Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday hosted day one of what he is calling the "Adirondack Challenge" in upstate New York, where he and other state leaders took to the river in a whitewater rafting competition. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Just a friendly competition was how the governor promoted the event. Members of the State Assembly had their own raft, and so did the State Senate. Since the senate is led by a bipartisan coalition that includes breakaway Democrats and Republicans, the rowing team made special t-shirts for the race that read "team majority coalition, paddling in not so perfect harmony," a joke that highlights the often rocky partnership in the senate this past year.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver did not make the trip up from his Lower East Side district, but other members of the assembly came to represent "the people's house."
"It was really a lot of fun. I didn't realize I could do that. I thought I was going to get thrown out of the boat the first time we hit a big deep hole," said State Assemblyman Denny Herman Farrell.
If you are keeping score, the assembly's boat came in third place, the senate's came in second and the governor's, of course, came in first. Although some questioned whether the fix was in. But the Adirondack Challenge wasn't just about whitewater rafting. There are booths and tables set up at Indian lake to promote tourism.
"We are hoping that this brings a lot of business into our community. The governor chose Indian Lake for the Adirondack Challenge this year. And we are hoping that people will come and see that they can have a fun time here," said Vonnie Liddle, an Adirondack Challenge festival vendor.
"We had a lot of fun, there was a serious purpose to it, obviously, which was about getting the word out about the Adirondacks, increasing tourism. Tourism is big business for the state," Cuomo said.
The governor couldn't quite escape politics up at the event either. Gun owners demonstrated nearby about the New York Safe Act, which tightened gun restrictions when it was signed into law earlier this year.
But mostly, it was a day to enjoy the outdoors and inspire some of that competitive spirit the governor is known for.
Meantime, Monday is being billed as the main event as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will be competing directly with Governor Cuomo in a whitewater rafting race.
The two men have a well documented political rivalry.