ALBANY — While most of the Democratic establishment coalesced behind Gov. Cuomo at last week’s party nominating convention, one of the nation’s most powerful Dems was a notable exception.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader who hails from New York, did not attend the convention where Cuomo was nominated for a third term.
Nor was Schumer in a campaign video featuring elected officials, ordinary New Yorkers and Cuomo family members backing the governor.
Schumer’s spokesman, Angelo Roefaro, also continues to decline to say whether New York’s senior senator backs Cuomo.
“They are getting together soon to discuss,” Roefaro said.
Cuomo and Schumer have never been close. But at a time when Cuomo vows that New York will be the state that leads the resistance against President Trump, Schumer’s lack of public support for the governor’s re-election has taken even some long-time Democrats by surprise.
“Here’s this guy in his backyard, who has a lot of power in this little club called the U.S. Senate,” said one Democratic operative.
“You would think at the very moment Cuomo is trying to drape himself in the arms of the party as a protector of all that is virtuous and progressive, that he would find ways to partner and work with Schumer.”
Those close to Cuomo insist the governor and Schumer have worked together, most recently fighting against the Republican tax plan they say hurts New York and other blue states.
Cuomo’s team expects Schumer will ultimately back the governor over actress/activist Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging the governor from the left in the Democratic primary.
“Of course the senator will be endorsing the governor for re-election and that endorsement will be rolled out at the appropriate time,” a Cuomo insider said.
Cuomo at last week’s convention got more than 95% of the delegate vote.
Nixon fell far short of the 25% she needed to guarantee a spot on the September primary ballot. She said she will seek to garner the necessary 15,000 signatures statewide to petition her way on to the ballot.
Cuomo’s father, former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo, passed away more than three years ago, but his presence loomed large at last week’s Democratic state party convention.
Gov. Cuomo’s mother, Matilda Cuomo, former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and others all warmly discussed Mario Cuomo during their remarks to delegates and tied the governor to him and his legacy.
Mario Cuomo remains revered by many on the left who are less than enthused with the Cuomo now residing in the governor’s mansion.
“Invoking Mario Cuomo’s name creates a kinder reference to the Cuomo name, makes it less harsh, and makes it more left,” said veteran Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
Nixon at last week’s Democratic convention picked up less than 5% of the vote — and got no votes from black delegates.
“That should open some eyes,” said Charlie King, a Cuomo ally and former executive director of the state Democratic Party.
Nixon has acknowledged that to pull off an upset against Cuomo in the September primary, she must cut into his advantage in the black community.
Her people dismiss the convention vote, saying the event was tightly controlled by Cuomo. They note Nixon was nominated at the convention by two black women.
Cuomo is said to have averted disaster during his 48-minute convention acceptance speech.
Staffers say that shortly after taking the stage, Cuomo’s teleprompter died.