Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a pitch for down-ballot Democratic candidates at a local fundraiser in Suffolk County last night, singling out state Senate hopeful Jim Gaughran as being particularly needed in Albany.
“We have a number of candidates running for the state Senate who are great,” Cuomo said to applause at the dinner. “We have a superstar in Jim Gaughran who has to go to the state Senate.”
The governor’s full-throated endorsement of Gaughran in a battleground Senate district held by longtime incumbent Republican Carl Marcellino comes as Democrats hope for unexpected wins on Long Island next month, helping them to retake control of the Senate.
Suffolk County is also home to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who is seeking a full term at the top post after succeeding the scandal-scarred former Sen. Dean Skelos as GOP leader last spring.
Cuomo for the last several weeks had rolled out plans to fundraise for Democratic incumbents like Sens. George Latimer and Todd Kaminsky, who are running in competitive suburban races in Westchester and Nassau counties, respectively. At the same time, Cuomo is maxing out his contributions to Democratic candidates.
Yesterday, Cuomo took square aim at incumbent Republican Marcellino, who was not previously thought to be on the Democrats’ top target list, but thanks largely to the controversial candidacy of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, many more seats are now believed to be in play.
“We should break our rear end for him,” Cuomo said of Gaughran. “He is what it’s about.”
Cuomo also told a lengthy and somewhat PG version of a story in which he was stranded at a rest stop and was solicited by a prostitute, whose offer he turned down. The story was related in conjunction with the governor’s effort to tout construction of a new welcome center on Long Island that includes a State Police presence.
Cuomo didn’t mention Marcellino, the Senate Education Committee chairman, by name. But he expressed a general frustration with some of the incumbents in Albany, even though he has declined in past campaigns to pull out all the stops in helping fellow Democrats challenge the GOP-controlled Senate.
“Albany has its share of political hacks, I’ll tell you the truth,” Cuomo said. “And it’s a bipartisan hackdom.”
Cuomo yesterday campaigned for state Senate Democrats in competitive races on Long Island and Nassau County in particular, where Republican County Executive Ed Mangano – a onetime Cuomo ally – is facing corruption charges. That’s a development the Seate Democrats also hope will contribute to their improved chances on Election Day.