Sunday, December 21, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: A Not-So-Independent Governor

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Governor Cuomo last week was busy carrying on relationships with two very different political parties last week, one openly and the other behind closed doors. While Cuomo was publicly appearing on Thursday with his fellow Democrats on Long Island, he was also quietly ensuring that he will be on the ballot of the controversial Independence Party this November.

Just a few hours after accepting the nomination from his fellow Democratic delegates, Cuomo was less than candid when he was asked in Cooperstown about whether he was taking the Independence Party's backing, telling reporters in Cooperstown: "That's still a decision that we're going to be making down the road. We accepted the Democratic nomination today."

But Cuomo had apparently already walked down that road without telling anyone; handing over the necessary paperwork that day so he could formally receive the Independence nomination on Friday, when officials met in Albany. Unlike the very public Democratic and Republican gatherings, Independence Party officials sent out no press releases about their vote – and NY1 was alerted about their endorsement by a dissident member.

The governor is trying to avoid the stench of bad publicity surrounding the party (whose city arm has been accused of cult-like behavior) while embracing the fact that tens of thousands of New Yorkers think "Independence" means independent when it comes to voting. In 2010, Cuomo received almost 150,000 votes on the Independent line – more than three percent of the total vote. And if it weren't for the Independence line in 2001, Michael Bloomberg would never have left the private sector.

Cuomo clearly didn't want his re-coronation by State Democrats to be eclipsed by his shadowy pact with Independence leaders so he threw voters a spitball in Cooperstown. His campaign spokesman was left to play damage control, saying the governor signed the necessary paperwork in case he later decided to accept the Independence Party nomination – which he officially did the next day. But that's sort of like saying you ordered the steak at Peter Luger's in case you're hungry in the next hour.

Cuomo has a little more than five months to make his case to voters about why he should be re-elected; since he's not sending the Independence Party a "Dear John" letter, it would be smart for he him to play it straight and explain why.

Bob Hardt

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