Source: Cuomo and de Blasio may target Independent Democratic State Senators
Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio have had direct talks about supporting primary challengers to Democratic state senators who have blocked progressive legislation in Albany, according a source with direct knowledge of the conversation.
Among the targeted state senators are leading members of the Independent Democratic Conference, which has a power-sharing arrangement with Republicans that has blocked Democrats from taking the majority, with a number of instrumental assists from the governor.
Specifically, the source said Cuomo and De Blasio discussed supporting primary opponents to Jeff Klein, who represents portions of the Bronx and Westchester and leads the breakaway Democrats, and Diane Savino, who represents Brooklyn and Staten Island.
The stymied bills include a 10-point women's agenda Cuomo sought to pass, plus the creation of a statewide system to publicly finance campaigns based on the model used in New York City. That too was blocked in the State Senate. Another stalled piece of legislation was the plan to reduce penalties for public possession of small amounts of marijuana—which has been linked to a surge in arrests of young black and Latino men who have been stopped-and-frisked by police officers in New York City.
Cuomo and de Blasio have known each other for years, and worked together in the federal Housing and Urban Development agency under President Clinton. But since de Blasio, the city's public advocate, won the Democratic mayoral nomination, speculation has swirled about how his agenda, which includes raising taxes on the rich, would square with Cuomo's more fiscally moderate agenda, which calls for cutting state spending and providing tax breaks to companies to help spur job growth.
The two are at odds about whether the state should allow the city to raise taxes on New York City residents making $500,000 or more in order to pay for universal pre-kindergarten classes, a key campagn plege of de Blasio. Cuomo told the Daily News he is open to hearing the arguments for it, but has expressed reservations about doing anything to increase the tax burden on New Yorkers.
UPDATE: When Cuomo was asked this afternoon about possibly supporting primary challenges to I.D.C. members, he said, "I don't want to have any political conversations until next year.” At City Hall this afternoon, a spokeswoman for de Blasio declined to comment on his private conversations.