If you listen closely on this windy day, you can hear the sound of liberals quietly gnashing their teeth during budget talks in Albany as several key proposals that Gov. Cuomo made earlier this year appear to be on the political back burner while election season looms.
Advocates of the Dream Act – which would give college aid to illegal immigrants – are furious that the State Senate failed to pass the legislation, instead quickly bringing the bill to a vote without giving supporters a chance to pressure lawmakers. While the governor ostensibly supports the bill, Dreamers are grumbling that the state's Democratic leader lately seems more at ease talking about cutting property taxes or appearing at massive pep rallies for charter schools.
The governor's proposal to give college education to prison inmates also appears to be languishing. Republicans have repeatedly bashed the idea -- while one prison-reform advocate told NY1 that no one on the governor's team has ever contacted his group about pushing the proposal forward. Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein told our Zack Fink yesterday that the governor has never raised the issue during closed-door budget talks.
With Election Day about seven months away – and White House dreams perhaps still lingering – Cuomo may not want to spend a lot of time dealing with Republican accusations that he's coddling illegal immigrants or helping prisoners. Those are the kind of relentless ideological attacks that Cuomo's father had to deal with while he was governor, defending his opposition to the death penalty – an issue that was repeatedly used against him in the 1994 campaign that he lost to George Pataki.
In an effort to push Cuomo to the left, there have been distant rumblings that the Working Families Party will put up its own candidate for governor. But that seemly highly unlikely; such a move could amount to hara-kiri for the organization which needs to get 50,000 votes in November in order to keep its ballot line. Party pooh-bahs will likely hold their noses and re-nominate Cuomo – despite some labor leaders being furious with him over downsizing the state workforce. (One apoplectic union boss even called the governor a "moron" and a "monkey".)
And ultimately, what's a poor liberal New Yorker going to do on Election Day -- vote for anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage Rob Astorino?
It's enough to make a liberal dream – maybe even of Mario Cuomo.