Cuomo’s long-time friend at the time will soon be the former mayor, raising new questions about how the embattled and combative governor will deal with anyone who emerges from the city’s ranked vote count. Although Cuomo is under investigation and possible impeachment proceedings are initiated, he could outlast de Blasio in office. Eric Adams currently leads the Democratic primary – if he prevails, he would be the first New York City Mayor with significant legislative experience since Robert F. Wagner, who served three terms in City Hall between 1954 and 1965.
Adams’ eight years as state senator, the last two of which coincided with Cuomo’s first two years as governor, could help him avoid the bumps and potholes only mayors find on journeys north on the New York State Thruway seem to be.
“He has a good relationship with the governor and you saw during the campaign that more New York City officials supported him than any other candidate,” said Adams campaign advisor Evan Thies in an interview. “That’s partly because he’s been a colleague of theirs for so long.”
But, as Cuomo and de Blasio have kept reminding New Yorkers since 2014, the governor-mayor’s institutional relationship suggests it was designed not by political theorists, but by the fireworks-making Grucci family. New York City, despite its power as the nation’s largest city and global seat of economic power, relies heavily on the people who run its state capital to get everything done. The transit system is controlled by the state, and Cuomo in particular, and many of its key policies require the blessings of elected officials all the way through to Niagara Falls.
Structurally, conflicts between mayor and governor simply cannot be avoided – and that has concrete consequences for the city’s residents.
“The best result for New Yorkers is of course that the mayor and the governor get along,” said Freddi Goldstein, a former top advisor to de Blasio who worked in his office from 2016-2020. “But there are very few historical precedents for this. I can say my experience as a New Yorker and in the city council shows that this governor doesn’t really work for friends. And I just don’t see that this dynamic is changing. “
The governor has raw political power; the mayor, the celebrity due to the chairman of the board of the media capital of the world. The city is a creature of the state, as mayors often discover to their astonishment shortly after taking the oath of office, and Albany – not just the governor but the legislature as well – prefers to keep its foundation strapped onto a stretcher rather than let it go beat yourself up.
That was right when Governor Al Smith decided in 1925 that Mayor John Hylan had to go for the supposedly more reliable Jimmy Walker; it was the case with Nelson Rockefeller and John Lindsay, both would-be presidential candidates who got in each other’s way in the 1960s; and it was true of bitter rivals Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch, the latter of whom made it in a final attack on his sparring partner (and son) before heading out to what may be more peaceful surroundings.
Add the distinctive personality of Andrew Cuomo to the mix and it seems inevitable that the next mayor should invest in some decent sweaters as the governor, even in his competitive state, is sure to cast a cold shadow over Gracie Mansion in the months ahead.
Adams told moderators in a June 10 debate he was confident he could forge a good relationship with the governor, who is now facing impeachment and criminal investigations into allegations of sexual and state misconduct. “Well, I get on with everyone,” said Adams. “That’s the joy of who I am.”
“I’m going to put my ego aside,” he continued as he pushed for details. “I’m going to sit down and work in relationship with the governor and say, ‘We’re Team New York,” and we won’t have any public disputes. We will solve our problems. ‘”
But some problems do not require a hearty handshake, but a hat in the mayoral hand. Humility is not easy for most politicians, but New York mayors – as well as the rest of the Empire State – are quickly learning that bows and scrapes are necessary to get the funding and politics that only Albany can offer.
Adams would be the first Democratic mayor in decades to come to office in the state Senate without a Republican slide. De Blasio, a progressive, had a natural alliance with the lower-tier state assembly, but Adams’ more centrist positions could more easily align with moderate ideology in the Senate – and with that of the governor himself. This could be collaboration with the governor and facilitate the legislature on issues that are important for the city.
Even so, there is humility and then humiliation, and de Blasio just became the newest mayor of New York City to see the difference. Adams could try a different style of responding to Cuomo’s stings, at least initially, said a longtime Democratic adviser who works in both city and state politics and is familiar with the Adam campaign.
