Cuomo says criticism of his undermining of the Senate Democrats is ‘hyperpartisan’

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo deflected criticism of his Democratic bona fides this morning, in an appearance on Fred Dicker's radio show.

Dicker asked the governor about commentary from MSNBC's Chris Hayes and Salon's Alex Pareene (he referred to "Chris Hayes, a TV personality, and a writer for Salon.com"), who assailed Cuomo for effectively working against Democratic control of New York's State Senate, and encouraged Democratic primary voters to remember Cuomo's position in four years.

Presumably referring to the yet-to-be officially determined outcome of two State Senate contests, the governor said, "Well, call me old-fashioned, I still think we should count the votes, you know. All these people who are concerned with democracy, how about we count the votes first, and then we find out who won, and then we have an opinion about who should have won, and who should be in control. Let's count the votes, that's my great, informed political opinion at the time."

The outcomes of those races could affect whether Democrats have a numerical majority in the freshly redistricted 63-seat chamber. The Democrats lead in the recounts in both races, but they'll also have to win the support of a disaffected four-member bloc of Independent Democrats in order to take over.

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Dicker, who yesterday speculated the criticisms might have originated with Eliot Spitzer or Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, asked about the criticism that Cuomo hasn't expressed a preference for a Democratic majority in the Senate.

"Yeah, I would like to see a little less hyperpartisan rhetoric and a little more substantive rhetoric on issues and positions and what people would actually do," Cuomo said. "All this talk, where are people on teacher evaluations ... Where are people on minimum wage, and campaign finance reform, and stop and frisk, and marijuana? Where are they on storm relief? Where are they on the budget? Why don't we have a little discussion about an actual agenda and issues and progress and what's good for the people, aside from just hyperpartisan rhetoric."

"So let's count the votes and then we can all have opinions," he added. "Opinions are nice, but they're better when they're matched with some facts."

Cuomo has, in fact, undermined Democratic efforts to retake the majority, starting with his endorsement of a Republican-gerrymandered district map earlier this year. His motivations in rooting for the other side aren't hard to discern: he works well with the pliant Republican leaders (while burnishing his reputation for bipartisanship), and fears a return to the chaos that marked the last time the Democrats controlled the Senate, three years ago.

Of course it would also be an option for him to use his considerable influence to get the wayward Democrats into line, which would remove what had been the primary source of the disorder the last time around. But that would give Cuomo some measure of responsibility for whatever followed, which is clearly something he's got no interest in assuming.

Separately, in the interview, Cuomo also addressed reports that the state's congressional delegation wasn't terribly pleased with his proposal for $30 billion in federal aid before he had consulted with members of the delegation.

"The congressional delegation gets it," he said. "I speak to all of them all the time."

The governor said he understood it would be a "difficult time" to deliver federal aid, what with the impending fiscal cliff and talk of budget cuts, but said Congress has often passed supplemental budget items in the wake of disasters and that Hurricane Sandy was the "second largest storm in modern political history."

"We need their help, even if it's not convenient," he said.