While the lengthy roll call for the attorney general nomination was underway inside the convention hall, WNYC caught up with Arthur Schwartz, a state committee member from Lower Manhattan. Calling himself a progressive Democrat, Schwartz said that he was distressed by gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo’s public position fighting unions as a special interest.
“[Cuomo is] perhaps sounding a lot like [Gov. Chris] Christie in New Jersey, cutting the size of state government to deal with the budget, and it definitely has all the unions completely worried,” Schwartz said, adding that the unions’ worries may be compounded if it becomes a signal to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to take a similar approach in New York City.
So while there is confidence at this State Convention that the Dems have a strong candidate at the head of the slate, it will be interesting to see how the rank and file of the traditionally very pro-union party will respond to Cuomo’s decidedly tough stance on state labor questions.
Perhaps the race for attorney general will be a way to see how party unity is manifest. Eric Schneiderman is seen as the candidate of the unions, although not if you talk to representatives of the Communications Workers Union, as they favor Richard Brodsky. And Cuomo is leaning toward the Long Island candidate Kathleen Rice.
Cuomo’s newly announced running partner, Robert Duffy, has weighed in as a strong advocate for mayoral control of the Rochester School System. This will raise eyebrows with the powerful state teachers' union, the United Federation of Teachers. So the energy and applause in the room Thursday when Cuomo gives his acceptance speech and lays out his vision for the "New Democratic Party" will offer a first clue as to how this party really feels about being in charge at a time of massive deficits in New York state.