“What I would say about Eric versus de Blasio is that Eric is not afraid of getting into an argument,” said the agent, who spoke openly about the powerful personalities on condition of anonymity. “He’s not afraid to start a fight and he’s not afraid to end one. So I guess if he is like that [Cuomo] I don’t think Eric will take it lying down. “
Cuomo has undercut, contradicted and replaced de Blasio too many times to count, and as the city prepares for a new regime, the governor felt it appropriate to show the formidable power of his disdain in the post-primary election results on Tuesday fell.
“It is difficult for me to work with a hyper-political and incompetent administration,” said Cuomo on Wednesday morning during a press conference on the town hall of de Blasio. “And I find it difficult to do that over a long period of time. And I think that’s what happened to New York City … we have to get things done. We need results. And I need a competent partner in local government. “
De Blasio’s answerio On the next day? “I stopped listening to him a long time ago.”
Suffice it to say that the next mayor will absolutely convince Cuomo that the de Blasio era is really over.
“Everyone has their own style, however [de Blasio] had come across a buzz saw that had a bad relationship with the governor, “Senate deputy majority leader Michael Gianaris said in an interview. “So every time he stuck his head in to do something, it seemed like he was being knocked down. Hopefully the next mayor won’t come across it. “
De Blasio struggled to find champions – even in the Democratic-led gathering – who would really fight for him. That could have helped on several issues, including his unsuccessful attempts to abolish the controversial entrance examination for the city’s technical colleges.
It wasn’t necessarily a lack of goodwill, but rather a government that didn’t always pull Albany’s bargaining levers, said Senator Brian Benjamin, a Manhattan Democrat, in an interview at the Capitol.
“You have to find someone who understands how power works,” said Benjamin. “If you’re the Mayor of New York City, you have jurisdiction, I have jurisdiction. If you want to get my group to do what you want, come with the problem and talk about the solution. You haven’t come up with the solution you want yet. There is no buy-in. “
With that in mind, Adams appears to have an advantage over the only other two candidates who could overtake him once the leaderboard election is fully tallied. Neither progressive Maya Wiley, a former de Blasio contributor and MSNBC commentator, still the The more moderate Kathryn Garcia, a former commissioner for urban hygiene, previously held an electoral office. Adams has experience in both state and local politics, and as a moderate Democrat he seems well placed to work with a governor whom progressives tend to despise.
“I think the relationship is very likely to start on a positive note,” said Goldstein. “Whoever wins, the governor reaches them and they form a partnership that is all good at the beginning. But it would be naive to believe that the relationship will stay there. “
So what will Adams start with on his Albany wish list? Public safety, education and housing, said Thies, the Adams advisor.
“Albany can be very helpful in making sure we have the resources we need to improve public safety,” Thies said. “It’s about dollars and programs from the NYPD to the MTA.”
The multi-year war over education funding, which was briefly relieved thanks to the federal economic stimulus package, will likely heat up in future households, Thies said, and money for public and affordable housing will be an omnipresent conflict.
De Blasio press secretary Bill Neidhardt said a battered Cuomo for three terms means the next mayor will enter Albany with a world of opportunity, regardless of who ultimately wins the title. “You are really talking about a completely different reality with a severely weakened Andrew Cuomo,” said Neidhardt.
More than 50 Democrats in the state legislature, both the state’s U.S. Senators and a majority of the House delegation, called for Cuomo’s resignation after his scandals turned to Snowball earlier this year. Federal investigators are now investigating whether the Cuomo administration has kept secret the number of Covid-19 deaths related to nursing homes, and Attorney General Tish James is conducting a full investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct by former aides.
“I think we saw that difference this year when the state legislature passed a budget that invested heavily in New York City’s working population, and I think we’ll see that difference for the next mayor too, who Whatever it is. “, said Neidhardt, referring to a” massive shift in power “that has led to” Cuomo no longer in charge “.
For his part, Cuomo said he has known Adams from his Senate work “for many budgets, many bills, for many years”. As for his old friend de Blasio, he gave much praise.
“We have a good personal relationship, a good professional relationship,” he said on Wednesday. “I think he’s a competent person. I think he is a trustworthy person and I think he is a person who will rise up and show real guidance. “
David Giambusso contributed to this report.