ALBANY — A group of six Long Island Democratic state senators this weekend expressed fears to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins that they could be harmed politically if the deal to bring Amazon to Queens unravels, multiple sources told the Daily News.
The message was sent during a conference call between the six senators and Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers), the sources said.
“All of the members were united in favor of Amazon,” said one Long Island Democrat familiar with the call.
Some of the senators, the source said, told Stewart-Cousins they were feeling pressure from constituents about the possibility the Amazon deal could fall through “and how that would not be a good thing for this region, for Long Island.
“They made that clear,” the source added. “The majority leader understood that very well. Where it goes from there, I can’t say, but there was no confusion or misunderstanding or lack of clarity on the position of the Long Island delegation.”
A second source, who took part in the call, told The News “you’re not off base” when asked about the conversation.
The fear is if the project implodes, the Republicans will use the issue to try and reclaim Long Island seats they lost last year by painting the Dems as anti-business.
None of the state senators reached would comment publicly.
Amid vocal opposition from some progressives, The Washington Post reported last week that Amazon was reconsidering its plans to open a new office in Long Island City that supporters say will create a minimum of 25,000 jobs that carry an average salary of $140,000.
Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and other New York City politicians have blasted the state and city for agreeing to provide nearly $3 billion in taxpayer incentives to one of the world’s richest companies while some unions have complained about Amazon’s labor record.
In a move that raised some eyebrows, Stewart-Cousins recommended Gianaris’ appointment to a little-known board that will likely have to sign off on parts of the deal. Gov. Cuomo, who helped bring Amazon to New York, has not said whether he will appoint Gianaris.
Cuomo told the Long Island Association business group Friday that Amazon doesn’t come to New York, it is because of the political opposition. for the state Senate to oppose Amazon was “governmental malpractice.”
“And if they stop Amazon from coming to New York, they are going to have to have the people of New York State to explain it to. It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy.”
Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy would not discuss the specifics of the Saturday call between Stewart-Cousins and the Long Island delegation, but said that “the leader felt it was important to reach out to members (after) they were blindsided by false attacks at the Long Island Association.”
The concerns of Long Island senators shows the balancing act Stewart-Cousins has to play in representing a conference made up of more liberal members from New York City and more moderate Dems from the suburbs and upstate.
Some have suggested Stewart-Cousins might have recommended Gianaris to help the Queens Democrat with his local politics on the left while at the same time knowing Cuomo would likely scuttle the appointment.
But others say if Cuomo rejects Gianaris, it could lead to retribution when it comes to his own appointments to bodies like the MTA and Parole boards that need Senate confirmation.
“The governor has an interesting dilemma in that these guys are showing independence and will have many of is appointees to confirm,” said one observer. “He has a lot more nominees that go before the Senate than vice versa. It will be fascinating to watch that play out.”
As he seeks to head the state Republican party, Erie County GOP Chairman Nicholas Langworthy has a Carl Paladino problem, several party officials and operatives say.
Langworthy hails from the same county and is friends with Paladino, the bombastic Buffalo businessman who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and who has been accused in the past of racism.
“(Langworthy’s) support is widely viewed as coming from Paladino, which then begs the question of what influence would Paladino have over the state party,” said one GOP operative.
The source and other Republicans also expressed concerns that Langworthy, hailing from the western part of New York, won’t be able to easily tap into the party’s downstate donor base.
never tried to influence or control a single decision I’ve made as party chair.
“I don’t have a Paladino problem,” Langworthy insisted. “I have Carl Paladino as a friend of mine. He’s been a supporter of the party like he’s been a (financial) supporter of (state GOP Chairman) Ed Cox and the state party.”
As for hailing from upstate, Langworthy said the party hasn’t won a statewide race in the 10 years Cox, who lives downstate, has been chairman. He also notes the party’s greatest modern successes took place under former GOP Chairman William Powers, who was from the Albany area.
Cox has said he will seek another term as chairman in July. Suffolk County Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle is also considering seeking the post.
Despite controlling a fleet of nine cars, the Democrats — who now control the state Senate — are only using one.
Stewart-Cousins has a 2017 Ford Explorer SUV that until January belonged to John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican who retired.
The Republicans asked for and were assigned three cars, all 2013 Ford Tauruses, for Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County), Deputy Minority Leader Joseph Griffeo (R-Utica), and Sen. James Seward (R-Otsego County).
Five cars are currently unassigned.