Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 11, 2012

Analysis: Governor at center of uncertain Senate

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — "He said coming in that he wanted to be fiscally conservative for a while, but to also make New York a progressive beacon for the nation," King said. "Clearly, he won't benefit from more tax cuts for the rich and more austerity."

Cuomo sat out most of the Senate elections. He intervened most prominently to endorse Republican Sen. Stephen Saland, who cast the critical vote for Cuomo's bill to legalize gay marriage last year. That infuriated some Democrats, including candidate Terry Gipson, who leads Saland pending the counting of absentee ballots. Cuomo also allowed several Republicans to use his image and past plaudits in GOP campaigns.

Now, Cuomo may have to interact far more directly with senators.

As the popular leader of the state Democratic party, Cuomo may have to meld the disparate Senate Democrats into a working majority, if that's possible among rival senators.

Cuomo could also try to get the breakaway group, known as the Independent Democratic Conference, to sit out the vote for majority leader, which could allow Republicans to choose one of their own even if Democrats outnumber them. Senate Republican leaders have forged a close relationship with the IDC, which sat out the majority leader vote two years ago. Cuomo has also developed a close working relationship with the top Republicans, while mostly ignoring the Democratic leaders in the near powerless minority.

"Whoever wins. I work with whoever wins," Cuomo said Friday .

Neither option would be easy, or pretty.

Far uglier would be a repeat of recent history.

Democrats wrested the majority from Republicans in 2008 after a half-century of GOP domination. But the next two years were marked by historic power plays within the Democratic conference, a coup by Republicans and three dissident Democrats, and gridlock.

"The governor — on any level — can't afford to return to the dysfunction of the past," said Steven Greenberg of the Siena College poll. "So the question is: What role if any will the governor play?"

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