Andrew Cuomo’s favorite columnist is up in arms

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Briefing: Cuomo. (Cuomo's office via flickr)
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Andrew Cuomo's post-Newtown, post-Webster gun-control package was approved by the coalition-run State Senate late last night, and is being taken up by the Assembly today. The legislation puts limits on sales of high-capacity magazines and requires background checks for all gun sales, among other things.

The new laws will make Cuomo the first governor in the nation to pass gun-control legislation following the massacre in Connecticut, and will help brandish his credentials nationally both as a progressive and as a leader who can get things done.

But Cuomo's well-timed push for gun control, an issue which he, like most other Democrats, had mostly avoided until recently, has given rise to a fascinating sub-plot: open revolt by Fred Dicker, Cuomo's closest and most influential ally in the media.

Dicker, the veteran state editor for the New York Post, has been a consistent booster of Cuomo and serves as a useful clearing house for Cuomo's proposals, personnel decisions and political threats, which often appear first in Dicker's column as lightly attributed offerings of sources close to the governor.

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When Cuomo comes under attack by the rest of the Albany media for, say, being hyper-controlling of information, Dicker will counterprogram, writing that in fact the governor is extraordinarily transparent, and everyone should quit their whining. If a group of legislators angers Cuomo, Dicker will report shortly afterward that, according to his sources, the governor is considering a course of action that would be very bad for that group.

Dicker is currently writing a biography about Cuomo with the cooperation of the governor and his staff.

Dicker, who is for broad gun rights and low taxes, has criticized Cuomo in the past, like when the governor rejiggered the state's tax codes and effectively raised the permanent tax rate on high-income earners. But even then his objections were overtaken by his admiration for Cuomo's political acumen and chutzpah in pulling off the hike and selling it as a cut.

This is different, at least in tone.

Dicker has made clear his view that banning assault weapons will do little to reduce gun violence in New York, which is most often carried out with illegal handguns. He speculated that Cuomo was seeking national headlines and seeking primarily to placate the left, and then wondered whether it was even worse, and Cuomo was using the latest shooting tragedy as an excuse to push a radical gun agenda he wanted to advance "all along."

On his daily radio show, Dicker warned listeners that "a major attack is underway."

"It's all in secret, typical Albany, behind closed doors," said Dicker. "The governor had promised to make it transparent, out in the open. Now the rush is on."

Dicker warned, "This is a Trojan Horse. This is not about semi-automatic rifles. This is a sweeping set of gun laws the governor is using. The governor is using the tragedy … as a justification for sweeping changes in gun laws including regulating every single gun millions of New Yorkers now own. ... It's another reason people are going to be leaving New York."

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"They’re giving New Yorkers reason to actually feel proud about Albany." — Bill Hammond

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