New York governors have historically lorded over the mayors of the state’s biggest city, and Andrew Cuomo proved that this year by quashing Bill de Blasio’s push to raises taxes on the rich. But by backing Cuomo when he needed it, de Blasio may be shifting the balance.
A self-described progressive and the first Democrat to run New York City in 20 years, de Blasio persuaded the union-backed Working Families Party to support Cuomo, a centrist governor running for re-election. The move allows Cuomo to run on both the Democratic and WFP lines on Nov. 4, preventing a liberal third-party candidate from draining votes in his race against Republican Rob Astorino.
In New York City, a mayor needs state approval to install a red-light camera, let alone raise income taxes. De Blasio’s announcement came after Cuomo agreed to back the city’s right to set its own minimum wage and to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes. The municipality may also gain power to enact rent-control laws and win more funding for schools and affordable housing.
“De Blasio made a very simple political calculation: Cuomo’s going to win,” said William Cunningham, a political adviser to Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “De Blasio now has some chits when he goes to the governor and says, ‘This is what New York City needs.’”
Before de Blasio’s involvement in the race, Cuomo had been cast by some WFP members as a cynical politician who built a campaign treasury of more than $30 million by accepting donations from corporate executives.
De Blasio blunted that by putting his progressive bona fides on the line and securing WFP support for the first-term governor.
The mayor, who supports gun control, also backed Cuomo’s running mate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, overlooking her past endorsement from the National Rifle Association.
“It was difficult to watch someone you admire as a progressive endorsing someone who is not a progressive,” Tim Wu, Hochul’s challenger, said in an interview, referring to de Blasio. “On the other hand, if in the long run somehow this achieves progressive goals, I guess somehow it’s a worthy sacrifice.”