Bob McCarthy: Cuomo sees one New York, two parties – Buffalo News

Back in December, The Buffalo News splashed across its front page a nifty map distinguished by a huge swath of red across most of upstate New York.

The illustration also featured solid blue where it counted most – New York City – and a lighter shade of blue in the big upstate counties.

The colors made sense of the November election for governor between Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Marc Molinaro. Republicans dominate those wide open upstate spaces while Democrats crowd into that relatively tiny southeast corner. That’s the way it is in New York.

But the map also underscored an obvious divide between rural and urban, upstate and downstate. In the five boroughs and close suburbs – solid Cuomo support. In the big upstate counties of Albany, Onondaga, Monroe and Erie, Cuomo also triumphed – but by much smaller tallies.

Molinaro told The News in December he believes “there are two New Yorks” divided between “upstate and downstate, urban and rural, rich and poor.”

“That divide is real,” he added.

Jay Jacobs, Cuomo’s new state Democratic chairman, agreed during a chat with the Politics Column a few weeks ago.

“There are two New Yorks; people in many places are despondent,” he said in March, noting an upstate economy still lagging behind New York City.

Cuomo chimed in while visiting The News on Wednesday, though he views the map in more practical terms: Republicans live upstate; Democrats live downstate and in the big upstate cities. And throughout the state, there are many more Dems than Repubs.

“Gov. Cuomo received more votes than any governor in the history of the State of New York,” Cuomo proclaimed Wednesday. “That was the obvious headline takeaway.

“Has there been a political polarization in this country? Yes,” he added, pointing to wide gulfs in both parties. “Donald Trump. Welcome to American politics.

“I don’t think there are two New Yorks,” he continued. “I believe there are Democrats and Republicans.”

And with more Democrats than Republicans than ever before in New York, the results become fairly predictable. The map’s blue spots tell the story.

A few other political items drawing comments from New York’s governor:

• His replacement of Mayor Byron W. Brown as state Democratic chairman: The mayor’s sudden departure from the state party’s top spot spurred speculation and head scratching at the dawn of 2019. Cuomo won big. Democrats took several congressional seats from Republicans. And the party achieved its long sought holy grail – Democratic control of the State Senate and total domination of Albany.

Yet some Democrats thought the mayor’s departure was clumsily handled, with little mention of his accomplishments. Why change? Was there a problem?

“There were no problems whatsoever,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “His record was phenomenal.”

The governor noted Brown was “lauded and applauded” at a Governor’s Mansion reception some weeks later. And it is not easy, he noted, to simultaneously run the Democratic State Committee and New York’s second-largest city.

“He had enough,” is how Cuomo described the situation.

• Will he call for a special election to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, who resigned in January?

“I assume so,” said the governor, who has always expressed concern over the cost of special elections.

• 2020 presidential race: Cuomo has not backed off his August promise at Hofstra University to not run for president. And he reiterated his admiration of former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I have a debt of gratitude to him on behalf of this state,” the governor said, calling him a “person of character and integrity.”

Would his view change if the former vice president decided not to enter the race and is not the candidate?

“I think he will be,” Cuomo said.