Cuomo’s Shadow Governor-ing

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NY Magazine’s Intelligencer calls Cuomo “the shadowy fourth man in the Albany room,” a play on the old adage that New York is run by three men in a room (Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the Assembly):

Publicly, Cuomo has supported Paterson’s positions at key moments while not appearing to meddle. When the Legislature tried to replace school-aid cuts with tax increases, Cuomo spoke out forcefully on Paterson’s behalf at a press conference. Behind the scenes, Cuomo has been even more active. “Andrew’s mark is all over this budget,” a Democratic insider says. “He began a dialogue with Paterson about a month ago, and they’ve been having nearly daily conversations and Andrew talks a ton to Larry Schwartz,” Paterson’s chief of staff.

Paterson and Schwartz came up with a stroke of political genius—the lame-duck governor’s threats to shut down state government have enabled him to force weekly budget concessions from the Legislature. Cuomo has successfully bolstered their choices, from cuts to education spending to holding the line on most tax increases to fending off the temptation to add billions to the state’s deficit through Ravitch’s plan. Winning those battles now, by Paterson proxy, reduces the pain Cuomo will need to inflict should he get elected. The risk is that Cuomo has antagonized the Legislature six months before he’s sworn in. Last week, he declared that the Legislature was “dreaming” if it didn’t agree to a Medicaid-funding contingency plan and said the Legislature had “accomplished absolutely nothing” in their revisions to Paterson’s budget. “It’s classic Andrew,” says an Albany insider who likes Cuomo. “The fundamental points are accurate, but it’s going a little too far, it’s saying a little too much.”