CAPITAL REGION — The high-profile scandals that have spurred calls in Albany and even beyond for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s resignation or removal from office have given some local politicians shots of national television exposure, at least on conservative cable networks.
State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, — a familiar face in Schenectady and regional political circles for more than four decades — appeared on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” last Saturday, and on Newsmax’s morning show on Monday, offering the kind of clever quips about the governor’s troubles that are part of his trademark style, which has made him a thorn in the side for many Democrats over the years.
“This governor has more angles than a geometry book,” said the conservative 49th District senator, who believed Cuomo should be impeached for allegedly covering up the number of COVID-19 deaths tied to New York nursing homes, even before more recent allegations of sexual harassment of young female aides that has more recently surfaced.
It’s not Tedisco’s first trip to the national TV rodeo, though it’s been awhile. “This is a big progressive state, doing a lot of progressive things that I’ve spoken out against,” he said on Wednesday. “I’ve been on national news several times when I was (Assembly) minority leader, so this is nothing new, but I’ll say this, it’s more now.”
When he was Republican minority leader in the Assembly from 2005 to 2009, his very public tangles with Gov. Eliot Spitzer — the last New York governor to resign in disgrace, in 2008 — sometimes got him national interviews.
“You’ve got to summarize things very quickly,” Tedisco said. “They’re looking for a sound-bite and that’s all you’re going to get, so I try to give it to them.”
In both cases last weekend, Tedisco was part of a small panel asked to discuss Cuomo, who is beset by charges he tried to minimize the number of COVID-19 deaths a year ago tied to nursing homes, and more recently by charges of inappropriate behavior toward young female staff members. On Newsmax, he appeared remotely along with U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, an outspoken conservative representing the 22nd Congressional District. Both think Cuomo should be impeached, with Tedisco citing the nursing home issue in particular.
Tedisco said he went on the conservative cable outlets because he was invited. “CNN doesn’t call too much, but if I got an offer I would go on,” he said.
Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara of Rotterdam also appeared on the same “Fox & Friends” panel with Tenney and Tedisco, during which he said Cuomo needs to go, by impeachment if necessary. “We see a pattern of behavior here, he’s created a culture that makes him unfit for office,” Santabarbara said.
Santabarbara said he’s also done national television before, but generally when he was a participant in a news event. Santabarbara has long been an advocate for people on the autism spectrum, and said he had a national interview a few years ago when he introduced an autism ID program. There’s also the time his chief of staff got a call from CNN at 3:30 a.m. asking him to go to the scene of the deadly 2018 Schoharie limousine crash for a live early-morning standup. (Many of the 20 people killed were from his district; he did it.)
“For what’s happening now, I’ve been on Fox outlets, and streaming networks,” Santabarbara said. “This is a national issue. What is happening here is very significant; the governor is being very defiant. I don’t believe he will resign, and we should impeach him.”
Fox and other conservative cable networks in recent months have also regularly featured two other local conservative politicians: North Country U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, and Liz Joy, the Glenville conservative who last year ran a relatively well-financed but unsuccessful Republican campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, in the 20th Congressional District.
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