With statewide elections right around the corner, many political insiders are scratching their heads, wondering who Governor Andrew Cuomo will choose to endorse this election season. Monday, we learned who will get Cuomo's first official nod and as Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman tells us, the selection was a bit of a surprise.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Governor Andrew Cuomo this election cycle won't just endorse anyone. He won't even endorse a full takeover of the State Senate by own his party.
“I'm going to make my decisions just like the people of the state make their decisions: On a case-by-case basis,” Cuomo said.
But on Monday the governor did endorse a Democrat facing a tough re-election. Cuomo is backing Queens Senator Joe Addabbo, who he convinced last year to support same-sex marriage.
Cuomo said, “You have some courageous leaders, like Senator Joe Addabbo, who are willing to stand up and reflect what is right for the people of the state.”
Addabbo is in a statistical dead heat with Republican opponent Eric Ulrich in a Siena College poll released the same day. On Monday, the democrat was clearly relieved Cuomo is endorsing him.
“Governor Cuomo has turned the page here in our state, bringing back fiscal responsibility and ethics reform and exactly what the government needed,” Addabbo said.
The Senate is closely divided 33 to 29 in favor of the GOP. Republicans have worked well with the popular Democratic governor on budget and spending measures. Cuomo still won't rule out backing Republicans, including Senators Mark Grisanti and Stephen Saland. Both lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
Cuomo said, “Now a number of a elected officials are in difficult races, I believe, in part because of the votes they took and they took those votes in part because I was urging them to take those votes for the good of the state.”
In the last two years, Cuomo convinced state lawmakers to go along with some bitter medicine. Cuomo on Monday said his criteria for endorsements would be on personal background, character and those tough votes on a host of issues.
“I said all along I want to make my decisions based on the person and their performance,” Cuomo said.
It's impossible to say if Cuomo's blessing gives candidates enough juice to win or if he's just good at picking winners. But since taking office, Cuomo has only endorsed winning candidates.