Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s summer of love for those he has previously been at odds with has continued into the fall.
The governor — who over the summer saw his previously private feud with Mayor Bill de Blasio erupt in public — sought to draw in figures like Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, as well as Senate Democrats, rather than become isolated amid tension with the mayor of New York City.
Now, an observer points out, Cuomo is at it again, with the mode set to “get along” rather than “kill” as a top aide of his once famously stated.
Cuomo has often deployed a divide-and-conquer strategy in order to isolate foes and build alliances to him that are beneficial later on. It’s a strategy that’s been employed within the labor world, but one that has been expanded in the latter half of the year following his public falling out with de Blasio.
For starters, Cuomo is working with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer over the last several weeks to preserve jobs at the Alcoa plant in the North County, the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County and three Heinz-Kraft facilities across upstate New York.
So far, their efforts have produced mixed results: The fate of the Alcoa plant remains very much in the balance, two of three Heinz-Kraft factories will remain open thanks to a state investment (a buyer is being sought for the third) and the future FtizPatrick plant remains in the hands of regulators.
But Schumer is a key person to have on Cuomo’s side, given his expected rise to the top of the Senate Democratic caucus in Washington following the planned retirement of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
He’s also the mentor to a top Cuomo antagonist, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who has launched reviews of a variety of gubernatorial concerns, ranging from the Committee to Save New York to the Buffalo billion economic development project.
Cuomo likely recognizes its best to share the spotlight with Schumer on the jobs push as the state’s senior senator runs for re-election next year.
Then there are the public-worker unions, who at the start of the governor’s term fumed over his push to win less generous contracts and successful drive to create a new, cost-saving pension tier.
Now those top labor groups that represent public workers — the Civil Service Employees Association and the Public Employees Federation — have been praising Cuomo’s plan to phase-in the minimum wage for state employees to $15 over the next several years.
And just yesterday, Cuomo’s veto of the Port Ambrose natural gas transfer station is also earning plaudits from environmental groups that only a year ago were deeply skeptical of the governor’s record on the environment, given his lack of a decision on whether to allow high-volume hydrofracking in New York.
In all, Cuomo is ending the year without de Blasio as a friend, but with a lot converted allies.