Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday night that he plans to seek re-election to his current post next year even though a Siena Research Institute poll shows him clobbering Gov. David Paterson in a Democratic primary for governor.
Cuomo was at Schenectady County Community College with his executive staff to hold work sessions with the public on a variety of issues. Cuomo has held 21 work sessions throughout the state since winning election as attorney general two years ago.
More than 200 people, a large number of them members and leaders of the Schenectady County Democratic Party, attended Tuesday night’s event.
Some people were there to file complaints or seek help on concerns related to health care, consumer protection, Internet safety, civil and labor rights and environmental protection. Cuomo’s “top lawyers” chaired each work session. Spokesman John Milgrim said the attorney general looks into every complaint.
“The attorney general feels it’s very important for his office to interact with the people in each community to get to know the issues,” Milgrim said.
Other people, like Betty LaCerais of Schenectady, said they came to see and listen to Cuomo. She left after Cuomo spoke and before the work sessions started.
“I think he is doing a great job as attorney general. I think he will do a great job as governor,” LaCerais said, voicing an opinion that Cuomo will run for governor, despite his insistence that he will seek re-election.
Addressing the Siena poll, Cuomo said he is “very happy to be attorney general, and it heartens me to know the people feel good about me as attorney general.” He said he “believes Paterson will run for governor and he will also be re-elected.”
Still, Cuomo sounded like a candidate for governor in his opening remarks, LaCerais said. She called his comments a campaign speech.
“He is well-spoken and his comments were inspiring,” she said.
Cuomo spoke about efforts to get AIG executives to return bonuses and about the state’s budget and fiscal problems.
“I will not allow the taxpayers to be exploited in the process of bailing out these companies. If you think you are going to take taxpayers’ money and take a performance bonus on your way out the door, that is not going to happen,” Cuomo said to wide applause.
On the budget, Cuomo said consolidation is a way to reduce the cost of government and blasted government patronage as a waste of money.
“It is not OK to pass down the cost of government to taxpayers,” he said.
Cuomo said the state, nation and world are facing tough challenges due to the economic collapse, “but we have one advantage: We are New Yorkers.”
Cuomo said people believe that “if you are from New York, you have figured it out first. That is what made us the Empire State. It is who we are. It is in our DNA, and it is in the people who raised us.”