By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- The Republican co-leader of the Senate is lashing out at Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for the deal announced Wednesday in which a small band of independent Democrats say they will form a new coalition with the main Senate Democratic conference to oust Republicans from power.
“He’s a Democrat, but what’s surprising to me, really, is the failure in character to stand up to the Working Families Party and Bill de Blasio and just cave to their radical demands," said Sen. Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, about Cuomo in an interview with The Buffalo News this afternoon.
Skelos said Republicans will pick up seats to maintain the majority this fall. But he said the deal that Cuomo helped put together with Senate co-leader Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, if successful, will disenfranchise upstate and Long Island by putting legislative power into the hands of New York City Democrats.
Skelos said that four years ago Cuomo dictated demands to the Working Families Party for him to run on their line. “This time it was the timid Andrew Cuomo who sold out politically and governmentally to the Working Families Party and what they represent."
Skelos dismissed Cuomo’s claim that he wants a more “progressive" agenda than Senate Republicans were willing to give him, noting that Cuomo got through a major gun control law, legalization of marriage rights for gays and an increase in the minimum wage with Republicans in partial control of the Senate.
As for de Blasio, who Skelos says helped orchestrate the endorsement by the Working Families Party of Cuomo, the New York mayor is poised to become “the de facto governor" of New York if he gets his way and a New York City-dominated Legislature is in place in both the Senate and Assembly.
“We’re going to win back the majority. This year, I think, is better than 2010, when we won back the majority," Skelos said. He said New York voters will react to what he characterized as policy problems in the Obama White House as well as Cuomo “moving away from a bipartisan government to a total New York City-type state government."
Skelos said he has not talked to Cuomo since the end of the session last week. Cuomo this week went to Binghamton, Rochester, Buffalo and then Long Island –- appearing at each event with Republican senators while touting his ability to work across the aisle.
“I think what he was doing by embracing Republicans at events is sending a message of bipartisanship while in the background he is basically looking to destroy bipartisanship in this state and have totally New York City dominance and takeover of the state," Skelos said.
Asked if the whole episode will now see Senate Republicans cozying up to Rob Astorino, the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Skelos said: “I endorsed Astorino a long time ago. He’s our candidate. It’s not just about Republicans endorsing Republicans and Democrats endorsing Democrats. It’s that the governor showed a lack of inner strength and character by capitulating to the Working Families Party and the radical left agenda."