As part of a regular weekly feature on the Politics Now blog, Tom Precious of The News' Albany Bureau posts an audio interview with a newsmaker from the Capitol.
ALBANY – Despite sour relations between his colleagues and the governor, the Senate’s top Democrat said he expects Gov. Andrew Cuomo will endorse Democratic senators in this fall’s elections.
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“The governor is a Democrat, and I expect him to endorse Democrats,’’ said Senate Minority Leader John Sampson in an interview this afternoon with The Buffalo News.
The Brooklyn Democrat’s comments came less than a week after Cuomo infuriated Senate Democrats over the deal he signed with Senate Republicans for new district lines – set to be in place the next 10 years – that favor the GOP in their attempt to keep control of what will be a 63-member chamber.
Sampson’s restraint on answering several questions was telling, however. Asked if he believes Cuomo wants Democrats to re-take the Senate or if he has done anything to indicate he wants the Republicans to lose control, Sampson said both times: “You have to ask the governor.’’
Allies of the governor have expressed displeasure with the Senate Democrats and say Cuomo would be comfortable if the GOP retains control of the chamber.
“Members are disappointed with the governor,’’ Sampson said of Cuomo and the redistricting deal he made with the Senate GOP. “But, hey, that’s politics … We’ll get over it.’’
Sampson also expressed displeasure with being cut out of closed door talks over the evolving state budget. The negotiations have been conducted in secret by Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Sampson said he has not talked to Cuomo in two weeks – a critical time in the formation of last week’s deals on redistricting, changes to the state pension system and the budget.
“As a leader I would like to be at the table to voice my concern about issues that my conference feels are very important to the state of New York,’’ Sampson said.
But, he added of Albany’s never-ending three-men-in-a-room system, “It’s three individuals in a room making decisions. It’s how it used to be in the past.’’
Sampson said Democrats will be targeting Buffalo Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti over a number of issues, including why the proportion of minority constitutents in his district dropped under the newly drawn lines from 37 percent to just five percent. “What’s the problem with that? He should be able to represent all constituents in that district,’’ Sampson said.
-- Tom Precious