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The Real Reason Cuomo Doesn't Want a Dem NY Senate

Illustration for article titled The Real Reason Cuomo Doesnt Want a Dem NY Senate

Of course, there's a number of reasons that Andrew Cuomo doesn't want Democratic control of the New York State Senate and why he hasn't done much of anything to fulfill his promises to the Working families Party to work for it. Cuomo is not a progressive. That much is clear. In an overwhelmingly Democratic state like New York, he needs a buffer against actually progressive legislation becoming law, one that allows him to escape any blame for thwarting it.

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Functional control of the Senate by Republicans lets Cuomo claim to support policies supported by a majority of New Yorkers while never having to sign anything into law that he personally opposes, like local control of minimum wages or public financing of campaigns. "It couldn't get through the Senate," has been the refrain for decades and it has served Andrew Cuomo and the big money players that are his real power base very, very well.

When you add Cuomo's recent attack on public school teachers and their "monopoly," the picture as to why he's done something less than the bare minimum to make good his promise to fight for a Democratic NY Senate become clearer.

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Cuomo has been a vigorous advocate of the education "reform" movement, a collection of hedge fund funded charlatans that are looking to siphon as much public money as possible from public education under the guise of "disrupting" education as we know it. Those same forces, big financial backers of Cuomo, are also huge players in the fight for control of the Senate and they are spending enormous sums of money to maintain or even strengthen Republican control of the chamber. Cuomo is not about to fight against his staunchest and most generous allies to win any brownie points with the progressives he despises.

Critics are taking Governor Andrew Cuomo's recent political attacks on unionized teachers as the strongest evidence yet he is working toward a Republican-led State Senate, despite of his pledge to help Democrats win the chamber.

In telling the Daily News editorial board he hoped to break "one of the only remaining public monopolies" with stricter teacher evaluations and competition from charter schools, the Democratic governor laid out a second-term education agenda in sync with charter school advocates—including several deep-pocketed hedge fund managers—who have donated millions to his campaign and to Republicans trying to keep their majority in the Senate.

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Anybody paying attention knew that Cuomo would never follow through. Fortunately, lots of people were indeed paying attention.

"Everybody realized that he has reneged on [his pledge to support Democrats] completely," said Phil Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation and an active W.F.P. member who opposed the party's endorsement of Cuomo. "Unfortunately, there are some politicians who will say anything to get what they want. Many of us that voted against the endorsement knew that this was going to happen. It's not surprising."

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Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the Democratic primary after the W.F.P. rejected her bid for the third party's nomination, said she never took seriously Cuomo's pledge to elect Democrats to the upper chamber.

"Andrew Cuomo hasn't done half of what he should for getting Senate Dems to come back," she said. "This is the language of donors. This is not the language of New Yorkers. … I think it reveals the club he's hanging out with."

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So the battle for control of the NY Senate has Cuomo's strongest backers, hedge fund charter schools people, NYC real estate tycoons on one side and teachers unions, WFP and other progressive orgs on the other.

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Cuomo was never going to engage in this fight on the progressive side and is now even moving to weaken that side as much as possible going forward.

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He was never going to cross the interests of his real base.

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(image via Capital NY)

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