Gov. Cuomo is a tough customer; we’ve called him “a real piece of work.” The oft-tormented Bill de Blasio knows this. So do former Senate Majority Leaders John Flanagan and Dean Skelos, Former Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and current Speaker Carl Heastie.
He has variously characterized the members of that all-male, mostly all-white bunch, as naive, incompetent and overly ideological. Cuomo is a Democrat, but he’s never been above questioning the policy priorities or political tactics of fellow Democrats.
The new state Democratic Senate Majority Leader is Andrea Stewart-Cousins. She is a black woman.
Cuomo rightly disagrees with some of the moves the Senate under Stewart-Cousins has made so far. The fateful choice to name Sen. Mike Gianaris to the three-member board with the power to kill the Amazon deal did major economic damage to the state. The push to seek to spend beyond the state’s means without identifying how to generate necessary revenue risks still more.
This week, Cuomo told a radio interviewer that Senate Democrats “have not yet gotten past the slogan, because it is complicated. The big question is going to be the fiscal integrity of their budget proposals, because again, it comes back to the economy and the fiscal intelligence of where we are.”
Sen. Zellnor Myrie of Brooklyn responded to this gentle but correct critique by saying “there is a gendered aspect to this, and there is a race aspect.” Sen. Jessica Ramos of Queens asked whether Cuomo “undermines” Stewart-Cousins “because she’s a black woman.”
Stewart-Cousins is leader of one house in the state Legislature. The desperate attempt to shield her and her colleagues from legitimate policy criticism by invoking race and sex reeks of cynicism. It cheapens legitimate complaints about racism.