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Cuomo says fellow Dems should face primaries if they don’t pass progressive legislation


Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters during a press conference about the Hudson River Tunnels in his New York City office Wednesday, November 28, 2018 in Manhattan, New York. (Barry Williams/New York Daily News)

ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo sees challenges ahead for his fellow Democrats.

The governor warned progressive Dems in the state Legislature on Tuesday that they’ll face primaries if they fail to pass a sweeping slate of liberal bills by the end of the legislative session next week.

“Here’s my prophecy: You were elected because you were progressives,” Cuomo said. “You end this session — no marijuana, no driver’s licenses, half a loaf on tenant protection, no surrogacy, no ERA, no pay equity — now, I believe they should all be primary-ed because that is a failure of a basic progressive agenda.”

Asked if he would support primary challenges, Cuomo was evasive.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said.

With the end of session approaching and rent laws up for renewal, the governor has turned needling his fellow Democrats into a hobby. He has continuously taken fired shots at Senate Dems during radio appearances and press conferences, goading them to pass a tenant-friendly package of rent reforms.

On Tuesday, talking about the progressive-moderate divide he sees in the upper chamber, Cuomo accused lawmakers of making policy decisions solely based on politics, not the interests of their constituents.

Dems are making “political decisions” on measures such as rent, surrogacy, driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and recreational marijuana as well as the Equal Rights Amendment and pay equity measures as key items.

Asked why he chose to publicly attack members of his own party instead of meeting with leaders to negotiate, the governor offered little insight.

“This is how I do things,” he said. “I am talking without talking. I’m saying there is no negotiation on rent because it’s not about negotiation, it’s about the politics.”

Cuomo ended by predicting that the legislature will end up approving some of the more divisive measures before lawmakers go on recess for the summer.

“Here’s my prophecy. I think we will pass many of these issues. And it will be a very successful session,” he said. “But these are difficult political issues. And you spend any time in this building. Any time with any legislative-executive relationship, political issues, the hard ones, are difficult to achieve. That’s why they are hard ones.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said she and her conference are focused on doing their jobs.

“I’m asked all the time to analyze these things and I can’t," she said. "What we continue to do is do the things that we can do to make New Yorkers lives better. That is the only the Senate Democrats are trying to do, it’s the only thing the Assembly is trying to do.”

Cuomo’s forecasts come a week after state Democratic Party leader Jay Jacobs warned Albany lawmakers not to go too far to the left.

Warning incumbent Democrats could face primaries is no small thing for lawmakers, especially after the success of challengers in last year’s elections. Already, progressive groups have threatened to primary Assembly lawmakers in the 2020 elections.

Jacobs said his concern was Dems in more moderate districts on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

Democrats won control of the Senate last year for the first time in a decade by flipping Republican seats and ousting Democrat members who broke away from the party to work with the GOP.