Sunday, 09 December 2012 09:21

The National Lens Of The State Senate Fight

Written by  Nick Reisman
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The story that is the fight for control of the state Senate here in New York is slowly seeping into the national arena and is being looked through the lens of 2016.

It began with liberal MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who blasted Cuomo in a blistering commentary during his Saturday morning show.

Then came blog posts from Alex Pareene at Salon, Katrina vanden Heuvel at The Nation and Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the liberal opinion and news site Daily Kos.

Moulitsas assessment was particularly harsh for liberals who have not-so-fond memories of Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut senator who left the party to be an unenrolled independent:

“Point to his record on marriage equality all you want,” he wrote. “The only thing that ‘he’s with us more than he’s against us’ argument proves is that Cuomo is a worthy successor to the legacy of Joe Lieberman.”

Hayes, meanwhile, says he has no plans to let up on covering the governor, suggesting that we’re in for a new level of scrutiny on the movements of a governor who isn’t exactly running to do a Meet The Press interview.

The complaints from progresssives nationally boil down to the suspicion that Cuomo doesn’t care about their issues and is only concerned about propping up his standing as a non-partisan-to-moderately-conservative governor.

They fear that a Senate controlled by a coalition in which the GOP retains some power won’t accomplish things like a minimum wage increase or a public financing system for political campaigns.

The nuance that Cuomo tried to stress in his op/ed in the TU stressed that while Democratic rule in the chamber was a dysfunctional mess Republicans weren’t angels their long majority, Democratic rule was marred by a chaotic two years of missed opportunities.

Picking up on this in the mainstream press today was Sean Sullivan at The Washington Posts’ The Fix, who surmised that the coalition majority in the state Senate could either hurt Cuomo in 2016 among partisan Democrats or help burnish his image as a guy who could actually get things accomplished with Republicans in the Legislature.

All of this coverage makes a number of assumptions, but the two biggest are these: 1) Cuomo actually runs in 2016 and 2) The arguments and issues of today that we think will help or hurt the governor on the national stage will still have an impact four years from now.

And this may be an apples and oranges comparison, but Cuomo to a limited degree is facing a similar backlash from a partisan press that his New Jersey counterpart, Chris Christie, is feeling after appearing alongside President Obama post-Hurricane Sandy.

The parallel is not exact, of course. Afterall, a deadly hurricane that displaced thousands is nowhere near to the level of legislative intrigue in Albany. But Christie, another rumored 2016 participant, clearly felt the heat for working alongside a Democratic president who Republicans, incorrectly, thought was beatable.

Generally speaking, the impact of the conservative-based press is far greater on the GOP base is far larger than that of the liberal commentariat. A Siena College poll found that Cuomo remains popular with self-identified liberals in New York, who gave him a 76 percent approval rating.


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