Thursday, April 05, 2018


The renegade Democrats that formed the Independent Democratic Conference that has helped keep Republicans in control of the NYS Senate are coming back into the Democratic Caucus.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is apparently worried about upstart candidate Cynthia Nixon using the governor's support for the IDC as a way to attack him in the primary campaign as she tries to deny him a third term in Albany.

We learned about the meeting leading politicians and, interestingly, labor leaders had in this NY State of Politics piece.

Some highlights:
Last Thursday before the budget was finalized, Governor Andrew Cuomo began reaching out to labor leaders. He invited them to a 3p meeting on Tuesday April 3rd at the Capital Grille on 42nd Street, not far from Cuomo’s East side office. At that meeting were the State’s key labor leaders or their surrogates, along with IDC Leader Jeff Klein, Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Congressman Joe Crowley. Some say Klein knew what was about to happen others say he did not. Stewart-Cousins definitely did not.

Cuomo had the floor. He told attendees that like his father, he learned early on that you can’t “retrade.” It’s fine to look ahead to the special elections on April 24th, but that is not good enough. The two Democratic factions must come together immediately, even if that means Klein sitting in the minority, something he has been loathe to do. Cuomo announced that Klein must “end the IDC altogether.” Stewart-Cousins will be sole leader of a reunited Democratic party and Klein will serve as a Deputy. Senator Michael Gianaris will remain in his leadership post.

As one Democratic insider put it, “we can now leave this ugly chapter behind us and work together as one party.”

Yesterday’s meeting lasted two hours. It was described as very clandestine with many of the participants unaware of who else would be invited. When everyone arrived, it was a little bit like one of those murder mystery themed dinner parties.

Like just about everything else with Cuomo, this seems kind of creepy.

What does this mean for us? It is hard to tell.

I will say that I think now is the time to push on changing the teacher evaluation system and ditching the ridiculous state tests. Cuomo needs a big win in the primary to enhance his progressive credentials for a 2020 White House run. That push to repeal the evaluation system won't come from Michael Mulgrew. It needs to come from us.


RBE said...

It means nothing because it comes after the budget season, charters got what they wanted in the budget and no changes were made to APPR (remember that it was shoved through in the budget initially, so the budget was a good place to undo it.)

This IDC move is coming from fear Cuomo has over the Cynthia Nixon challenge (he has been desperate in the days after her announcement, which has led to missteps like Chris Quinn calling Nixon an "unqualified lesbian" and Cuomo making a "Jews can't dance" joke at a fundraiser.) He has also been pulling out all the stops w/ endorsements (Gillibrand, 32BJ, Elton John) months before the actual primary. He fears that Nixon can force a really close race here and end any semblance of a reason for his 2020 White House pipe dream.

In addition, the IDC move comes from fear IDC members have that they're going to get knocked off in primaries (all but one IDC member have serious challengers.)

Cuomo and his IDC pals made this deal in order to try and take some pressure off themselves in September primaries, but also to give the unions cover to either stay out of the primary fight (as the UFT did by voting down the anti-IDC reso at the last DA) or to back incumbents (as 32BJ already did w/ its Cuomo announcement today.) Even in a post-Janus world, the union GOTV matters in Democratic primaries.

For years, Cuomo and the IDC have kept the GOP in power in the state Senate because their hedge fund, real estate and charter school backers wanted it that way. This disband does not change those priorities for either Cuomo or the IDC - they are still criminals beholden to their donors. It just means they have to make some cosmetic changes to survive the current anti-IDC, anti-Trump times.

Don't be surprised if Klein doesn't try to whack Stewart-Cousins post November and grab the leadership position. Some observers more knowledgeable (and cynical) than I say that is what he is engineering here, with this move.

All I know is, nothing changes in how the IDC must be approached now. As many IDC members as possible must be defeated in primaries and Cuomo must be forced to run the race of his life against Nixon. I dunno if she can actually beat him (the union heads will try and GOTV for Cuomo and pull him over the finish line) but she sure can do serious damage to him.

Anonymous said...

Can the APPR law still be changed this year or is it a done deal for now? The petition is to kill it has been growing daily. Anybody with info please chime in!

James Eterno said...

Nixon saying workers must make sacrifices to update subways was not a good move RBE. It is always interesting reading your insights. Wish your blog was posting.

As for evaluation law, it can be changed during this legislative session in June when many laws are passed. Let's double our efforts on the petition.

Anonymous said...

Hell yes James! Spreading the word with the petition. This is the biggie!

RBE said...

The Nixon attack on TWU was, in part, aimed at TWU's coziness with Cuomo (which is why they got decent contracts compared to the other unions who negotiated w/ Cuomo, like PEF) and TWU's aggressiveness against de Blasio (they ran ads against him that appeared to come straight from Cuomo.)

I agree the attack was short-sighted - if Nixon wants rank/file support, she shouldn't be attacking unionized workers. She has created a serious problem for herself with a few union members I know because of this and let's be honest, she needs every vote she can get.

Yes, the evaluation law can be changed at any point. Cuomo shoved it into the budget a few years ago to force Assembly Dems to accept it, however, so putting things some parties don't want in the budget in order to get them makes for good strategy. Simcha Felder has used that strategy to fight regulation for yeshiva schools, for example, and has held up the budget a few times. I think the budget was the perfect place to get APPR unspooled, but alas, it wasn't done because the UFT doesn't care about this issue and without serious pressure from UFT leadership, Assembly Dems are not going to force changes through. Cynical take, I know, but having watched Albany closely since I became a teacher 17 years ago, I fear that this is so. Nonetheless the petition is a great idea in order to show the hostility people have for APPR. The more pressure on the UFT, the better.

James Eterno said...

Can you help with your contacts RBE?