It’s war and it’s only going to get meaner
It’s war, I tell you. In politics, people who are supposedly friends one day may not be the next. Andrew Cuomo has accepted tons of real estate money for his campaigns while the new young mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, has announced a campaign of sorts against soaring real estate rent prices in New York. De Blasio wants to raise taxes to pay for pre-K and he wants it now. Cuomo has made known his passion for lowering crippling taxes, including those taxes on some of the richest New Yorkers. De Blasio wants New York City to be a state within a state, while Cuomo, a fierce and savvy political infighter, says, “nothing doing.” Both men are in a position to take it all by eventually running for president of the United States. Cuomo is a Clintonian-trained master of going to the middle and robbing the “purple” voters from the Republicans while de Blasio is energizing the egalitarian base of the Democratic Party and inflaming those passions to a level not seen among the Democrats for quite some time, if forever.
De Blasio has got to figure that even if he loses every fight with Cuomo, he’ll get credit for trying. Cuomo has to keep an eye out on all those voters who have just had it with what they consider confiscatory taxes — paying immense amounts of money in real estate taxes on homes that hardly justify that kind of taxation.
Cuomo must be aware that Rob Astorino, his potential opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial election, is a Republican who ousted a popular Democrat from his job as Westchester County executive. Those high taxes have to be a big part of why Astorino has done so well. In addition, the Republicans are making inroads into historically Democratic Buffalo and on Long Island. So for Cuomo, there really is no choice as de Blasio comes charging out of the left. I think you have to be either courageous or nuts to take on an inflamed Cuomo, who does not suffer his political enemies gladly. De Blasio is quite clearly cut from a different cloth than Cuomo. His egalitarian message to fellow Democrats got him through the crowded New York City mayoral primary, when a few short months earlier he had been a “who-he?” to so many Big Apple voters. It also appears that his message and image fit the new demographic of a hard-working Brooklyn guy with a multi-racial family. That turns out to be quite an asset as our kids and their kids raise a certain digit to those who have practiced the old, ignorant ways for so long. Right now, de Blasio is a hero to the Democratic left. People like him and they like his message. Of course, if crime increases because of his new, softer criminal justice approach he will be deader than last year’s Thanksgiving turkey.
Cuomo is admired for bringing sanity to Albany, passing budgets on time and fostering a sense of relief in those who have been disgusted with the greedy, venal goings on in the state capital. On the other hand, Cuomo is thought to be playing it very cozy with the Republicans who maintain control in the state Senate despite the fact that there are more Democrats. One can make a very convincing argument that it is Andrew who allowed that to happen.
In the end, de Blasio is well liked while Andrew is, well, admired for his actions in Albany. Cuomo will do well in a general election where he has the middle. De Blasio needs to convince the Legislature to give him what he wants but as of now, it’s going to be very tough, especially with the Republicans and their Democratic collaborators in control of the Senate. It’s war and it’s only going to get meaner.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 2/17/14