Attorney General Andrew Cuomo received his party’s nomination for governor at the Democratic convention Thursday. He promised to restore public trust in government, which he says is sorely lacking.
Cuomo livened up what has so far been a somewhat dispirited convention, acknowledging the tough economic times that have paralyzed the state and taking a shot at the current state lawmakers, saying state government is “part of the problem.”
“And that is undeniable and irrefutable,” Cuomo says. “As we sit here today, there is still not a state budget that is done.”
Cuomo says the public has lost its trust in government, and that his job is to restore that trust through his actions.
“We’re going to have to do more with deeds than with words, my friends,” Cuomo says. “We have to clean up Albany.”
Cuomo could face any one of four lesser-known Republican challengers, including: former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino and real estate consultant Myers Mermel, all of whom are vying for the GOP nomination.
Republican Party Chair Ed Cox is undaunted. He says voters are angry, and predicts it will be an even bigger year for the GOP than in 1994.
Cox says Democrats now hold every major statewide office, and control both houses of the legislature and that “there’s a culture of corruption.”
“This is all theirs,” he says.
Cuomo has already ruffled some feathers at the convention with his 200-plus page reform book, with many proposals that challenge the current leadership of the Democratic Party in the legislature, as well the unions. Cuomo is running as a fiscal conservative, saying he wants a cap on spending, and a freeze on taxes.
When Cuomo’s pick for lieutenant governor, Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, listed some of those ideas in his acceptance speech and admonished New York’s government for not living within its means, he received only tepid applause.
Duffy says Cuomo has a plan that includes capping spending and freezing taxes.
“Andrew has a plan,” Duffy says. “That is critical.”
Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff says Cuomo’s strategy is to reach beyond the traditional Democratic voters, and attract independents and moderate Republicans in the suburbs and upstate.
As a result, the core of the Democratic Party may not be as excited about his message. Miringoff says tough economic times can be depressing.
“Cleaning up the mess is not as exciting as a big reformist movement that would put six new programs on the table,” Miringoff says.
There were also echoes of the past at this convention. Four years ago, Democrats were excited about Eliot Spitzer, David Paterson and Alan Hevesi. Spitzer and Hevesi have resigned, and Paterson is having a difficult time governing. Democrats hope with Cuomo, it will be different this time around.