Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the top Democratic leader in the New York state Senate, called on Sunday for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign, saying he should do so for the good of the state.
The resignation call comes after two more women allege the governor engaged in inappropriate behavior in published reports on Saturday. Stewart-Cousins had previously said in a Capital Tonight interview last week an additional allegation leveled against the governor would tip her toward backing calls for him to step down.
"Everyday there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government," she said. "We have allegations about sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, the loss of credibility surrounding the Covid-19 nursing home data and questions about the construction of a major infrastructure project."
"New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign."
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, meanwhile, stopped just short of making a similar call in a separate statement, though he questioned whether the governor can remain in office.
"The allegations pertaining to the Governor that have been reported in recent weeks have been deeply disturbing, and have no place whatsoever in government, the workplace or anywhere else," Heastie said.
"I too share the sentiment of Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins regarding the Governor's ability to continue to lead this state. We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York."
Stewart-Cousins's call for his resignation will carry shockwaves through state government. She is deeply respected by Democrats in the establishment and progressive wings of the party in New York.
And, as the top Democratic leader of the state Senate, she is tasked with negotiating the state budget with the governor this month.
Up until now, Cuomo's allies could point to most of the calls for his resignations coming from Democrats who had previously been his critics or endorsed his challengers.
It's likely this will open up further calls for his resignation from top officials in the party.
Cuomo this afternoon in a conference call insisted he would not step aside amid the mounting allegations as well as the scrutiny he is under over his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuomo urged New Yorkers to wait for the results of an investigation that is now in the hands of Attorney General Letitia James.
"There is no way I resign," Cuomo said on the call. "Let the attorney general do her investigation."
Cuomo last week in a news conference apologized to anyone who may have been made to feel incomfortable, but has insisted he never touched anyone inappropriately.