The fight between mainstream New York Democrats and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s far-left coalition has escalated to new heights since his decision to rescind approval for three new charter schools. His plan is to raise taxes to fund a universal pre-K program; however, that has launched a backdoor campaign against him, according to a new report.
Capital New York reports that three different sources have confirmed that officials working for Governor Andrew Cuomo have contacted them or other politicians and requested that they not support Mayor de Blasio. While Cuomo’s opposition to de Blasio’s plan – which requires a five-year increase on taxes on New Yorkers making over $500,000 – has been vocal and public, the campaign to personally tell supporters of the mayor to “back off” is certainly new.
None of the officials spoke on the record about their experiences with Cuomo officials. The most specific account, however, comes from a politician who signed a letter supporting the plan to tax the rich in order to create a universal pre-Kindergarten program. He claimed to Capital New York that Cuomo’s executive deputy secretary, Joe Percoco, called to explain to him in detail why the tax was a bad idea and asked if the politician was “upset” with Cuomo’s camp such that he supported de Blasio. He said the call did not intimidate him into backing down on universal pre-Kindergarten, but he supposed that “other people will take it as a very strong message from the governor that you better back off.”
The other two sources suggest that the exchanges were much less pleasant than the first’s account. One refused to name who had called him, but said that “they made themselves unambiguously clear that they were not happy” with de Blasio’s plan. The source added that he did fear Cuomo’s retribution should the story come out given the passion behind getting Democrats not to back Mayor de Blasio.
The third account aligned with the first two, but added that Cuomo was not the only one moving chess piece to fight de Blasio. The mayor’s union ties have allegedly engaged in the same game, the source said, suggesting that union leaders were also individually calling politicians and telling them to stick with de Blasio against Cuomo.
Both the Cuomo and de Blasio camps denied the allegations, with Cuomo spokesman Matt Wing adding that the governor planned to “fully fund full-day universal pre-K statewide,” including New York City, suggesting that he supported the plan. Cuomo’s plan to fund de Blasio’s program, while seemingly friendly, has actually been his ploy to defeat the tax for which de Blasio has been so staunchly advocating. By using Albany funds to pay for the program, Cuomo renders the new tax obsolete.
It has been a bad month for de Blasio, whose approval ratings are floundering after a tough first few months in office. The New York Daily News reports that voters have been especially dismayed at the way de Blasio has approached education, the battlefield upon which he has found Cuomo a very willing enemy.