Cuomo Faces Liberal Test In Re-Election Bid

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By Andrew Cuomo by Pat Arnow.jpeg: Pat Arnow derivative work: UpstateNYer (Andrew Cuomo by Pat Arnow.jpeg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andrew Cuomo by Pat Arnow.jpeg: Pat Arnow derivative work: UpstateNYer (Andrew Cuomo by Pat Arnow.jpeg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Liberal discontent with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo could erupt into insurgency this weekend as the left-leaning Working Families Party gathers to nominate its pick for governor.

The party — a coalition of labor unions and progressive activists — endorsed Cuomo in 2010, but many of its leaders have expressed dismay over the Democrat's business-friendly tax policies and say he hasn't done enough to reduce income inequality.

Recent polls give Cuomo a commanding lead over his Republican challenger, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. But they show that lead could be cut in half if the Working Families Party nominates its own candidate on Saturday in Albany. The surveys highlight Cuomo's problem with his party's liberal base, despite his work to pass gay marriage and gun control measures.

"The governor is simply not progressive enough," said David Schwartz, a state committee member and Westchester County vice chairman for the Working Families Party. "The left needs to push back against the corporatism of the Democratic Party and its move to the right."

The state's Democratic Party nominated Cuomo for a second term last week at its convention on Long Island. Cuomo told reporters at a Memorial Day parade Monday on Staten Island that he hopes to win votes from across the political spectrum.

"I'm a governor for all the people," he said. "I'm going to be asking all people for their votes: Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, whatever your party."

Cuomo has aggressively pushed for legalized gay marriage, gun control and women's rights but he's more of a centrist when it comes to taxes and economic policy. He angered some liberals by backing charter schools, opposing proposals to allow New York City and other communities to set a local minimum wage, and for supporting reduced corporate and estate taxes.

Cuomo is widely thought to be mulling a presidential run. Richard Brodsky, a former state lawmaker, said the question of liberal support for Cuomo becomes an "existential question with national significance."

"For 100 years the progressive movement has been fundamentally one of the middle class and working families," Brodsky said. "This is a change. And it's a change that everybody needs to think about."

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week gave Cuomo a 57 percent to 28 percent lead over Astorino. If an unnamed candidate running on the Working Families Party line was included, Cuomo's lead over Astorino dropped to 37 percent to 24 percent. The telephone poll of 1,129 voters was conducted May 14-19 and has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

A proposed Working Families Party platform that will be voted on at the convention includes a ban on hydraulic fracturing, broad public financing of campaigns, higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy and support for local minimum wage laws.

The platform — a draft of which was given to The Associated Press on Tuesday — also supports the legalization and taxation of marijuana and the enactment of the Dream Act, which would extend state financial aid to students in the country illegally.

No Working Families Party candidate has stepped forward publicly to challenge Cuomo, but Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins said he'd welcome the nomination. While the two parties don't always agree, there's enough common ground to consider an alliance when it comes to fighting Cuomo, Hawkins said.

"Cuomo doesn't stand for their platform," he said. "They should nominate me and we'd have a united fight."


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