There are only two groups in existence that do not understand that universal principle: one group are my three daughters, the second group are the Albany politicians,” he said.
Cuomo has called for a local property tax cap of 2 percent or the rate of inflation and has said he wants all “unnecessary” state mandates to be reformed to include sunset provisions, requiring the Legislature to periodically reauthorize them. Cuomo, however, has shied away from identifying which mandates he considers “unnecessary.” He has refused to take a position on repealing the so-called Triborough Amendment, a provision of state law that gives public employee unions substantial leverage in bargaining, or on layoffs for state and local employees. Cuomo has reserved the right to take positions on specific mandates next year when he is negotiating with the unions and the Legislature, if he’s elected governor.
Bob “Rabbit” Riley, a leader of the letter carriers’ union in Troy, said union members will come out to support Cuomo despite some of his rhetoric about Albany’s powerful public employee unions. He said union members are fearful of losing their jobs but he doubts Cuomo will balance the state’s budget on the backs of state employees.
“He has a vision, but I think he’ll sit down at the table and talk to us about it. Right now, everyone is fearful, and you have to be because he’s going to try to correct something, but I don’t think he’s going to try to correct it all on state workers and middle-class workers,” Riley said. “When he does win and reflects on the position he’s in, I know he’ll do the right thing. He’s not going to turn his back on the middle class because they are putting him in the job.”
Cuomo met with reporters after his speech to answer questions. Reporters asked whether he feels gratified to see supporters of his father attend his rallies and whether he was surprised at how negative the campaign had become.
Cuomo said he’s happy to see his father’s supporters support him and he wishes the campaign could be more about issues.
He was then asked why New York Inspector General Joseph Fisch was the one conducting the corruption probe showing that politics and money dominated the selection of a later disqualified racino operator for the Aqueduct racetrack, instead of the attorney general’s public integrity unit. Fisch’s probe has touched high-ranking Democratic leaders in the Legislature.
Cuomo began to say Fisch was asked to conduct his probe by a member of the Legislature, but he backtracked when reporters said Fisch has said he was investigating the issue before Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, requested he look into the matter. Cuomo said he didn’t get involved in the issue as a matter of protocol.
“There is an ongoing federal investigation, and there has been for some time. I don’t know what initiated the federal investigation; that’s none of my business. As a matter of protocol among law enforcement agencies, when one agency is conducting an investigation, the proper protocol, in my opinion, is to allow that agency to conduct the investigation, unless you have a good reason to interfere,” he said.
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Categories: Schenectady County